Like Elvis Presley before him, South Korean pop star Rain
has left his life as a celebrity behind, for now, to begin his military service. On Tuesday, the 29-year-old began his two-year stint in the Korean army.
The service is mandatory for all men to complete before the age of 35, and Rain, real name Jung Ji-hoon, headed to a Seoul-area army base as fans sent their heartthrob off. He wrapped up a string of live performances over the weekend, and in a recent blog post on his website, he said that he wished he had completed his military service earlier in his life.
He added that he felt it was “too late” to be joining now but that “I will try harder to fulfill my duty more sincerely.” As a sign of his popularity in Korea, approximately 20,000 people showed up to his final performance on Sunday before his military service kicked off this week.
The Wall Street Journal reports that hundreds of fans arrived at his send-off, where he was sporting short hair.
Time.com reports that at the send-off, he told his loyal and emotional fans, “Thank you for the 10 years of love.”
While he is a Justin Bieber-like superstar in his home country, he remains better known to American pop culture aficionados as the star of 2009’s “Ninja Assassin,” as well 2008’s “Speed Racer.” He even won an MTV Movie Award for his part in “Ninja Assassin.”
In a 2009 interview with MTV News, Rain did tease that he wanted to eventually pursue an English-language music career. “I don’t sing in my film, and I don’t have plans yet for an English album, but I will,” he said. “Please wait for me.”