Kim Min Jung of Umamiya
The exclusive with Umamiya continues. We’ve been profiling each member of the female group including Cathedral Leung and Winnie Wu. This time it’s Kim Min Jung’s turn.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT KIM MIN JUNG’S BACKGROUND:
Kim Min Jung was born in Seoul, South Korea on June 27, 1986. Priding herself that she was able to sing before she could talk, Min Jung won her church’s talent show at the age of 5. Kim talked about how there wasn’t really an event that “sparked” her love of music: “I have lot of fire and passion and they’re so bright. I’m always smiling and singing. The fire was inside me when I was born and continues to right now.”
She was discovered at the age of seven in a shopping mall in Seoul by talent scouts from the JYP Entertainment Academy. Min Jung explained how working with the JYP Entertainment Academy was very difficult compared to her other friends, “I have many, many friends at my regular school, and when everyone’s studying, I have to do many hours of dancing, singing, and training. So they’re all studying together and I have to do alone time because at same time, I am doing other things.” Along with working hard, the people Min Jung encountered were hard to work with as well. She talked about how the girls were not all nice: “They were snobs to me. Everyone’s thinking they are number one, so it was a very hard time.” During her 10 years of training, Min Jung took more than three times the average length of time in the Academy developing her singing, dancing, and acting skills. Min Jung, 24, takes it as a positive thing by explaining that so many girls were graduating without a great deal of training, leading to a lack of experience. “I am very lucky because I was training ten year. So I have a lot of experience training.” As a result to the ten-year training, her status was placed on “indefinite hold” at the Academy.
Min Jung’s parents repeatedly compared her to her younger prodigious brother, whose guitar playing skills made him an internet sensation. Never feeling quite good enough in her parents’ eyes, Min Jung chose to move to the United States to become a leader in S-Cube’s new girl group. Despite the fact that S-Cube was nearly bankrupt in Korea, she was later discovered by S-Cube in a local Noraebang. Min Jung is the self-proclaimed “diva” and leader of Umamiya. Compared to the JYP Academy, Min Jung likes S-Cube more because, “he can see my talent in singing and dancing.” Though she does have to practice more than she did in the Academy, Kim knows it’s necessary if she’s supposed to be the leader.
If Kim had to ability to go back in time, she would choose to tell her younger self to believe in herself and have more confidence: “Before, I didn’t know I am special, I kept thinking maybe other people can do it better. But now I have training, and I know I am more special than I thought before.”
When it comes to the other girls, Min Jung says they “look too old to be 26.” To her, Kitty Karaoke is very energetic and friendly. She’s sometimes too nice and too loud: “Sometimes, I want her to be quiet, but she cannot do it. She is always singing.” Min Jung shares her thought that they might have used AutoTune on Kitty as well. Mari.kris.am.i is the domineering one out of the group. Kim tells the story about how Mari.kris wanted a cigarette: “I have to get the cigarette for her. Sometimes she does not have a lighter and I have to go out and looking for match for her. Very bossy.” She went on to tell about how Winnie “WWII” Wu isn’t a real gangster: “She looks like baby when she smiling. How can baby be a gangster?” To Min Jung, Winnie is all talk and no walk. Min Jung called Cathedral Leung out the most in the group even going as far as asking why she is even in the group. She stated that everyone in the group had something about them to get in the group, but “Cathedral has nothing.” When asked what the funniest thing about Umamiya was, Min Jung once again called Leung out by stating, “Cathedral trying to be a pop star.”
Min Jung told me that she helped write the group’s Hot Sour Spicy Sweet—well, almost. She actually helped the English speaking people write the song. For her, Umamiya will be touring within a year across USA and Asia. Within five years, she sees herself owning a business with Umamiya’s name on it and her picture. A memorable moment she has is when she let the fans words really get to her.
“I hear many fan loving us, but maybe we are not too skinny.” So Min Jung stopped eating and just trained. That is, until she passed out from exhaustion. This also connects to the hardest thing about being a member of the all girl group. “Sang Song Sung very serious and very strict.” The group’s manager had even yelled at her for fainting in the first place.
As for what Min Jung thinks she contributes to the group she proudly explains how she is the only one who can do everything: “I am the only member that can do everything for the pop group. I can sing and dance with high energy and rap.” Apparently, to her, nobody else can do everything like her. It’s not easy, either. When faced with the question of what she would tell a fan wanting to break into the music like her, Min Jung tells how she should follow the same path as her. “You have to be…maybe 10 years before you can do it. It’s very hard to do.”
“You have to bring a good smile when you’re singing for people. Be very bright and shining for the people clapping and have lot of a grace.” That’s what Kim tells me when I asked how what the best advice she has ever gotten was. This could easily be seen in the pictures she has and her videos online. Her inspirations consist of S.E.S. and Mariah Carey. Along with the piano, Min Jung plays the tambourine, keyboard, and oddly enough – the triangle. When at the karaoke bar, Kim likes to sing R&B. She loves rapping to “Ta In” by the Young Turks Club. Alicia Keys is on the top of her list of Hopeful Collaborations. She’d love to play piano with her and harmonize together.
Along with being able to sing and dance, Kim can draw and do art. If she isn’t singing, you can probably find her playing with a friend at a café. In 5 years, she hopes to enter the world of fashion making shoes and a bag.