Life of Hyomin

Hyomin T-ara

This past weekend, Hyomin took a trip to Tokyo and, with the aid of Instagram, invited her fans along for the ride. While many Kpop stars use Instagram, few use it with as much enthusiasm and skill. What followed this weekend was nearly forty pictures uploaded of her Tokyo adventure. And we find the pictures, and Hyomin herself, absolutely fascinating. Let's take a closer look.

A photo posted by HyoⓂ️in (@hyominnn) on

This is where it begins. Hyomin teases her fans with a blurry teaser of the photographic smorgasbord that soon awaits them. The use of "teaser" here is intentional. This is a release, not unlike an Artist's showcase before a promotional single. This full length "Life of Hyomin," is a (photographic) album. This is a performance. Yes, this is art.

A photo posted by HyoⓂ️in (@hyominnn) on

Hyomin is not alone. Jiyeon accompanies her on this Tokyo jaunt. The strange (wonderful) thing is that this trip does not correspond to a promotion, or a fan meeting, or a concert (as far as we know). This is just a trip between two friends, that Hyomin, with her Instagram account, is inviting us to participate in.

Foto kiriman HyoⓂ️in (@hyominnn) pada

But here's the thing. Even on vacation, Hyomin is glamorous, gorgeous, graceful (another "g" word some have used: A goddess). It's not surprising that many Koreans have a deep and lasting affection for Grace Kelly (as shown in the wonderful documentary, The Grace Lee Project)A Hollywood star, superstar really, so beautiful and charming that she won the heart of a prince. She literally became royalty. The height of glamour. Korea has no royal family, but perhaps the substitute for that may lie in their pop idols, or at least in their idolatry. It may not be a coincidence that Kpop idols are often referred to as "Queens," or that T-ara's fandom is officially known as "Queen's" (that's right, with an apostrophe). Kpop idols, much like members of most royal families, are obsessively examined, their clothing scrutinized, their words picked apart. They live under the microscope, grace is constantly required. This is a vacation. But even so, who's more glamorous than Hyomin? Look at the picture above and tell me.

HyoⓂ️inさん(@hyominnn)が投稿した写真 -

Or this picture here, these dual images in the rain, Hyomin happy, Hyomin pained. Hyomin had her solo debut just last year, as you may remember, to mixed reviews. While far from a commercial failure, "Nice Body" didn't exactly burn the charts and shoot her into HyunA-level stardom. For me, the promotional song itself was absolutely heartbreaking, in that it just wasn't that good. Though not known for her singing, Hyomin has the charisma, grace, beauty, and talent to make her a strong solo star. She just needs the right song and concept to push her over the top. A focus more on her glamour than just her body. I can't help thinking about that. When will Hyomin take her proper place in the Kpop Kingdom? When will she wear her true crown?

HyoⓂ️inさん(@hyominnn)が投稿した写真 -

Hyomin is on vacation but even her Instagram pictures could be mistaken for magazine pictorials. Is it really as effortless as it seems? Or is it that, even while on vacation, Hyomin has to consider her image? If she is Korea's idea of royalty, what weight rests on her shoulders? Even in T-ara, she's given extra pressure to watch her weight and to wear far more revealing clothes as the group's "Visual." It's as if Hyomin's image is such an essential part of her now that it makes separating herself from that, even for a weekend, an impossible task.

A photo posted by HyoⓂ️in (@hyominnn) on

And then there's Hyomin and Jiyeon's friendship, which is great to see here, in their carefree wackiness. We like to imagine that our idols are all friends. If any group knows that this is not always the case, it's the members of T-ara, who were embroiled in bullying accusations when Hwayoung was unceremoniously ousted in 2012. That black mark has stayed with T-ara to this day, now more as whispers and side glances and music show losses (they should have won for "Number 9" and "Sugar Free"). But pictures like this show a kinship and sincere friendship between the two that reminds us of more naive times, when we believed our idols were infallible, forever loved and loving of all.

A photo posted by HyoⓂ️in (@hyominnn) on

There's no argument here. Hyomin is being stunning. She knows just the pose, the look, the smile. This is a photo shoot. Put this picture on a poster. This is iconic.

HyoⓂ️in(@hyominnn)님이 게시한 사진님,

What could be more interesting than the photos of Hyomin could be what she's photographed with. Or, rather, what she believes is important enough to have photographed? Tokyo is a massive city, thirteen and a half million people, and maybe triple the lights, and quadruple the possibilities. Hyomin: Meet Gundam. The future is yours.

HyoⓂ️inさん(@hyominnn)が投稿した写真 -

Here is Hyomin looking out from the Prince Park Tower. In the skyline is Tokyo Tower, lights ablaze. The orange lights look like flames, like the city runs off of a post-apocalyptic pyre. Tokyo sits at the intersections of the future and the past. Not even a real future, more like a science fiction dream. A step below Blade Runner maybe. Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the world. Space is limited, apartments tiny, subways overcrowded, the lights, like from the Tokyo Tower, never ending. Even more appropriately, Tokyo is also known for its fashion, its pop trends, its devoted futurism. It's appropriate to find Hyomin in Tokyo, here, with this view.

Une photo publiée par HyoⓂ️in (@hyominnn) le

And it's appropriate to find her with Jiyeon. Just having fun. Friends forever, T-ara for life. Pop stars, idols, Queens.


Timothy Moore writes from Chicago. He blogs at Read My Blog Please, and edits at Ghost Ocean Magazine. His biases are T-ara, Block B, Nine Muses, Brown Eyed Girls, and Girl's Day.



7 comments:

  1. I like how she's got her name as hyominnn. Presumably 'hyomin' was already taken, and also 'hyominn', so she just stuck another n on the end. Cute.

    I don't think I noticed her until about four months ago when I discovered Number Nine - or should that be 'Number 9'? I really like that one, and how she dances to it. In seeking out videos, it struck me that she was usually given the best and sexiest outfit, which I guess tallies with what you said about her being the group's 'visual'. That's one of those odd K-pop labels which makes me chuckle; like the other girls aren't worth looking at? Sometimes I felt sorry for other members, their outfits were so poor in comparison. Maybe it was deliberate, to accentuate Hyomin's glamour still further?

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    1. Yeah, it's very strange for me too that they would classify a "visual" or even "vocal." I think it could very well be deliberate that they give Hyomin the best outfits (have you seen her outfits in "Do You Know Me?" Goodness!)!

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    2. Well, after your reply I found the movie, and I was thinking, wow this song is really slow. Big-time moping! But eventually it stopped and another one started. Er… ok then, I guess that was the song. With so many brightly coloured people around, I didn't actually spot Hyomin until an indoors bit where she was wearing some sort of blue number with a bunny ears head-scarf. Nice enough, but Jiyeon had already caught my attention and overall I'd say she had the best togs. However, Hyomin is certainly the standout in the 131208 Inkigayo Comeback (introduced by Minah no less), with a sizzling red and black combo. Very nice!

      The song is a world away from the likes of Number Nine of course, which is still the only one of theirs which has grabbed me. But I don't know much of their stuff, so maybe I'll find something else yet.

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    3. Number 9 is definitely my favorite T-ara song, but if you're looking for some more, have you seen/heard "Cry Cry?" I also love "Roly Poly," "Lovey Dovey," and "You Drive me Crazy," but, again, nothing like Number 9! The link to "Cry Cry" is just below but they also have a drama version that's very great/strange! As does "Day by Day," which has a post-apocalyptic story starring Hyomin!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M69TE1yzt4

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    4. Thanks for the link, but since this is Critical Kpop I'll go ahead and say that the movie irritated the pants off me, being one of those ones which cuts so fast from clip to clip that it's hard to ever get your eyes settled on anything before it's gone. So frustrating - and in this case the anaemic lighting didn't help either, nor the mass of backing dancers cluttering the scene. It wasn't even until about 2:24 that I was sure I'd spotted Hyomin. At that point she was looking good in black, but earlier in the movie it kind of looks like she's wearing a wig. Or maybe it was just unusually bad hair, I don't know. As for the song, it sounded somewhat theatrical or over-dramatic, yet also kept reminding me of Britney Spears' Oops I Did It Again, like they were trying to make some of the same sounds - except it was quite awful. Not T-ara's fault but the management's, for going with such terrible material. So, definitely a thumbs down for me, in contrast to your own reaction. Maybe I'll have better luck with those other ones you mentioned, though I've got a suspicion Roly Poly and Lovey Dovey are going to be too cutesy for me (I think I've heard that second one actually).

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  2. Actually, I find Roly Poly quite entertaining with those dance moves. I haven't been able to find many good videos of Hyomin doing that one in contemporary times, but she's looking pretty cute in this fancam from June 2014, and seems to be enjoying it. The view isn't quite full-figure, but it's the best I could find.

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    1. Thanks for sharing the link, Snowfan - Hyomin is looking great here! Roly Poly is a lot of fun - I find "Cry Cry" to be ridiculous and it does remind me of Britney Spears, but maybe I love it because how over-the-top and sometimes messy it is? My love for T-ara isn't often rational, I know! I'm really excited to Eunjung's solo turn, which is upcoming too!

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