Singer and actor Rain was chosen as the most influential person in the world in a Time magazine poll for the third time since 2006. Rain, 28, with the Korean name Jung Ji-hoon, took the top spot in the Time 100 reader poll for the third year, trouncing competitors from Barack Obama to Lady Gaga, the U.S. news magazine said.
Calling him “the unstoppable South Korean superstar,” Time reviewed how Rain began enthralling Asian fans with a concert in Hong Kong in October 2005 after releasing his first record, “Bad Guy,” in 2002. Rain then produced albums in Korean and Japanese, and taped “MTV World Presents Rain ― Live in New York” in February 2006. The star launched his own fashion line, Six to Five, in late 2008.
Rain starred in 2006’s “I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK,” a romantic comedy set in a mental hospital. The film won the Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival. In his first English language lead role, Rain played a rogue warrior in the 2009 film “Ninja Assassin.” He performed at the closing ceremony of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China and most recently he held a concert at the Beijing Wukesong Culture and Sports Center last March.
These feats pushed Rain to the list which had only a few familiar names from the entertainment world, such as the Academy Award-winning Colin Firth of “the King’s Speech,” Canadian singer Justin Bieber and action star Matt Damon. Political leaders who made it to the 2011 Time 100 included Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nocolas Sarkozy and China’s Xi Jinping.
Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel admitted that influence is impossible to measure, but he noted that social media made it easier to influence or to be influenced. Wael Ghonim’s appeals on Facebook helped spark the Egyptian revolution while Chinese artist Ai Weiwei became the country’s conscience, Stengel observed. Those who voted for Rain from Asia and elsewhere may be living in much freer societies, yet they belong to the same new generation who enjoy the democratization of information with technological development.
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un was also on the list along with Moammar Gadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and Iraq’s Muqtada al-Sadr as compilers of the list recognized their influence in dispensing fears to people.
Rain’s more benign domestic influence will be well demonstrated when he joins the Air Force late this year. And many of his fans already wonder how their hero will be able to manage his career away from the stage.