Old Haunt Redux: Is Rain the "Korean Justin Timberlake?"

This was the very first post that I ever wrote for The Blasian Narrative back when we were at the Old Haunt, and awwww...it brings back fond memories.

I saw Ninja Assassin a month or so before writing the original post, and let's just say that Rain made an impression on me.  Except for his brief, but hilarious dance-off skit on The Colbert Report back in 2008, I had no idea who he was.  But once I tied the singer/dancer from Colbert to the lead actor in Ninja Assassin, it didn't take long for me to start noticing the ridiculous, privilege-induced comparisons of Rain to Justin Timberlake. 

Now, both Justin and Rain's dancing style is definitely Usher-esqe, but Rain (who proudly idolizes Usher) gets consistently compared to Justin and not Usher?


Needless to say, I was gobsmacked.  I was so gobsmacked in fact, that I was moved to search out videos of the two of them so that I could do my own contrast and compare.  I distinctly remember watching the "Rainism" video for the first time...I could barely pick my jaw up off the floor.  This is no knock against Justin, but I didn't have even one-tenth the same reaction when I saw the "Like I Love You" video for the first time.

I'm sorry, but after watching these videos again, I'm sticking to my original conclusion:  Justin who?

IMHO, there really is no comparison.
[originally posted on 6/19/10]

Is Rain the "Korean Justin Timberlake?"

My opinion? Hell, no. I’ve heard it said one too many times that Rain is the “Korean Justin Timberlake”, and the comparison just doesn’t sit right with me. Why isn’t he being compared to Usher (who he reminds me more of anyway) or even Michael Jackson?  Why is he being compared to the white guy who’s co-opted R&B/hip hop to keep his career going instead of a black singer who’s probably lived and breathed R&B/hip hop his whole life?

It just strikes me as another form of applying whiteness by-proxy to make a POC “better.” Or at least to explain why another non-black who has embraced the genre is so damn good at it. And of course, if Rain is as good as Justin, then he must be imitating him.

I’m not saying that I don’t like Justin or enjoy some of his music, but he’s certainly not the be-all and end-all of blue-eyed soul (I’d take Jon B., Robin Thicke or Adam Levine any day). Based on what I've seen, Rain can sing and dance circles around JT.  His singing voice has loads more natural soul in it, and damn can that man move. Yes, Justin can certainly dance, but I think that Rain has more innate talent.  (Wait…let me watch Rainism one more time just to make sure… *drools* Yep, he’s better!) 

If anything, I'd say that Justin is an American Rain, not the other way around.

Am I right or am I just being overly sensitive and more than a little biased?   I've posted video for your viewing pleasure. I tried to be fair so that they would both be showcased in an equitable way:




The look on Rain's face in this video is PRICELESS when the interviewer brings up the JT comparison.  Let's just say that he wasn't feelin' it.

Here are a few of my favorite comments from the original post:

LMAO @ his expression in the video. He is clearly thinking "not this shit again".

Made the mistake of watching Justin vids after Rain vids.

*shakes head*

No. No comparison whatsoever. Justin will never even reach the damn pedestal Rain is standing on.

See Megan? Girl, the internet is your friend. Had she done some damn research, her outcome might have been different. LOL


  1. A classic from the Old Haunt. *applauds* Brava!

    It just strikes me as another form of applying whiteness by-proxy to make a POC “better.” Or at least to explain why another non-black who has embraced the genre is so damn good at it.

    Or to insert themselves into a genre/world which is increasingly excluding them.

  2. Rain is probably thinking, "Justin Timberfake ain't got nothin' on me!" Cause he don't. I know he's sick of that shit.

  3. @ Amaya

    I know he's sick of that shit.

    We sure as hell are. That was one serious eruption of vomit when these comparisons were first mentioned. Made you wanna take a shot of something real strong during those interviews.

  4. Those were the days. Fun times and lots of snark about the ridiculous Timber-fake comparisons.

  5. This is my first time seeing this article. I'm glad you reposted it.

    Anyway, the first time I saw Rain was in the kdrama "Full House"; however, I was not impressed with him until I saw "Ninja Assassin" (and the youtube videos about his intense training for the role).

    I did not know there was a Timberlake comparison at all. To be honest, though, while watching the Rainism video, I was reminded more of Michael Jackson.

  6. @ midnightskies

    I was reminded more of Michael Jackson.

    I recall an instance in which he was referred to as the "Asian Michael Jackson", a title which he shied away from.

  7. And wasn't Usher the one who made an appearance at one of his concerts that was so cool and they both looked so fine. And I forgot what music video it was where he tottaly borrowed a move that Usher did in the music video "Caught Up"

  8. @ Lea. They met up some time ago in Seoul. Usher performed "Yeah" and they chatted a bit. Yeah, Rain utilized the same set as Usher in his "Caught Up" video.

  9. an oldie but goodie ;-)

    Rain's sexy > Justin's

  10. Rain paying tribute to Michael, Hammer and Bobby Brown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tseIzTZs2M0&NR=1&feature=fvwp

  11. lmao rains face after the guy said Justin Timberlake his face was like "if one of these bitch-ass people call me that name one more time ima go Raizo on their ass" lol

  12. I never compared Rain to Justin. I have always thought Rain as the korean Usher. When I first saw him that what pop in my mind *Korean Usher*. Now I always thought Se7en was alittle Usher and alittle Justin mix together

    1. I agree about the Se7en observation.

  13. His face is priceless. And I doubt one of his fans would describe him as the Asian Justin Timberlake. I'm a HUGE Rain fan and it's hurts my heart when I hear people refer to him as that. He is so much better!

  14. Where has he been compared to Justin? This post is the first time I've ever seen it because I've only seen the Usher comparison. His voice is nothing like Justin that's for sure.

    But on a side note, I feel like the white majority is always trying to push their own to be better or just as good as black artists even if they truly aren't as good. Like remember when people were seriously trying to compare Justin Beiber to Michael Jackson??


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