He once starved for five days because there was no food. He always wondered, why is the world so harsh to me? Imagine how it was for a child throughout high school and middle school thinking, why does the world make me suffer? Why has the world turned its back on me?
Rain is Coming When I think of this man called Rain, I think of much more than the professional singer, dancer, actor, model, and clothing designer he is today. I think of the boy who discovered how much he loved to dance when he was in sixth grade, during a talent show on a school trip.
I think of the young man who, when he debuted in , won every newcomer music award possible. I think of the man who became the first Korean to star in a Hollywood feature film. I see him drinking preciously-saved water in the middle of the night, in the dark, and discovering that the tea grounds he thought he was chewing up were really roach eggs.
I envision him down on his knees begging his landlord not to evict him and his little sister into the frigid winter streets as his mother lay dying in the hospital. I watch him wonder if his father will ever come home from Brazil, send money, do something—anything—to help them make it through.
There are several family pictures out there in cyberspace that clearly show a happy Jung family, one in which the children look well-fed and pleasantly content. Yet, despite all appearances, it was a happiness that proved to be short-lived. As the Korean economy began to slow, the family began to have serious money troubles. He was a kid who dreamed of singing and dancing for a living. It would have been a big dream for a kid from even the most privileged of homes in Seoul, but it was gargantuan for someone as poverty stricken as Rain.
Not usually one of the best of students anyway, Rain began to cut class to spend his days on the streets learning to dance. He hung out with older and tougher kids—kids who thought nothing of stealing the change out of his pockets, or the clothes off of his back.
All he cared about was that they could teach him how to dance. He battled for spots on underground dance teams, entered amateur competitions—literally fought to survive. I had no choice. Their landlord met Ji-Hoon at the door and told him that their room had been rented out to someone else, and that they needed to get out—now. My sister wrapped herself tightly in blankets and sat in the cold room. Everybody [in the street] looked so happy for the holiday season, with Christmas near.
Why was only I suffering this? In the bathroom, I folded two towels into my mouth, and I cried silently. I was afraid to be heard by my sister. I felt too ashamed [to her], to myself as well. I cried really hard that time.
And he certainly has never forgotten it. It made me even more determined to succeed. Actually, the moment the cameras start rolling, I can destroy something or smash a house and then just say that it was part of the shoot. Sometimes, I want to hit people I dislike, or confess my love to someone I care about. My whole body was covered in sweat that day. It was a really tough audition. But I felt it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. No one would have blamed him if he had given up.
Instead, he kept on practicing, kept auditioning, kept trying to find a way to break into the music business somewhere, somehow. Finally, in the 8th grade, his first real break came in the guise of a boy band called Fanclub. Every day, after practice, you could see in the company, in the practice room, Ji-Hoon always practicing, dancing alone.
So, the manager decided he should be in the group. But then after three or four months, he started catching up with me. Gradually, over time, Ji-Hoon began surpassing me. By the release of their second album, Rain had moved up to the lead position. But then, the company backing the promising new boy band went under. And Rain found himself standing in audition lines once again.
He knew he still had a lot to learn as a dancer and a singer, but he had already come so far. He had already experienced so much failure that he just knew success had to be right around the corner. All he had to do was find the strength to somehow keep on going. Everywhere he went he faced rejection—and for every reason imaginable. He was too tall. Another less stubborn person might have called it quits, but not Rain.
Instead, Rain stood up straighter, walked taller, dug in his heels, and became even more determined to succeed. I was even told to come back after cosmetic surgery! How do you think I felt at that time? During that fateful audition, Rain danced for several hours, on a stomach that had been empty for four days. Usually kids come in like normal kids, but he came in like a tiger who was about to starve to death. So, he had this pride in him, but he was mad at the world.
I knew I was going to pick him as soon as he walked in the door. The audition was about two hours long, I think. Maybe the company will contact you. That meant that he had to show up at the academy and practice anyway, not really knowing if he would get a spot even as a back-up dancer, much less as a solo act. We practiced singing for three hours a day and danced for six hours a day. I think I spent nine hours a day practicing and practicing.
He gave it everything he had. He rarely gave Rain compliments, tested him at every turn, and threatened constantly to withdraw his support. For two years, Rain worked on his singing and dancing. One day Rain showed up at the dance studio with a grim look on his face. JYP noticed and asked him what was wrong. He was really desperate. Hop in the car! And then this small house had a cold floor, no heating. And his mom was lying on the cold floor.
And she had diabetes. Like I wanted to like kill Rain for not telling me this. So, I put her in my car and I drove her to the biggest hospital in Korea. But I found out it was already too little, too late. Here he was about to make his dream come true, and the person he most wanted to witness it was dying. But that was all we had when I was in high school.
I regret that to this very day and feel guilty about it. Nobody helps and nobody wants to know. There are just two reasons I work so hard: Should he forget about the first album and pin all his hopes on a second album release? Or should he release a follow-up single from the first album and pray that people would start listening to his music? He finally made the decision to release a second track. The second single, Instead of Saying Goodbye, shot to the top of the charts in less than a month.
Finally, Rain could feel the wheel of fortune spinning in his favor, as people began to sit up and take notice. He knew it was only a matter of time before that star would either fade into the black backdrop of the universe or begin to glimmer with the possibilities.
He also knew that making his star shine was his job alone. He dove into the spotlight with abandon, entering one music contest after another.
He found himself winning again and again—and again. In , he won the KBS Award: He also won the M. In he did more of the same. In , he finally won the KBS Daesang Award, the award he had promised his mother he would win in her honor. To date, he has won over 30 awards for his body of work. Korean television producers and directors were also watching and eagerly waiting to cash in on the rising star.
During his debut Rain was cast in several televisions series. In , he worked on a situational comedy entitled Orange.