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The first time I heard Sorn's beautiful voice was around October 2021 when I was playing my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify while working. With the songs on shuffle, there was this one particular track that made me pause upon hearing the cozy guitar chords from the 10-second intro. It had me turning my phone on just to check the song's title and artist, and I found out that it was Sorn's "RUN." Back then, I didn't know Sorn held such a magnificent voice. I knew she was a member of the K-pop girl group CLC but as a casual listener of the septet, I did not go as far as the getting-to-know-the-members level.
And so, as someone who loves songs with acoustic vibes (plus the inspiring lyrics it comes with) I sent the track to my friend during our "share one of your liked songs from Spotify and I'll share one of mine" nights. A year later, I am writing a cover story on Sorn and she is now one of the people I look up to—all because she shows her genuine self to the world through her meaningful music.
Sorn for K-loka by Cosmopolitan Philippines December 2022
Born and raised in Thailand as Chonnasorn Sajakul, Sorn moved to Seoul at the tender age of 15. Believe it or not, the artist wasn't really into K-pop when she started this journey. She even admitted that she didn't know what the genre was before. "When I was younger, my dream wasn't to be a singer. It's just that my family loves music, especially my dad. That's why my parents sent me to a singing school. I started singing when I was 14," she tells K-loka by Cosmopolitan Philippines.
As a big believer that everything happens for a reason, Sorn thinks that all of the events that occurred in her life were destined for her. It's as if it was already planned out, like how she was able to go to her first-ever competition, K-pop Star Hunt, in 2011. It was during Sorn's summer break when she saw a commercial on TV, and she then sent her audition tape which she just did for fun with her best friend from middle school. "I thought it would be exciting to try my skills out because my mom was like, 'Oh, we've been saying that we should send you to singing class for a year now," shares Sorn. And so, she went up on stage without knowing a single Korean word, mimicked the lyrics, and memorized the romanization of a K-pop song. Sorn won the contest, ~packed her bags and ran~ to South Korea, and became a singer by debuting in a K-pop group.
Living overseas without her parents, Sorn had a really difficult time at first because she did not know anything about South Korea's language and even its culture. At 15, most people would be enjoying their youth, going out with friends, and thinking of what college degree they're going to pursue. Unlike them, Sorn was all on her own, in a foreign country, going right into the intense and rigorous K-pop training that the world knows of. Being in an unfamiliar place is like being dangerously surrounded by sharp objects, but just like what she said in her song, she plays with them. Because of Sorn's determination to achieve her dreams, she was able to overcome the hardships she went through. "I realized at a very young age that not everyone can be there. A lot of people thrive to be in that position. So even though there were many times when I felt like giving up, I constantly remind myself that not all people can be standing where I was. It was something that kind of motivated me every day. And luckily, because of that motivation, I was able to debut and now here I am," recalls Sorn when asked if her situation now is easier compared to a decade ago.
But her struggles didn't end there. After CLC's debut, she received hurtful comments. And because their agency's plans for them did not align with the septet's goal to continue promoting as a group, this led to each of the members walking their own paths. "Our fans know the tough road that we walked on. But we were able to stand where we are now. As for me, I'm able to release music and do wonderful things because of the past. I became more confident. I know exactly what I want because of all the things that have happened before. It was a great learning curve and it made me who I am today," she replies to the question about the regrets she has as an artist. Even with all the backlash Sorn has encountered, she was able to learn from them and grow as a person. "We have to make mistakes in order to know what is right and wrong in life," the 26-year-old adds.
Sorn's main goal was not to be a singer, but everything seemed to just fall into place. She knew a little bit about the intense K-pop training through her sunbae (senior), 2PM's Nickhun, who was the first Thai idol to debut in South Korea. After moving to the country and learning more about the K-pop industry more than 10 years ago, Sorn learned to appreciate the culture, the training system, the hard work—all of the efforts trainees put into before the world discovers them. "That's why I feel like K-pop has one of the best quality artists out there. People just love and respect K-pop idols so much because they know our backstory. It's like not a given thing. We work hard for it."
Fast forward to December 2021 and Sorn has signed under a new agency, WILD Group. She shares her delight with the company because she was able to grow really fast as an artist with all the great opportunities the label has given her. Leonard Lim, WILD Group's CEO, is actually one of Sorn's best friends and they knew each other before the label was established. And so, they decided to help build a company together and have been working side by side very closely—with Sorn being one of WILD's Entertainment's first artists. She was able to travel the world, work with different people, endorse a brand for the first time, and have her first live performance when she joined them. This made all of her firsts as a soloist worthwhile. As a committed artist with a team that gives her the flexibility and all the resources she needs to produce the best music that she can, plus the tremendous support from all of her CLC members, Sorn's journey being a solo artist has been nothing but great.
Scorpios are known to be passionate people, and Sorn definitely belongs to the list of the most passionate out there. One of the many proofs of her enthusiasm is her love for translating. She is fluent in speaking four languages: Thai, English, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese. In fact, she said that a career she would pursue if she wasn't an artist was to become a translator because she really likes language. "I found my love for translating after debuting with CLC. When we went overseas, I was translating for the whole group. We didn't have to use any translators at all. I found that very funny and people get really amazed by that. For some reason, my brain works really fast when I have to translate a lot," she recalls. Sorn also shared that she's into designing so if she had the chance to study more about design (be it graphic or interior), she would also go down that path.
Being the determined Scorpio that she is, Sorn is open to experimenting with new styles and concepts for the music she creates. She doesn't want to stick to one fixed genre and it's evident in her songs. Like the easy-to-listen single "RUN," followed by "Sharp Objects" which gave off a really dark retro pop dance feel. "Scorpio" leaned into the futuristic side, "Save Me" is a totally sad ballad (and my favorite Sorn track), and her latest song "Nirvana Girl" takes you to the early 2000s with its pop vibe.
Sorn's discography is for music lovers who like to explore the feelings that various genres can give. Depending on your mood, you can select from any of her must-listen songs. And the fact that she can sing any track given to her just proves how Sorn's talent, dedication, and years of training have paid off. She thinks that being with CLC for so long also gave her that advantage for they have had a lot of concept changes in the past. "I feel like the main theme that I have for all my music is that everything tells a story. I try my best to encourage the listeners and my fans. I think that's the common theme that I have for all my releases so far," describes the 26-year-old.
Sorn was not spared of falling under the K-pop idol stereotype which is being incapable of doing *normal* things other people usually do. As a foreign trainee, some naysayers might even have thought that she was not as talented as the others. "Back then, I couldn't really show my singing and artistic side," she shares. Sorn felt like she didn't have a lot of opportunities to showcase her individuality as much when she was performing with a group. With her song "Nirvana Girl" which is about showing your authentic self, Sorn now feels more comfortable in letting people see her real personality and who she is as an artist.
Every track Sorn releases represent her in many ways, with each song being extremely personal and based on her own experiences. However, among the five singles, she feels that "Nirvana Girl" is the most special to her. "It literally talks about my whole life being in a K-pop group and now doing solo music. The track portrays my past story and talks about my future, and what I have so far. I think it summarizes my 10 years of experience in the industry quite perfectly."
As a motivated person in general, Sorn gets inspiration from other artists. Of course, her fans play a big part in her life with all the love and support they have been giving her. It pushes Sorn to work harder, release more music, and do a variety of things. Lately, the soloist has been obsessed with Dua Lipa, who has inspired her career. She just loves Dua's stage presence, styling, and music. Looking at Sorn's music videos and outfits, you will definitely see a slight resemblance to Dua's "Levitating" because she took inspiration from the MV after she watched it. Sorn aspires to be like her. "I just love Dua Lipa's attitude where she's super relatable and humble. Every time I see her, I just want to be her friend," she connotes.
A part of one's quest is discovering their true self, and Sorn says she recently found out that she is more independent than she thought. The singer got so used to being part of a group and having people manage her, which, back then, made Sorn lean toward other people's opinions about her. "But now, working as a solo artist, I take charge of things on my own. I feel so much better."
We asked Sorn what she would show her future child if she could record a part of her life, and she brought to light the idea of having a solo concert and going on a world tour. It would be a huge accomplishment in her career as a female solo artist, and she would show that recording to her future family. "If I can have my own concert, that would be super memorable not only for my kids," she replies. Sorn would like to see the beautiful before it's gone.
This is just the beginning of Sorn's adventure as a solo artist. Being hands-on with all of her projects and putting out tracks that are personal to her, she tries to continuously push boundaries and become a better version of herself every single time. Sorn aims to be remembered by people as a hardworking person who gives her best to accomplish everything. Five years from now, the Thai singer sees herself still doing music—hopefully really well-known for her discography (especially now that she's slowly branching out of K-pop)—and having rediscovered herself as a solo star. Sorn firmly believes that if you work hard for anything and if you have consistency in whatever you're doing, only good things will happen to you. The best opportunities will surely come, just in time for you to showcase your true self.
Sorn's steadfast attitude is an admirable trait most people want to acquire. With the world almost always trying to dictate how our lives should go, artists like her serve as the slight push that we need to go out and show our unapologetic selves, to break the bubble we put ourselves in. As a fellow Scorpio, I aspire to be just like her. With the start of Sorn's solo journey, we also begin to witness how she truly is as an artist and as a person—someone who is brave, bold, and becoming.
*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
PRODUCED BY: Hanna Tamondong
CO-PRODUCED BY: Andie Estella
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: Alan Segui
ART DIRECTION BY: Bacs Arcebal, Pauline Moyano
SPECIAL THANKS TO: WILD Group, CDM Entertainment