Pretty boys (from left) Shin Soo Hyun, Alexander Lee, Kevin Woo, Shin Dong Ho,
Eli Kim, Lee Ki Seop and Kim Ki Bum have differing ideas on whether beauty
should be natural.
ST PHOTO: Malcolm Koh
Boyband U-Kiss might hail from South Korea, but their seven members are a veritable United Nations of linguists who speak up to five different languages, including Mandarin, English and Japanese and the Cantonese dialect.
The band's name is an apt acronym - Ubiquitous Korean International (Idol) Super Star.
In town for a showcase and to promote their first full-length album, Only One, U-Kiss member Kevin Woo, 19, says in fluent English during a press conference at Orchard Hotel on Monday: 'We are different from other boybands because we are very international, and we can communicate directly with our fans from Asia in various languages.
'We can tour Asia and we don't need a translator.'
In fact, the pretty boys reveal that they even quarrel in different languages.
Member Alexander Lee, 21, who speaks fluent Korean, English and Cantonese, says: 'We had our first huge fight shortly after we were formed. There was a miscommunication among us and we quarrelled in the dance studio. It was funny because we were all arguing in different languages.'
But the babel was resolved in a peaceful manner, he adds. 'In the end, we sat down and talked through it calmly to resolve the issue.'
The boyband, which debuted in 2008, have released several singles and a first studio album earlier this year. It started with six members but a seventh, Lee Ki Seop, 19, joined last year. The camaraderie among the boys is obvious as they spoke up for, and teased one another, during the media conference. They were also more unguarded compared to other Korean bands and spoke candidly about what was on their mind.
Lee Ki Seop says in Korean via a translator: 'When I first joined the group, the members were all very nice and helpful. When my feelings were hurt by some fans who asked many questions on why I was suddenly in the group, the band were there for me.'
The pop group also revealed that he likes to insert a coin into his nostrils during his free time, and egged him to demonstrate it to the media.
He stood up in protest initially, but then demonstrated his trick gamely with a 50-cent coin to general hilarity.
While the boys are conscious about their image, they also have very definite views on plastic surgery, a common practice among Korean stars.
Shin Soo Hyun, 22, Shin Dong Ho, 15, Alexander and Woo say they prefer girls who look natural but have great personalities. But Eli Kim, 19, Kim Ki Bum, 20, and Ki Seop defend plastic surgery and say that they want to date pretty girls.
Eli adds: 'For me, looks are high on my list, so it will be great if the girl is pretty and has a nice personality.'
Ki Bum agrees, saying in Korean: 'If my kids do not look like their mother, I could send them for plastic surgery. But it means that I must earn a lot of money for my family in future.'
LOLZ at the United Nations of Linguists XD
Reported by: Jocelyn Lee for The Straits Times (Singapore) [accessible to paying subscribers only]