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Sunday, 13 July 2014

Koihime Musou Girls and Famous Koreans, Part XVIII: Xu Chu and Heo Young-saeng


Heo Young-saeng (Hangul/Hanja: 허영생/許永生; born: November 3, 1986 in Gwangju-Gyeonggi) is a South Korean entertainer and the main vocalist and the lead singer of boyband, SS501. Heo Young-saeng's family consists of his parents and himself: he is an only child. He is a member of Gimhae Heo Clan (김해 허씨/金海許氏), a clan which is originated from Gimhae City, Southern Gyeongsang Province - descended from Queen Heo Hwang-ok of Geumgwan Gaya.

In 2010, Heo left DSP Media, who managed him as part of SS501 and joined B2M Entertainment, with bandmate Kim Kyu-Jong, as a solo artist. His debut album as a soloist entitled Let It Go was released in May 2011. He then released several albums more in Korea and Japan with hit tracks "Crying", "The Art of Seduction", "Weak Child", and "1.2.3", to name a few. In 2012, Heo played his first acting role in KBS2's sitcom I Need A Fairy.

Heo has performed in musicals as well: his debut in The Three Musketeers, playing as the role of D'Artagnan during 2011; and another in 2013 for the Summer Snow musical. He has enlisted to serve his mandatory military service for 21 months on active duty as a public service worker since October 31, 2013.

Heo Young Saeng debuted as a member of SS501 on June 8, 2005, along with their debut album entitled Warning. Their second mini album, Snow Prince was released in late 2005, five months after their debut. During this time, they also established their official fan club name, "Triple S", and fan club color, pearl green. The group earned popularity right away as they won many rookie awards after their debut.

In 2006, from May 1 to August 21, Heo hosted SS501's radio program SS501's Youngstreet on SBS along with fellow member Park Jung Min. However, he had to leave the program because of a throat condition that required laryngeal surgery; so his bandmate Kim Kyu-Jong took over as DJ.

Heo, together with the other his members, soon promoted their first studio album (S.T 01 Now). In late 2007, they expanded their activities in the Japanese market to challenge themselves outside Korea with the release of their Japanese single Kokoro, along with the establishment of "Triple S Japan". After the single debuted at #5, they had 2 more successful releases in Japan(Distance and SS501) within one year that they received the "Newcomer Award" by Japan Gold Disc Award in January 2008; this was the first time for Korean artists to receive this award.

Having built their foundation as artists in Japan and Korea, they continually released singles and albums back-and-fourth: Deja Vu; Lucky Days. They stopped their activities as a group for a period of time while Park Jung-Min and Kim Hyun-Joong were given solo projects for Grease musical and Boys Over Flowers series respectively. Thus, 'SS501 Project Group' was formed with three remaining members with Heo as the leader. They released a project album named U R Man in November 2008, with high tempo dance title track "UR Man". They also contributed to the Boys Over Flowers soundtrack with "내 머리가 나빠서" (Because I'm Stupid), and appeared as a cameo in episode four, performing their track, "U R Man". The track won Song of the Month for February at the 32nd Cyworld Digital Music Awards on March 28, 2009. In 2009-2010, SS501 released All My Love, Solo Collection, Rebirth, and Destination consecutively before their contracts ended.

For the project album U R Man, Heo wrote his solo track "사랑인거죠" (Is it Love?) by himself, which made him the first SS501 member to compose and write the lyrics of the song. "사랑인거죠" (Is it Love?) was written during SS501's activities in Japan in 2007. He also wrote the lyrics for his part of "완.두.콩." (Green Peas), a song written for their fans, released in their album Rebirth in 2009. Moreover, Heo composed "영원토록" (Until Forever), released on Destination Album, which was a wedding song originally, but since he felt sad whenever he heard the song, he did not give it a wedding-themed title.

In 2009, Heo started contributing soundtracks to television dramas, which includes "눈물을 지워가" (I Erase Tears) from Friend, Our Legend and "사랑해요..미안해요.." (I Love You.. I'm Sorry..) from Will It Snow For Christmas?.

In June 2010, upon the expiration of SS501's contract with DSP Media, Heo along with fellow band member Kim Kyu Jong, signed with B2M Entertainment, the agency of former DSP Media songstress Lee Hyori, to embark on his solo career. In launching his solo career, he and Kim held a joint fanmeeting, Kyu Jong & Young Saeng Story In Seoul on December 4, which continued in Hong Kong, Japan and countries across Asia.

Heo Young Saeng was scheduled to launch his solo singing career on April 28, 2011, but had to postpone because he pulled the ligaments on his right hand during a dance practice. He was also scheduled to guest star on SBS's Good Sunday variety show Running Man, on May 8, 2011, but due to his injury, he appeared only briefly to hand out a mission.

Heo Young-saeng's solo debut mini album, Let It Go, was released on May 12, 2011, which features "Park Joo Hyun", the main rapper of girl group Spica, on the music video, and Kim Kyu Jong and Hyuna on "Rainy Love" and "Let It Go" tracks respectively. The album peaked at number one on Gaon's album chart for the week starting on May 8, 2011. Three weeks after, B2M Entertainment announced Heo's official fanclub's name to be named "Y.E.S", or "Youngsaeng's Eternal Supporters", as decided by online voters.

On November 9, 2011, Heo, along with other Korean and Japanese artists, performed at the Seoul Tokyo Music Festival 2011 at the Saitama Super Arena, Japan. At the same time, Heo made his musical debut in The Three Musketeers, playing the role of D'Artagnan from November 3 to December 18. In addition, Heo released a track for Fermented family Korean drama entitled "The Words On My Lips" on December 28.

In February 2012, KBS confirmed that Heo Young-Saeng would be part of KBS2's daily sitcom called I Need A Fairy (also known as Sent From Heaven), playing the role "Heo Young Saeng/ Kaki". A month later, he released a soundtrack of the said drama entitled "Love Song".

On May 9, 2012, B2M Entertainment officially announced via Twitter that Heo, himself, participated in the planning process and production of his new mini album Solo. As an artist, he wanted to go from being an idol to co-producing his work, especially since he had participated in the making of this album, for which a teaser was released on May 18, 2012.

Heo Young-Saeng released his first Japanese album entitled Overjoyed in Japan on September 19, 2012 under Pony Canyon Japan. It consists of eight songs, including three Japanese versions of songs from his previous Korean mini albums. Overjoyed entered the Japanese Oricon weekly album charts at #29. After finishing his Japanese activities and promotions, Heo was set to release his third Korean mini album.

In January, Heo was invited to be a guest judge together with Bada, Bobby Kim, and Jun Soo Kyung on MBC's Birth of A Great Star 3. He was also invited to do a collaboration with Lee Jung Bong later on. They produced a duet song named "Goodbye My Love", which was released on January 31. During this time, he was already preparing for his upcoming third mini album. Furthermore, B2M Entertainment confirmed through their website on February 14 that Heo were to join the cast of Summer Snow musical, originated from a Japanese Drama, to be held in April in Osaka, Japan, and at the end of May to June in Tokyo, Japan. They had a press conference on February 20 that was held in Tokyo.

Through their twitter account on February 18, B2M hinted Heo's Korean comeback. After the initial announcement, a short video teaser has been released by B2M on March 5, and a second video teaser was released on March 8. He finally released his third mini album Life on March 13 containing four songs including his music video entitled "The Art of Seduction". After his album promotions and his performance during the MBC Korea China Friendship Concert, he left to Japan and started his Summer Snow musical as Tachibana Seiji, a young doctor who has a one-sided love to his patient, Katase Yuki.

On May 29, news were spreading that Heo is planning to enlist for his mandatory military service in November. According to one of B2M Entertainment's representatives, he already decided to enlist by the end of 2013 right after he receives a draft notice. In fact, he already had a health checkup, and he was found to be fit for active duty by the Office of Military Manpower Administration. Further information about his enlistment has not been decided yet.

On the day of SS501's eight anniversary, Heo, together with SS501 members posted the same video on YouTube together to celebrate and greet their fans. Kim Hyun Joong was not able to be in the video at that time because he had a shooting on his variety show, Barefooted Friends. However, Kim Hyun Joong still talked about their anniversary on his Korea fanmeeting entitled 2013 KHJ Show - Party People, held at the same day of their anniversary.

During early June, Heo's Japan official website released tracks and information for his upcoming second Japanese album entitled Memories To You, which was released on July 3. The title is said to be Heo's memories shared with his fans. The album mainly consists of SS501 cover songs and rearranged tracks from his past albums, but there are also two new songs included. In addition, Heo's first solo composed song entitled "First Sky I've Ever Seen" (はじめて見る空だった), originally from Kokoro album, is also included in the album, totaling up to ten songs. A concert was held in Zepp Tokyo on July 11.

Heo had his first fanmeeting tour in South and Latin America together with co-member Park Jung-min starting on August 17. Although it is said to be a joint fanmeeting tour put by Zafiro Productions, the two of them would not have the same time and meetings with their fans. The tour originally consisted of four stops: two in Peru, and one in Mexico and Ecuador. However, B2M later announced that Heo's fanmeeting in Saeng Quito, Ecuador and Arequipa, Peru on August 22 and August 24 respectively were cancelled due to lack of time for proper preparation. As said earlier, there will be two different shows, so only Heo's meeting was cancelled, not Park's. Fanmeetings in Lima, Peru on August 17 and Mexico on August 20 were held as originally planned, and an encore in Lima, Peru on August 24 was added later on.

Heo performed on "Lotte Family Festival 2013" together with the other 28 performers in Seoul. He performed during the second day of the festival, on September 14, which was largely devoted to K-drama popular original soundtracks. Of course, he sang "Because I'm Stupid" from Boys Over Flowers original soundtrack, which won several awards back in 2009.

After giving his parting gift, Memories to You for his Japanese fans, Heo released his last album before his enlistment. Before the release, B2M announced on September 18 that Heo might have his first concert in Korea on October 26. Seven days later, it was announced that Heo will release his upcoming album next month, October, and will join the army the following month after his said concert. Further details were released after nine days saying that Heo's concert is confirmed and hinting his enlistment date as well, saying that the exact enlist date and recruit training center have not been confirmed yet.

On October 3, B2M officially announced Heo's enlistment details through his official website. They confirmed that he will be enlisted on October 31 at 2pm at Nonsan Korean Army Training Center. Four days later, B2M once again announced Heo's last album release on October 16 before his enlistment. At the same time, Yesasia released a pre-order version of She special album. The album contains five tracks about a man's regrets and painful memories for a past lover, and his single, "Weak Child", features Japanese actress Fujii Mina.

There was a fansigning event to promote his album held on October 20, 7pm at KT Olleh Square. On October 26, Heo had his first and farewell concert in Seoul entitled "2013 Heo Young Saeng Seoul Concert 0513 My Story", which marks the first time that all five members of SS501 appeared together on one stage onscreen and performed together as a group again after three years, as seen at the UNIQLO AX Hall. On the side note, his fans from all over the world had donated a total of 1.23 tons of rice, 200 eggs, and 2,400 coal briquettes to be given to a Heo's chosen charity.

Heo is the second member of SS501 to be enlisted after Kim Kyu-jong. He was enlisted as a conscripted policeman for about twenty-one months after passing in late July, which he has been preparing for after receiving the draft notice. During his training, he became one of the leaders of the troop while enjoying his army life with his unit members, as told by his handwritten letter to his fans.

Heo have several friends in the entertainment industry besides his co-members in SS501 and labelmates. Heo have been close to TVXQ and Super Junior ever since their SM Entertainment training days. Specially to U-Know Yunho, Yesung, Heechul, Siwon and former TXVQ members and current JYJ members Kim Jae Joong and Park Yoo Chun. Heo and Siwon even attended the same school and became classmates. was In addition, Boys Over Flowers's Park Ji-bin has been his younger brother as they are always seen together during soccer adventures and VIP screenings. Park even sent Heo off to the army in 2013. Others include Go Ara, Mir, Seo Ji Suk, wherein the latter had a cameo on Heo's "The Art of Seduction" music video as well as the composer of "Gazing".

Although he is a star and part of a boyband, he also looks up to others in his industry. In particular, he is fanboying over Shinhwa, expressing his love and respect to the group. In fact, he was even encouraged to join the music industry because of Lee Min Woo, as well as joining Shinhwa's official fanclub, Shinhwa Changjo. Furthermore, since Shinhwa is considered one of the longest boybands in Korea, he hopes for SS501 to be like them.