EARLY LIFE CAREER
Dara was born in Busan, South Korea. When she was 10 years old, her family moved to the Alabang, Muntinlupa City, Philippines to start a trading business.
In 2004, during one of her school activities, she met Pauleen Luna, a former talent of ABS-CBN Corporation Channel 2’s Talent Center. Luna encouraged Park to audition for Star Circle Quest, a reality-based talent search television program. Over the course of the season, she escaped elimination several times, and reached the final ten contestants.Her Korean ethnicity resulted in some trouble with the daily exercises set by the panel of Filipino judges. During the last elimination round (in which only five people advanced), Park received approximately half a million text votes. She eventually finished in second place behind Hero Angeles.
Park joined ABS-CBN’s entertainment stable called Star Magic in the wake of her success in the show, with her projects ranging from commercial endorsements to television appearances. She starred in her first movie Bcuz of U (2004), a three-story movie. She acted alongside Hero Angeles, Kristine Hermosa and Heart Evangelista. Park won “Best New Actress”, her first acting award, in the 21st Philippine Movie Press Club Star Awards. Park and Angeles launched their first solo movie, Can This Be Love (2005) which reportedly grossed almost 100 million pesos. Park was also nominated for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Musical or Comedy)” at the 2006 Golden Screen Awards. Her third movie in the country was D’ Lucky Ones (2006) wherein she was paired with co-SCQ alumnus, Joseph Bitangcol due to Angeles’ decision to retire from show business. In the same year, her fourth and last movie Super Noypi was shown in Christmas 2006 and was an official entry into the 32nd Metro Manila Film Festival. The success of Park in the Philippines lead her to star in a drama series. One was Krystala, a fantasy series with Judy Ann Santos. She also acted in various seriesCrazy For You (2006) and Abt Ur Luv (2006) and television specials My Name is Sandara Park (2004) and SCQ Reload: OK Ako! (2004).
Park also embarked on a musical career that led to the release of her self-titled six-track album that contained the novelty dance hit “In or Out”, a song that parodied her experiences on Star Circle Quest.
In December 2004, YG Entertainment’s Yang Hyun Suk offered Park workshop classes in South Korea after seeing the KBS Documentary My Name Is Sandara Park. In March 2005, Park went ahead with the workshops, putting her career in the Philippines on hold. After six months, she resumed work in the Philippines, starring in several movies. She left the Philippines show business industry permanently and returned to South Korea with her family on August 1, 2007. YG Entertainment announced the following day that Park had signed a contract with them.
Dara of 2ne1
The group’s name was initially announced as “21”; however, due to the discovery of a singer with the same name, the group was renamed “2NE1”. Sandara took on the stage name “Dara”, and was placed alongside Bom, CL and Minzy. The group then collaborated with label-mates Big Bang for the song “Lollipop”, before officially debuting on SBS’s The Music Trend on May 17, 2009 where they performed “Fire”. 2NE1 has since released two eponymous extended plays, 2NE1 (2009) and 2NE1 (2011), and two studio albums, To Anyone (2010) and Crush (2014) in addition to several non-album singles. Their first EP spawned the number-one single “I Don’t Care”, which won them the “Song of the Year” award at the 2009 Mnet Asian Music Awards, making them the first rookie group to win a daesung the same year of debut (2 wins). 2NE1 returned with their first full-length album To Anyone in 2010 by promoting simultaneously the three title tracks from the album, “Clap Your Hands”, “Go Away” and “Can’t Nobody” after releasing the surprise single “Follow Me” that took number one for the week of February 13. The single was used as a theme song for Samsung Corby Folder. The album garnered huge success and 2NE1 won an overall 11 times on various music shows from their promotions. When combined, the downloads from the album made them the best-selling digital girl-group that year. 2NE1 continued their winning streak at the year-end awards, walking away with many top prizes, most notably the “Artist of the Year” and “Album of the Year” awards at the MAMA’s, where they won 4 awards out of the 6 they were nominated for.
Their second EP was met with similar success for the year of 2011, where all songs but 2 charted at number-one. The single ‘I Am the Best’ won them their second “Artist of the Year” award and is widely considered to be their signature and most iconic song. The song was used later as the background music for Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 tablet laptop commercial in 2014. Due to it’s continued popularity, the song was re-released as a single in that year and debuted at #1 on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart, making them the first and only girl-group to do so and the second Korean act to chart that high after PSY. In 2012-2013, 2NE1 released only singles, which produced the number-one hits “I Love You” (2012), “Falling in Love” and “Missing You” (2013). Both “I Love You” and “Missing You” won the “Digital Bonsang” award at the Golden Disk Awards, which is otherwise known to be the equivalent of Song of the Year. In 2014, they released their second full-length album Crush which spawned the number-one single “Come Back Home” and the top 5 hit “Gotta Be You”. The singles swept real time charts and was the most downloaded album for that year, ultimately winning them the “Singer of the Year” award at the Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards for the month of (March). They were also honored by Youtube for the album’s lead single, and were the only Korean acts featured on the list alongside Bigbang.
2008–2009: The Return of Iljimae and solo single
Before her debut, she was cast in a minor role for the TV drama, The Return of Iljimae as Rie in 2008. Later, she appeared as the love interest of label mate T.O.P, one of the members of Big Bang, in Gummy’s music video for “I’m Sorry”.
In 2009, Park was featured on G-Dragon’s solo album Heartbreaker, with their song entitled “Hello”. They performed together a couple of times on music events, shows, and also during G-Dragon’s two-day solo concert entitled Shine A Light in December 2009. Park later released a solo song of her own and was the first among the members of 2NE1 to do so. Entitled “Kiss”, the song was produced by Teddy Park and was featured in Park’s first commercial for Oriental Brewery’s Cass Beer series alongside K-Drama actor Lee Min Ho. The song also featured fellow member CL as a rapper and peaked at #5 on the Gaon Chart.
2010–2012: I Need A Girl and promotion
In July 2010, Park was featured as the female lead in Taeyang’s “I Need A Girl” music video. Due to the specific lyrics in the song such as “a girl who looks better in pants than a skirt” and “she is old but looks young”, Yang told her she was the only candidate for the role. Two versions were made for the music video.
Due to her frequent updates on 2NE1’s activities, fans dubbed her as the group’s PR manager and was consequently promoted to Communications Director on April 18, 2011. In order to make her promotion official, YG Entertainment gave Park her own Certificate of Appointment.
On June 27, 2012, Park’s Philippine Movies were shown in Korea. The films “Bcuz of U”, “The Lucky Ones”, and “Can This Be Love” were shown on the said date on Korea’s Home Choice and SK Broadband.
2014: Return to the Philippines, My Love from the Star and What’s eating Steven Yeun
On May 14, 2014, Sandara Park entered the Big Brother house as a celebrity houseguest during the live episode of Pinoy Big Brother: All In Über.
In the last episode of the highly rated Korean drama My Love from the Star, Sandara made a surprise cameo appearance playing a Top Actress.
On November 12, 2014, BeFunny Studios released a 3-part mini web series starring The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun and Sandara Park titled “What’s eating Steven Yeun“. Sandara played the role of Steven Yeun’s girlfriend in this hilarious comedy sketch about the popular Korean internet craze called “Mokbang”. Mokbang broadcasts are online broadcasts where people who are usually attractive eat in front of a webcam and get paid for it. The skit reached over a million views just a few days after release.
2015: Web-Dramas and Sugar Man
In 2015, seven years after her last acting role, Park returned to the silver screen in the web-drama “Dr. Ian” (Korean: 닥터이안), starring alongside rising star Kim Young-kwang. The series was highly anticipated as it marked her official reentry in the field since moving back to South Korea. The series was a moderate success but earned her the “Best Actress” award at the K-web festival, a newly founded awards show geared solely towards internet bases dramas. She was the first recipient of the honor.
Upon the return of the K-hip/hop veteran group JinuSean, Park joined them on Yoo Hee-yeol’s Sketchbook to perform their previous hit single ‘Tell Me’.Her natural performance impressed the group and led them to immediately ask her to perform their latest song “Tell Me One More Time’ on their comeback stage in place of the original singer, Jang Hana. The collaboration aired on KBS’s Music Bank May 1.
Park continued her acting venture by starring in her second leading role of the year in We Broke Up, another web-drama based upon a web-toon of the same name. She played the role of Noh Woori, a character described as an optimistic and bright female preparing to get a job. Premiering in June, the series was a runaway success,becoming the 4th most watched series by attracting more than 11 million clicks on Naver alone. In total, it has garnered more than 16 million views. The series was also invited to be screened at the 21st Geneva International Film Festival, making it the first web based drama to do so since the genre’s meteoric rise in popularity. Due to the popularity of the web-drama, fans were invited to a special mini-concert held on August 17 at Rolling Hall in the Hongdae area in Seoul to more closely communicate with them. There, they had talk session and performed the original songs from the web-drama’s soundtrack.
In the midst of the drama’s airing, Park made cameo appearances as herself in the episodes 4-5, and 12 of the hit television series The Producers, playing a fictional 2 days and 1 night variety program cast member along with her ‘We Broke Up’ co-star Kang Seung-yoon. Her performance as a fictionalized, snooty version of herself was praised and drew positive responses from viewers.
On September 15, Park was cast opposite Goong star Kim Jeong Hoon in ‘Missing Korea‘, a romantic-comedy set in the fictional year of 2020, in which the North and South are working towards unification through non-governmental exchanges and economic cooperation, leading to the first-ever ′North-South Joint Miss Korea Pageant.′ The series was well-received and Park was noted and highly praised for her rapidly improved acting.
Park later joined the JTCB variety show ‘Two Yoo Project – Sugar Man‘ alongside Yoo Jae Suk, Yoo Hee Yeol, and Kim Eana as a host. The show aims to seek out once-popular singers, recreate their songs, and make it a hit once more in the present day. The first episode was officially broadcast on October 20.The production team stated, “We think that Sandara Park has a unique strength that encompasses the emotions of the younger generation and the memories of the older generation. We predict she will actively radiate new, never-before-seen charms.”
Following the success of her stint on Star Circle Quest, Sandara endorsed many brands up until her return to South Korea. After signing with Nikon Korea to endorse their cameras in 2011, the company reported an increase in sales that put them at a firm No. 2 spot in the market with a 23% share, trailing behind only Samsung in 2012. In 2011, Sandara signed with Etude House to promote their brand for two more additional years after previously endorsing it with 2NE1 (2010). The brand was launched to international success and had a large increase in sales in the wake of her signing. A special umbrella called Sweet Bunny was made available online in addition to being released in stores. Moments after a picture was revealed with Sandara holding the umbrella, it was ordered extensively and the umbrella was bought in every color at stores. In a week, Etude House sold over 40,000 of the umbrellas, ultimately selling out the product. The makeup brand won several web awards for their achievements in marketing, services and makeup as well. In 2013, Sandara became the new makeup model for Clio, a well-established makeup company founded in 1993.
Immediately after, sites recorded increased sales and her ‘bloody series’ makeup became a top-seller. The following year, the company’s new mascara, Salon de Cara, was launched with Sandara as it’s model and sold out 130,000 units of it’s initial stock nationwide in only three weeks. The mascara went on to sell a record-breaking 300,000 units in the months following. A fansigning event was held on the 14 of November as a thank you to the buyers. Clio then closed the year with 4 awards, 3 of which were modeled by Sandara. In 2015, Sandara joined the likes of supermodels Cara Delevingne, Sean O’Pry, and fashion model/tv personality Kendall Jenner as Penshoppe‘s ambassador. The following year, Sandara was chosen as an exclusive model for the cosmetic brand Moonshot launched by YG Plus in 2014, a subsidiary company of YG Entertainment. G-Dragon will be marketing the brand alongside her.