Welcome one and all to the second and final part of this overly long review summary of a not-so-autobiography of the former K-pop idol, Jessica Jung (formerly of Girls’ Generation). If you didn’t catch the first part, just click on Jessica below to take you to it. If you somehow managed to finish reading through all that mess, then continue forth for the conclusion of this fanfic-like novel.
Chapter 15: “Summer Heat” Goes Viral
In this rousing chapter that comes after Rachel and Jason consummate their relationship with a kiss, we learn that Kang Jina of Electric Flower, has “left” the group and DB Entertainment. This is suspect in itself because in the chapter that we met Jina, she was arguing with her boyfriend because she didn’t want to leave the group. So, what’s going on really?
The only other thing of note to mention is Jason comes to Rachel’s school to serenade her with an original song of his and that’s where they find out that their song (with Mina), “Summer Heat” has went viral with over 20 million hits in just an hour. Nice.
Chapter 16: Rachel & Jason’s ~Lovely~ Date
Ah, this chapter. Don’t skip this one. Jason and Rachel celebrate their hit song by going on a date to Lotte World, a popular amusement park in Seoul. Of course, they are made up to be unrecognizable. Here, it’s all fun and games until they get in line to ride a rollercoaster and a few girls behind them are prompted to talk about “Summer Heat” by Jason. The girls proceed to basically talk smack about Mina and Jessica by calling them, “slutty,” “desperate,” “gross,” etc. while shaming their outfits and bodies. On the other hand, they call Jason cute and want his babies because that’s how it always goes, right?
It’s usual netizen smack talk, but it’s Jason’s nonchalant laissez-faire attitude towards the girls’ words turns Rachel off a bit. Not to mention he offers her caramel popcorn to cheer her up which she accepts a bit bewildered by his response. Yet, she remains bothered by his nonresponse to the Lotte girls (as she should).
Chapter 17: Yup, the K-pop industry sucks
Now, this is also a vital chapter because Kang Jina is back and with a vengeance as Jason and Rachel encounter her at a pojangmacha, a Korean street food stall, after leaving Lotte World. Jina is clearly drunk but what she spits out in her drunken rage is the truth and matter of things.
Jina clarifies that she was kicked out of DB Entertainment. She didn’t refuse to resign. This spurned K-pop idol says some interesting things, so here are a few select quotes that can be food for thought:
“You of all people must know how two-faced the K-pop world is. DB controls everything about our lives, and all of a sudden I’m the one who can’t handle this lifestyle? Everything I ever wore or ever said or ever did was because they told me to! All this shit…the expensive clothes, the makeup, the beauty products, it’s all so DB can turn us into whoever they want us to be, make us look perfect for public consumption. And they’re saying I’m the one who’s a diva?”Jina to Rachel (who shows her naivety in believing the story fed out by DB) (page 232)
“Oh, you naïve child. You think DB doesn’t have a way around whatever laws they want? Somewhere in some back in Switzerland, in some secure vault, are the three-year-extension contracts DB forced me and the rest of Electric Flower to sign the same day we signed our original contracts. Postdated, of course, so everything will hold up in court.Jina explaining to Rachel that no, K-pop contracts don’t always last for just 7 years (page 232)
“Of course he broke up with me! That’s how all these stories end. We get boyfriends, we let them ruin our lives, and they get away, scot-free and blameless. You think his label gives a shit about him having a girlfriend? Of course they don’t…DB talks about us being a family. But they don’t care. They don’t care about me. About you. They don’t care about anyone. All they care about is making us into perfect K-pop machines that will do everything they say and rake in the money for them.”Jina talking about her ex-boyfriend, Song Gyumin, another popular idol
Jina is drunk and of course feeling incredibly slighted because her career is literally ruined, but what she says in these quotes really puts it into perspective just how volatile the K-pop industry is. If you don’t play by the rules, you’ll get burned and left to smolder in the mess they leave you in. What a life.
After Jina spouts all this, she is led away by her friends with a last warning to Rachel to stay away from Mr. Choo especially (Mina’s father). Rachel is left in a swirl of emotions and that leave her body shaking and aching but she snaps out of it at what Jason’s response:
“Poor Jina…It really sucks what she’s going through. She’s obviously distressed.”
Wow, what a generic lackluster response that sounds as empty as you’d imagine.
Rachel catches this too and when she kinda snaps at him that, of course she’d be distressed! In turn, Jason counters with:
“…There are two sides to every story. It’s true that DB doesn’t pay us well, but like Jina says, they also provide us with clothes and apartments. It’s not that hard to make ends meet if you’re careful…I mean, I’ve always been treated pretty well by them.”
If that doesn’t scream male privilege, I don’t know what does. It’s such a double standard situation that it’s devastatingly frustrating knowing full well they’re guys, specifically K-pop guys, that probably have this same mentality as Jason does. He doesn’t seem so attractive now, eh ladies?
Rightly, Rachel heatedly says back,”That’s because you’re Jason Lee.” Enough said there, but she goes on to ask him if he’s even noticed the double standard in the industry with his answer being a furrow of his brows in possible confusion.
Realization eventually hits Rachel just how much she’s risking being with Jason and now knowing full well that she’ll be take the brunt of the blowback if their relationship is revealed (good for her). Thus, despite Jason’s blinded pleas, she breaks things off with him. Jason says that he can’t believe how much she’s overreacting which seals the deal and with a heavy heart and a tight chest, she leaves him behind at the pojangmacha determined to live a regular trainee life.
Chapter 18: The Toronto Chapter
Well, Rachel plans to do her best to avoid Jason and it works, for five days. Unfortunately, DB cockblocks her plan and announces the trio of singers will be going on a promotional tour for the song, “Summer Heat” by starting the tour off in Toronto, Jason’s hometown. After a plane ride with a snarky Jason, Rachel and the others are in for a schedule of interviews and performances. After one particular interview, the three are surprised to find out that another city has been added to their tour – New York, Rachel’s hometown.
Chapter 19: Daddy Issues and a Road Trip
Basically in this chapter, we learn that Jason has daddy issues (his dad pretty much sucks. Hey, I just noticed that all dads suck in this novel except Rachel’s). To blow off steam, Jason has the “bright” idea to drive Rachel, Mina, and himself up to Brantwood, the place where they’ll perform next. Somewhat surprisingly, their manager/exec, Mr. Han, agrees (on a condition that we later found out went unfulfilled).
But oh no, the car gets stuck in the middle of nowhere and Jason volunteers to go find help while Mina and Rachel actually bond over their mutual exhaustion and annoyance over their schedule and the sham questions the interviewers have been asking the girls as opposed to Jason. Truly, it seems the two rivals will finally become closer. Alas, if only for a moment.
Chapter 20: Brantwood Performance
They finally reach Brantwood, but are forced to improvise their wardrobe as the only reason Mr. Han had let them go freely was on the condition they’d pick up their outfits at the hotel’s dry cleaning service. Well, blame miscommunication for that. However, what’s important here is that Rachel has to lend Mina her high heels that end up injuring Mina during their performance to the point that a hospital visit is required. Not only that, but it breaks up any chance of the budding friendly relationship that had sparked just a chapter ago. Shame.
Chapter 21: New York and Friendship
This is the New York chapter! Despite Mina’s absence, the tour must go on…with Jason and Rachel alone (dear, oh dear). The must film a promotional video for DB but Rachel is near her wit’s end. The poor girl is overworked and starved as they go from tourist spot to tourist spot where she is forced to change clothes and hairstyle each time while Jason is cruising in pretty much the same outfit. Finally, when Rachel nearly collapsing, it’s Jason who snaps back at the film crew and calls of the filming to take Rachel to get some food and rest. Interesting, considering his behavior before.
Now that the two are alone, they start talking a bit more intimately over a few things like the pressures of debuting, Jason’s aunts (who we met in the last chapter), father (absentee), and mother (passed away), etc. But most importantly, Jason admits to the double standard in the industry and shows remorse for being a dumb blind privileged jerk about it.
The chapter ends with the two making up as friends.
Chapter 22: Yeah, they got back together
So the twins, Juhyun and Hyeri show up out of nowhere announcing that their cousin is having an engagement party in Brooklyn. Jason is there along with a couple of his group mates and the teens basically party it up in Brooklyn Bridge Park with a unicorn-shaped fountain, a ball pit and and a personal DJ in a treehouse. Then, the DJ puts on a song that just hit number one on the K-pop music charts and it’s, of course, “Summer Heat.” In the heat of a passionate moment, Rachel and Jason come together to kiss each other. Important to note, while Jason hesitates for a brief moment right before they kiss, Rachel goes right for it.
“What if I want to be someone who follows her heart and takes chances? Someone who can rise beyond the constant judgement and competition of this industry? Who isn’t scared to seize happiness for herself, whatever that may look like? And this thing between me and Jason, whatever it is, I know it sparks a light in me. Don’t I deserve to follow that light and see where it goes? To be that girl who holds hands and laughs freely with the boy who makes her heart sing?
Even if it means I might have to let go of my dreams? Or maybe just accept that I have a new one?”Rachel (page 297)
Yup folks, only took like one chapter to have Rachel fall back in love with this guy. Maybe because I’ve never been in love like that before, but is this natural? Like, I feel like a dude like Jason wouldn’t change that fast even if he becomes more aware of situations like the faults of the industry, but also girl, you’re literally riding the up and up to become an idol and you still wanna risk it for THIS guy? Alright then.
Chapter 23: The Choos Own the Kims
The elation Rachel experienced is cut abruptly short when she returns home to walk into Mr. Choo, Mina’s dad, offering her father a job as a legal consultant under him. Rachel’s whole family is there along with Mina as well. Obviously, this is bad though Rachel doesn’t see this at first but then realizes that her dad working for Mr. Choo really means that the Choo family owns them. Clearly, this is Mina’s revenge for what happened back in Brantwood. Aiyayaya.
And if that wasn’t enough, Mina shares that Jason is going solo. Why’s that so important? Let’s see…
Chapter 24: Jason Goes Solo in Many Ways
Rachel is flustered that Jason never told her about going solo and dashes to go find him at DB. However, on her way there, she is hit with another shattering piece of news: that she, Mina, and Jason are caught up in a dating scandal. The worst kind of scandal in the K-pop world. Of course, the scandal paints Jason as the poor hapless victim while basically making the two girls out to be vixens. Not to mention, there is photographic evidence that Jason went out with Mina on dates getting ice cream and laughing it up. Well…guess he’s not only blind to the industry’s failings, but a cheater as well?
Head spinning and feelings in disarray, Rachel confronts Jason in one of the DB practice rooms. Jason explains, but the truth ends up being worse than you think. He begins by explaining that he wanted to go solo, but the execs wanted to see if he would make it as a soloist so basically had him record a song with a trainee but when things took off with not just Mina, but Rachel, DB wanted Jason to generate even more buzz for the song. In his own words:
“DB was demanding I do whatever I could to generate buzz for the song…You know how DB is all about publicity. They staged dates for me with both you and Mina and had the paparazzi follow s. But Rachel, please understand…Everything with Mina was totally posed, just like it was supposed to be. But it was different with you. That day in Tokyo, on the plane, I meant what I said. And I’ve meant it ever since. I love being around you. I love y–“Jason explaining why he used Jessica (page 311)
But Rachel cuts him off demanding to know if Mina knew about this deal which she did. Apparently, Rachel wasn’t told because she’s not good in front of the camera (which to be fair, she wasn’t).
Jason confesses that he didn’t want Rachel to find out this way and that someone must have leaked the date pictures since he had been paying the paparazzi to keep the photos off the internet. Rachel, being the now smart cookie she is, deduces that it was DB who leaked the photos since it would create even more of a buzz now that Jason is going solo. Jason’s debut song which is about being caught in between two different worlds, is now going to be interpreted by his fans and the general public “as a heartbroken boy caught between two girls.”
Jason refutes this, but eventually sees that Rachel is right and realizes that DB pulled the wool over his eyes. When he seeks help from Rachel, she closes herself off and basically leaves him to deal with it. In turn, Jason grows equally distant and bitterly points out that what he did was no different than Rachel using him for that viral video to be noticed by the execs. (Which I actually kind of disagree with because there are factors in play in the two situations to classify them as different if it’s a bit subtle, but I won’t get into it. This section is long enough already.)
The two seemed to have officially broken up as the chapter closes on a crying Rachel and a goodbye.
Chapter 25: Rachel Will Never Debut?
The wallowing in “I’ll never debut” now chapter. Rachel finds herself wandering around Seoul aimlessly after her confrontation with Jason and ends up in front of the twins’ apartment. Coincidentally, she arrives just as they’re getting ready for their company’s gala and drag Rachel into the chaotic mess of makeup, wardrobe changes and the like. Rachel doesn’t get into what just happened to her but the twins sense there is something wrong, so the girls drink it up (aren’t they underaged though?) and have a pajama party. The romantic subplot of the twins’ love triangle with a mutual friend, Daeho, is wrapped up as he comes over to confess his love for Hyeri (not Juhyun!) and as well that ends well…for them.
For Rachel, she feels doomed over her future in K-pop and starts looking at college applications when her mother comes in and surprisingly tells Rachel of her own dreams growing up and how she fell short of achieving them (with her own disapproving mother to boot). She suddenly seems approving of Rachel’s pursuit to be an idol and with the help of Leah, Rachel begins to feel better.
But then she gets a text message from Yujin urging her to come to DB ASAP!
Chapter 26: Girls Forever~!
At DB, Yujin lets Rachel know that she had no idea that DB had set her up like that although Rachel hadn’t even doubted her for a second. Yujin also informs her that Akari, Rachel’s fellow trainee friend who she hasn’t properly talked to in ages, has been traded to a different company. Despite this heartaching news, Rachel is led by Yujin to the auditorium for “newbie day” as a distraction. Rachel follows feeling stiff but slowly regains her confidence and drive to make it as an idol no matter who tries to stop her. And good for her, because it is here that Rachel is announced to have made it into DB’s newest girl group, “Girls Forever” (boy, what a…fitting name) as the lead vocalist! Unfortunately, Mina and her cronies are part of the group, too.
Interestingly, it is important to note that Rachel notices that Jason knew she was going to debut today as he congratulated her even before the announcement was read out. Not only that, but it appears he may have struck a deal with Mr. Choo and Mr. Noh who he is seen with afterwards. Very curious. Oh well, guess we may find out more about that in the sequel!
But wait, there’s more! Mina, being her petty conniving self, isn’t done tormenting Rachel as she reveals she has a video of Jason and Rachel’s kiss from the night of their first performance of “Summer Heat.” Due to this, Miss Mina basically owns Rachel because if that video were to get out…who knows what would happen?
Chapter 27: Time to Shine
The closing chapter. It’s time for Girls Forever to debut. Although, Rachel has the threat of the “Summer Heat” kiss video looming over her, she determines to not take Mina’s treatment of her lying down. Not to mention, she’s also find out a little secret of Mina’s as well. Apparently, the girl has a watch that belonged to Mr. Han, one of the DB execs. Now why would she have that?
And finally it’s time for Rachel to shine.
Well, I’ll keep this one short since you read all that and I’m sure you don’t want to read even more, right? I thought the book was alright. It surely was entertaining to read and also try to apply some parts of it to the actual K-pop industry. Since this book is outfitted to be fictional, we can only guess just what parts are truly fictionalized and what parts hold some bit of truth. I’m a dumbo and quite gullible so I’m sure some of the things I read that made me go: huh, I guess that could happen – are probably wrong. Obviously, the main issue of having a boyfriend/significant other is clearly not a good idea especially if you’re a trainee. But I guess, hormones, man. You can’t beat them especially at their age.
Actually, I really do believe the romance aspect of this book really led it to sounding very Wattpad fanfiction-like. Imagine if this book had been written by some woman who wasn’t an idol. How would it read then?
Anyways, there’s apparently a sequel coming out so when it does, I might do another review-summary of it and hopefully keep it shorter (like who the hell would read two parts of a review? Even I wouldn’t). So, if you got this far, thank you and see you next time.
5 Replies to “[Part 2] Shine: The Conclusion to the not really but really autobiography of Jessica Jung”
Thanks for this! I tried to read the book but it made me cringe so much I dropped it. Every time I think of picking it up again I cringe. I wonder how much of this is real and how much is exaggerated for plot purposes?
Oh wow, no, thank you for reading because I thought no one would. And same, I did wonder how much was reality vs fiction. Guess we won’t know for sure.
Do you mean reading your blog or reading the novel? If it’s your blog no need to thank me; I’m a regular reader (don’t know if the stats show it though), If it’s the book Asian Junkie was the one who made me aware of its existence. Really wish some ex-idol from the Big 3 would do a Kpopalypse interview.
Yeah, I meant the blog. It does show me stats of how many visitors but nothing about repeat/regular readers. I thought I didn’t really have any, haha. But no, I really should thank you again for reading my content. It’s very encouraging. And yes, that kind of interview would be awesome – too bad it seems very unlikely (but we can hope!)
thx for this its really helpful for me who stopped reading this book after the 2 chapter and i still need to do this for a school project ???? this book is so cringe i dont when know why i started reading her book like i asked myself for over thousand times is this even reality or more fantasy