Newbie Korean pop singer Zuno must have a love-hate relationship with his twin brother, Xiah, who is in the mega-popular Korean boy band TVXQ.
It is hard to deny that he is fast-tracked to fame because of his more famous younger brother, and has already held successful showcases - song-and-dance shows with an emphasis on audience interaction - in China and Japan, despite having only one single.
But at the same time, reporters keep asking endlessly about Xiah in interviews. And Xiah's fans are likely to stake out Zuno's Singapore showcase at Resorts World Singapore tonight as he is making a guest appearance.
The 23-year-old shrugs it all off, though, adding that when he entered show business, he was prepared for the comparisons. Although the questions can be repetitive, 'they are writing good stories and I'm happy about that', he tells Life! through a translator.
The brothers, Kim Jun Ho and Kim Jun Su (Zuno and Xiah's real names), are the sons of a pizza-shopowner father and a cosmetics-shopowner mother, and have a close relationship.
Zuno was a professional baseball player until he injured his ankle and hung up his bat at the age of 21.
He went through a brief period undecided about what he wanted to do, then went into acting to differentiate himself from his brother, who had already become a regional success with his band with hits such as I Believe and Tonight.
'It took me a long time to switch to singing because I don't want help from him,' he says. But watching his brother onstage and his legions of fans in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China, lured him to the music business.
He went to China, where he hosted a few events, and was signed on by Chinese artist mangement company Bias Entertainment. His single, Nothing To Lose, is in Mandarin, a language he is conversant in. His first showcase in Beijing last month drew about 2,500 people, and the shows in Tokyo drew 2,400 fans each.
The tickets to his Singapore gig are nearly sold out.
On how he dealt with the hordes of screaming fans at his Beijing showcase, he says: 'At first it felt weird and unbelievable. But gradually I was touched that I was loved so much by the fans and I got used to it.'
But not all of show business is easy, though. He says: 'I have to be constantly aware of how I look and the schedules are tight, so I do feel tired. But I had seen Jun Su do it, so I knew the stress of a performer. The most important thing is that I am doing what I love, so I treat all these as being part of the job.'
His PR-savvy answers are as immaculately manicured as his appearance. The one-on-one interview with Life! had been delayed by an hour because of prior interviews that overran, as well as a last-minute hair-restyling session.
He says: 'I didn't use to care about fashion, I was an athlete and I wore whatever was comfortable. Now I'm interested in fashion and I want to be ahead of others in it.'
As for collaborating with his brother in in a song or album, he keeps mum.
TVXQ has been embroiled in legal battles with both its Japanese and Korean agencies - and its Japanese activities have stopped indefinitely - and there is talk that Xiah will go solo.
Zuno says: 'There are no plans for a collaboration. If we do something now, I'll get too much help from him. When I reach the same level as him, then maybe it's possible.'
Source: The Straits Times Digital - Print Edition (accessible for paid subscription only)