Her down-to-earth looks may be deceiving. Jeong Eun-ji (19), the main vocalist of the girl group A Pink, says her main appeal is her girl-next-door appeal.
"Frankly, I'm a run-of-the-mill kind of girl, the kind you can see anywhere. I'm not that pretty and I don't have a smashing figure," Jeong said.
Yet it is precisely this sense of intimacy and familiarity that seems to be drawing more viewers in their 20s and 30s to the hit tvN drama "Answer Me 1997," which portrays the lives of young students in the 1990s. Jeong plays a girl who is smitten with idol stars in the drama, which has achieved unprecedented ratings for a cable channel of over five percent as it approaches its final episode.
Jeong, who spoke with the Chosun Ilbo on Thursday, said the props, musical score and attention to detail in the drama, which hark back to the 1990s, appear to have won over the hearts of nostalgic viewers.
"It looks like beepers, Eastpak backpacks and other items that were huge fads in 1990s made viewers long for the 'good old times'," said Jeong.
Jeong made her acting debut in the drama. "I was really nervous at first, but I think the role was almost tailor-made for me," she said. "The perky character is about 80 percent like my own personality, so I was able to act quite naturally."
Her local accent also gave her an advantage. "I was born and raised in Busan, so I have a strong accent and that improved my chances of appearing in [the drama]," Jeong said. "People say my accent helped me be more convincing in this role, and I agree with them."
Jeong was only four years old in 1997, the year in which the drama is set. When asked if she could relate to the 1990s, Jeong said, "I started listening to cassette tapes when I was in the first grade, and I saw my dad using beepers instead of cell phones, which weren't available back then, so I wasn't that unfamiliar with the era."
"Actually, I was never crazy about idol groups, but I was able to understand my character better by observing A Pink's fans. I'm happy that more people have got to know not only myself, but also A Pink through the show."