More of the photoshoot can be found here.
NUNU AND THE BEAR
Q: We heard you own over 40 different kinds of perfume.
A: I like how scent has the power to refresh your memories. Like I still remember what scent I was wearing the first time we visited America. At some point I started to collect them and I like giving them as gifts too.
Q: You became the model for Moschino Toy due to your nickname of ‘Gom (bear) Shownu.’
A: I really don’t have a very ‘sharp’ image, do I (laughs). I think the way I walk and stare into space seem kind of dopey and laidback like a bear. It’s different from when I’m performing. But at the same time bear is also a strong, fast apex predator. I really like the nickname. I think it’s a honor to be compared to a bear-nim.
Q: Earlier this year, you completed work on the audition show Cap-Teen, where you were a judge for teenage contestants. What did you feel as you were watching the contestants pursuing their dreams?
A: It reminded me a lot of my own teenage years. How hopeless I felt. That feeling of wanting to be a singer but not knowing how or where to start. I wanted to share as much of my experience as possible. Sometimes it was frustrating though.
Q: Why was it frustrating?
A: Because it’s a problem with no real answer. Wanting to sing, wanting to be a K-pop artist, there are a lot of very different directions to take and I did my best to provide advice that fit each person but sometimes I couldn’t help but come up short. I’m the leader of our team and a main performer and a vocalist but I’m not super conscious of these roles when I’m actually performing. As a team, we know what we have to do together and we prioritize taking our individual characteristics into consideration and balancing our roles. I do my best at what I have to do but I put a lot of trust in the members so I’m not as aware of the kind of burdens someone would have to shoulder on their own.
Q: You opened an Instagram account in January, what sides of yourself are you planning to show off?
A: I guess more personal images and stories but I think I just wanted to show a side of myself that’s a bit more relaxed and natural, in a way I haven’t before. I have several means of expressing myself but this one definitely feels more like a space of my own.
Q: Did you lurk on the other members’ accounts beforehand?
A: Of course. I.M’s very much has his own tone; I think if I were a fan I’d be able to tell a lot about who he is an an artist. Minhyuk’s is a lot of fun, Kihyun’s is I guess like a fan cafe that collects all of Kihyun’s pictures from Monsta X’s official twitter (laughs)? He really works hard to be close to fans.
Q: Even as K-pop is gaining a lot of global popularity, it’s still rare for a team to release an English-language album the way Monsta X has. What can you tell us about promoting your first full-length American album All About Luv last year?
A: We recorded most of it in America. The recording process and environment were great and we were really grateful for the experience. In some ways, it was even easier than recording in Korean. The album did well, ranking 5th on the Billboard 200, and we were hoping it would be a chance for us to expand our promotions so it was kind of sad that we couldn’t end up doing that. Obviously no promotions abroad are possible right now. But those songs have been a lot of fun to perform, especially “Middle of the Night.” I’m always happy to do that one, when we were in America and in our more recent year-end shows, fan meetings etc. The song’s easy to listen to and the performance goes with it well.
Q: Since you mention year-end shows, it seemed like Monsta X made an effort to do a lot of different performances at last year’s shows. You performed most of the b-sides from your third studio album, Fatal Love.
A: With everything that's going on, I think we’ve come to newly appreciate just how much it means to our fans when we perform something special. I tend to go along with what the other members want to do. And not just us, other artists all did their best to show off a lot of different performances. You’ve said in the past you’re all in a ‘competition of good faith.’ How do other artists motivate you? Minhyuk was the MC of Inkigayo until recently and we monitor a lot of other artists’ promotions. It’s fascinating how each team always has a clear individual identity, just as each person does. Naturally we learn a lot and and get a lot of inspiration from them.
Q: And surely other teams view Monsta X the same way.
A: We’re grateful if they do. Younger idols telling us that they admire us, that they’re fans, it’s hard to put into words how grateful and proud that makes us feel. It’s one of the things that makes me incredibly happy, on the inside. I can’t really express it outwardly though. It’s not like I can grab someone I’ve just met in a big hug (laughs).
Q: Being on variety shows must be a good opportunity to meet new and different people.
A: When I was filming Hungry? We Deliver!, it was great to work with Shin Dongyeop-nim, and Park Joonhyung sunbaenim was incredibly funny on set. On Cap-Teen, Lee Seung-cheol sunbaenim's advice to the contestants gave me a lot to think about. He said things like “Don’t just be well-prepared, learn how to make each performance your own,” and “A musician’s entire life should be a music festival,” that made me reflect a lot on myself. Given how much time you spend with them, the members must influence you a lot. Definitely. Kihyun is usually open to new challenges and puts himself out there a lot, while Hyungwon is more cautious. Minhyuk is always throwing out a ton of different ideas, which can be really helpful, and Changkyun definitely has his own tastes and style. Jooheon is really cute. He could stand to be a little less cute (laughs).
Q: What influence have you had on the members?
A: I see them being a bit more patient and understanding than before. Little by little, we’ve figured out how to compromise where it's necessary and we’ve matured together. I don’t know if that was my influence though.
Q: Last year, along with your web variety series Monsta X’s Newtroland, you released the single "Reckless (with TTG)." What is something reckless that you’ve challenged yourself with?
A: We have to minimize risk in our job so I think I’ve internalized erring on the side of caution. Still, when an opportunity comes up, I try to take it. Our American album, being a judge on a survival show, those were all challenges for me in their own way.
Q: Fans often say Shownu is ‘subtly funny,’ but you don’t seem to think of yourself as funny.
A: I think if I seem funny, it’s because fans have presented me well in that way. It comes from little things discovered by people who observe what I do with affection. Even I thought that viral ‘lamb skewer’ gif from our fansign was pretty funny though. Like what is that guy doing (laughs).
Q: What’s an aspect of your personality that you like?
A: The fact that I’m good at keeping it hidden when I’m annoyed or upset. I consider that to be a strength. Even if I’m not very happy with what someone else is doing, if I don’t bring it out then it doesn’t escalate and we can move on. Don't you ever feel like, ‘I should have said something?’ Unless a problem is truly unjust, I consider it better not to create unnecessary conflict. For me, it’d be harder to say something.
Q: That does make you seem like a staid bear. What kind of person do you want to be for those who are close and important to you?
A: I know I won't always be a source of happiness and good things and relationships are bound to change over time but I hope I can be someone people feel they can easily reach out to when I come to mind. Someone who may not be all that fancy but brings up good memories every now and then, someone you think of in certain moments as you go about your life, like a good scent.
Source: ellekorea IG 1 2, Elle Korea (my translation)
I did not make that up, that is the actual title of the article