Friends in Song, Two of a Kind
The first story of 2PM’s Taecyeon and Nichkhun’s friendship.
Asia’s #1 Beastly Idols 2PM.
Member Taecyeon is Korean raised in Boston, while Nichkhun is Thai raised in California. This is the first time they're sharing the story of their friendship from the past to now, and to the future. They will be sharing the stories of hardships during trainee period to the topic of marriage in the future.
“To thank the fans that have been supporting me, I composed my first song. ----- Nichkhun”
“The new album will reflect our opinions and choice of songs. ----- Taecyeon”
2PM first appeared in Vogue Japan on the August 2011 issue. The photoshoot was held in Tokyo during June. After the earthquake, many foreign artists deferred their Japanese promotions but 2PM went ahead and came to Japan. On the roof of the studio in Aoyama, Tokyo, the decision to do a photoshoot with the concept of energy and flight has resulted in an overwhelming response from the readers.
During the two years after, be it Japan or Asia, the world has seen huge changes. At the same time, the members have all matured. Their 5th single “Masquerade~” released last November achieved Record Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) Gold status almost immediately (100,000 records sold). Their "Legend of 2PM" Arena tour also began on January 11th. On April 20th and 21st, it is confirmed that their first show at the Tokyo Dome “Legend of 2PM - Tokyo Dome” will be held. 2PM’s One Point Korean Lesson is a fixed program on NHK and it has increased their exposure on the national level.
2PM members Taecyeon and Nichkhun both grew up in the United States. They came to Korea when they were 18, and now at 24, they are the new Asian stars with supporters from Korea, Japan, China and Southeast Asia. As teenagers in America, did they anticipate such a day that they would be stars whose influence spread all over the Asian market? The concept for this photoshoot is how they behave backstage before a performance. In the relaxed atmosphere, we were exposed to their true selves.
I heard you are the in midst of recording the new album (“Legend of 2PM” to be released on February 13th)
Does it include yours?
- TY: It’s a great feeling. This album reflects our ideas and song choices.
- NK: The album also includes the members’ solo compositions.
- NK: Yes, for the first time. I was wondering how to thank the fans that have been supporting me, and “Let It Rain” just appeared in my mind. I went to the piano and the song came about naturally.
- TY: For mine, I started with the tempo and the chorus. I didn’t think through it in details or sit in front of the piano for a long time (laughs). I even wrote the lyrics.
- NK: The lyrics are in English as this is the language that I am able to express myself in most and the fans will be able to feel the meaning. We will be showing our solo songs during the Arena Tour so please look forward to it.
From America to Korea, Stretching their possibilities
The first time you met?
- NK: When I first stayed in Korea after being talent-scouted in America. We were both 18 and I couldn’t speak a word of Korean so Taecyeon became my interpreter (laughs). He was a trainee and interpreter at the same time but he didn’t get paid for it, it’s so sad (laughs).
- TY: We were roommates too. I thought he was Korean at first and when I greeted him with “Annyeonghasaeyo”, I was wondering why he didn’t reply to me? (laughs)
- NK: Ahahahahha. He was still wearing glasses then.
- TY: Nichkhun’s hair gave a “what the heck is that?!” vibe. It was straight and spikey. (burst into laughter)
- NK: Ah, I’m sorry. It was in style at the time.
What kind of teenager were you in America?
- NK: I was a carefree Californian youth.
- TY: I was in Boston then.
- NK: Taecyeon is kind of a nerd.
You like studying?
- TY: Yes!
- NK: Yeah, Taecyeon is really smart. Even when we're chatting about something not related, he is able to link to scientific or historic facts.
- TY: I'm not interested in a particular era, just that I like world history as a whole. I read a lot of history books in the past.
- NK: Instead of saying I was a nerd, I was more athletic. I started playing badminton when I was 9 and even participated in competitions. It was my dad who introduced me to it.
- TY: He's rather good at it.
- NK: We only played once.
- TY: I was running around trying to get the shuttlecock. It’s impossible to play, so it turned out like this. (laughs)
- NK: Badminton is unexpectedly really hard.
Any insecurities when you came back to Asia from America?
- TY: I didn’t have the thought of doing it until the end, it was more of a “let’s experience more stuff”. My thoughts changed after debut though and it’s now, “Okay, let’s do it until the end!”
If there were no 2PM, what would you be doing in Boston now?
- NK: I think he would be a professor in college.
- TY: WHAT? (laughs)
- NK: At the young age of 24.
- TY: I'm not that smart! I really like studying so I should still be studying, as a History major and will probably continue into academics.
- NK: I have no idea what I will be doing but I thought of being a pianist.
Memories of being a trainee?
- NK: Waking Taecyeon up every morning. (laughs) He had to attend high school in Korea so he set his alarm at 7am but never woke up. I ended up being waken by his alarm tone, "Singing in the Rain" (T/N: Taec sang this song pre-debut on XTM Korea best male contest)
- TY: Ta~lalalala~ (sings along)
- NK: So I would be calling “Taecyeon, Taecyeon” to wake him. He wouldn't get up so I turned off his alarm every day. Every day!
- TY: I cannot wake up in the morning~
Did you think it’ll be a good friendship?
- NK: Our relationship was good from the start.
- TY: We didn’t have any fights too. (laughs)
- NK: Even when there are stuff that we don’t like, we will just say, “It’s your fault!” and that’s it. We don’t quarrel over it.
- TY: Yups.
- NK: Hmmm....such as when we are dancing.
- NK: This is when we are correcting our choreography. Sometimes there will be “I thought I danced well” vibe.
- TY: Hahahah. When it comes to room cleanliness, he is really strict, always saying, “Be quiet, be quiet.”
- NK: Yes, yes.
- TY: Besides, he is really disciplined towards work. He’s always saying, “This have to be done seriously!”
If there’s a second chance, I will be more hardworking
- NK: I started practicing when I got to Korea and attended Korean classes but Taecyeon was always around me interpreting.
- TY: Yeah, it was like “1 + 1”.
- NK: 1+1 (laughs)
- TY: It’s like when you see Taecyeon, you will see Nichkhun and vice versa.
- NK: The staff always reminded us as we naturally conversed in English so my Korean didn’t improve for 3 years. One day I was told to “Stop conversing in English!”
- TY: The staff did thank me for being the interpreter at the start. (laughs)
- NK: That went on for about 2 years. Taecyeon was always warned, “Taecyeon! Stop speaking to him in English! Stay away from Nichkhun!” (laughs)
- TY: And I thought, “Hm? Did I do something wrong?” (laughs)
If you can do back to that time, what did you wish to change?
- NK: To be more hardworking in everything including dancing, singing, Korean...everything.
- TY: (nods his head in agreement)
- NK: At that time, I didn’t know what would happen in the future.
- TY: I wish to put in more effort. At that time, if there was a new song or dance, a whole month would be spent practicing it. There were also tests. I was able to learn a dance in a month. Now, we only have a few days of practice to perfect it and perform it on shows. There’s a need to know everything well. In the past, I was really relaxed and would say “There’s still a month left.”
What has changed or remains unchanged for each other?
- NK: Taecyeon’s intelligence and wit did not change. His body got bigger though.
- TY: That’s because I didn’t train in the past.
- NK: But his height is about the same. He’s more mature than the past, and also more professional. I think he changed to be more him. He is not someone who will get started immediately, but will think through it first before doing anything. Also, he can wake up before 7am now. (laughs)
- TY: Waking up is no longer an issue but whether that will continue is the issue here. (laughs) Nichkhun is very gentle and sincere towards others, that remains unchanged. As for what has changed, he is more confident now and he knows what he is doing. His Korean also improved. (laughs)
Taecyeon, you didn’t forget your Korean despite being in America?
- TY: There are times when I don’t remember too. I was only at an elementary level and didn’t understand a lot of things when I came back to Korea. Just not as terrible as Nichkhun. (laughs)
You’re learning Japanese now?
- NK: He is really good at Japanese. I am far from it.
- TY: Before coming to Japan, all of us had this fear of not being able to communicate with our fans if we have this language barrier so I studied really hard. I am still studying it now!
The biggest issue that stood out during Japanese promotions?
- TY: It’s not exactly an issue but there’s a difference in culture so there’s a culture shock.
- NK: Indeed, there’s a culture shock.
- TY: Be it Korea or America, Japan is really different from them.
- NK: All 3 countries are so unique. America is really laid back, while Korea is very different. All the details are important.
- TY: It’s the focus on the finer details? As if every small thing is very important.
- NK: The most shocking thing about Japan, and one that I personally like a lot, is that everyone is very punctual. Also, everyone greets each other with a sense of sincerity. I also noticed that Japanese people are more focused on the finer details. (laughs)
- TY: Yes, even more focused on the finer details. (laughs) I believe that no culture is formed presently, it’s an ongoing process. Be it Korea, Japan or America. We will continue on with the differences and live in it~
About family and dreams for the future
Do you invite your families to the concerts in different countries?
- NK: Family is my number one.
- TY: My family is the energy for me to go on. Our families have meals together.
- NK: That’s when his parents become interpreters for mine. (laughs) The same scenario happens in our parents generation.
What kind of family do you think the other will have?
- TY: Hm? I haven't thought about that before. (laughs) Let me think about it. (After slight consideration) He will be someone who will puts his family first. He has a big family and his siblings have a great relationship. So when he forms his own family, there should be a lot of children and everyone will have a great relationship.
- NK: Since I have a huge family, my wife might be a little intimidated. When everyone gathers, there are more than 50 people. My future wife has to adapt to such a scenario, accept it and be part of it.
How about Taecyeon?
- NK: I think he needs to find someone who is good at self management. Someone who manages herself well, be a good mom and a good cook, though Taecyeon himself is a good cook. Besides, it has to be someone who can take good care of him. Why? Because he is someone who will have things laying around without taking care of them. (laughs) He will move on to the next thing halfway through the first so it will be better to have someone who is able to handle such situations.
Both of you are actors too. Nichkhun recently starred in Thai movie “Seven Something.
- NK: I always wanted to try my hand at acting, so this experience is really precious. However, my skills are far from par. There was a time constraint and I never met the fellow actors before the filming so my acting was really raw at the start. My fellow lead was someone that has more experience and familiar with acting so it went well. Just when I started to grasp the feel, the filming came to an end.
Taecyeon also participated in a Japanese drama “Boku to Star no 99 Nichi”.
- TY: Being an actor is something I'd like to do in the future. Every year I wish to participate in a drama or movie but 2PM was too busy in 2012 so I wasn't able to.
Singing and acting, what are the differences to you?
- TY: To me, instead of saying we are performing, it’s more like an entertainer expanding his boundaries. To me, everything is entertainment.
- NK: Even though it’s a great feeling to be performing on stage in front of thousands of people, the reason I want to act is to leave my comfort zone. There’s only one camera and yet I can’t break through the restraints, so I can only continue on until I think I have done well enough.
10 years from now?
- NK: 34 years old and probably married?
- TY: I think I will still be unmarried. I used to think I would marry young but from the amount of work we have, I think it’s not possible.
- NK: Yeah.
- TY: Working is interesting too.
Working on an Asian or Global level?
- TY: It will be good to be on a global level but we also wish to continue our activities in Asia. A mixture of all the cultures will be a good thing.
- NK: We will be united as one. We are all humans so we should work together.
20 years from now?
- NK: 44 years old. If I’m married by then, I wish to spend all my time on my family and children. Maybe open a restaurant or cafe in Thailand. I think I will be living happily.
- TY: After visiting Tanzania with Nichkhun, I would like to work with more overseas or international developmental organizations.
Remain as friends after 10 or 20 years?
- TY: Of course!
- NK: We will have family trips together.
- TY: Hahahaha
- NK: It will be a scene where I will introduce, “This is my son!” “This is Uncle Taecyeon!” (laughs)