Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, internationally recognized for his mastery of kung fu and refusal to use a stunt double, is gearing up for the launch of his latest project – but it isn’t another Rush Hour sequel, or even an action movie at all.
A K-pop group managed by Chan – and bearing his namesake – will release its debut album on March 24 before a subsequent launch in China.
JJCC (or Double JC), a combination of Chan’s initials and his determination to “join cultures,” consists of five male idols in their early 20s. Four are South Korean and one is Australian-Chinese. The group represents Chan’s first attempt to enter the world of Korean pop, a chart-topping musical genre across Asia, but it might also have a deeper meaning for the politically outspoken celebrity and active member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“Chan was involved in auditioning the band members and will manage the group personally.” Sha-sha Lee, CEO of the Jackie Chan Group South Korea, told AP. “All five members are triple threats who can sing, dance, rap, and might act alongside Chan on the silver screen in the future.”
Apart from recruitment and management, the 59-year-old actor has also been heavily involved in the band’s training process. His hands-on approach likely stems from a childhood dream of becoming a pop star, which was overshadowed by his rapid success as an action hero.
“Jackie Chan is classically trained in vocals and has actively performed Mandopop, as well as Cantopop,” wrote KpopStarz. “He is able to lend a unique perspective to the K-Pop industry due to the fact that he is not only a successful actor, but has also contributed to the soundtracks of his films… With his fame established firmly in the West, specifically in the United States, it will be interesting to see if Jackie Chan and JJCC will be able to further penetrate the American pop music market”
Earlier this week, DailyKpopNews revealed JJCC’s leader as Oh Jong Seok. Nicknamed the “Cooking Rapper,” Oh gained a following in South Korea after appearing on the culinary reality show Master Chef Korea. He was born in the U.S. but has lived in South Korea for the past eight years.
“[Oh] is very vocal about his interest [in becoming] a chef even though he was training to be an idol during the show and expressed his plan to build a restaurant for his father,” the site reported, adding that other members also possessed individual talents outside of singing and dancing.
Chan may have a winning formula for uniting Chinese and Korean talent, but his choice to pursue a K-pop alliance over a J-pop alliance may be a reflection of his political beliefs. In 2012, he shared his point of view on the heated Senkaku-Diaoyu territorial dispute with members of the Taiwanese media:
“The Diaoyu Islands definitely belong to China,” said Chan. “I wish I was Superman, so I could pull the islands closer.”
In 2009, Chan also insisted that Japan, Taiwan and the U.S. have “too much freedom.”