Meeting SNSD Sooyoung
It was Children’s Day in May. I arrived first, and shortly following, a car arrived and the door opened. And people busily got off and came into the café that I was in. It was her, with the staff. They naturally exited for a while and only she remained in front of me. “Hello?” She was so pretty, like spring light.
“Somang (Hope) Church, and Jobeungil (Narrow Road) Church.” When I asked about the church she attends, she told me the name of two churches. “Originally, I attended with my parents and I like that service but there’s another service that I like as well. So I attend a service first with my parents and I go to the Narrow Road Church to attend a second service.” This was my first impression of her. I like people with manners. You might be wondering why I’m suddenly mentioning that… But I think that you can find manners in the way people spend their time and in their faith.
Religious Activities During Rookie Years
Sooyoung: In the beginning, I lived in Seoul and we moved to Gwangju in Gyeonggi Province, so there’s a church I went to there but I ended up moving back to Seoul. I used to go for prayers at dawn (laughs).
Kanghee: Since you were young, did you constantly like being religious?
Sooyoung: No! I liked it more when I was younger (big laugh).
Sooyoung: Yes… I really liked religion more during my middle school and high school years. When I started my activities, all I did was really dorm and church activities.
Kanghee: You didn’t play?
Sooyoung: No, I was logical and I only spoke truth to members. I was the person who was opinionated like this. “This is right. You need to do it like this”, like that. At that time, I really thought that’s what you were supposed to do, and if we were all like that, I truly believed we’d do even better.
Honestly, I imagined her to be like this. After saying good night to the manager, she’d pretend to be asleep, and then open her eyes, brightly go out all night doing things you can’t do in the early morning or during the day, escape the dorm occasionally to go to the Dongdaemun Market, or watch a midnight movie, turn off the light and have conversations… No one planted this in my mind but why did I evoke this image?
Sooyoung: I’m close to all of the members (laughs). But how frustrating would I have been to them. But at that time, even if we collided like this, I definitely thought what I believed was right. Because I lived like that – I didn’t drink alcohol and lived a righteous life – if it was viewed by people who weren’t like that, it was hard for them to tolerate. But one day, Fany (Tiffany) told me not to be like that. Fany is also Christian. She told me, “If you act like that, what would people, who want to start having an interest in Christ, think?” Before we got up on stage, I would hold hands with Fany and pray. I liked that we could naturally pray together as one heart. When we appeared on a very important talk show in the US, we prayed together, and from time to time, before an important stage or concert, members who are not religious would ask us to pray on their behalf. It made me so happy and I was thankful.
Sooyoung: I think these were all a period of time in my life that I needed, and also time that needs to have passed. I maintained that for a really long time. That is… (Laughs) Like a child who is trapped in a glass bottle. But I think now I know the reason why God allowed me to keep that up for a long time. Back then, I could only be like that because after my activities, all I had was the dorm, and on the weekend, I have mom! And church! And all of the kids who were with me were all girls. It was like living in a dormitory. Of course, back then I could’ve gone out and played. But I don’t like that, even now. If I think about it, I didn’t like going out, drinking and playing; if I wanted to roam and play, I could’ve done it. But I think the fact that opportunity never even crossed my mind was the protection of God.
His Protection amidst Girl Group Life
Sooyoung: If I didn’t have a home in my heart… Living as one of nine members of a girl group. Of that, being just one of the members, not one of the most popular ones. Sometimes, if a song is 3 minutes long, there are times when there isn’t even one bar to go around to each person. Pretty ones are kind and ugly ones are bad. In this world, being less pretty is a reason that determines your character. I didn’t know that ‘This is a career where you sell laughter’ but I understood that gradually. So much time within that. In this dark and incredibly competitive place, if I only did schedules and went to the dorm, without any pleasures in life, I don’t think I could’ve endured it. But on days of rest, I met my family, and went to church service. When I returned to my place after meeting God, I always had this strange peacefulness in my heart.
Sooyoung: Even if I only sang 5 seconds of a song and even if the sounds of cheering for me was small, I knew that was my place. I had fun, and it was peaceful. I think that was His grace. Truthfully, it could have been not fun. Times when you’re hidden, days when you have to clap for someone who is ahead of you, waiting. If you’re envious of someone else, over time, you can start to dislike yourself and your own appearance. But at that time, all of that felt comfortable. This was really His grace.
Trust Becomes a Confession
Sooyoung: When my mom and dad would ask until when would I have to endure this, I had a response of trust, “Mom, there is a turn for everyone. My turn will come soon”. I think God taught me to be a person of peacefulness. I was seventeen years old at the time. So when I see hoobaes now, I know what’s in their heart. If there’s light, there is also darkness. It’s really difficult when you’re standing in darkness, and it’s hard to see the light. If your trust never loses light, when that trust gives you an opportunity down the road, it will undoubtedly become proof that light existed. If I look at myself now, I’m working alone so I’m so thankful and happy. At that time, I would’ve had no greed if I had what I am now…
Kanghee: You have greed now?
Sooyoung: Yes… I do have greed. That makes me uneasy. Back then, even if my turn never came to me, or if the opportunity was never given to me, or if I never get to act which I’ve wanted to do, would I be able to follow and obey God’s will? I would think about that for a moment but right away, I was able to respond, “Yes, I can do that”. But now, I’m holding a lot of things in my hands. I do think, “Ah… I don’t think I will be able to”.
Jesus, Who Has Become the Wellspring of My Heart
Kanghee: Have you ever been depressed?
Sooyoung: No. Not even once.
Kanghee: How do you think your heart and mind was able to receive such protection?
Sooyoung: My mom.
Kanghee: Did your mom say that she was depressed?
Sooyoung: Yes… I couldn’t give what I received… My mom became one with me. In this world, when things are really difficult, you really only need one person beside you. When you don’t have that, it’s painful. The one person who can listen to my story, be on my side, and the one person who can pray for me. That was my mom. And Jesus… Someone who will love me even if I become ugly, break my legs and can’t dance. Someone who will say I worked hard and embrace me forever, wherever if I run to him. Someone who is counting each and every strand of my hair. Someone who will become my witness. I think Jesus is the wellspring of my heart. When you think of everything as the be all and end all, that’s when it feels futile. What’s in front of me isn’t everything, I try everything and I think that my duty is separate. Of course I work hard but I don’t put everything that I am on the line. When I do that, even if I fall down once, it’s okay when I stand back up. At that time, everything that I am is also God.
Meeting One Person Who Recognizes Me
Sooyoung: But as expected, I prayed to God that I will meet one person. I wish I could find one person in this place (entertainment industry) who thought that I could do it… To help me meet a person like that. ‘I just need one person! I just need one person to recognize my talent!’. Truthfuly, this is the real confession (Laughs). This is the story of how I met Director Lee Jaedong. After meeting a very cool actor for casting, the director was looking at profiles to find secondary characters and after seeing my photo, he thought this. ‘Why can’t I use this kid?’ But as you know, things like that don’t go smoothly as planned. You can’t use everyone you have in mind. Even if the director is confident, there could be opposition from all around, or it might be rejected from up top, it was a situation like that but unexpectedly, everything worked out smoothly in lightning speed. The person above the director was someone who had full confidence in the director, so my casting was given the okay.
Sooyoung: To me, the director is someone like this. A person who discovered what was hidden inside of me. There’s a preconception that the director is rough, but that’s not true. How could a person like that make such warm dramas. [My Spring Days, Thank You, I Miss You, Can’t Lose, Rules of Love, Sweet Bean Bread, etc.] Director must have an extra set of eyes that can see the person inside of you that you don’t even know. Director needs to meet God soon too. I’ve never really tried to evangelize through words. So I am working hard to show it through myself but director, I’d like it if you’d meet God.
Kanghee: I’m doing it through words. So I think he’s finding it a bit difficult (Laughs). Remember when he went out to help out with the ‘Hwajung’ night shoot and he mis-stepped on the mountains at night while shooting, fell down and went to the hospital. When he lay there looking at the ceiling, I hurriedly went to go visit him. I said when he got better, that he should go to church with me. Since he survived a near-death experience, we can count this as being reborn as a person and that we should go. And he said “Wow! Why is this kid like this?” and then he said “I guess that’s true” and he laughed. Oh right. The director said, why do all of the actresses that I work with go to church so diligently (big laugh). She laughed saying “Hahahaha, he’s exactly the same”. It was such a big laugh that I could feel how much her inner self loved all of this.
Wishing to be a Person who Kneels at the Scene of Life
Kanghee: Lastly, do you have a subject for your prayers?
Sooyoung: Before when I wasn’t popular and couldn’t see my future, I had peaceful trust but these days, my trust has become weaker. These days, as I grasp onto more things, I keep saying “I don’t want to go back to before”. The subject of my prayers is to enjoy that peaceful heart from before. The urgent priority is to restore my prayers.
As she was saying that, she lit up her phone and showed me a photo. It was a photo of someone praying in front of a desk. Photo of the siblings praying was felt even in my heart.
Sooyoung: On set, I’m a civil servant, and this is an oppa who sits on the desk in front of me. Before we start shooting, he always gathers his hands like this and prays. It’s not an easy task to seek God on a set. It’s not an easy thing to pray in front of people who do not believe. In a world where everyone is showing off, you’re saying that you’ll depend completely on Christ and you’re volunteering to be called a follower of Christ. This oppa always gathers his two hands and prays in front of my eyes. When I see that, it makes me think of the past a lot. I was like that before. I used to pray before I went on stage. I want to restore prayers like that quickly.
Kanghee: God truly loves Sooyoung. Thank you for the sharing the precious time today with us.
Source: UCC Website