We met Jinyoung who travels back and forth busily as a GOT7 member on stage and the drama filming venue. There are still many things that man who turned 24 year old has yet to show.
As a GOT7 member, be it if it’s vocal or dance, Jinyoung shows a performance in which you can’t rebuke any specific aspect. Lately, he’s receiving acknowledgement as an actor but nevertheless, if you meet Jinyoung, the question, “What would this man do if he wasn’t a celebrity?” pops up. Tender, a poised gift of the gab, a considerate heart that even pays attention to the trivial things, a person whom after reading Dazai Osamu’s [No Longer Human], organizes his thoughts in his spare time; even disregarding idols, it’s hard to even meet an ordinary guy who is like this. While we were preparing for the Allure Facebook live that was released earlier on our account, it was (happening) after the interview ended but we talked about books to our hearts content. I recommended a few books from the writers that Jinyoung likes and he listened to it excitedly and requested for me to write the titles down. I scribbled on the back on the questionnaire paper and in the end, Jinyoung brought the paper back (home). If you spend a few short hours with him, anyone will realise that Jinyoung is a man who will make it in whatever he does. What is even more shocking is that he’s not even complete (fully developed) right now. The reason why Jinyoung likes Bildungsroman novels a lot is because he is still developing. On the first Wednesday of the New Year at 8AM, we met Jinyoung whom wants to try anything because he could be anything.
Allure (AL from hereon): Seems like you finally ‘found’ your name? First you were ‘Jr.’ and then you were ‘Junior’ and now you’re Jinyoung.
JY: I like it so much more. In the entertainment world, there are many Jinyoungs so at first, people were worried if it would be okay. Even if people don’t know me as much, I’m comfortable using my own name. Because I don’t particularly have to concern myself with other people.
AL: Trainee period would have been really hard wouldn’t it. How did you endure it?
JY: Honestly speaking, the life of a trainee is hard. However, I didn’t really think of it being hard. It could have probably been the spirit of a young age. I thought of outrageous things like, ‘As long as I work hard, I’ll debut soon enough”. Since they said if you worked hard, you would be able to debut so I trusted in that.
AL: Seems like you would have been a little homesick at the start?
JY: When I came to Seoul? It was bad. When I was younger, I felt Seoul was too huge. I was from a place where I could travel around on a bicycle but coming to Seoul, even the school was huge. I was shocked by this huge city known as Seoul.
AL: Before you came to Seoul, you grew up by the sea. Speaking of the sea, do you miss it?
JY: The sea is really tranquil. I think spending my childhood at the suburbs was a positive influence on me. Since people are also a part of nature, if you grew up with nature, don’t you become pure? I’m definitely not saying that those growing up in Seoul are not pure (laughs). But because I have those kind of memories from when I was younger, I’m happy.
AL: Then are you good in swimming and fishing? Would it possibly be a stereotype?
JY: I can’t swim. Maybe it’s because I grew up by the sea that I thought ‘There’s no reason I should enter the waters, is there?”. But I like fishing. I like being next to my father when he went for night fishing.
AL: Your trainee period is 2 and half years, isn’t that on the short end?
JY: That’s right. I didn’t know I would debut this quickly. It would be 7 years if it is on the long end, and the average is around 4 years so I thought I would also be a trainee for 4-5 years. But suddenly, even when I wasn’t ready, I did JJ Project with JB hyung. We released an album and after developing a lot, (we) debuted as GOT7.
AL: If your dorm life still as fun?
JY: Since we started living together since we were trainees, it’s natural. At first it was like a trip but now I’m too used to it.
AL: Fans of idol want their favourite groups to forever stay together harmoniously.
JY: I think that’s the heart of the fans. I understand that heart (mind-set) but it would be better if they are fans who would understand that there will be a time when the desire to live alone arises (laughs). Because seven men can’t stay together forever!
AL: What’s most uncomfortable about seven people staying together?
JY: Apart from the lack of towels, there’s nothing much. But since we have a lot of members, it’s hard to look for something that we lost. Because we can’t go searching in other places. We either find it a month later, or we forget about it.
AL: Do you have a tidy personality where you need to put things back in its place after using it?
JY: I think I am that type. But since we’re moving dorms soon, we haven’t been cleaning up. It’s really messy.
AL: In the beginning, with martial arts tricking as your foundation, your choreography was very dynamic but now GOT7’s choreography is smoother as compared to the beginning. Which matches more?
JY: I think it changes following the type of music but I like the way it is now. I don’t like things like (all the) flying around. I like dances that flow comfortably better.
AL: For idol groups, apart from the music video, watching the dance practice videos is also fun. Feels like we’re getting a peek into how you are in the practice room.
JY: That is when it is most difficult, haha. On the day when we are filming for the dance practice videos, it’s when we think ‘Today we’re gonna sweat a lot’. For music videos, it (scenes) cuts off so it’s okay but for dance practice videos, if someone gets one move wrong, we have to do it again.
AL: Do you make the videos for people who do dance covers?
JY: I’m not exactly sure what the root of it was but wouldn’t that be the case? For music shows or music videos, you can’t see the choreography as a whole so to look at a performance, the dance video would be the most accurate. It seems like fans also like our real-life looks so we each wear comfortably for the filming.
AL: GOT7 is in your 4th year of activities now. You are now flying all around the world but from your point of view, at which point (of your career) are you in now?
JY: Third anniversary, fourth year of activities. When I look at celebrities, it seems like the people who go through a period of being nameless (not popular) and climb up one step at a time are the people who go the longest. Us GOT7 too are now in the process of climbing up. Of course there are people who do better than us at a faster rate but I think we are sufficiently fast right now.
AL: It seems like you can go a little slower, even?
JY: I’m not someone with a urgent/pressing type of personality. It’s true that for idol groups, you should do well in the fastest time possible. However, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to succeed slowly. That way, the trust between the fans and the members grows. Because slowly climbing up the stairs is a process we go through together. That way, fans too become that much prouder (of us) and for us too, our hearts for the fans grow bigger. Therefore I think, slowly climbing up the way we are doing now, is instead the shortcut for us to go even longer with one another.
AL: A lot of people like you; when did you first feel the support?
JY: During fansigns. At the beginning, the same people would come and as time passes, we start seeing new people. I remember most of the faces of the fans who came (to fansigns) at the beginning. Because they come almost every time. But slowly, there are people who don’t come and there are people who continuously come.
AL: The fans who come for fansigns must be fans who are really passionate.
JY: You need to have courage when coming for the fansigns (laughs). For us, we just need to sit down and sign but for the fans, I guess they get really nervous coming to the venue. They also get embarrassed. They prepare a lot to come and in order to not forget, they even write the things they want to say on their palms. When I see those instances, I think about the hearts of the fans.
AL: You have the role of a vocal in your team. To be honest, if you weren’t a fan, you would only know of title songs like ‘Hard Carry’ but if you listen to it, there are many good ballad songs too. For example, when you sing songs where you can hear the vocals well like ‘Forever Young’ and ‘See The Light’, do you prefer it?
JY: As a person who sings, I definitely want to sing songs that will clearly showcase vocals. Because for the music that we do, the beats and atmosphere are strong. When I think songs where the vocals can be heard well, the thought ‘Ah I’m singing’ comes.
AL: Are you still writing or composing songs?
JY: I’m preparing it now too. I’m also going to put it in an album one by one.
AL: GOT7 are well known for being ‘beagles’*. Watching [Weekly Idol], we wonder if you’re also like that in real life.
JY: It seems like the captions and the effects itself make us seem really cute and loveable. Even the screen makes us seem dazzling. However in [Weekly Idol], it made us look less close to each other than we actually are. If you would like to see how we are really like, then I would recommend our reality show [GOT7’s Hard Carry].
Note: Beagles are used to describe the clumsy characteristics of people, yet still be cute/adorable.
AL: Would that be the most realistic?
JY: Yes, our relationship (with one another) is really good.
AL: You are steadily acting and recently you appeared as the younger Damryung in [Legend of the Blue Sea]. You match really well with the hanbok.
JY: I heard it was a really expensive hanbok (laughs). So I was concerned. Can I act carelessly* while wearing this?
Note: Jinyoung is trying to imply that his skills are still not as polished, thus referring to his acting as careless/not great.
AL: Are you satisfied with the role of a young boy who is in love with a mermaid?
JY: When I read the script, it was really interesting. The fantasy genre in which you meet a mermaid character is something that’s uncommon so that attracted me first. In addition to that, all the great actors were gathered so I thought it was something I must do.
AL: Did you like it as much as your expectations were?
JY: Firstly, I like that I filmed at the sea. I really like the sound of the waves. We filmed for about a month and I had a lot of time to think. I heard that usually for drama filming, it would be a tight schedule but when I went, it was relaxed. The life of young Damryung has a tranquil and vast ambience and that could be why the filming set was like that too.
AL: Did any of the members helped you by being the other party when you were memorizing your script?
JY: Yugyeomie helped out. I’m the type to not be able to memorized lines well, so I take a long time to memorize it. As I continually memorize it, when I want to confirm what I’ve memorized, I would go, ‘Yugyeom-ah, help me memorize my lines by reading it to me’ and he would do it.
AL: When you’re standing on stage as GOT7, you have a bright and energetic side to you and when you’re acting, it’s a quiet look. As you change back and forth, is it fun?
JY: It’s fun because I’m working ‘two jobs’. Because I’m still young, there are several things I want to try out. People say this: Shouldn’t you just do one thing? But I don’t think that way. No one is going to be responsible for my life so it’s better for me to do the things I want to do.
AL: There are many people who can’t connect the actor Jinyoung and the Jinyoung on stage.
JY: That is something I welcome. I think it is better. Because they learn of me when they didn’t know of me. Because I am absolutely not recognized as an actor, I want to show people new sides of me.
AL: You are known for liking reading; what books are you reading now?
JY: Recently I read [The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle] by Haruki Murakami. Actually, what people misunderstand is that (although) I like reading, I don’t read a lot. I read one book for a long time. Shall I say that it is etiquette to the writer? Haha. Actually, I can’t read fast so I’m using cool excuses. Right now I’m reading Émile Ajar’s [The Life Before Us]. I like older books so recently I went to a second-hand bookstore. I like the feel/texture of the old books. I remember a fan gifted me an old [The Catcher in the Rye] in a zipper bag, that is the most impressionable gift I’ve received.
AL: Isn’t reading essentially about having a conversation with yourself? What kind of conversation did you have with yourself recently?
JY: I read [The Course of Love]. It’s a book that’s too adult (mature) so I’m not able to fully understand it but there’s a saying in there. ‘A relationship isn’t something you can have based on feelings only.’ It said you can’t meet someone purely based on love or liking that person; this person’s taste, depth of thoughts, values, everything has to fit before you can truly be close to that person. I thought there was a point to the adult’s saying of you can’t have a deep relationship with someone just because you like that particular person, and as time passes, the true friends you have left are only one or two persons.
AL: Then, what kind of person is able to have a deep relationship with Jinyoung?
JY: Wouldn’t it be great if it was someone who thought about his life and values seriously? I like people who have a quiet personality, Jackson is the only exception (laughs).
AL: What would be GOT7’s and your plans for this year?
JY: Firstly, although it’s late, I wish everyone a Happy New Year (laughs). We have a Japan tour and I hope we end our fan meeting well, and I want to prepare for our album well. At the beginning, we just made the albums but now that we are making the albums together, we want for the album to be better, to have more significance so we’re working hard preparing for it. Also, I want to obtain my driving license by the end of the year. I failed last year.
AL: Haha. You look like your pride is hurt?
JY: They said I needed practice on my skills on driving. My pride is really hurt. I’m going to pass the next time.