For her debut young adult novel, Shine (out Sept. 29 on Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), former Girls’ Generation member Jessica Jung offers a glimpse into the competitive K-pop world — and in this scene, the idol worship that comes along with it.
“You’re…Jason…Lee,” I stammer as I struggle to my feet. Even before shooting to stardom with DB, Jason was famous for his YouTube K-pop covers. After one of his videos went viral, Mr. Noh himself flew to Toronto and convinced Jason to move to Seoul, where he quickly became Korea’s most beloved pop star. Being half-white, half-Korean actually works for him here, with everyone from preteens to stalker fans to ahjummas [married women] praising him for his big, double-lidded eyes and olive complexion, as if he handpicked his genes himself. Somehow his foreigner status gets him voted “Korea’s Sexiest K-pop Star,” while mine gets me mandatory Korean culture lessons.
“Oh, so you’ve heard of me?” He arches an eyebrow, his smile widening. He’s definitely got the smile-like-the-world-is-your-friend thing down — for him, the world probably is.
“What kind of things have you heard?”
“Well, my sister Leah told me about your musical therapy chari—”
“Voice of an angel? Smile of the devil? Body of a god?”
“You know, most girls faint when they see me. But I guess you did fall, so that’s something,” he says, almost to himself.
“So, tell me, what are they saying these days?” He beams down at me, his mouth open in a ridiculously cute smile.
“Mainly that you steal vinyl records from Mr. Noh’s office,” I say, slightly rattled by his obvious arrogance. So much for the sweet, humble star boy who starts charities and loves his fans.
“And that you have a secret werewolf lover that you only see during the full moon.”
“Whaaaat? That’s wild! Who said that? How dare they!”
He looks wounded, flashing me his signature puppy-dog eyes before a sly grin spreads across his face. “I’d never steal from Mr. Noh.”
I roll my eyes. This is the K-pop star the world is so in love with? “Of course not. God forbid you do anything to mess up your perfect reputation. But rumors about your magical, shape-shifting girlfriend you’re fine with?”
“A gentleman never kisses and tells,” he replies smoothly.“
Besides, you know what they say: the more people are talking about you, the more you’re worth talking about.”
Copyright © 2020 by Jessica Jung and Glasstown Entertainment. Excerpted from the forthcoming book entitled SHINE by Jessica Jung to be published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.