“What if I also commit suicide like the other Korean artists?”
Looking weak and thin, needs to be protected
“What if I also commit suicide like the other Korean artists?” Until now, Sun Le, Han Geng’s manager could still remember how shocked he was when Han Geng said that to him. “I have known Han Geng for 16 years now. He is a quiet, reserved person who doesn’t express and doesn’t know how to express himself. But he was never a pessimist. As a friend, I was in great shock, and then felt heartache after hearing that from him.”
In my mind, Han Geng is still the same little boy standing by the stairways watching us play. “Looking weak and thin, needs to be protected.”
In 1996, the 16-year-old Sun Le met the 12-year-old newcomer Han Geng in the residence hall at the dancing school. “We were hanging out in the stairways and saw this little boy standing alone watching us play. I thought he was good looking with radiant eyes, slim, like a little boy who needed to be protected.” Sun Le went up to say hi to the little boy and they became friends. This little boy is Han Geng.
Han Geng is quiet among all the boys. Because he was slim, they all treated him like their little brother. At school, he was known to be very diligent. He was either in the practice room or residence hall every day. He liked playing video games the most.
Han Geng hardly talked about his family. They started to become close friends until the day Sun Le asked him to go to an amusement park. While having fun, Han Geng told Sun Le that he did not coming from a wealthy family. He was under a lot of stress. It was the first time Sun Le realized that this little boy, although looking weak, is strong and determined. From that moment on, they formed a close friendship.
Even in those fours years while Han Geng went to Korea to be a trainee and debuted as a Super Junior member, they remained in close contact with each others. “In order to save long distance costs, we basically talked on the phone once a month until Han Geng came to China for promotion as the leader of SJ-M. During that period, Han Geng only delivered good news, but not bad news to his family. Not until he talked to us would he whine for a bit saying he was in great stress. Other than saying a few good words to encourage him, we couldn’t help much.”
As Han Geng started promoting in China, all the friends thought this should be better for him. Han Geng could feel less stressful because they could see each others more easily. They didn’t realize that this would strengthen Han Geng’s desire to leave SM. Due to the increasing chances of coming to China for activities and meeting Chinese artists, Han Geng felt career development in Korea is too harsh comparing to Chinese artists who have a better working environment and freedom for career development. “Although the entertainment industry in Korea has been fully established in the processes to make superstars, but at the same time, these entertainment companies treat their artists as merchandise only, neglecting the fact that these artists are also human beings.” Mr. Zhang, Han Geng’s friend, also said, “It was not at all easy for Han Geng during these few years working in Korea. No one could understand the pain other than himself. Han Geng never complained about physical fatigue. As a foreign artist debuting in Korea and due to cultural differences, it was very hard for Han Geng to be accepted by local (Korea) mainstream entertainment business circles and he was not respected by event organizers.
After having dinner in a mid 2009 night, Sun Le once again enlightened him by saying, “You have to really think this through. Korea’s entertainment business world is established in their profession to make stars that China’s cannot be compared to. And you are the first Chinese artist debuted and became popular in Korea. This title is like your trademark. If you terminate the contract, you would encounter all kinds of problems, lawsuit, your future career, etc. You could fall atop to the bottom and not be popular anymore.”
“What if I also commit suicide like the other Korean artists?” Sun Le then came to realize the situation was more severe which beyond his imagination. That night, Sun Le recalled the things Han Geng had told him and had to go through and connected them together then he realized, “He can’t tolerate anymore. Many reporters asked us what happened. We can’t really tell, only the person (T/N: Han Geng) who experienced these would understand the deadly effects.” Recalling that period, Han Geng would call Sun Le every time before he returned to Korea and said, “Brother, I need to return to Korea again, I really don’t want to go”. After his return, Han Geng would immediately call Sun Le. Initially Sun Le thought Han Geng was just calling to tell him that he had a safe trip back, but after picking up the phone, Han Geng basically didn’t say a word, just said hello and nothing else, but still remained on the line. “I was teasing him saying he had some problems. Now thinking back, I knew why he acted the ways he did.”
This time, Sun Le didn’t ask Han Geng to stay with Super Junior, but was actively seeking assistance to help Han Geng leave SM. “We initially wanted to ask the same law firm that is helping TVXQ. However, since the lawsuit was still in progress, they recommended us to our current lawyer. Because we had to gather much information for support documentation, Han Geng allowed us half a year for preparation. We initially planned to file the termination at a later time early next year, but Han Geng really could not tolerate any longer and so he rushed a bit into announcing the termination in December. It wasn’t the situation as spread across the internet that the termination was well-planned for or Han Geng found a better management company. Many people said Han Geng was not loyal to his company. But in my opinion, we think “rescue” is more proper.”
Mistreatment is true
There is a statement by Sun Le spread across the internet listing out 7 accounts of SM’s mistreatment to Han Geng. “Those accounts are true, but not released by us. Those are contents in the testimony. They should be kept confidential. But we don’t know who made them leaked out. We initially wanted to hold someone responsible for the information leakag. But later we thought people should know the truth, so we didn’t hold the company that did the translation responsible for the information leakage.”
The staff members now are all Han Geng’s friends. No signing of papers. No contract. Sun Le once said to Han Geng, “You and I are friends, working together is not good. How about I find you a good management company?” Han Geng then said, “Brother, you are thinking too much. I don’t mind, why would you ever mind?” So Han Geng and a few of our friends formed the current team. The team is completely international. We have staff members speak Chinese, Korean and English. The hardest part is when we have meetings. It is like hosting a United Nations session having different people speaking different languages. We need extra time to understand each others. Han Geng is also the interpreter of our team.
After taking a six-month hiatus, Han Geng released his first solo album “Geng Xin” in May (T/N: it should be July) 2010 and successfully hosted his first solo concert in July.
“We initially didn’t plan to host a concert, but a small-scale fan meeting. But the idea of hosting a concert came up in our conversations as we talked. As a friend and in my eyes, Han Geng is still the same weak and thin little boy standing by the stairway corner who needs to be protected. As a team member at work, we want to provide him with the best of everything for his love of stage and stage charisma because we firmly believe he deserves to have the best.”
Translated by hannie @ GENG-BAO.net
Take only with full credit!
Sun Le ♥