An empty swimming pool. Strolling all alone in the water. At the end of that summer, Kim HyunJoong.
“This is not something to laugh about. I am just speaking of only the truth…”, laughing during the interview, the people who fell backwards (due to laughing) were seen to be weirder instead. No change of expression, how could he be able to say such interesting things, even his managers who has been living with him were supressing their laughter at the side. I’m thankful for his frank replies and because of that, my water level has to be adjusted right after the interview, I couldn’t bear to trim any of his wacky and witty speech, cherishing, making the most of, and sending it as it is. Through his 3rd mini album , making his return in Korea after a long while with his original profession, Kim HyunJoong’s 28 years old summer day.
When did your body become so good? In the teaser photo for your new album, I was shocked when I see the two wing bones being perfectly attached to your back muscles (* literal trans, reporter meant his trapezius muscles).
Because I like to exercise, I exercised a lot, when the teaser was released, everyone else were exposing their front body, so I tried to expose my back instead. I worked out on the back muscles for a long time so probably it’ll be alright.
In the teaser and music video, there was a goblin shaped tattoo drawn, it seems to take a long time to draw that on.
It took about 2 hours. On my arm is a dancheong pattern drawing, the overall tattoo is based on Korean styled shapes and designs. While producing the album, I thought about what really is Kpop. Pop itself isn’t Korean music. Thus I was thinking then what can signify Korean style, so we tried pop music fitted with Korean style sounds in the pre-released song ‘Unbreakable’.
Park JaeBum was featured in ‘Unbreakable’. He has a strong sense of hip hop, are you originally close with Park JaeBum?
I don’t have any close rapper friends around me so I was thinking who I can ask to be the featuring artiste, then I happened to see Park JaeBum’s ‘Like’ music video and hope that ‘should I take a shot (on asking him)?’ and so I contacted him, and he coolly accepted.
‘Unbreakable’ is more than hip hop, it is a performance music, title song ‘Your Story’ is a tranquil song that will ‘break’ fans’ expectations. In the songs included in the album, ‘As before’ is a soft and tender song, and there’s also a song called ‘Gentleman’.
It’s the same title as Psy’s ‘Gentleman’. It was a song we worked on since last year and was supposed to be the title song. Then I heard about Psy sunbaenim’s ‘Gentleman’ and tried to change my title to ‘Superman’ or something else, but it was just not smooth to be sung. (laugh) In the end, it was included as one of the songs in the album. In doing so, the current title song was then produced, an even better song was made so it turned out well.
After completing the album activities in August, you will be acting in drama , next month you will probably be flying over to Shanghai. I heard you have taken the role of Shin JungTae, a romanticist and the best fighter in China.
The new drama I took up was suspended earlier this year, so people around me were worried if I was daunted by it. Actually I wasn’t affected by it at all, I thought that there will be another similar character I can act for, and at that instant, we received the proposal for . We are doing the review now. Set in the 1930s, it is a period drama so I’m worried about the voice tone and such things, it will be reinterpreted to modern style so it’s fine.
As a matter of fact, suffering from the pain of suspension of the production of , seems like you will be sharpening the knife* this time again (*in preparation to take up the acting role).
I gain strength when sharpening a knife, on the contrary it seems to be better to relax and act. (laugh) Things like action scenes, while filming for , I’ve done it before…, (drama production was suspended) personally I think I’ve received an expensive acting lesson. Worked alongside with great director and actors/actresses and good staffs, for about 2 months therefore it is surely a really expensive acting lesson. On the other hand, I feel sorry for the (losses by the) production company. If I’m confirmed for this drama this time round, I will make it up for the problems which I experienced during that time in my acting.
In SBS (Denote as BFF from here) which you’re appearing in, you have challenged yourself to diving and you’re doing really well. On the 7.5m diving platform, what were you thinking exactly to be jumping off it?
It is maybe about 4 storeys high. Well I just jumped simply because it is for the program. (Short-term project theme) It doesn’t overcome my fear, every time I jump I still find it scary. Celebrities will all jump even if it is 10m or 20m as long as the camera is rolling.
Actually you have been quite comfortable with water isn’t it? You have 6 or so scuba diving certificates.
I really dislike the sea initially. When I was young, I got so terrified after watching that I never go to the beach at all. Then I tried scuba diving and find it very interesting. I may be the person who got the master certification within the shortest time in Korea. Because it didn’t take me more than a few months to get all the certifications. During that time, I didn’t have any activities and I practically lived in the sea. When I go into the water, I see a total different world.
I heard there was a photo of you breaking the ice and scuba diving in the middle of winter.
If you break the ice in the snowfield during winter and go in, there is nothing there. (all laughing with the ‘heomu gag’ style laugh) But when thickness of the ice is about 70~80cm thick, if you look closely at the colour of the freezing ice, it is extremely beautiful. I really like scuba diving so in fact I’ve done it alone many times before. Not long ago, I took some time off amidst my busy schedule and went to Jeju island for it.
Back to topic, compared to the things you’ve anticipated before the start of the program, are the results somewhat beyond what you’ve anticipated?
Variety show is something you must think of it as going on the program to play, it shouldn’t be something you do which is against your will. In fact, even if the viewership ratings wasn’t good, but because there are viewers who watch the re-broadcast through IPTV, I didn’t really care about the ratings. Like last time, during the same timeslot, they watch other programs, but it isn’t that they are not watching ours. I think of this as the last variety program that I am regular host of, and engage fully in it, as such, I hope I can continue in this for a long long time.
Like what you’ve said during broadcasts, the spicy jjamppong restaurant really wrote ‘The restaurant that Kim HyunJoong fainted in’? Then why did you go and eat the spicy jjamppong in the first place…(snigger)
That was 2 and a half years ago. It was during the 1st album ‘Break Down’ activities. I can laugh at it now but back then, it was really serious that I had to be taken away by the ambulance. My eyes were rolled back and foam were forming in my mouth, when I learnt speed skating when I was young, I’ve seen thrice people fall down and had concussion, their mouths were foaming and hands were shaking while trying to grab on to anything, I guess maybe I was like that during then. The hospital told me that my blood pressure shot up at an instant. I ordered level 3 (spicy level) of jjamppong that day, but ajusshi gave me level 5 soup base as a freebie. I drank that soup and fainted. Maybe he gave me even spicier than level 5 because I am a celebrity. (Laugh)
While preparing for the long-awaited comeback in Korea, did the SS501 members listened to your songs before the release or sent you encouraging messages?
I usually don’t show (recording process) to others. I don’t even talk about it to my family about it. Only like giving tickets for concerts when I have one, other than that they must purchase the CDs themselves when the album is released. Only some people in the company and the members know about the progress. I feel like the satisfaction level is high.
I will ask this directly. Don’t you have any plans to reunite and have a performance together with SS501 members for even once?
I’ve thought about it but because I know it is difficult in reality…. If I just say this casually, it will become a false hope of expectations to fans. I know it is a dangerous statement, but when we talk about such topic, we may hurt each other but even if it hurts, I think it is right to face up to reality. (*xiaochu : He’s so considerate and not wanting Triple S to wait to no avail. I’m guessing that this doesn’t mean that he is saying it is impossible for a reunion but just that he doesn’t want to talk about it giving false hopes since there is nothing concrete yet.. so if you wanna whine about this, or that you’re “supportive” about no reunion, keep those opinions to yourself..)
Even though you’re a dazzling flower boy, but in fact you’re more of a manly character. Any hobbies you’re into right now?
Gym and soccer. Every weekend, I’ll go for the morning soccer with (Tak) JaeHoon hyung. My position is center forward but it seems like they just let me have (the position) because I am a celebrity. (everyone laugh at the same time) My ability is really not there yet, but they gave it to me because I’m famous.
Ever since you signed with KeyEast (current agency), I heard you have been always discussing about your drama or album activities with Bae YongJun.
Before I go into the work (drama), I will talk to hyung a lot. I like hyung’s extremely honest side, he will say that he doesn’t know much about music. When I was acting, he taught me in detail where to stand according to the lightings, but when he sees my dance and songs, he goes “I have nothing to teach you”. I have only seen once of (Bae) YongJun hyung singing. It was in a drinking occasion, and he can sing really well. (Eyes widen) Really. If hyung’s fans were to hear him sing, they will really like it.
By the way, is the fried chicken shop that you operate with your neighbourhood friends doing well? It started off as a half-ambitious half-joking thing with your friends but it is expanding out as a franchise throughout the country.
In the early days, I only put in the investment fund and it was fully operated by my friends. Recently, they saw that maintenance work has to be done in the toilets so they contacted me to ask for money. There are many fans who think that the toilet was too plain so it is recently undergoing renovation. It is a shop that I invested in just like them, but they say I must pay for all those expenses. (laugh) I hold a job as a celebrity and their job is fried chicken businessman, I think it is good to live up to our fullest in our own full-time job. My friends are really good in doing business.
You were 20 years old when you debut as SS501 in 2005. You’ve spent your twenties as a celebrity, as an idol, as a Hallyu star. Seems like you’ve lived it through very well. Do you have any regrets?
I don’t have any regrets, because I will do what I want to do, so I am happy. A person cannot be always happy in a job. Just like an office worker gets stress from his workplace, I get stress in my work too, but I am grateful and happy even for that (stress).
In an interview previously, you have talked about all your plans in 20 years’ time. Is that still valid?
Right, I’ve spelt it all out.
Let’s hear about a specific plan you have.
Firstly, I will do activities for my album, go and serve my military service and act till I’m 40 years old. But then after that, I want to do other things.
So what will you do after 40 years old?
I will build a pension in Jeju island. Open a scuba diving shop, actually when I scuba dive, I don’t think I would make money out of it. Though I don’t want to look like I’m an environmentalist, but actually this is how I felt after I scuba dive, the surface of the sea looks really pretty but the inside is very dirty. Rice wine bottles on the fishing net, beer cans, etc, countless of things you don’t want to see. Even if you want to pick it up (clean it up), you are unable to pick them. In the future I want to make a good culture of cleaning the sea by gathering other scuba diving lovers to do it together. If we don’t have fishes, I will also set up a fish shelter. Corals are known to be the slowest growing marine life. It takes 20 years to grow into a palm size of about 20cm. When caught in the net thrown in by people, they will all be ripped off, so isn’t it better to prevent those things beforehand by looking inside the sea too?