Has Korean superstar Rain lost his lustre?
K-pop star Rain's drama suffers poor ratings
When K-pop superstar Rain's latest drama Come Back Alive aired in South Korea from February to April, it suffered a clear defeat at the hands of Descendants Of The Sun (DOTS), which went on to take the world by storm.
Both TV series were in direct competition - they were aired in the same time slot on different channels.
But they had quite different fates.
Week after week, Come Back Alive, a heartwarming fantasy comedy about a goofy deceased soul inhabiting the body of a handsome man played by Rain, to fulfil his wish of seeing his wife (Lee Min Jung) for the last time, was pummelled in the nationwide ratings department.
The 16-parter eventually averaged just 4.8 per cent in South Korea, a paltry figure next to DOTS' stunning average of 26.27 per cent.
Rain said he worked out even more for the scenes where he revealed his torso and abs.
In an e-mail interview with The New Paper, Rain - best known internationally for his roles in Hollywood action flicks Speed Racer (2008) and Ninja Assassin (2009) - declined to answer any questions about the show's poor performance or address comparisons to DOTS.
But at the press conference of Come Back Alive in Seoul in February, the 34-year-old actor-singer hinted that he was not too concerned about viewership.
"I didn't take on this project with the intention of getting anything out of it," he said.
"I did it as I know this is one drama that would stay in my heart for a long, long time."
Come Back Alive is available for viewing free of charge with English and Chinese subtitles on viu.com and the Viu mobile app.
Rain told TNP he was drawn to Come Back Alive's storyline, which was based on Japanese novel Mr Tsubakiyama's Seven Days by Jiro Asada.
"The original work itself that Come Back Alive was based on is very well known and I found great pleasure in reading the script," he said.
"I chose this drama because it's my honour to work with an amazing director, writer and my fellow actors."
One of Come Back Alive's highlights was the sight of Rain's sculpted torso and flawless abs.
When asked if he had to work out specially for the scenes where he flaunted his muscular body, Rain said: "I always work out. But I made it a point to exercise even more, so that I could get in shape for Come Back Alive."
It is no secret that most of his fans adore him for his suave image and wicked dance moves.
But Come Back Alive showed his wacky and hilarious side, although he stressed that he is no stranger to comedy.
"Some of my previous shows like Sang Doo! Let's Go to School (2003) and Full House (2004) had comical elements, so I had a lot of fun doing this drama too," he said.
Does he plan on making a return to Hollywood?
His last US movie was gangster thriller The Prince (2014), which co-starred Bruce Willis and John Cusack.
"Till now, Hollywood continues to contact me," Rain said. But there are no concrete projects in the works.
Having recently completed his concert tour The Squall, which included cities such as Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Macau, he said he hopes to take it to South-east Asia next.
He said: "After establishing my own company, RainCompany, last October, I'm giving my attention to different fields (of work)... I'm planning on working on an album. We are discussing other projects as well.
"I hope everyone will support my future career and future rookies from my company."