So, Hyesung-sshi, how is your knee injury?
Hyesung: It’s gotten much better. The swelling has gone down quite a lot. Just that it’s such a shame because after practising so much with the members for the comeback, I can’t fully show off what I’ve prepared for the performances. It’s a situation where I really want to do it and the members have to stop me.
Eric: If this had happened in the past, Hyesungie probably would keep saying sorry and the mood with the other members would just go cold. In fact there was a time when I hurt myself and our activities got affected. At that time, the atmosphere was such that no one could say a word at all. But now everyone is experienced and more at ease, so we can deal with such situations better. There are difficulties in singing and dancing live to electronica music, so we thought, “it’s easier for the lead singer to sit and sing properly during his parts” and naturally we came up with Plan B.
Hyesung-sshi, no matter what you’re still the lead vocal for this album, and I think you would have felt pressured. How was it for you?
Hyesung: This album still focuses more on dance tracks rather than ballads, and it’s been a long while since I was involved in Shinhwa’s group activities so I had some difficulties. I got called out because I was singing a dance track but I sang it like a ballad. So I did suffer a little when we first started recording, but being together with the members I quickly adapted to things.
Anyway it’s great to see Shinhwa’s powerful yet sexy dance choreography for this round of performances. Amidst all these idol groups who can’t be told apart from one another, what do you think is so special about Shinhwa’s performances? I came to the conclusion of ‘sexiness amidst experience’.
Minwoo: Firstly, I think it could be because of the composition of our choreography. And like you said, I think it’s also because we’ve become more confident and comfortable. If we say that when we were younger we worked hard to use our bodies to exude sexiness, I think these days the sexiness comes through from that confidence we have now. That’s how I thought about ‘Venus’ too. Honestly thought the choreography may not be as sharp as before, I think our performance has become more sophisticated. Everyone is showing the best of themselves, and all the 6 members can feel the strength from being united as one.
What are the activities you have planned out for this album? I thought maybe you might have a longer promotional period since this comeback comes after such a long break, but there are also many fans who are worried that you’ll be ending your promotions soon.
Eric: Shinhwa’s Asia concert tour will start at the end of April and end in July. After that I think we’ll be starting on our individual activities. But we will continue working with jTBC on ‘Shinhwa Broadcast’. We want to have time set aside for the members to have activities together even as they are working on their individual projects so that will be our gravitational centre. Since we can’t promote in the capacity of Shinhwa for 1 whole year, it’s important for us to have time together as a team. Honestly for Hyesung and I, neither one of us are really cut out for variety shows. But we will work hard because we are working together to continue creating something and that in itself is important. That’s what we think of ‘Shinhwa Broadcast’. No matter what we have to let go of our inhibitions. Although we can maintain a certain poise like how we do on talkshows, but we just want to try throwing it all away and letting everything go. Anyway, from the concert to the album and broadcast activities, and even ‘Shinhwa Broadcast’, we’re really glad that everything has turned out to our expectations.
Honestly, I felt that you placed a large part of the focus on variety programs in the early part of your promotions. Or perhaps because variety programs are now considered a barometer measuring the success of celebrities, which is why it’s important. Junjin-sshi, since you have the most variety experience among the members, you probably would have been quite troubled about this kind of direction you’re taking.
Junjin: For the past 2 years I was really quite troubled about this. I thought long and hard about what we were going to do when we appear on variety programs, what kind of programs we should produce. Thinking about it now, I really put a lot of thought into this. I even thought in detail about what reactions to give and how to do it. It’s still early on in our promotions but I have a really good feeling about it, and I think going forward, the members’ strong points are going to keep emerging.
Oh yes, speaking of individual activities, I think Eric-sshi probably went through a difficult period because of ‘Spy Myungwol’, your first post-military service drama. When can we expect to see Eric-sshi in the capacity of an actor again?
Eric: At the moment, my greatest goal is to get Shinhwa activities fully on track. After that then I’ll start thinking about individual activities. Actually at first when I was active as an actor, I think I wasn’t fully prepared so I might have taken on something too big to manage. Now I’m feeling a bit more at ease and I think I will have to be more prudent in my decisions.
But after meeting you guys and listening to what you have to say, I am rethinking. What an amazing feat it is for you as one team to be together for 14 years. Countless idol groups have emerged and disappeared behind the stage, but for the past 14 years the team has stayed intact with no change of members, and that in itself is really special. The fact that Shinhwa is the only group among the first-generation idol groups to still be active, that’s really something.
Andy: When I had my 100th day vacation while I was serving military duty, I went to Eric-hyung’s home. Eric-hyung had told the other members, “Andy is out on his 100th day vacation, let’s get together”. And so we got together and chatted over drinks. Then we talked about how we had to meet everyone again as Shinhwa and that we must hold a concert. Everyone had slightly different thoughts about how we should do it but everyone shared the same thought of wanting to get together quickly again. This time, because we’re getting together 4 and a half years later, there are many people who think, “They need performances that show off the unique color of Shinhwa’, ‘Shouldn’t they go for a big breakthrough?’ But I think that just the fact that the six of us are together is already of great significance. Actually living apart from my parents and participating in Shinhwa activities, to me the hyungs are just like my parents. I could have fallen into bad ways but there are many times when the hyungs held on to me. We have really deep affection for one another.
What do you think is the significance of this comeback, and this round of promotional activities? There are many singers who say that their goal is to get first place on music chart shows, is this the case for Shinhwa too?
Eric: For us, when we weren’t singers yet, we didn’t début to become chart-topping singers. We wanted to be singers, that’s why we were grouped together. There was a goal at every point in time. When we made our debut, the goal was to get first place. When we got first place, the goal was to get the Daesang. We don’t think of setting ourselves a goal that we have already achieved before. While we work hard on our Shinhwa activities as a team, whether it’s the juniors or the general public, they’ll look at us and say, “They’re still able to work on activities together for such a long time in the tough showbiz world, they’re really awesome!’ – that’s our goal now. As for things like first place and the Daesang, I think of them simply as gifts from the fans. We are not working on activities with the goal of achieving a certain status or position, but more to achieve the objective of keeping Shinhwa going strong.
I think I understand what significance the name of Shinhwa holds for the six guys. Junjin-sshi confessed on a talkshow that he was suffering from a panic disorder for a period of time and that it was a very difficult period for him, and this became a hotly discussed topic. It was a difficult period for you but you’re able to laugh like this again, I guess the members must have given you great strength? Now that I’m seeing it for myself, you’re looking like you’re doing very well.
Junjin: All human beings are lonely creatures. It’s the same for me. Back then, I went through a really difficult period of time. When I was alone, I would subconsciously think that I’m sick. I’m living alone now, and I’m suddenly thinking of getting married. But now that the six of us are together working and spending time together, my condition has improved and I’m feeling better. Back then during my rough patch, I would think ‘why am I alive’; now I think, ‘even if I haven’t experienced life fully, at least I know why I’m alive’. Honestly I feel this way. To die is even more difficult than to live. Because I’ve arrived at such conclusions, I put even more effort into my work. These days I’m really happy. I’m happy from the moment I wake up.
Now that the topic of marriage has come up, since all of you are already in your mid-30s, you must have thought about marriage.
Junjin / Minwoo: I want to (get married)!
Andy: I want to, but I haven’t found anyone yet.
Hyesung: But even if any member gets married, it won’t hinder us from staying active as Shinhwa. We’ll probably become the first idol group to continue with activities even with a married member.
Eric: When a man is able to tell the father of the woman he loves, ‘Please entrust your daughter to me’, isn’t he ready to get married? Because entertainers aren’t able to predict the future or give some kind of guarantee like regular people can, there are difficulties. Perhaps like what I think, when Shinhwa activities get fully on track, after that no matter how individual activities turn out, everyone can start thinking about marriage. In any case, I think your mind will be more at ease if you have something stable before you get married.
Dongwan: I’m not going to get married.
No, Dongwan-sshi, why aren’t you going to get married?
Dongwan: I honestly thought about marriage with the last girl I was dating… Anyway I think I’m not at all prepared to get married yet. I told the members that I was really going to get married this year. In any case, I don’t think I’ll be getting married in the next 4-5 years. Ah, I don’t think I can. I’m not going to, no.
Hmm, I get it. Ah Dongwan-sshi, while you were taking a break from Shinhwa activities, I think you’ve been very active in the domain of acting, participating in a movie, a drama, and even a musical. I’m curious about what kind of plans you have for your individual activities.
Dongwan: Whether it’s a movie or drama or theatre play, I’m thinking things will probably kick off in autumn. I’m not going to just wait for the perfect movie script or the perfect drama offer to come in. I want to work hard to actively show what I can do.
You have individual activities to show off your individual talents and skills, in the case of Andy-sshi, you’ve started your career as a producer and it seems that we can look forward to seeing you take it one step further. How is it? You must be proud of Teen Top, the idol group that you’ve personally produced, since they are becoming very popular.
Andy: Yes, I was really proud. Like how Shinhwa was when we made our debut, I was excited and nervous. When Teen Top got first place on KBS, I knew they were in the running for first place but I was so nervous that I couldn’t go into the studio. I parked my car in the carpark and watched them get first place via digital broadcast. I went to their waiting room to congratulate them but my tears kept on flowing. As I’m training these juniors, I see myself when I first made my debut with Shinhwa. Anyway, I think this is only the beginning. I’m looking forward to what I will experience in future.
Right, this is my last question. The members are almost all around the age of 34. It’s been 14 years since you began as Shinhwa. If you continue until 40, you would have spent half of your lives as Shinhwa. What do you think you’ll all be like at 40?
Dongwan: At 40, I really will be married. Married man!
Junjin: I’m dreaming of being a variety MC, and also of acting, although I’m not good at it. When I’m 40, having a talkshow is what I want to achieve the most. In any case, when that time comes, I think I’ll be working hard like I am now.
Andy: I hope to be Shinhwa’s Andy and a great producer.
Minwoo: I want to be a popular icon who’s able to contribute to popular culture. If I have to give an example, like my (Yang) Hyun Suk-hyung whom I’m very fond of.
Hyesung: I’ll of course be active as a Shinhwa member, individually speaking my dream is to become a concert singer*. (*as opposed to an album singer who concentrates on releasing albums instead of live concert performances)
Eric: My dream since preschool is to be a household head who’s always happy. Though it may not necessarily refer to a married man. Whether it’s at home or at work, I hope I’ll be a happy head of the family.
full sized picture 8)
Source: Cosmopolitan Korea website + Absolut Shinhwa (1) (2)