To survive and compete among 101 girls itself is a difficult feat, more so when she joined the ‘fierce unnies’ right immediately. Showing her face on Mnet ‘Produce 101’ (short as ‘P101’) and subsequently ‘Unpretty Rapstar’ (short as ‘UPR3’) is the story of Cube Entertainment’s trainee Jeon Soyeon. Despite her famous quote “If unnie is based on skills, then I have no unnie here”, since it was her first interview, the true 19 years old Jeon Soyeon was shy when she had her very first interview. Even so, when asked if she’s nervous on stage, Jeon Soyeon and her brightest eyes replied, “Because I can’t show my nervousness on stage,” indeed a girl with high professionalism.
I heard that you’re having this interview after class? (Interview was held in the afternoon of 4th October, after Jeon Soyeon’s class). Do you not feel tired for having both school life and broadcast activity progressing in parallel?
JSY: It’d be 6PM when I go for practice after my classes end, so there weren’t much time for practice, other than night time.
You must have worked hard. How have you been doing after ‘UPR3’ ended?
JSY: I had my very first one-week holiday. I went to Japan with my cousin sister. I first had an overseas holiday when I was a girl scout during elementary school. So, it’s my second time taking the plane. I went to Osaka, but it felt as though it’s filled with Korean tourists. (Laughs) Many of them recognized me. I don’t really travel outside Korea, so it’s really fascinating.
I bet you felt your popularity after going to Japan. (Laughs)
JSY: I was shocked because I thought they were foreigners. But when I learn more about it, they were all Koreans. (Laughs) Still, it was fascinating. I am really thankful that they recognized me even during on a vacation and that they treated me well too.
In the early parts of ‘UPR3’, it was ‘Popularity = Jeon Soyeon’. It was known that you were more popular than candidates debuted from girl groups.
JSY: I can’t really fathom it. When I first stood on stage for ‘UPR3’ mission, nobody from the crowd knew me. (Laughs) Miryo Unnie and Jooyeon Unnie’s popularity were amazing. But I’m really fascinated that I had 600 votes from the live elimination mission. I wondered when have I become someone with such popularity.
There were many instances where the reactions during the live shoot and broadcast are different. Do you have any scenes where you felt disappointed?
JSY: During ‘Scary’ track mission. The producer, Kush-nim, chose me and I came first in the audience as well. But in the broadcast scene, (only scenes) where I came first was shown. ‘Scary’ as a hook is easy to follow, so many people sang along. But in the interview clip, it was as though I won #1 audience vote because of popularity, I was a bit saddened by it.
There are many fans who have shown support to you after you’ve shown a good results on ‘P101’. From P101 to UPR3, what is the turning point for having to attempt at a survival program again?
JSY: When I did P101, I wanted to do UPR3 too. The PD-nims were the same PD’s. So I was waiting to be on UPR3. I received a call from them a month before the shoot. After that, I went to their 3rd stage of audition. I thought to myself that I must not fail, so I really did my best for it. More than #1, being on UPR3 is of huge significance to me. Because I gained the opportunity to show my raps.
I think you have shown well. You did so well without showing signs of nervousness?
JSY: That’s not true. I trembled a lot during my first stage on P101. And because UPR3 is a program that I wanted to show my rapping skills, I was even more nervous.
But there wasn’t any nervousness felt to Jeon Soyeon on stage?
JSY: Because I cannot show my nervousness. I’m a person who’s really nervous usually. On the day of broadcast, I couldn’t eat much too.
It could be that you are nervous because of UPR3 filming atmosphere?
JSY: Truthfully, we are all close (off camera). Even then, when the camera is on for UPR3, we were very much focused. We talked straightforwardly and showed our own greed, it’s like you show everything of yourself.
Looking back at UPR3 first episode, who was the most shocking contestant?
JSY: Perhaps everyone would say Jidam Unnie, since she was on season 1 of UPR and again on UPR3.
That time, you’ve shown your disappointment at Wassup Nada. (Laughs)
JSY: I actually liked her mixtape a lot. As I listened, I felt that she’s a person who loves hip hop. But during the freestyle rap battle, we were told to talk about first impression, so I did it against Nada Unnie. Nobody stood up, and the atmosphere was down, that’s why I headed for it.
But it feels like you’ve become the closest with Nada now?
JSY: After the freestyle rap, I immediately apologized to Nada Unnie. Nada Unnie has a good personality, and she said it’s fine. We usually talk a lot about Hip Hop. I don’t have many people who can do so with me. So I’m really happy that I can speak to Nada Unnie about it.
When did you start liking Hip Hop?
JSY: Since I was in elementary school. I liked Supreme Team. Their ‘Ddaeng Ddaeng Ddaeng’ and ‘Superman’ were famous back then. Rather than the key turning point to be a rapper, it felt like I somehow started writing raps as I continuously listen to Hip Hop music.
Truthfully speaking, Cube is not a company that emphasizes on Hip Hop.
JSY: Before this, I was in another small company. I did not know where to start, how to do Hip Hop or how to rap, there was nobody to show me. So, I went for auditions without preparations and somehow I came to Cube. I don’t really remember how many times I went for auditions, but I think there were 50~60 times.
After going through all that, now you have become a trainee with two years experience.
JSY: As I went through this trainee period, if I really want to do something, I felt as though I need popularity. I thought a lot about ‘I need to let myself known first’. So, even if it’s not my specialized area, I’d try to listen and learn from it.
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