South Korean Sensation Rain Enters Military as Hundreds of Fans Bid Him Farewell

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The pop singer-actor’s latest film, Soar Into the Sun, will be released in 2012.

Is Rain the South Korean Elvis?

It certainly seemed so by the turnout of hundreds of fans in Seoul Tuesday that came to bid  the singer-actor farewell as he entered military service.

Like Elvis, who served two years in the U.S. Army, Rain will be an active-duty solder for the same amount of time with South Korea's Uijeongbu 306 Reserve Battalion.

Military service is mandatory for all able-bodied South Korean men. Artist who have tried to avoid duty, have suffered career backlashes, reports the BBC.

Rain will be off the public radar for the next two years, but fans will be able to watch him in military action through his air force movie, Soar Into the Sun. In Soar, Jung Ji-hoon – Rain’s real name, which he prefers to use for acting projects – plays a talented yet troublemaking elite air force pilot who is demoted to the combat flying unit. There he meets new friends, rivals and love interest, and is put to the ultimate test when he ventures into enemy territory.

The star told reporters at the Busan Film Festival press conference for the project last week that he feels like he got an intense preview of military life through the film, for which production wrapped last month for a 2012 release. “I experienced seven months of life in the barracks while shooting the movie. It was painful not being able to eat whenever I wanted,” he said, adding that he almost fainted while undergoing the actual gravity test for pilots.

Directed by Kim Dong-hoon, Soar marks Rain’s second homespun movie since his big screen debut, I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (2006) by Park Chan-wook. Hollywood ventures on Rain’s resume include the Wachowskis' Speed Racer and Ninja Assassin.