Part 3. A Continuous Voyage
9. [C-JeS’s insight] Putting the restrictions behind us and voyaging to a new world
Kim Jaejoong, Park Yoochun and Kim Junsu released their worldwide album <The Beginning> on the 12th of October, 2010. This was their first album since the creation of JYJ. The album, in which all the tracks are sung in English, was a collaboration with people such as Kanye West and Rodney Jerkins, a producer famous for his work with Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson. JYJ began performing with the world as their stage with this album.
JYJ’s ‘worldwide move’ was inevitable. Leaving TVXQ and creating JYJ made it difficult for Kim Jaejoong, Park Yoochun and Kim Junsu to hold any domestic activities, but this paradoxically became an opportunity for them to take on the world. CEO Baek Chang Joo broadened his vision and looked to a bigger stage. Stating, “I believed that English would be the best way to communicate with the world as a whole,” he also added, “We thought of releasing the album overseas and importing it into the Korean market.”
CEO Baek explained his ideas to the members, and they followed him without any objections.
“In Korea, most idols are faced with limitations on their activities when they pass the age of thirty. When JYJ was first created, we made sure to look ten years into their future. I believe that an entertainment agency needs to become a partner to celebrities and stay with them for a long time. I told the members that even if they started pursuing individual activities, the growth of each member would result in the growth of JYJ eventually, and the members began to understand what I had meant after time had passed.”
10. ‘The Beginning’ towards the world
They say that there’s always a way out. Though ‘The Beginning’ was created amidst difficult circumstances, it was the album that connected JYJ with the world.
Kim Jaejoong said, “None of the distribution companies wanted anything to do with us, so we weren’t in the state to be releasing an album in Korea. That’s why we went global. It naturally gave us more opportunities to meet with our fans all over the world.” Park Yoochun added, “The worldwide album was more of a symbolic statement than a bid for more ‘activities’. It was to declare ourselves as JYJ, and show everyone that we were still going strong.” Kim Junsu confessed that it was ‘an inevitable choice’ as he stated, “If we had been able to release an album in Korea, we would have never thought about releasing a worldwide album.”
Their choice led to ‘a big success’. The worldwide album gave them the opportunity to perform in the US, South America and Europe. Kim Jaejoong emphasized that their choice had been a successful one as he stated, “When we were a part of TVXQ, our many overseas fans would sing along to our Korean lyrics. But I don’t think they understood what those lyrics actually meant. All the lyrics of ‘The Beginning’ were in English, so we were able to appeal to a wide audience. We gained a lot of fans who had started off with, ‘Maybe I should give this a try?'” Kim Junsu placed a special emphasis on their choice as he added, “We were able to tour the US and South America because of our worldwide album. Not only was our worldwide album a stepping stone for JYJ’s activities, but it also determined the direction of our activities after it as well.” He also stated, “We were the first to release an album through an American distribution company. We did something that we could never have done as TVXQ.”
Their worldwide album received high praise for its top-quality work with Rodney Jerkins and Kanye West. Kim Junsu said, “It felt like we were a fledgling team making a big break.” Park Yoochun looked back on the first time he held their album in his hands as he stated, “I received the mastering CD for the first time during our showcase. I was in awe, but the first thought that crossed my mind was ‘We’ve finally done it, after all we’ve been through, we’ve worked so hard for this.'”
‘The Beginning’ scored high album sales overseas and gave JYJ the opportunity to tour in the US and South America, but JYJ faced many issues in the process of creating an album in the US. They faced a language barrier.
Even Park Yoochun, who is fluent in English from his time living overseas, had issues getting used to the slang black people used, and Kim Junsu and Kim Jaejoong suffered even more as they had to focus on their English pronunciation, on top of their singing. Kim Junsu said, “It was the first time we were recording an album with an American staff, so we suffered quite a bit from getting used to the unfamiliar environment and culture. And we had to worry about our English on top of that, so the job required double the time and effort it would normally need.” Park Yoochun reminisced, “Though there were issues such as the different recording system, we were determined to take on our new beginning and work hard.”
11. Standing on a domestic stage for the first time in 2 years
October 12th, 2010, the day they released ‘The Beginning’. JYJ held their first worldwide showcase ‘JYJ Worldwide Showcase in Seoul’ at the Korea University Hwajung Gymnasium in Anam-dong, Seoul. This was their first official activity as JYJ since submitting their exclusive contract suspension injunction against SM Entertainment. Thinking back to those times, the three members said, “We were really nervous.”
The anxiety could truly be felt from leader Kim Jaejoong’s words.
“It had been so long since we’d danced on stage so we were very nervous. Though the concert venue was smaller than most stages we’d been on, we couldn’t shake off the anxiety that filled us. It’s actually more comfortable to perform in a big venue because you can’t really see the fans faces that well. When you’re in a small venue, you can see everyone’s faces in the audience and it makes you nervous. It felt like our debut performance had.”
Kim Junsu and Park Yoochun felt an equal amount of anxiety as well. They were so nervous that they couldn’t even remember how the performance had gone. Kim Junsu said, “I can’t remember a single thing about performing that day. I only started thinking about how we’d done after I got off the stage.” Park Yoochun also smiled as he added, “It felt unfamiliar to be performing in such a small venue for the first time in a while. We have always performed with large-scale, extravagant systems but that wasn’t the case for our first showcase. It felt like we were doing everything for the first time.” But even amidst the anxiety, they pulled off an amazing performance. Looking back on that day, the members were unable to hide the emotions bubbling up from within them as they said, “When we were on stage, so many thoughts crossed through our mind as we looked into our fans’ eyes.”
The regrettable first showcase… and hope
What filled the members with more anxiety during their first showcase was how sorry they were to their fans. They were sorry to their fans for having to part ways with the two members of TVXQ, regardless of the process that took place.
They had to explain the situation that took place a year prior to their showcase in whatever words they could. But they couldn’t spend all their time on stage talking about it. The feeling didn’t subside and the hopelessness they felt made their hearts ache.
Leader Kim Jaejoong said, “Stories about our emotions, what we felt for our fans, in that past year couldn’t help but come up during the showcase. Because this was the first time we were meeting our fans as JYJ, we couldn’t help but talk about it. But we couldn’t just end it all with just ‘We’re sorry,’ ‘Please wait for us,’ and ‘Please support us.'”
Though they were filled with so much anxiety during the showcase that they couldn’t remember how their performance went, the members will overflowing with energy and the will to keep going. The members of JYJ were celebrating their fifth anniversary since their debut, and their vocal talent, performance, and stage presence were better than ever. Kim Jaejoong said, “I felt like we were still alive and kicking,” while Kim Junsu said, “I was proud that we could stand on stage again, that our fans were still waiting for our music, and that we could start again.” Park Yoochun reminisced and said, “The thought that crossed my mind was, ‘I knew we could do it.’ It was a proud moment for us to showcase JYJ’s music.”
It was a stage that showed just how alive the three members still were. Kim Jaejoong said, “Even just being able to stand in front of our fans and sing made it a meaningful performance. Because there were a lot of great songs in our worldwide album, we wanted to prepare a top-quality performance to showcase them. Though it must have been strange listening to us sing in English, our fans were so happy and grateful to see us on stage again.”
The tears they shed during the showcase were tears of gratitude for their fans.
The highlight of the showcase
After completing their Seoul performance in success, JYJ travelled across seven countries through nine cities (Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China (Shanghai), USA (New York, Las Vegas, LA)) to meet with their fans all over the world. Though their Asian fans had met them often when they were still a part of TVXQ, this was the first time JYJ were meeting their American fans.
The US sticks in the members’ mind the most because they were almost unable to hold their showcases because of visa issues. At the time, JYJ prepared all the necessary documents and applied for a visa for their US performance, but were rejected. JYJ had already paid for additional costs covering advertisements, business tickets and hotels, and most of all, they had a promise to keep with their fans, so they had to make the showcase happen no matter what. When told by their lawyer that they would be able to obtain a visa if they performed for free, JYJ opened their showcase up for free and ended up being able to perform.
Though the Hawaii showcase that was set to be held on November 10th, 2010 had to be cancelled because of Hawaiian visa issues and Park Yoochun’s health problems, JYJ’s New York, Las Vegas and LA showcases were held for free on the 12th, 14th and 19th of November respectively. Park Yoochun described the situation as, “Though we might face losses by holding these showcases, we were certain that we would gain something from it no matter what. We had worked so hard to make this album, and we couldn’t decide where we could and couldn’t hold concerts just because of money.”
The visa issue became another push for them to work harder. Because of it, they held a free performance and were met with an unusual situation. People who weren’t their fans were also coming to their concerts. The pressure the members felt intensified, and they all did their best to create a better performance. Kim Jaejoong said, “Singers do well if they’re stimulated. That stimulant was the knowledge that there were people in the crowd who had never seen us perform before. We worked harder because they had taken an interest in us, and we ended our performances in success.” Kim Junsu thought of the lessons he learned from those times as he said, “Being able to sing in the US, and releasing a worldwide album. These things would have felt so obvious in the past but now, we’re grateful to be able to do them.”
Especially when they heard that they would not be able to perform in the US because of visa issues, JYJ couldn’t help but think ‘Why do these things keep happening to us?’ This made them feel even more proud of their successful New York performance than if nothing had gone wrong. 7,000 people flocked to a venue that usually holds 3,000, proving just how successful they were. He was immersed in memories as he said, “It was amazing. I heard that there were 3,000 people who couldn’t get into the venue.”
From a successful showcase to a successful world tour
The success from their worldwide showcase gave them a sense of confidence that carried to their world tour. Their world tour kicked off as soon as their worldwide showcase ended and gave JYJ a new sense of confidence and hope. It was a true world tour, branching out from Asia to North and South America, and Europe. JYJ were the first K-pop singers to hold a solo concert in South America and Europe. Keeping this achievement in their hearts, JYJ received the cheers and applause of people they were meeting for the first time and saw new hope ahead of them.
After their world tour, JYJ could see that they had become more mature and developed people. What especially grew was their musical capabilities as they studied what music they should perform on stage and started to write and produce their own music.
Kim Junsu said, “Getting involved in our albums and concerts naturally led to us studying more about music. Writing our own songs helped us gain a deeper knowledge of music in general.” Kim Jaejoong also stated, “I think my music skills have improved greatly since starting to work on songs to perform on stage. I’ve gained so much.” The outcome of their hard work also got them thinking about what they should do to supplement their weaknesses. Park Yoochun seemed a little disappointed as he said, “Holding concerts showed us where we were lacking. We still haven’t covered those areas of weakness yet. We still haven’t taken a step forward from the feeling of lacking that we felt as musicians,” but he believed that just being able to recognize the problems had them on the right track.
Holding activities was a form of studying for them. And the studying they did taught them again and again the importance of growing as musicians. With this lesson in mind, the members settled their troubled minds and became a source of strength for each other. Kim Jaejoong said, “The happiest moments in my life are when I stand on stage. Whenever we finished a performance, we would get together and give each other strength, comforting each other and telling each other to do better next time.”
Seoul, the highlight of the world tour, though it was successful, the painful first step forward
JYJ’s world tour kicked off at the Seoul Jamshil Stadium on November 27th, 2010. But they were met with various issues caused by the weather. They had spent hundreds of millions of Won covering the top of the stadium to make a roof with special stage sets to create a dome-style performance area, but it all broke down because of the weather. It had been hard to rent the venue and having to perform in an outdoor stage caused unspeakable suffering for everyone.
When the subject was brought up, Kim Junsu shook his head and gave an unidentifiable smile as he said, “I was so happy, but it took such a toll on us.” He also added, “We spent 800 million Won on creating a dome-style roof for the stadium. It was so that we could raise the temperature of the venue by 2 degrees and better the quality of our sound system. But it suddenly hailed and our efforts were wasted. We had created four different performances with the dome in mind, but we couldn’t show them to our fans. During our rehearsal, we watched the roof of the stadium rip and fall to the floor and we thought, ‘Even the skies are blocking our path.’ The three of us just sat there for 30 minutes and stared into space, unable to say a word. It was a stage we had prepared with better conditions, and a better sound system in mind. It was unbelievable. And they said that the day of our concert was the coldest day of the year. Some of our outfits were made out of mesh material. We had to cover the microphones with our clothes before we could hold them. But no matter how difficult everything seemed, we had to do it. We never thought about canceling because this was a promise we had made with our fans. The opinion that we should probably cancel the concert did make it’s way around on the day of the concert, but we were adamant about going through with it. So we sang louder and worked harder. We were so thankful and grateful for all the fans who showed up that day.”
Kim Jaejoong remembers that day as, “The day I felt most sorry to our fans since making my debut as a singer.” He also remembers it as the day to reflect upon his faults and weaknesses as the fault of certain staff members negatively affected the surrounding environment and quality of the concert. But Kim Jaejoong found another meaning behind the concert. The miserable experiences of that day made him reflect on himself and start dreaming about taking on the position of directing a concert himself. “What’s most important about a concert is that no one gets hurt, none of the participants show discomfort and the singers should be able to sing comfortably without any disturbances. I believed that I would be able to create such a concert.”
The concert, which Kim Jaejoong believed hadn’t been as good as what they had initially planned, gave Kim Jaejoong the determination to work harder and present his fans with a performance that rivaled and surpassed those of his days as TVXQ. It also got him to reaffirm his affection for his company for doing all the necessary preparations for the concert.
“I didn’t know at the time, but now that I look back, I’m proud of our company for being able to rent such a large venue and plan our concert.”
Park Yoochun also revisited his painful memories as he added, “That was the most difficult performance I’ve ever done in my life.”
“At the time, we thought that even the heavens were not willing to help us out. Even our staff had given up. But when we saw our fans cheering for us, despite the cold weather, on the first day’s concert, something warm bubbled up in my chest. Watching us all together felt like watching a drama. I gained strength from that moment and did my best to give our fans even a greater performance the next day.”
Even in the worst of conditions, they pulled through and gained invaluable experiences. Park Yoochun said, “Though it wasn’t the most satisfactory concert that we’ve ever done, it was a priceless experience because we all worked together to make it happen. It’s a stage that was created through the suffering and hard work of everyone.”
An endless stream of ordeals, a chance to grow stronger
For every historical and meaningful step they took, JYJ were faced with difficulties to overcome. The American leg of their worldwide showcase almost didn’t happen because of visa issues, and they ended up using hundreds of millions of Won to cover the costs. During the Seoul leg of their world tour, hundreds of millions of Won of special stage equipment fell apart, causing financial and mental harm on the members. Regarding this stream of ordeals, Kim Junsu said, “Our life felt like a drama, but it was a chance for us to grow stronger.”
“Sometimes I wonder, why does everything have to be so hard for us, no matter what we do. We spent 900 million Won in a day to cover the costs of our free showcases in the US. Sometimes, I’d think it was like being in a drama. Though we would look at our fans and tell ourselves to be strong, try again and keep going, too many things were crumbling down around us. But now that I look back on those times, those ordeals and difficulties pushed us to keep moving, and they were what have brought us to where we are today. Because going through those ordeals has made us stronger.”
Kim Junsu also expressed his gratitude for his fellow members as he said, “For every step we take as JYJ, I see more hope for the future. The last four years as a member of JYJ have been filled with difficult and poor situations. But we still did our best and worked hard. I believe that our results were pretty good. Yoochun became a top actor through his dramas and many people gave me positive reviews on my musicals. Jaejoong can top the charts in most of Asia. Sometimes, I think, ‘It was only possible because it was the three of us,’ and ‘We only got this far because it was us.’ It wouldn’t have been possible without the trust we had in each other. It wouldn’t have worked to be lone wolves. We always did our best because of the thought that, ‘If I fail, it may hurt the team’.”
“We were prepared for things to be a hit and miss. Rather than focusing on the problems, we focused more on making sure that it never happened again, and that we learned from our mistakes. That’s what helped us grow.” (Kim Jaejoong)
“We were able to grow individually because of those difficult times. We were able to learn more about the world from talking to Chang Joo. If we were still with our former company, we’d still be celebrities with no sociality and people who couldn’t do anything.” (Park Yoochun)
And with this hard work and effort, they are dreaming of new music to pursue.
Park Yoochun expressed the group’s plans to focus on their musical activities as he said, “Till 2012, we mainly focused on our individual activities, but from 2013, we’re going to invest our time and effort into our music.” He also added, “I like small-scale concerts. It’s something I’d like to do. If we were able to make a permanent niche for ourselves in the music industry through small-scale performances before we fulfill our military service requirements, I think it won’t be hard for us to return to music after we finish serving our time in the military.”
12. Kim Junsu, On Opening The Curtains Of ‘Tears Of Heaven’
Towards the end of 2010, Kim Junsu was surprised when he heard about the proposal to act in the original musical, ‘Tears Of Heaven’, from CEO Baek Chang Joo. Even actors with a lot of experience tread carefully when it comes to original musicals. CEO Baek had asked what he thought about returning the popularity and love he received through ‘Mozart’ through an original musical.
Perhaps he was reminded of the conversation they had at that time, Kim Junsu burst into laughter. “It’s easier said than done. Haha! I’m the one doing the musical. Repaying the popularity? I would really like to do that too. But still, I’m the one who’s going to stand on stage. (How could I do) an original musical!”
He laughed it off at first, but there were words he could not forget.
“Returning the love you received.”
Thus, he could not simply continue laughing it off. When times were difficult, he chose ‘Mozart’ after much consideration. And succeeded. Then there was ‘Tears of Heaven’. The first production which he took on with the heart of wanting to give back to the fans.
The first performance, which became the ‘textbook’ for the production
He first began by listening to the music from ‘Tears Of Heaven’. Famous songs composed by Frank Wildhorn, the composer of ‘Jekyll & Hyde’. The maturity of the compositions did not fail to move Kim Junsu’s heart. In particular, ‘Can You Hear Me’ stuck.
“If I were to take on ‘Tears Of Heaven’, perhaps the musical industry would look upon me more positively. And I would be the one performing for the first time ever, the songs I sing and my performance would probably become a guide for others. Because of this, I felt both a sense of responsibility and anticipation at the same time.”
Kim Junsu decided to give it a shot once again. It was an opportunity for him to leave his footprints engraved in ‘Tears Of Heaven’. However, nothing in this world is that easy. Unlike ‘Mozart’, whose production was at a high stage of completion, ‘Tears Of Heaven’ had amendments made right up till the actual day of the performance. The title of ‘worldwide premiere’ became a source of pressure for him. “The content kept getting changed during rehearsals. We were told to come early on the day of the performance, and upon arriving, (we were told that) there were even changes to the lyrics. Even midway through the performance, changes were still being made to the ending scene. (laughs) We just had to keep on experimenting.”
However, he was able to adapt quickly to the situation, and that gave him confidence when it came to musicals. His acting and ad-lib abilities also improved. There were times on stage when he had to act and improvise by himself for as long as 5 minutes. His skills improved greatly when practicing in actual situations. His fellow musical actors were the first to acknowledge this when he stood on the stage of the National Theatre of Korea in February 2011. Kim Junsu said, “When I hear people say that they watched ‘Tears Of Heaven’ again after watching my performance, it feels like the best compliment.”
‘Ticket power’ that surprised the Musical industry
His ‘ticket power’ continued even with ‘Tears Of Heaven’. The ticketing was divided into three rounds. The first round saw 10,000 seat sell out in just 5 minutes, the second round saw 13,000 seats sell out in just 3 and a half minutes, and the third round saw 4,500 seats sell out in a mere 2 and a half minutes. It was a record that was possible only because it was Kim Junsu.
The production team was taken aback by the response towards ‘Tears Of Heaven’, which was much greater than expected. They secured a large venue, and had three rounds of ticketing, but there was an audience of over 30,000. There were also many request from overseas fans who wanted to get a hold of tickets. In the end, 3,000 seats were added to Kim Junsu’s performance dates, and even those sold out within a minute. There is no other musical actor that can be pitted against Kim Junsu when it comes to ‘ticket power’.
His skills improved, and he received positive feedback for his success in musicals.
The public watched keen-eyed as he took on his second musical, following the success with ‘Mozart’. Above all, Kim Junsu found those comments that compared him to senior actor, Jo Seung Woo, the hardest to stomach. He said, “I really disliked it, and it gave me a lot of stress.”
“I thought, ‘Seung Woo is a veteran when it comes to acting in musicals, how could I possibly be compared with him? Musical fans already dislike idol singers even without (such comments), how much more are they going to dislike me after this?’ Geez!”
It was also baffling to be asked questions about being compared to Jo Seung Woo everywhere he went. Each time that happened, Kim Junsu would simply say, “I will continue doing musicals in the future.”
As he endured all this and stood on stage, the media also gradually began to focus on Kim Junsu’s abilities. The media was the first to acknowledge Kim Junsu’s abilities, crediting him for the success with ‘Tears Of Heaven’, despite it being an original musical that was being performed for the first time. The press commented on the reasons for the success of ‘Tears Of Heaven’ and said, “On the contrary, it would be odd if this production did not succeed considering Kim Junsu is in it.” “Kim Junsu’s emotions are the highlight of this production.” “Kim Junsu’s charming emotional acting is outstanding.”
Praise from the media aside, Kim Junsu spoke about his gratitude for the many things that he has gained from this production.
“While taking on the production ‘Tears Of Heaven’, I learnt a lot about musicals. Given that it is an original musical, we had to go through a lot of trial-and-error, but at the same time it also broadened my perspective. I came to understand the details involved in the performance, the music and the stage, and that became a great source of strength for me as a (musical) actor. This is why I think this production was a good choice. It was the first time I tried melodramatic acting, and I felt that it really fits well with the genre of musicals. The love between a couple cannot be expressed (solely) through lines from a script and songs. While performing ‘Tears Of Heaven’, I lived immersed in a murky love. I also cried a lot. I heard that Yoochun also cried watching the performance.”
13. Park Yoochun, on meeting Song Yoo Hyun of ‘Miss Ripley’
With the success that Park Yoochun gained through ‘SungKyunKwan Scandal’, he next appeared in a traditional romance drama, and the MBC drama of May 2011, ‘Miss Ripley’, became his stage.
When talking about ‘Miss Ripley’, the first phrase that comes to his mind is “sense of burden.” Somehow, this sense of burden had gradually increased due to pressure and anxiousness.
As this was the 2nd drama, after he had made his entrance into the acting scene after ‘SungKyunKwan Scandal’, Park Yoochun found himself constantly shuffling between the thoughts of “I have to do well” and “I have to surpass myself.” Also, he found it difficult to blend his own personality into that of the perfect man Song Yoo Hyun. “The pressure of having to excel in everything including languages, sports and the piano created a great sense of burden. I am imperfect, but had to play a perfect man so it was really difficult. I constantly wondered if I could portray Song Yoo Hyun the way the producers wanted me to, so initially, I thought a lot about how I should be playing this character.”
Pushing the sense of burden aside, and once again heading in passionately
External environmental factors, such as the pouring rain that put an end to all filming schedules, took a toll on Park Yoochun. If he were to really pick that to the bone, the toll came from the ‘expectations he placed on himself’.
“Due to the success of the first project, I had a sense of greed, of wanting to do even better, and this created a lot of pressure on myself. I can say this now because it was in the past, I don’t understand why I had put so much pressure on myself then. Furthermore, there were so many senior actors present, it would be a lie to say that I was not discouraged at first. Moreover, there were many environmental factors that affected the balance of emotions on set. It wasn’t because the shooting hours were long and they often had us working overnight, but we had great anticipation for this project that kept falling short and the sadness as a result of this made it tiring.”
But through working with his seniors as an actor, he was able to gain a valuable lesson.
“To be able to work with seniors like Jang Yong (who plays Yoo Hyun’s father) and Choi Myung-Gil (who plays Yoo Hyun’s stepmother), made me very happy. Initially they felt a little scary, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was at that time that I started to feel like I was truly acting. After the end of the shoot, they would approach me first and even suggested that we have a meal together, and I was truly thankful,” he said, expressing his gratitude.
He did not forget the fans as well. “The power of the fans was great as well. Unlike ‘SungKyunKwan Scandal’, probably because ‘Miss Ripley’ is a modern day drama, there was less of an immediate reaction as compared to ‘SungKyunKwan Scandal’. But after every episode, fans would upload their sincere thoughts online, and show their support.”
What ‘Miss Ripley’ Had Left Behind
Through ‘Miss Ripley’, Park Yoochun managed to show a mature side of himself as an actor. When analyzing his character (to the writer), he said, “Although he has many scenes, it still feels like I never truly managed to express all of Yoo Hyun’s true emotions. Looking at it, he had somehow become a passive character, when in fact, when observing the role, it can be seen that he has more of an active personality. The decision to take over his father’s business was an active one as well, so when he found out that the woman he loves and was lying to him, he should have taken a more active role in trying to resolve this.”
Also, when asked to pick his most memorable scene, he chose “The scene where Yoo Hyun tells Jang Miri that he had known about her lies from a long time ago, but was only pretending not to know,” and explained that, “Even though that scene had about 7-8 pages of lines, it was especially easy to memorize, and to the audiences it was a great scene, probably because it managed to address many questions that the audiences would have had.”
Through this drama, Park Yoochun also nurtured the ability to grasp the essence of a scene.
“Now, when reading a script, it feels like the key scenes just pop out for me. I will first think about the scenes that need practice and checking, and also know that I need to set the right mood and emotion beforehand.”
Another hot issue from ‘Miss Ripley’ was the fact that Park Yoochun had sung for the OST, ‘An Empty Space Left For You’. When it was released, the song swept the OST charts, and became the most popular OST in Asia. “Junsu likes this song as well, for both the lyrics and the tune. He likes the lyrics and melody so much that he’ll sometimes sing it for me. I play the piano instrumental for him when he does that.”
The decision to appear in this drama, and the preparation for this drama had been difficult, but looking back, Park Yoochun treats everything as great memories while not forgetting the lessons he had learnt through the hardships, and once again gives us a radiant smile.
14. Kim Jaejoong, on meeting Mu Won and debuting as an actor in Korea
With the success of his Japanese drama ‘Hard to say I love you’, the public was curious to see what Kim Jaejoong would pick for his next drama. And though Kim Jaejoong’s meeting with Cha Mu Won of ‘Protect the Boss’ was unexpected, it was also fate. In the SBS drama ‘Protect the Boss’, which began airing in August, 2011, Kim Jaejoong played the role of Director Cha Mu Won, the ‘prince of finance’ and a genius recognized by the Davos Forum. ‘Protect the Boss’ depicted the story of a ‘Taming an Unruly Chaebol Project’ by the newbie secretary Noh Eun Seol (Choi Kang Hee) against her foul-tempered chaebol boss Cha Ji Heon (Ji Sung). It was a romantic comedy that brought together PD Sohn Jung Hyun of ‘Lovers in Paris’ and ‘Temptation of the Angels’, and screenwriter Kwon Gi Young of ‘Crazy in Love’.
Gaining happiness and people from ‘Protect the Boss’
Before being cast in this drama, Kim Jaejoong was preparing for a movie appearance. He had been preparing to play a character with a Busan dialect, but had to change everything about his tone and speech for the role of Cha Mu Won.
But Kim Jaejoong is someone who works better ‘on set’. Senior actor Ahn Nae Sang became his acting coach, and Kim Jaejoong began to show his true potential once he hit the set of ‘Protect the Boss’.
“I read through the script and I thought it was so funny. The script of ‘Protect the Boss’ was so good that anyone who read it said, ‘It will have viewership ratings of over 20% for sure.’ It was a project with unique characters and great episodes, and the project gave me great friends to keep.”
The charm of acting that he felt in ‘Hard to say I love you’ was felt even more deeply through ‘Protect the Boss’. “If I kept acting but never improved, I probably wouldn’t have felt any fun in acting. But I liked to act the more I did it, and I could feel my acting skills increasing bit by bit. The praises that people gave me on set pushed me to work harder.”
But at times, the excessive affection he got from others shook Kim Jaejoong’s acting core. Many acting seniors didn’t hold back in their acting advice for Kim Jaejoong. But there’s the saying that there exists too much of a good thing. At times, he would be lost in wondering, ‘What is the right way of acting.’ Whenever this happened, the person who steadied Kim Jaejoong was the camera director. Kim Jaejoong expressed his gratitude and stated, “The director told me, ‘Don’t listen to everything other people say and do what you think is right.’ He said that the acting I had initially believed was right for me was what I needed to pursue. His words helped me out so much.” Thanks to him, Kim Jaejoong was able to successfully immerse himself into his role.
Right around when Kim Jaejoong made his appearance in ‘Protect the Boss’, a ‘Director craze’ was raging through televised dramas. Handsome and talented ‘Director’ characters were grabbing the hearts of women everywhere. Fellow member Park Yoochun stood in the center of that craze as Director Song Yoo Hyun of the MBC drama ‘Miss Ripley’.
When asked who he thought was more charming between ‘Director Cha’ and ‘Director Song’, Kim Jaejoong chose his own character ‘Director Cha’ without any hesitation. “I once shared an idea with Yoochun that it would be fun if we shot a cameo scene with the two directors together. Though both have their own charms, I think that viewers cheered for ‘Director Cha’ of ‘Protect the Boss’ more than they did for ‘Director Song’. Yoochun once said in a fanmeet that ‘Director Song’ was a charming man who was perfect in every way, except for his taste in women.”
While appearing in ‘Protect the Boss’, Kim Jaejoong also worked on the OST. Having already been recognized for his talents as a singer-songwriter through JYJ’s album, Kim Jaejoong received a lot of love for the song ‘I’ll Protect You’, the theme song of Cha Ji Heon and Noh Eun Seol’s romance that he wrote the lyrics for. Though it wasn’t easy for him to juggle acting and working on the OST at the same time, Kim Jaejoong said, “I thought of the main characters when I wrote the lyrics and sang the song, and I think that helped bring out my emotions more.”
The popularity of ‘Director Cha’ spreads from Korea to Japan
Looking back on the time he spent filming for ‘Protect the Boss’, Kim Jaejoong referred to the ‘atmosphere on set’ a lot. It showed just how great the atmosphere and teamwork was. “I became very close with the main characters, director, screenwriter and staff while filming this drama. We often went out for meals together. If our team bought lunch, then Ji Sung’s team would buy dinner, and Kang Hee’s team would buy snacks… Like this, we became a family and this led to a great atmosphere.”
The actors’ friendship continued even after the end of the drama. “After the drama ended, I made a special appearance on Kang Hee’s radio show, and I went to the premiere of Ji Sung’s latest movie to show my support for him. At times, we all get together at a bar and ask each other how they’ve been doing. We even meet up at the end of the year to celebrate together. It was Ji Hae’s birthday then, so we held a surprise birthday party for her with a cake and presents. We sang her the birthday song and she was so moved that she started crying. Everyone was so amazed at us because they’d never seen lead actors from a drama getting along so well, even after the end of the drama.”
Kim Jaejoong became especially close with Ji Sung and said, “At first, I found Ji Sung difficult to approach but we quickly became friends during the drama MT. Even now, he’s a great mentor and friend. He’s funny and enjoys drinking, so we go drinking together and talk a lot. We both hate people who are conceited. ‘Let’s go hiking.’ ‘Let’s go biking.’ We say this to each other often, but we’ve never actually gone through with our plans.”
Just like how their friendship still stands strong, the drama ‘Protect the Boss’ was popular both in Korea and in Japan. The drama has been aired multiple times on different channels and Kim Jaejoong’s ‘Protect the Boss Special DVD’ ranked third on the Oricon Charts and first on the DVD charts, proving just how popular he is in Japan.
Part 4 Dreaming Yet Another Dream
From the Fall of 2011 to the Spring of 2012, JYJ held a true world tour. It was a world tour that took them across the main continents, from Asia to North and South America, and Europe, to meet their fans. In the process, JYJ created a new record for the becoming the first Korean singers to hold a solo concert in Europe and South America.
Not only does JYJ’s world tour have such ‘historical’ meaning, but it also allowed them to become pioneers of K-pop. South America was an area that others couldn’t easily go to because of time and cost issues. But JYJ toured the South American region and performed. Only after their South American leg did other K-pop singers hold concerts there as well.
“Europe and South America. It was quite hard to hold concerts in countries that others didn’t perform in. Not only did we not have any concert-related data to work off of, but we had no idea how many fans would actually come either. If we were to hold a concert in China, we would be able to hire local agents to estimate the number of fans who would come, but because there hadn’t been any K-pop concerts held in South America, we had no way of estimating at all. We weren’t in a position to receive help from others either. It might have seemed impossible to others. So we went out and did field surveys ourselves. We believe that if we hadn’t shown others that holding a concert in that region was possible, other singers couldn’t have dreamed of going there. We were the pioneers. We were the ones who reached out to all the continents.”
Like CEO Baek Chang Joo said, C-JeS Entertainment, which was in charge of planning JYJ’s world tour, had no help from any outside sources and took control of everything about the world tour, from start to finish.
“There’s a difference between seeing your favorite singer on an online video and seeing them in person. We wanted the fans to meet JYJ in person. And there are some people who just go to famous overseas singers’ concerts, even if they aren’t fans. They go to these concerts and become fans. It was important for us to go and show them who we were and what we could do. Even if there were only 3,000 people who would be coming now, we knew that in the long run that number would increase. Because we tried it first, other companies and other singers followed us. That’s what was most rewarding.”
“It was when we visited Chile. The first time we went, 1,000 fans greeted us at the airport but the second time we went, 3,000 people were there. Though there weren’t as many fans in Brazil as there were in Chile or Peru, we still went there. We believe that if we keep going back once or twice, the number of fans will keep increasing. If we had only been focusing on getting money from the concerts, it would have been a place we should have never gone to.”
These efforts by C-JeS Entertainment won the local fans over. When C-JeS Entertainment began planning their second South America performances, agents in the region agreed to work with them without a moment of hesitation.
“It was a concert we could have never done if we were in it for the money. We have to look at it in the long run. For JYJ, if the trust they placed in their work is broken, they can’t work. We believed that it couldn’t end with one concert, we have to keep visiting the fans again and again. The process of preparing for our second concerts in South America was much easier than the first time.”
CEO Baek Chang Joo emphasized, “We didn’t have any alternatives. I think if we were actually given a choice, it would have been harder for us. Because we only had one path that we could take, we were able to put all our efforts into making it happen.”
For JYJ, their European tour was a new challenge and an adventure. Though they were already quite famous overseas during their days as members of TVXQ, it wasn’t easy for them to hold a concert in Europe. It wasn’t only because of the obstacles that surrounded a European concert. It was also because of the external influences that blocked their path, even when they were pursuing overseas performances. But nothing could hold down JYJ’s passion. They overcame all the obstacles that seemed impossible to face and stood on stage in Barcelona, Spain on October 29th, 2011.
Kim Junsu said, “We knew we were quite popular overseas, but we honestly didn’t really know just how popular we were because we’d never visited these countries. We wanted to hold concerts in the UK and France, but we were blocked by unseen forces. We didn’t even know if our concert in Spain would take place. But we were determined to go, and that we had to go, no matter what.”
They were no longer afraid of taking on a challenge anymore. Most of all, they thought of the local fans who were waiting for them. The Palau San Jordi stadium was overflowing with the passion of 3,000 fans from all over Europe. The members reciprocated their fans’ cheers with a better performance than ever. Europe is the place where dedicated fans gathered to create a solid fanbase for JYJ. Kim Jaejoong reminisced about the cheers of JYJ’s fans as he said, “The concert went well and we worked hard. When we sincerely work hard, the fans and the audience are able to feel that.”
Through their interaction with their European fans, JYJ became more mature. Park Yoochun said, “We were so happy to receive the cheers and support of our fans, but we never let it get to our heads. All we thought about was ending the concert well, no, actually just being able to perform, because we had gone with a challenge to fulfill. So we were very solemn about it all.”
On November 6th, JYJ met with 3,000 fans in Berlin, Germany and held another concert. The members all said, “We found new hope there.” Kim Junsu looked back on their Europe tour and said, “We were so surprised that more people came to our concert than we’d expected, but what surprised us most was that the audience was singing along with us in Korean. They helped us see hope in our desperate situation. We began to really buckle down and get back on our feet.”
The title of ‘First Korean singers to hold a Europe Tour’ led to a bigger goal, and a new purpose for them. Their goal was “to keep doing better.” Because they had overcome so many difficulties and obstacles, such an obvious goal struck a chord in them.
Kim Jaejoong looked back on the difficulties of JYJ’s concerts as he said, “When we were preparing for our Europe Tour, we were so grateful to even have promoters who were willing to join us,” and stated that such difficulties helped shape a more positive outlook. Because of this, he added, “I’ve learned to live a more humble and hard-working life.”
Park Yoochun said, “It reminded me of when we first started promoting in Japan. It made us realize once more just how precious the stage is. I think that our Spain performance was the one that showcased the best teamwork we’d shown in a long time. We worked hard and promised that we’d meet 10,000 fans the next time we went back. We found a new goal for JYJ to take on.”
South American fans passionately greeted the artistes who had flown in from halfway across the world. The presence of fans who met them with such an explosive response in the South American region, which had always been deemed to be too far, shocked everyone. The concerts in Santiago, Chile on March 9th, and in Lima, Peru on the 11th attracted a total of 3,000 and 6,000 fans respectively.
Park Yoochun looked back and said, “I was amazed by the forward expressions of affection by our South American fans,” and “They enjoyed the concert like it was a club, not a concert.” Kim Jaejoong said, “I was amazed by their passion. When Chile’s first lady visited Korea, she told us, ‘Do you know how popular you are in Chile?’ We finally understood what she meant. We worked hard and it drew the applause of our fans, and this gave us the ability to communicate with the people who already had a taste of our music.”
The Peru concert, which was the last stop in JYJ’s year-long world tour, was said to have drawn more fans than the concert of world star Justin Bieber. Fans from South American countries that JYJ couldn’t visit held protests to express their wish for JYJ to perform in their countries.
CEO Baek Chang Joo and the members of JYJ remember a happening that could have ended very badly on their to Santiago, Chile for their South American performance. At the time, they had flown from Seoul to LA, USA and were waiting for their connecting flight to Santiago, Chile. They were only able to board the plane eight hours after their scheduled departure time, and these eight hours were spent sitting on uncomfortable airport chairs. The plane sped along the runway and was about to take off when it suddenly hit the runway and began shaking.
Smoke starting rising from the plane’s engines and began seeping into the back of the seats, sparking an alarm that the plane might explode. One of the flight attendants saw that there was something wrong with the engine and alerted the captain, who decided to land the plane back on the runway rather than keep going. The analysis that had the plane taken off and continued, it would have blown up in the sky, still makes the members’ hearts skip a beat.
The plane in question was a South American airline vehicle that had flown from Santiago to LA, and was returning to Santiago. It had already been delayed because it had required repairs after a bird strike (Caused by a bird flying into the engine, and is a main cause of airplane accidents) on the runway. However, it seemed like the repairs were not completed properly as they rushed to check the engine and prepare for the next flight.
CEO Baek Chang Joo sighed as he said, “If they plane had risen a little higher in its ascent, we might have all died. Thankfully, the plane landed back on the runway as soon as the wheels lifted off of it.”
After going through such a perilous journey to reach Chile and Peru, JYJ’s South American fans greeted them with cheers of love that rivaled that of fans from any other part of the world. For JYJ, the way to repay the fans for their cheers and shouts was, “Not tiring down, and doing the best that we can” (Kim Junsu), and “Working harder” (Park Yoochun). After finishing their Peru concert, the three of them stayed up all night making these promises to each other.
Kim Jaejoong looked back and said, “We talked a lot about what had gone wrong during the tour and how our sound system had been like. We also talked about our feelings too. And through that, we fostered hope and were determined to do better.” They also shared their thoughts about the time they had spent together. Kim Junsu stated, “We spent the last three years to the fullest of our capabilities. We told ourselves to be proud and congratulate each other for one day of what we had achieved.”
Park Yoochun said, “We still feel a sense of pride about the fact that we were the first Korean singers to hold a tour in Europe and South America,” and “We didn’t have high expectations for ourselves. All we wished for was to end our concerts without any accidents. We didn’t really find the title of ‘the first’ to be that important.” He also added, “It was great to stay up all night talking to the other members, who I hadn’t seen often because of all our individual activities. I can still remember us thanking each other and promising to work harder and do better after the world tour was over.”
When JYJ became the first Korean artistes to successfully hold concerts in Chile and Peru, broadcasting companies and idol groups fought to get there as well. Regarding this, Kim Junsu said, “There were times when I felt ambiguous about the fact that we had been the ones who had suffered, but others were the ones who were gaining from it. But it also made me feel a sense of responsibility. A responsibility that we would succeed in things that others hesitated over. Because being able to do that is one of our many capabilities.” The South American leg of their tour became a precious stage for JYJ, as it gave them such confidence.
17. The records of giving, the meaning of giving
(T/N : this part is done in JPGs because it makes more sense with pictures!)
Source : [The JYJ magazine: The story of 1000 days]
Translated & Shared by : dongbangdata.net