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Dara Park: The Original Queen Of K-Pop In The Spotlight

She was part of one of the most successful K-pop girl groups of the 2010s. Imran Jalal gets up close and personal with Female's first K-cover star, Dara Park.

If Sandara Park and her girl band 2NE1 were still making music, they’d be marking their 10th anniversary in showbiz this year; established veterans in an industry infamous for churning out – then chucking – cadres of pop phenoms at breakneck speed. Alas, the quartet, who carved a trailblazing run through the billion-dollar K-pop scene in the early aughts with their sleek dance moves, larger-than-life stage performances and championing of female empowerment, disbanded three years ago (though not without leaving a legacy that includes nine number one singles and record sales of 66.5 million).

So where does that leave Park, better known as Dara to her 7.5 million Instagram fans and 5.27 million Twitter followers? Track down footage and social media posts of her visit to Singapore in March for the opening of Kate Spade New York’s first ever global pop-up store at Ion Orchard and you’ll have your answer.

sandara park

Cupro-blend turtleneck sweater, cotton-blend pants, and Nicola calfskin shoulder bag. All clothes and accessories, Kate Spade New York unless stated

Fans thronged multiple floors of the mall just to catch a glimpse of the singer. That she was invited to grace the momentous event further attests to her clout. Launched to celebrate the reinvention of the American label under Nicola Glass – its creative director since S/S ’19 – the pop-up was the first in a travelling series to reveal a hot pink set-up shaped like a giant spade, perfect for IG moments when shot from above.   

Not unlike the brand, which has gained a new reputation for fun yet sophisticated retro-inflected ready-to-wear and bags under Glass’ stewardship, Park has grown up and is all game for transformation. “(Evolving) isn’t only important for an artiste, but for everyone. We only live once, so I think that it’s important to try many different things and challenge everything that you want to do,” she says softly yet assuredly in a mix of English and Korean during our exclusive face-to-face interview.

Cue her growing – and eclectic – list of acting credentials: She was the lead in the 2017 musical drama One Step – South Korea’s answer to that Keira Knightley/Mark Ruffalo feel-good hit Begin Again – as well as indie short 107th Night (2018). The latter – in which she plays a vampire – won the Foreign Suspense Thriller Award at the International Horror Hotel Festival in Ohio, Cleveland. Pretty experimental of “the sweet one” in 2NE1, if you ask us.