[ARTICLE] The Korean invasion continues as major stars get product endorsements, meet fans


SANDARA PARK at the Penshoppe event — GIA ALLANA SORIANO

Words by Angela Blardony Ureta

Mas mainit pa kayo sa weather! (You’re hotter than the weather!),” was Sandara Park’s gleeful response to the thunderous applause and cheers that greeted her return to Manila. She arrived over the weekend to attend the Denim Lab fashion show at TriNoma and to hold a meet-and-greet event for fans at the SM Sky Dome as one of Penshoppe’s current brand ambassadors.
Discovered at a television talent search in the Philippines in 2004, Ms. Park enjoyed immense popularity in what she considers her “second home” before moving back to South Korea three years later to join the bustling K-Pop scene. In 2009 — together with Lee Chaerin (CL), Park Bom, and Gong Minzy — she was launched as a member of YG Entertainment’s girl group 2NE1. Known for its distinct musical style and fierce fashion sense, 2NE1 has since become a phenomenal Asian music icon with over 65 million digital singles downloaded worldwide.

However, Ms. Park has always enjoyed individual fame, particularly as an image model for various fashion and cosmetic brands. At 31, she continues to make heads turn with her perpetually youthful looks, marked by a petite, slender figure, an exquisite face, and flawless complexion. Known for her quirky clothes and unusual hairstyles, she has also matured into a more confident woman whose unique taste for clothes and accessories has set trends among followers worldwide.

“What I like about Sandara Park is that she’s the full package — she can go from casual to high fashion without missing a beat,” said Penshoppe brand director Jeff Bascon. And while Ms. Park is known for being constantly garbed in luxury wear, he added that it was not difficult to invite the Asian superstar to lend her name and image to their label. “Sandara knows Penshoppe — she wore it as a teenager. These days, you’ll also see her sporting Penshoppe while going about her everyday activities. As a global brand, the fashion that we offer suits her lifestyle. And that’s what we want — authenticity.”For Ms. Park, joining the Penshoppe family was a “dream come true.”“One of the biggest reasons why I immediately agreed was because Penshoppe originated from the Philippines. Also, it’s a brand I’m familiar with. Their clothes are comfortable, stylish, easy to mix and match… At ang laki pa ng billboards ko kaya talagang happy ako! (And my billboards are huge, so I’m really happy!),” she delightedly pointed out.

Korean stars are known for their meticulous styling and Ms. Park ranks among those whose public appearances never fail to draw a lot of attention from both media and fans alike. Despite having a professional stylist, she makes sure that anything she puts on matches her own mood and personal taste. And while she is quite independent in her choices, she is also sensitive to how fans react to her outfit of the day.

“I’d like to think they would tell me the truth. I try to check their comments on my social media accounts. If I see that they approve, yey! But if they don’t… awwww.”

Despite her fame, she remains a girl with simple dreams. “When I was a kid, my ambition was to become a taxi driver so that I can have my own car,” she laughed. Today, her wish list includes building “a big house with a swimming pool in the Philippines, so that I can visit more often.”

Her fans keep her coming back.

Meet&Greet-19“I really love my fans here, especially those who have supported me for the last 12 years. We’ve developed quite a unique friendship. I’m so lucky!”

“Blackjacks are my beauty secret,” she added, referring to the 2NE1 fandom. “Their love keeps me young, fresh and joyful. ’Yan ang bumubuhay sa akin. (It’s what keeps me alive.)”

Career-wise, she hopes to be given the chance to do a Korean drama in the near future and perhaps, a romantic-comedy film. Most of all, she wishes to perform onstage once more as a member of 2NE1. The group has been on hiatus since 2014 to give its members a chance to focus on individual activities.

That she misses her girls is no big secret. During the fan meet, she was asked if there was anything special she wanted the audience to know and immediately, she replied: “I want everyone to know that I just chatted with 2NE1 on FaceTime and they asked me to tell you that they miss the Philippines and all our Filipino Blackjacks… I hope that next time, we can all return together and do a concert here! Please wait for us.”

Meanwhile, there has been no downtime for Sandara Park. Her solo schedule has been filled with a volley of activities that include taking the lead in three Web dramas (Dr. Ian, We Broke Up, Missing Korea), co-hosting a weekly TV show (Sugarman), wrapping-up her first full-length Korean movie (One Step), doing pictorials for major fashion magazines, attending movie premieres and concerts, and sitting at the front row of runway events. In between, she continued to brush up on her guitar skills and she has recently learned to play the drums.

After 12 years in the entertainment business, Ms. Park admitted she is still shy and tends to be nervous when surrounded by new faces, making her miss the familiar presence of her band mates even more. She happily revealed that despite the lull in their group activities, they always find time to encourage each other, especially before important events.

“Just this morning, CL called me up and said: You can do it! Go, go! Smile!” she said. “These days, I have no choice. I’m learning how to be alone. But I’m waiting for the girls to come back and be by my side.”

Don’t forget to grab your physical copy on 7Eleven/National Bookstore!

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