Friday, November 22, 2013

[News] The new normal: K-Pop star 2PM Nichkhun’s take on Filipino style

MANILA, Philippines - The 2PM star lets his guard down and talks about wearing the world-class Pinoy brand, typhoons, and living a ‘normal’ life.

One of the burdens of being a K-Pop star — if you could call it that — is that whatever you’re seen wearing in public sells out immediately. It’s like the Kate Middleton Effect, but magnified. Case in point: After a few K-Pop stars were spotted carrying backpacks by a little-known German leather company called MCM, they began selling out like crazy. Keep in mind that they aren’t cheap — the price of a limited-edition piece by MCM is comparable to Louis Vuitton. 2PM’s Nichkhun Horvejkul admits it’s the kind of thing that makes him uneasy. “I wouldn’t say it’s strange because they love us. They wanna buy everything that we love too and what we like,” he explains sheepishly. “But I don’t know, I don’t want them to actually waste their money on us. I know a lot of them aren’t, like, rich, so sometimes I feel bad because sometimes they would buy really expensive things. And I’d be, like, ‘Ah, I hope I can accept this.’

It was surreal, getting the opportunity to pick the brains of somebody with throngs of screaming fans. Earlier this year, I met Nichkhun in his native Thailand (yes, this K-Pop star is actually Thai) while he was shooting his first campaign for Bench. At the time, it was his first encounter with the brand, but already, he seemed comfortable wearing it. According to his stylist, it was the type of clothing he wore regularly, especially during his off-days. That Bench is a brand that built its name on affordable basics makes him feel better, a sentiment that he reinforced during his most recent visit to the Philippines for his Global Benchsetter Fun Meet last Nov. 9: “Bench is not flashy. Bench is something that normal people can wear, not just people who want to be on-camera, so that’s why I’m so grateful to be a part of Bench because it is really me and it is what I would really wear in my normal life.

Surprisingly, Nichkhun’s “normal life” is as normal as yours and mine gets because the guy never wanted to be an entertainer in the first place. When he was scouted in 2006, at the age of 18, he had to learn everything from the ground up: singing, rapping, dancing, acting, even how to speak Korean. So during the rare moments when he gets to be himself, he regresses into a shy Thai boy who was just a regular kid in Rancho Cucamonga, California. “When I have my off-days, I usually just go lazy,” he admits. “You know, just wash my hair and let it be. My personal style is simple, clean, appropriate to the occasion.

It’s also worth noting that Nichkhun flew into the Philippines on the day that Typhoon Yolanda hit, a gesture that must have meant a lot to his fans. Prior to hearing about the typhoon, he was also aware of the earthquake that hit Bohol. “When I first heard about the earthquake, I already had plans to come here. A part of me was already in the Philippines, so when I heard about the earthquake, it really shook me. I really want this event to be meaningful to the Filipinos and I want to make some donations to the victims,” he says. Though saying something like that is kind of expected, you should know that the first time Nichkhun visited the Philippines was to interact with the children of Payatas for the Korean show, Sunday Sunday Night Danbi.

The K-Pop star is also a Friend of UNICEF for Thailand, bringing light to issues affecting Thai children. During our meeting in Bangkok, he explained that he gets his charitable streak from his religion and his parents. “I’ve been a Buddhist ever since I was born because most Thai people are Buddhist. But I think I got a lot of that charity stuff from my parents because they’re always doing charitable stuff, like giving money, clothes, food to anyone who needs it,” he explained. At the press conference, just a day before the havoc caused by Typhoon Yolanda made news worldwide, he expressed disbelief at the thought of Filipinos were being hit with another calamity, so soon after the earthquake. “It’s just heartbreaking to be a victim of something like this. Those who are victims, I hope you guys stay strong and keep your hopes up. Never give up.


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