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Students Interview SHINee Members

It is difficult being a celebrity. Fans follow you wherever you go and you have obligations that regular people don’t have. But how does that compare to being a student? When you’re in high school, your parents are the ones keeping tabs on you and you have obligations that regular people don’t have.

It’s not often that these two groups of people get to have an in-depth conversation about their experiences, but that is just what happened on Tuesday. That afternoon, more than a dozen high school students gathered at a noraebang, or singing room, in Apgujeong, southern Seoul operated by Korean management agency SM Entertainment.


Intern reporters from the JoongAng Daily talk with members of the boy band SHINee at a singing room operated by SM Entertainment in Apgujeong, southern Seoul. The interns are participants in the winter session of the newspaper’s internship program.

The students were there to meet with members of SHINee,
one of the hottest boy bands in Korea today. The students were ready with their pens and note pads, but they weren’t there for autographs, nor were they there as members of the band’s fan club. They were there as journalists.

As intern reporters participating in a program organized by this newspaper during the winter school break, the students were invited to conduct an hour-long interview with the five members of the band.

The student reporters took turns asking questions that they had prepared in advance. One student wanted to know about band members’ musical influences, another wanted to hear about their favorite artists. In response, band members listed as their role models pop and R&B artists such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Usher and Maxwell. When asked who they are listening to these days, the band members’ replies included names such as the Black Eyed Peas, Michael Bolton and Kesha.

SHINee - pronounced like the word “shiny” - made their debut in May 2008 with the hit “You’re So Beautiful, Girl” and their latest song, “Ring Ding Dong,” has been sweeping the pop music charts since late last year.

Given that the band members - Onew, Taemin, Jonghyun, Minho and Key - and the student reporters are close in age, with some in high school and others in college, the two groups had a lot to talk about. The majority of the questions the students asked revolved around school life, long-term goals and dreams.

There were some differences between the groups, however, particularly in clothing and style of dress. The bleached hair, colorful outfits and funky accessories of the entertainers was a stark contrast to the outfits of the interns, who were mostly dressed to fight the cold.

The contrast in the life experiences of the two groups, meanwhile, generated moments of humor. When intern reporter Park Chan-jin asked if there was anything the band members would like to try, Key said his wish was for “an evening of study at school,” which elicited a burst of laughter from the intern reporters. Meanwhile, some of the older band members, who were regular students before they joined the band, tried to assure their band mate that the experience was something he could surely do without and the intern reporters chimed in their agreement. But Key continued, undeterred.

“I just want to know what it’s like because I’ve never had a chance to do it,” he said.

Band member Taemin said he wanted to attend a physical education class to play soccer with his friends, an activity that has become impossible for him now because of his busy touring and recording schedule.

Band member Minho said, “I miss the trivial things I used to share with my high school friends - the brief breaks between classes, eating from a lunch box and going to a hagwon [private cram school].”

Intern reporter Paek Jae-ho’s question about what the band members think they will be doing 10 years from now also elicited some smiles. Onew said he will have obtained a pilot’s license, Jonghyun said he might be a vocal trainer and Taemin said he will have reached the pinnacle of his artistic career. The remaining members said they would still be in the music business.

As the interview came to a close, the SHINee members seemed to have enjoyed being interviewed by people in their age group.

“Although we have gone through numerous interviews with professional journalists, we felt more comfortable with all of you,” Minho said. “We hope it was helpful.”

The intern reporters, too, seemed to feel a special affinity with their subjects.

“I could feel that they thought we would totally understand what they were trying to say and it made the interview atmosphere more relaxing,” said Pae Ye-sul, an intern reporter, afterwards.

The students participating in the newspaper’s high school internship program, which has an open recruiting process, spend two weeks in the newsroom learning the nuts and bolts of life at a daily newspaper. Students listen to lectures by editors, designers and reporters; participate in proofreading exercises; and write their own articles. The internship program is held twice a year, during the summer and winter school breaks.

“This was my first interview with celebrities and I learned a lot,” said intern reporter Lee Kyu-suk. “A journalist always runs out of time so he must prepare and organize everything so that it can be done according to plan. I also learned he has to be aware of every scrap of information so as not to miss anything.”

Intern reporter Kwon Seong-jin said his excitement about seeing the musicians “sent a tingle down his spine,” but that he had to suppress his emotions given the formal nature of the occasion, a lesson that could serve him well later in life.

Park Chan-jin, another intern, said, “If I had met SHINee as a fan, and not as a reporter, I would not have been as proud and gratified as I am now.”

Source: JoongAng Daily
Tags: interview, shinee
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