Every K-Pop star has their own reasons for becoming an idol, but Rocky‘s reason for joining ASTRO is particularly unusual. In a new interview with KPOP IDOL OLYMPIC on YouTube, Rocky revealed that he once rejected becoming a K-Pop idol, but then a Nintendo Wii games console changed everything.
The story all starts back when Rocky was in 5th grade—around 10 or 11 years old. The star explained to KPOP IDOL OLYMPIC that while he was watching the comedy variety show Star King with his mom, he saw an advertisement looking for children to play the titular character in a new run of Billy Elliot the Musical.
From the moment he began elementary school at the age of six, Rocky knew he either wanted to be a dancer or a taekwondo fighter, so he’d already been dancing for many years. When he saw the advertisement, he found himself saying, “That’s me! I can do all of that!”
Since his family was planning to pay a visit to Seoul from his hometown of Jinju already, they decided that Rocky should audition for the musical. After performing a dance repertoire for the judges, it should come as no surprise that talented young Rocky passed his first audition with flying colors.
From then on, his parents would make the five-hour drive to Seoul every weekend to take Rocky to his professional training classes for the role of Billy. There, he learned ballet, acrobatics, tap dance, contemporary dance, acting, and singing over the course of around a year. In an interview with MBC back then, Rocky—then known by his birth name, Park Min Hyuk—told reporters that dancing was his “thrilling” release from life’s difficulties.
I’ve got so much pent-up stuff, but when I dance and get complimented for it, I can blow off steam.
— Rocky, aged 11
Eventually, the production team for Billy Elliot the Musical eliminated all but four or five of the auditionees, leaving Rocky as one of the final actors chosen to play Billy. “I was immersed in Billy for a year,” Rocky explained, “And I fell in love will Billy.” However, that’s when the “turning point” happened.
The character Billy felt just like me, venting uncontrollable anger through dance. I felt I really clicked with Billy in that short period of my life.
Just as Rocky was finally reaching the point where he could perform on stage as Billy Elliot, the actor playing Billy’s friend Michael presented Rocky with an opportunity. The actor, who was signed to Fantagio Entertainment at the time, advised Rocky to try out for an audition with the company.
Again, Rocky was able to pass this audition with no trouble, and before he knew it, he was being offered a contract with Fantagio Entertainment. However, while many youngsters with a love for performing would jump at the chance to become a K-Pop idol, Rocky wasn’t convinced at all. Fantagio Entertainment wanted a reply within a week, but Rocky found himself sobbing at the thought of losing out on Billy Elliot the Music.
[My parents] really thought it through and told me that performing as Billy is great, but I could always do that later. I was crying like crazy, insisting that I was going to play Billy, but my parents were saying that I should sign with Fantagio.
Rejecting the idea of joining the company, Rocky reveals he cried in the living room with his parents from 10 p.m. that night to 3 or 4 a.m. the next morning. Eventually, to try to convince him, his parents tried a new tactic: bribery. Rocky says his parents asked him, “Is there anything you’d like to have?”, and Rocky had an answer right away—he wanted a Nintendo Wii, one of the most popular game consoles back then.
Dad was like, “Let’s go”… That’s when he had me.
So, Rocky’s dad took him to the store and asked him, “Are you going agree to [join Fantagio] if I go buy it right now?” Thankfully for AROHAs who could never imagine ASTRO without Rocky’s talent, the easily swayed young star agreed wholeheartedly, exchanging his musical dreams for the Nintendo Wii in a heartbeat. “I gave up on Billy,” he explained, “And luckily got to sign with Fantagio; that’s when it all began.”