Source: AsiaOne/New PaperPhoto: Universal MusicAmid the global rage over Psy's Gangnam Style, it takes an old hand like BoA to put things into perspective.In August, the 26-year-old chic K-pop diva was promoting her latest album, Only One, on radio station KBS Cool FM when she was quizzed about the rumoured rivalry between her and current it-guy Psy.Of late, much has been made about the chubby rapper going head-to-head with BoA, who is often referred to as the undisputed, original Queen of Hallyu (Korean Wave).Not only did the pair release their new material at the same time - paving the way for a fierce battle to top South Korea's nationwide pop charts - both sit on the judging panel for different reality TV singing competitions.BoA is one of the judges for talent search K-Pop Star 2, while Psy judges another high-profile show, Super Star K4."Psy rang me up, it was a show-off call to inform me that he had been invited to go on talk shows in the US," BoA reportedly told the KBS Cool FM deejays."I have no idea why he wanted to show off to me... After all, he's still my junior!"Lest you think her statement smacked of arrogance, the gorgeous songbird with the snazzy moniker (BoA stands for Beat of Angel) was actually joking.In fact, she and Psy are buddies who go a long way back.Earlier this year, she was spotted in the crowd, beaming from ear-to-ear at Psy's concert Summer Stand The Drenched Show 2012 in Seoul.One thing's for sure though, BoA wasn't joking about her seniority.She kick-started her showbiz career in 2000 - a year before Psy - as a fresh-faced teenager and swiftly became the first Korean singer to hit mega stardom in Japan, outshining even J-pop queens Ayumi Hamasaki, Koda Kumi and Misia.Twelve years on and with more than 20 albums to her credit, the former pop princess is now a bona fide legend, brimming with confidence and sassiness from top to toe.She is coming to Singapore later this month for the highly anticipated ensemble concert, SMTown Live Tour, which will feature a slew of other A-list acts including Super Junior, Girls' Generation and SHINee from Korean giant SM Entertainment.Fans who've caught the music documentary I Am: SMTown Live World Tour In Madison will know that BoA's influence on these younger performers cannot be underestimated.Girls' Generation member Tiffany credits BoA for inspiring her to become a singer, while the boys from Super Junior and SHINee gushed unabashedly about BoA's "charisma and star power".She might have earned respect and reverence, but her journey to the top hasn't been an easy one.Unlike today's red-hot K-pop stars, who share the company of many contemporaries, BoA didn't get to enjoy such camaraderie.As a first-generation Korean pop star charting her solo path in the glitzy entertainment industry, loneliness was par for the course."When I made my debut in Japan, there was no such thing as Hallyu, I was just an unusual being to (the Japanese)," recalled BoA on stage during the Tokyo leg of SM Town Live World Tour in September last year."I was lonely but I learnt a lot from the experience."In a 2007 interview with South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo, she admitted: "I'm really lonely in Japan. The best way to overcome loneliness is to visit my online fan communities. I want to know how my fans are doing, as much as they want to know my situation."Whenever I feel lonely, I log onto the fan sites... If there is one fan who likes me unconditionally, it motivates and encourages me."I practise, practise and practise, so as not to let my fans down."Even though her status is legendary, especially within the ranks of SM Entertainment, BoA does not cut an intimidating figure.As proven by her frequent collaborations with her juniors, she doesn't put on a cool, stand-offish attitude just because she has paid her dues.On Only One, which sees BoA taking on most of the songwriting duties herself, she duets with SHINee's Key and Super Junior-M's Henry on the fun, upbeat number One Dream.She also performed the melodious, groovy title track with another SHINee member, Taemin, on popular variety TV show Inkigayo.And no, she doesn't hide behind some flamboyant, mysterious facade like Lady Gaga.In June, BoA appeared on television talk show Win Win with boyband TVXQ's Yunho, where she candidly brought up her penchant for alcohol."Yeah, I like to drink, my record so far would be five bottles of soju (Korean vodka) in one sitting," she shared, adding that she also loves "mixing beer and soju".Yunho took the opportunity to tease her too."When BoA is drunk, her eyes become very cute, like the shape of a crescent moon," he said cheekily."She's a lovely friend, guys who are watching the video now, ask her out on a date."