U-KISS member AJ has decided to make a return to his studies in the upcoming spring semester!
After leaving to study at the Ivy League school, Columbia University in 2012, AJ made his long awaited return to the K-Pop scene a semester later. He participated in U-KISS’ 3rd Korean album release, Collage, and even made his debut in U-KISS’ first subunit, ‘uBEAT’, along with Eli, and featuring fellow member Kevin.
However next Spring semester, AJ will be back as a student at one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Many idols have had to choose between their careers and their intentions to study, and have therefore left one for the other. In an interview with Sports Chosun, AJ said, “When I debuted with PARAN, I was 15 years-old and I had to drop out of school. I had no chance to be a student and I always thought it was such a pity. I know that in life, people are always learning, and being an entertainer has a lot to give that others who study don’t experience. My ambition to study came when I heard someone say, “If you go to school you will know of everything, but if you don’t you would have missed out”.”
AJ is determined to both study and continue with his activities as a member of U-KISS. However, where most idols chose to study degrees and courses to enhance their careers as idols, AJ has taken a completely different path and is majoring in Psychology. AJ said, “I don’t want to give up my studies because of U-KISS activities. I’m getting ready to achieve an A next semester, so I’m using all my free time to read”.
The transition from the music scene, to a student is a very big leap, and the pressure on AJ’s shoulders must have felt huge. However, AJ is both happy and grateful at the opportunity to study as he speaks about his past semester and his experiences. “I really wanted to focus on my studies only, so I shaved my head and went off to do that. While I was there, no one recognised me as a Korean idol. No one was able to recognise me. But it was a relief. In my life I was able to truly experience the life of a student. I was able to study with my friends in the library with the right mindset and eat late-night snacks together.”
The reason behind AJ’s determination to study, and to push himself both physically and mentally, is thinking about the future ahead. “No one can be an idol forever. Being idol isn’t a life job. When I am 30 years-old I would like to work at an office. I don’t want to settle in one place. Being a singer is great, but I want to produce albums, distribute music, work with marketing…there’s a lot I want to do.”
AJ was given this opportunity by his company, NH Media, which meant that AJ wasn’t forced to chose his career over his studies, or vice versa. “I made sure to tell my company that the possibility of studying was absolutely not to be omitted from my contract. My company has provided a lot of support with my condition to attend school no matter what. My fellow members also have given positive support to me. We all have the desire to study, Kevin would like to study as well”.
AJ has already determined his goals for the next semester too. “I don’t know if it’s just America, but everyone is very big and muscular and everyone is able to stay up two nights continuously without any trouble. I don’t want to fall behind on strength, so during my activities I am exercising to build up my strength. I want to read novels and study with friends, get in touch with my seniors and study with them. Next semester, I also want to try being a campus couple. Of course, it has to be a friend with a good heart. Ah, also I want to receive an A next semester.”
Hearing that AJ is making time for both his idol activities an his studies, his mother is extremely proud. “I can never forever the burst of happiness I felt when I first received my acceptance letter from Columbia University. I was very worried as English is not my first language but Lena Park sunbaenim, who also attended Columbia University, gave me a lot of strength with her words, “First go and experience”. I was scared at first, but I had go regrets after doing my best. I want to be able to reach all my goals.”
Generally, in America fall semester includes: August, September, October, November and December. While Spring semester includes: January, February, March, April and May.
We wish AJ the best of luck with his studies and idol activities!
Article by: Mariam
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