Part 5. Our Growth
18. [C-JeS’s insight] JYJ’s 1000 Days, a time of change and development
The past 1000 days that Kim Jaejoong, Park Yoochun and Kim Jaejoong have spent as members of JYJ have been a time of change and development.While preparing their worldwide album, they grew from vocalists to singer-songwriters. And during their world tour, they were faced with loneliness as they walked down a path that had never been touched before. But they were proud to have become pioneers in K-Pop and it gave them the opportunity to grow even more as artistes. The person who brought about this change and development in JYJ was CEO Baek Chang Joo. CEO Baek didn’t hold back on his encouragement and support for JYJ as they wrote songs for their album.
“When we were preparing their album, I told the members, ‘You all know how to write songs. Make your own music.’ The members looked perplexed and asked, ‘Why don’t we get songs from other composers?’ but they ended up writing their own songs for their album. The best thing to come out of this process was the members’ confidence in themselves. The confidence that they will be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want to do it. Though there are worries that they might be caged in themselves if they only sing songs that they have written, what matters is that JYJ were able to grow through this process and they are still continuing to grow. The members are all talented. My role is to help them discover and use those talents to be better at what they do.”
CEO Baek’s aspiration is, “To continue with JYJ’s world tours,” and “To make JYJ a long-running group.”
“When I’m asked what my goal is, I always say, ‘To survive’. I don’t know exactly till when, but I believe that ‘surviving till the end’ is very important. It’s not that the strong are the ones who survive, but that those who survive are strong. The members often forget this fact. Whenever they do, I tell them this. Nothing in life is ever accomplished easily. Though the members already know this, there are times when they forget after a while. So whenever they believe that the worst is over, I tell them not to forget why they started all this and say, ‘Nothing is accomplished just like that.’ Though they don’t have to always think about their ‘days as a tadpole’, they need to never forget what kind of situation we’re in. Just because one is doing well now, doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to keep doing well in the future.”
19. The first Korean album ‘In Heaven’, the one we’d been waiting for
Like how Spring returns to even stolen fields, like how there can be difficulties but not failure, the members overcame various adversities and grew as people.
If it is said that they had met with their fans all over the world through their worldwide album, then on September 27th, 2011, they showed their gratitude for the domestic fans who had waited so long for them through their first Korean album ‘In Heaven’. With the support of the fans who had been waiting for that moment, 300,000 copies of the album were pre-ordered before the release date, and over 30,000 copies were officially sold on the first day of its release. At various record stores, a separate counter had to be set up for JYJ’s albums and all the reserved albums were sold out on the day of the release.
The special edition of ‘In Heaven’, which was released on the 21st of November, also sold over 300,000 copies in pre-orders. But there was another reason why this album was in the spotlight. It gave JYJ the opportunity to be recognized as musicians who could compose, write lyrics and produce music instead of just singers who sang what was given to them. ‘In Heaven’ is an album that was filled with compositions by the members and showcase JYJ’s harmonies to the fullest.
Each song that Kim Jaejoong composed or wrote lyrics for, such as the title song ‘In Heaven’, ‘Get Out’, ‘Boy’s Letter’, ‘Nine’ and ‘Pierrot’, all have a special happening tied to them.
‘Nine’ is a song that he wrote for his fans as he looked back on his nine years as a singer. ‘Pierrot’ was written while thinking about the moment JYJ escaped from the fetters of adversity, and ‘Boy’s Letter’ depicted the story JYJ wanted to tell to their female counterpart. ‘In Heaven’ was created with Kim Jaejoong’s friend, the late Park Yong Ha, in mind. ‘Get Out’ was a collaboration with Park Yoochun and the song was created quickly as the two worked so well together.
The reason why they had no choice but to write their own songs
To be honest, they hadn’t been planning on composing and writing their own lyrics from the beginning. CEO Baek came up with the idea because there were no composers who were willing to give JYJ any songs. At CEO Baek’s request of, “Why don’t you guys try making your own music?” the members started taking an interest in composing and writing lyrics.
“There were outside influences that blocked composers from being able to give their work to other singers if they gave any songs to us. So we naturally began composing and writing our own lyrics. Our greed and interest for music grew, which led to our skills increasing and bettering the quality of our album.” (Kim Jaejoong)
Filling their new album with their own compositions made the members even more nervous than before. And because this was an album they had put together to become closer with their domestic fans, that anxiety grew even stronger.
Park Yoochun said, “We were even more nervous than when we were preparing our worldwide album. I felt satisfied about being able to share my story with our fans by creating our own music and producing it. This fact makes me work harder when I’m writing new music.” That satisfaction led to self-gratitude for the members.
Kim Junsu smiled and said, “I’m so grateful and thankful that all of us are able to write music. I was proud of us for being able to make something work, even when there was no definite path. Though it was hard when we were actually in the process of creating the album, the results made me so proud.”
They know what each other is thinking, just by looking at each other
JYJ is undeniably a group with greater synergy when they are together. They are able to communicate, even without any words, and they didn’t waste any time unnecessarily when they were working on their album.
Park Yoochun said, “Whenever we see each other for the first time in a while, we talk, no matter how tired we are. I’m sure you’re all curious as to what kind of things the three of us could possibly talk about, and even we think it’s strange that no matter how long we talk, we never tire of it.” Through this process, they were able to draw inspirations for their songs, and opened their ears up to each other more. They say that they are able to know which member wrote which song in what style, just by hearing one verse.
Though there are times when their opinions don’t match or they bicker, they all say that it never happens when they’re working on their music.
“Though we are all greedy about our musical aspirations, we make concessions to each other. We write songs with each other in mind, and we give each other advice on our respective parts.” (Park Yoochun)
Their feeling of being together only strengthened through their music and became the leading force in creating such a high quality album.
Kim Jaejoong boasted, “Even just being next to them makes me feel great, so how amazing is it that I get to work with them on something I love? We give each other advice on each other’s music and come up with new ideas together. We direct each other and write songs for each other. How could we not be happy when we created an album with such affection and care?”
This is what brought each members’ musical preferences together. Saying, “Jaejoong likes medium tempo songs while Yoochun likes melodious ballads,” Kim Junsu also added, “I prefer hard dance tracks. Even the fact that we each like different genres becomes an advantage for us. If we bring all these together, we’re able to create a new side for ourselves.”
Their unique personalities create a synergy effect
While working on ‘In Heaven’, Kim Jaejoong was able to accentuate each member’s unique color. But Kim Junsu and Park Yoochun said, “Jaejoong’s songs are so difficult.” The two of them would shuffle around and huff in exasperation.
Park Yoochun and Kim Junsu came together to say, “Because Jaejoong works on his compositions at home and uses a low voice when creating a guide, but he also writes his song in a high key. We feel like we’re going to die. When we ask him to bring the key down because it’s so high, he says, ‘Yoochun, Junsu! You can do it!’ Hearing that, we go right back into recording the music. That’s how our team works.”
“They’re songs that I know we’re capable of singing. Our songs have to be appealing to the general public, and give people goosebumps when we sing them at concerts. TVXQ’s biggest strength was our perfect harmony, and I believe that JYJ have to continue that identity. Yoochun and Junsu sometimes grumble and say, ‘You’re songs at too high.’ Junsu said, ‘Even when I got on stage to perform tens of times in a musical, my throat would never be sore. But it is when I sing your songs.’ Hahaha! Before I go into the recording booth, I praise them and convince them that, ‘You guys can do it.'” (Kim Jaejoong)
In the recording booth, the laughter that comes from their praises and conversations never seems to end. Though they are more serious than ever when they’re working on new music, they throw praise after praise at each other, right up till the moment they start working.
To quote the members, they ‘go crazy with self-admiration’. When they use to work on songs for TVXQ albums, they would do nothing but record the songs. One person would be recording their part while the others were taking a break. Though they were tired, all they had to do was sing what composers had given them. But this isn’t the case any more Even when they’ve just recorded a guide, they encourage each other with praises like ‘It’s great,’ and ‘You’re a genius.’ When they’re recording, they become producers for each other, and for JYJ, this is when they are the happiest they’ve ever been.
This is also the biggest reason why JYJ are able to ‘happily work on music that they love’.
20. Kim Jaejoong, on falling head over heels for directing
The first performance of JYJ’s World Tour, which was held at the Jamshil Complex Stadium in Seoul on November 27th, 2010, was the most painful concert for Kim Jaejoong, but it was also the performance that gave him the opportunity to work as a director. Calling that day, “The day I felt most sorry to our fans since our debut,” Kim Jaejoong looked back and said, “It was a time of deep self-reflection for me.” He also said, “I really want to create a concert where both the performing singer and the fans who come to watch can enjoy the whole show comfortably.”
Becoming Director Kim!
JYJ’s Asia Tour, which began on April 4th, 2011 in Bangkok, Thailand, was Kim Jaejoong’s debut stage as the ‘general manager’. For over a month, Kim Jaejoong was responsible for designing every aspect for JYJ’s concerts such as lights, sound system, stage and videos. “When we were preparing a concert in Korea, we were low on directing manpower. So I ran around as much as I could and worked to look at every nook and cranny. Like how they say that you see as much as you know, I believed that the more I ran around and worked hard, the more perfect our stage would be.”
His perception of the stage has changed greatly due to his transformation from a singer to a director. Kim Jaejoong said, “When you get on stage as a singer, all you saw was the stage and your props, but when you look at the stage as a director, you see everything.”
He also had the difficult job of juggling the roles of a singer and a director at the same time.
For a more perfect performance, he would send Park Yoochun and Kim Junsu on stage by themselves during rehearsals till right before the actual concert so he could focus on everything on stage. Kim Jaejoong smiled as he said, “I was so focused on my role as a director that I was unprepared to go on stage as a singer, and the other members complained about that.” But the other members gave their utmost trust to Kim Jaejoong’s directing abilities.
Park Yoochun showed his pride in Kim Jaejoong as he said, “I believed that if I could trust what was going on because it was Jaejoong. He’s always been interested in directing, so he’s always had the nickname ‘Director Kim’ and now he’s finally made it a reality.” Kim Junsu laughed and said, “He’s stood on stage as a singer so many times that he created a performance that perfectly understood that perspective. Because of this, he created a really enjoyable concert.”
How is Director Kim Jaejoong different from Singer Kim Jaejoong? Kim Jaejoong confessed that he would get angry at his staff members by saying, “I found myself getting more sensitive and snap at people.” He asked for their understanding as he added, “I think I got more edgy and sensitive because even the smallest things can affect the entire stage. But I got angry as a director so that we could all smile after the concert. Because if we don’t hold a good performance, no one smiles.”
Expanding his experiences as a director
‘Director Kim Jaejoong”s directing abilities were proved once more during Sohn Yeon Jae’s first gala show ‘LG Whisen Rhythmic All Stars 2011’ at the Korea University Hwajung Gymnasium on the 11th and 12th of June, 2011. He took on everything from the music selection and production, to the stage effects, choreography and costumes. He worked extremely hard on the concert, even working on the event during JYJ’s World Tour through e-mails.
At the time, Sohn Yeon Jae performed a ribbon performance to Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this Way’ and drew much attention for her sexy, mature and provocative transformation. She also danced and performed to Girls’ Generation’s ‘Hoot’ with her seniors, catching the attention of everyone there.
On having to prepare a gala show, which was completely different from a concert, Kim Jaejoong said, “I think it was harder for Yeon Jae because this wasn’t the gymnastics that she was used to. Because dancing and doing gymnastics is entirely different. I’ve never worked so hard on teaching someone, and I’m so grateful that Yeon Jae was such a quick learner.”
The performance became an opportunity for him to get to know Sohn Yeon Jae. “While I was directing the performance, she would call me ‘Director’ but now she calls me ‘Oppa(Older brother)’. When I saw ‘Infinite Challenge’, I saw that she draws definite lines between ‘Oppa(Older brother’, ‘Ahjussi (Old man)’ and ‘Samchon (Uncle)’ and I’m a ‘Oppa (Older brother)’ to her. (laughter)”
Jaejoong’s note – The 007 Directing Plan for the Gala Show
Kim Jaejoong’s gala show directing role rivaled that of a 007 operation. This is because Kim Jaejoong was in the US for his World Tour when a series of conferences were held for the gala show’s concert and Sohn Yeon Jae had returned to Korea to rehearse.
Before leaving for his World Tour, Kim Jaejoong completed most of the preparations for the music, costume concepts and choreography and when he was in the US, he received the results of his work and gave feedback through e-mails. Photos of the stage setting and costume fitting sessions, as well as videos of choreography rehearsals came to him through a stream of e-mails. After thoroughly checking through all the results, Kim Jaejoong would send replies with advice on what needed to be added on what needed to be changed to the choreography. He even gave his advice on the smaller things, such as the color, material and cutting methods of the costumes.
He didn’t hold back on his advice for Sohn Yeon Jae as a mentor. She couldn’t help but feel extremely pressured. Not only was she standing on stage as the main act at a young age, but she also had to perform with the Top 10 gymnasts of Russia and Ukraine.
Kim Jaejoong continuously coached her on controlling her mind and gave her the strength to stay focused.
He didn’t forget to send her e-mails and text messages that said, “When you stand on stage, you are the star and you are the best. You’re doing so well. So many people are going to be so happy when they see you perform.”
With the day of the concert approaching, Kim Jaejoong became more focused on the details of the show. He checked everything from Sohn Yeon Jae’s entrance to her every move during the choreography till the very end, as well as the movements of all the dancers who would stand on stage with Sohn Yeon Jae.
Though the day of the gala show had come, Kim Jaejoong had to direct the performance through a video call because he was occupied with his World Tour concert in Busan. After checking every moment in the final rehearsal, he shouted his words of encouragement to Sohn Yeon Jae and ended his role as a director for the gala show. The show began during the rehearsal of JYJ’s World Tour performance. Kim Jaejoong couldn’t hide his pride when he watched the performance he had directed on TV.
Though the performance has ended, Kim Jaejoong and Sohn Yeon Jae have kept their mentor-mentee relationship and continue to support each other. It would be great to see the two people stay in touch as a global artiste and athlete.
21. Kim Jaejoong, on being recognized as an actor in ‘Dr. Jin’
If ‘Protect the Boss’ was the production that allowed Kim Jaejoong to successfully slot the first button into the right hole as an actor in Korea, his second drama ‘Dr. Jin’ helped him grow another level as an actor.
He appeared in the MBC weekend drama ‘Dr. Jin’ that began airing in May, 2012 as Joseon’s greatest officer ‘Kim Kyung Tak’, who came from a military family and excelled in martial arts. He was a character who was not only competitive and proud, but also simple-hearted and head over heels for a woman he had loved from a young age. Kim Kyung Tak ended up locked in a fateful competition with Jin Hyuk (Song Seung Hun), a doctor who fell in a ‘time slip’ from the 21st Century.
Dominating historical dramas with a single loving gaze
Maybe it’s because of his city-boy looks, but in the beginning, there were many worries and concerns over his appearance in a historical drama. From worries that he wouldn’t fit his historical outfits because of his sharp Western features to concerns that his voice wouldn’t fit a historical dialect, various voices of concern and worry put a lot of pressure on him. Kim Jaejoong himself was not confident about acting in a historical drama with a fantasy twist. He was in the process of deciding whether or not he’d be appearing in the movie ‘Jackal is Coming’, so the decision was not easy.
“To be honest, I felt very pressured about appearing in a historical drama. And because Kim Kyung Tak had a heavy image, I felt that people may not see a difference between him and the other characters I had played. But I made the decision to take on a new challenge.”
As soon as the first two episodes of the drama aired, all worries and concerns surrounding Kim Jaejoong disappeared. Kim Jaejoong was praised for his ability to successfully take on the antiquated style and intonations of historical dialect, something that even veteran actors find difficult. However, nothing was easy from the start for Kim Jaejoong. The critiques he received for his vocalization in the beginning gave Kim Jaejoong a hard time.
“Since becoming a singer, I started talking in a higher tone to hit the high notes more easily. But I had to drop my voice lower for the historical drama. It wasn’t easy to change my breathing to change the way I sounded. Our audio director was the one who uncovered a path for me. ‘Don’t work too hard on making your voice louder, deeper or more easily heard.’ Because it was his job to catch every sound I made, even breathy murmurs, he told me to not get stressed out about it. From then on, I began to interpret historical dialect in my own way.”
He also stated that Lee Bum Soo’s advice of “Don’t try to pour too many things into your words. Let your gaze do the talking,” helped him a lot. His ability to convey the pain of a concubine’s son and the soft and comforting love he had for Hong Young Rae (Park Min Young) stole the hearts of the drama’s viewers as he showed a charm that differed from his days as Cha Mu Won in ‘Protect the Boss’.
‘Crazy for Kyung Tak’ became a phrase used often amongst drama lovers, and Kyung Tak’s lines became hot topics on online community threads. During the press conference that was held while filming for the drama, his seniors came together to praise Kim Jaejoong on his sincerity and potential as an actor.
The best meal ever from the ‘Jaejoong Food Van’
But the pressure Kim Jaejoong felt increase as ‘Dr. Jin’ came to an end. Emotional scenes increased as Kim Kyung Tak’s reality became harsher and harder. Having to put all his energy in his acting in more and more scenes had Kim Jaejoong in physical pain often.
With the filming schedule for ‘Jackal is Coming’ overlapping with the drama, the physical strain on his body increased. But Kim Jaejoong was able to rely on Kim Eung Soo, who played his father in the drama, and Jin Ihan.
There was one time when having to wear a topknot for over 20 hours affected his work in ‘Jackal is Coming’. Kim Jaejoong smiled and said, “When you watch the movie, you may be able to catch the marks on my head in some of the scenes from wearing a topknot. Because I had to wear a topknot for such a long time, the marks were quite deep. I had to start filming for the movie even before those marks could disappear.” It was a happening that showed just how hard it was for him to juggle two productions in completely different genres.
He was able to overcome the 36 degrees weather thanks to the affectionate ‘tribute’ from his fans. Kim Jaejoong looked proud as he said, “When you work in a drama, you see many actors’ fans sending gifts to those on set, but I can proudly say that our fans are a level above everyone else.”
A food van sent by his fans appeared on set for both productions Kim Jaejoong was appearing in. It was not a normal food van, but a high-quality food van with dishes that could be found in a seafood restaurant.
Kim Jaejoong laughed out loud as he said, “When the fans of other actors were handing out towels, our fans would hand out paper bags filled with towels, t-shirts, electrical fans, regular fans, snacks and nutritional supplements. One actor even said, ‘I’ve never lost when I had my fans’ gifts compared to anyone else’s on set, but Jaejoong, I’ve definitely lost to you.’ Inside, I was extremely proud.”
The fans’ gifts were aided by Kim Jaejoong’s frequent ‘lobbying’ to steal the hearts of the staff members, and it was none other than an ‘ice cream’ lobby. He said, “It was really hot, so no snack could beat ice cream. Ice cream isn’t that expensive so I was able to make a lot of people happy at a low cost.”
A ‘rediscovery’ of Kim Jaejoong
Never forgetting his gratitude for his fans, Kim Jaejoong invited 1,500 fans to the set of his drama on July 22nd. He moved them all to Yonsei University’s auditorium and conversed with them. Kim Jaejoong looked back on his unforgettable summer memories as he said, “I was able to successfully film the drama in a difficult environment thanks to the love and support I received from Korean, Japanese and worldwide fans.”
Though it was a drama that started with many worries and concerns, Kim Jaejoong overcame all of his difficulties with talent and hard work, and when the drama was over, he was praised as ‘the actor who perfected the tragic character of Kim Kyung Tak’ and his work was called ‘The rediscovery of Kim Jaejoong.’
“When I first started the drama, I was afraid of it all because of the same reasons, but by the end, I realized that Kyung Tak has given me so much. I watch the final episode of ‘Dr. Jin’ often, and I’m still so deeply invested in Kyung Tak that tears will flow from my eyes whenever that scene comes up. His efforts to do his best in his promised world and protect the people around him reminds me of myself. That’s why he’s so appealing to me.”
22. Park Yoochun, on returning with ‘Rooftop Prince’
“Miss Ripley” was not the only challenge, and Park Yoochun, who had been maturing as an actor, embarked on a new challenge in March of 2012, showing comedic acting with SBS’s “Rooftop Prince.”
Park Yoochun, who made his debut in the acting word in a period drama, played the fantasy period character with a comical side, “Lee Gak”. Through Lee Gak, Park Yoochun managed to shine with his true worth. With just 3 dramas, he cemented his position as an actor, and his reputation as a “lead-character grade actor” spread. Park Yoochun did not have any greed, but simply aimed to “enjoy the moment”, and managed to immerse himself in the character.
“I totally let myself go. I only thought about Lee Gak, and that’s why I managed to act out the role. I didn’t think about how to make myself look cool, and simply focused on (the character of) Lee Gak. In fact, some scenes had to be edited because the expressions had been too realistic.”
On set, he didn’t back away as well. If there were any questions, he would ask around for answers to his questions on acting. “When appearing on this drama, I managed to get into character very naturally. I used to get nervous, but not anymore. If I don’t know how I should be expressing the scene, I would just go ahead and ask others.” It’s almost as if it was only through “Rooftop Prince” that he became a true actor.
A set that taught me about the joys of acting
As he was injecting life into the character of Lee Gak, he also felt passion towards acting, and managed to bring even more to the role. Even though he faced a lot of difficulties during the shoot, but because he had tasted the true joys of acting, he revelled in it. “In the drama ‘The Greatest Love’, Cha Seung Won had a line about ‘overcoming’, and I felt that this was actually not part of the script. I was really curious about how he had come up with that line. I feel like I can only act if I get into character, and immerse myself into the role. It was only then that I realised that this is probably what Cha Seung Won did as well. Previously, it was only about reading the script, but now I can inject a bit more meaning into the lines, and this makes acting more enjoyable.
The good working relationship he had with the co-actors helped as well. If shooting was delayed, he would go for steamboat and drinks with his co-actors. When shooting with Jung Suk Won, Lee Min Ho and Choi Moon Shik, he could not help but laugh. He recollected, “When shooting with the trio, they would be well prepared and all I had to do was to get into character and do my part. We got along very well so I enjoyed the shooting a lot.”
Abandoning his stereotype?
Park Yoochun, who dabbled with various genres such as period dramas, melodrama and comedy, challenged melodramas once again. In the MBC drama “I Miss You” which started on 7 November 2012, he played the role of the manly “Han Jung Woo”. Just by looking at the cast list, there was already a great amount of anticipation from the audiences. He would once again transform with this drama.
“After Rooftop Prince ended, I wondered about how it would be if I abandoned all preconceived images (of myself), and Han Jung Woo appeared. After looking at a summary of the plot, I was touched, and felt that this character could give me an 180 degree transformation, and an opportunity for a change in image had finally come. Even though I felt touched and pressured at the same time, but it was so different from previous characters that I have played so I was quite confident that I could play the role well.”
The issues Park Yoochun faces with acting are now more concrete. He happened to read an interview with the actress Jeon Do Yeon, and this ignited his passion for acting.
“In the interview with Jeon Do Yeon, she spoke about Ha Jeong Woo, saying that she ‘was surprised that he managed to cement his place as an actor so quickly.’ This was a line that had a variety of meanings. How am I different from Ha Jeong Woo, and why he is able to adapt to acting so quickly? When I see someone who is good at acting, I can only be envious. What should I do to act that well, and what should I do to take control of the right emotions… I’m really envious, he’s really cool. I feel that as an actor, you will shine brighter if you don’t pass up on any opportunities to grow. Even if you’ve stagnated for a while, just shake off the dust and push yourself forward, and you will be able to stand in front of the audiences as a better actor.”
Although he is very strict with himself as “actor Park Yoochun,” he is definitely one of the acting talents that everyone is talking about. In fact, he was also sought after to play several high profile, popular characters.
“When a role that I didn’t pick succeeds, I would think to myself ‘That was definitely not a role that was suitable for me.’ ‘If I were the one playing the role, then it wouldn’t be as successful as it is now.’ This is what I tell myself. Of course, I would be determined to find an even better role as well.”
How many points does he give to his acting skills?
Then how does Park Yoochun rate himself on his acting in his various fateful drama productions?
For ‘SungKyunKwan Scandal’, he gives himself 60 points (out of 100) for his role as Lee Seon Joon. He’s really hard on himself. Saying that his popularity at the time wasn’t just because of him, but more because of the actors who appeared in the drama with him, Park Yoochun explained, “Lee Seon Joon was a character who received more help from Song Joong Ki, Yoo Ah In and Park Min Young than from my own acting skills, so I don’t give myself high marks for him.”
Song Yoo Hyun of ‘Miss Ripley’ received an even lower score of 30 points. He didn’t give himself high marks because it was a melodrama that required a lot of emotions, and because there were many difficulties during the filming process. Park Yoochun looked back on the experience and said, “My desire preceded my lacking preparation so I didn’t enjoy the process and my acting ended up being very bad.”
For Lee Gak in ‘Rooftop Prince’, he gave himself a much better score of 80 points because he really got into his role and enjoyed the filming process. He says that he had a great feeling about the show after the first filming schedule.
Now there is Han Jung Woo of ‘I Miss You’. His expected marks are 90 points. With a serious expression, Park Yoochun said, “In the past, I would also tell myself ‘I have to do well,’ but now, I can feel the need to do well in every part of my body,” and expressed his wishes and desire through his clasped hands. His face showed the acute sensibility of a true actor.
23. Park Yoochun, on his four-country Asia tour, “They love Actor Park Yoochun!”
After ending ‘Rooftop Prince’, Park Yoochun embarked on an Asia Tour. It wasn’t with Kim Jaejoong and Kim Junsu. He met with his overseas fans by himself. Though he was modest in his explanation as he said, “I felt pressured and ambiguous about meeting our overseas fans as an actor and not a singer. It felt like the time wasn’t right yet,” the response he received from his Asia Tour was explosive.
Regarding the fans who sent him their undying support, he said, “They love seeing me both sing and act. I talked a lot about both my music and my acting during the Asia Tour. Now, I want to show them the music I’ve been working on. I’m planning on pursuing solo activities next year.”
To Park Yoochun, who wants to show his overseas fans various sides of himself, overseas activities such as tours in Asia, Europe and South America, are like a form of vacation for him. Other than the time he spent going out to taste the famous food of the region, he would stay inside and watch dramas or read comic books. Of course, it was to help him with his acting.
Park Yoochun was able to feel the love of his fans deep in his heart during his Asia Tour. He was able to find out what aspects of his acting his fans loved most, and what scenes were most popular. He also received a lot of support from his fans. Not only this, but he built friendships with his fans by making them food and playing games with them.
“To be honest, we get flustered as well when we come face to face with fans. But when we meet a fan who’s red in the face and so nervous that she doesn’t know what to do, I find myself reaching out for a handshake and thanking them for their support. All of these moments are like vitamins to me.”
Alcohol can’t be forgotten when reminiscing about the tour. After successfully completing his Asia Tour, he went through 50 bottles of liquor with his staff members to commemorate the event.
A time of taking a break and being deeply moved
He would sometimes go to the pool with his manager, who had been in the Marines. As a lover of water, Park Yoochun would always go to the pool, no matter what hotel he was in. He would shake off the pressure he’d feel from holding a tour, and re-energize himself in the water.
“I swam a lot during the tour. My manager used to be in the Marines, and my bodyguards were really good swimmers as well. It’s not that I’m a great swimmer, I just like water. When I get to a hotel, there isn’t that much to do so I usually listen to music, write or sleep, but I got addicted to swimming during this tour. Because every hotel has a pool, I learned how to swim in the butterfly form, and I had so much fun with all the freestyle and backstroke races we had. It felt like all of the stress I felt disappeared in an instant.”
For him, ‘airport fashion’ has always been a point of pressure. Though he wants to dress comfortably because his flights are so long, he can’t because there are so many eyes watching him. Though he tries to hide his face with sunglasses, his fans capture his every move with cameras. Park Yoochun made an honest confession as he said, “These days, I always prepare in advance.” It’s a moment that shows just how human he is.
Looking back on his Asia Tour that had him greeting his fans as an actor and not a singer, Park Yoochun sent his fans a message of heartfelt gratitude and love. “To be honest, I’m not very good at conveying the gratitude I feel for my fans. But I didn’t hold back on this fanmeet tour because I was filled with so much gratitude and love. We cooked together, I fed them, and we played games with rubber hammers. Time flew by as we talked about things related to my dramas that our fans were curious about. I was very sad about the short amount of time I had with them, and I returned to Korea with that much gratitude in my heart. On top of the fact that our overseas fans are physically separated from us, they don’t have many opportunities to see us on broadcasted shows, so I always feel so bad about that. That’s why this was such a more meaningful and precious time for me. I saw these fans and naturally pushed myself that I needed to work harder and do better because that was all I could do for them.”
24. Kim Junsu, on meeting ‘Death’ by fate in ‘Elisabeth’
In February of 2012, fans were surprised to see Kim Junsu choose ‘Elisabeth’ as his third musical. It was because he had been chosen for the role of ‘Tod (Death)’, a character with a smaller role. With ‘Mozart!’ and ‘Tears of Heaven’ becoming a huge hit, Kim Junsu rose to the status of a top star in the musical industry. Above all, his ticket power was beyond imagination. But Kim Junsu had chosen ‘Elisabeth’, a musical with a female main character. This was unexpected.
His choice was met with polar responses. The fans began voicing their disapproval. Kim Junsu looked back and said, “They went crazy over the fact that I had taken on the role of ‘Death’, a character with a small role.”
But this time, Kim Junsu pushed for his decision. His conviction was immense. He gained confidence through his first two musicals, and now he was big on, “Doing what I want to do.” It would have been an impossible choice if he wasn’t talented. He didn’t want his greed to override everything else. He just liked being on stage. On one hand, the realistic thought of, “I can’t always be the main character,” crossed his mind. So he was the one who came up with the idea. Without his talents, confidence and ability to keep an eye on the market, it would have been impossible.
The results came back as a success! The success of ‘Elisabeth’ was already foreshadowed by the show’s ticket sales. With three months to go before the curtains rose, Kim Junsu’s shows sold out in 10 minutes. The media couldn’t hide their surprise as they reported, “Is legendary ticket power has been proved yet again.”
The strict self-regulations hidden behind his awards
Through this production, Kim Junsu was able to solidify his position in the musical industry in only three years. He proved his position as ‘the one to beat’ through the awards he won.
Kim Junsu received the ‘Award for the Best Male Lead’ at ‘the 18th Korean Musical Awards’ ceremony on October 29th, 2012. This was a success achieved in only three years since beginning his career as a musical actor, and this was the first time that an idol singer had won that award.
“What convinced me to appear in ‘Elisabeth’ was Composer Sylvester Levay’s music. I was drawn to the role of ‘Death’. He’s a transcendental presence, and he isn’t human. I fell in love with the song ‘The Shadows Lengthened’. Haha! (He suddenly starts singing) The lengthening shadows / Humans could never see them….”
Composer Sylvester Levay didn’t hide his praise for Kim Junsu’s talents.
“I was so surprised by Kim Junsu’s ability to take control of the production through his role as ‘Death’. Being scary, dark and animalistic at times as he stayed near Elisabeth, he was perfect in his ability to take hold of the production with his charisma.”
‘Elisabeth’ brought a lot of change to Kim Junsu’s daily life as an individual. He lost weight through a diet regime. During the 4-hour long interview, Kim Junsu never deviated from his low-calorie Americano coffee. His diet had still not ended.
“‘Death’ has to look extremely cold but sexy at the same time. Before rehearsals, I looked at myself in the mirror and I didn’t look sexy at all. Haha! I thought that I would be too embarrassed to focus on my acting in that state. So I worked out, reduced my calorie intake and lost 6kg. Look. Even now, I’m drinking nothing but my Americano coffee. (laughter)”
Stealing the hearts of musical fans
Kim Junsu composed his solo album’s title song ‘TARANTALLEGRA’ while performing on stage. ‘Elisabeth’ is the reason why the dance track uses the timpani, trumpets and string instruments, which are usually reserved for musicals.
This was around the time that he began to forge a deeper relationship with Jo Seung Woo. He’s the person who boasted the strongest ticket power in the industry until Kim Junsu appeared. With the appearance of Kim Junsu, they became a chain of mountains that couldn’t be passed. Though the world sees Jo Seung Woo and Kim Junsu as competitors, they see themselves as close friends who have made the promise to, “Appear in a musical together one day.” Though they differ in age and experience, they are friends who support and encourage each other.
Kim Junsu, who revealed that he promised Jo Seung Woo that they would appear in a musical together, laughed and said, “If we stood on stage together, I’m pretty sure not even the Sejong Arts Center could hold us, right?” Though it’s quite a confident statement to make, it’s a pride that isn’t misplaced.
Ironically, Kim Junsu won over the most musical fans through ‘Elisabeth’, the production his fans had been against. “I’ve gained a lot of musical fans. There are a lot of fans who say that they were fans of other musical actors, but have now come to my side. Haha!”
The ‘Elisabeth’ OST that Kim Junsu participated in topped the yearly sales charts for musical albums (Hanteo Charts) in just three days. Kim Junsu’s power not only covered ticket sales, but album sales as well. Kim Junsu received the Popularity Award at ‘The Musical Awards’ for three consecutive years for his musicals from ‘Mozart!’ to ‘Elisabeth’. He has proven just how amazing his ticket power is. The women who worked with Kim Junsu were also chosen for the Popularity Award every year as well.
A ‘Kim Junsu Rule’ has appeared amongst musical actors that says, ‘If you work with Kim Junsu, you’ll receive the Popularity Award.’
“Yoon Gong joo, who worked with me on ‘Tears of Heaven’, received the Popularity Award and I saw her sobbing and saying how grateful she was. Because a Popularity Award proves your ticket power. It was a great moment for her as a musical actress, and it was one of my proudest moments as a musical actor.”
The unforgettable ecstasy from standing on stage
Of course, not every day was filled with laughter. Having to take responsibility for every performance, there were moments when Kim Junsu would sweat nervously.
There was a happening that took place during his ‘Elisabeth’ performance. As if he still hadn’t forgotten the adrenaline he had felt at that moment, Kim Junsu’s voice got higher. He even shook his head a few times. He had forgotten his lyrics while performing on stage. It was something he could have never dreamed of as a perfectionist. But he was already on stage.
“I really hated having to start the song, knowing that I would get the lyrics wrong. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my singing, so I can never forgive myself when I get my lyrics wrong. And that’s what happened.”
Like so, Kim Junsu has been building on his experiences as a musical actor and is slowly getting to enjoy it all.
“I really like musicals because they gave me an opportunity to stand on stage again. Because it’s a perfect genre that mixes singing, dancing and acting, I feel a sense of ecstasy whenever I stand on stage. The biggest strength for me as a musical actor is the curtain call after every show, and I’m so happy when the audience gets on their feet and applaud us for our performance. It pushes me to work harder.”
He also emphasized, “It’s still hard for me to define what musicals are to me, so I don’t think I could say that it’s entirely mine. But I think I’m in the process of slowly getting to know musicals. What’s important is that I want to, and will continue to appear in musicals.”
25. Kim Junsu, Facing The World As XIA With His First Solo Album In 9 Years
Still, nothing was easy for them. The walls in their path still seemed as high.
“Although I dreamed, fulfilling it was easier said than done.”
He wanted to release a solo album, but it was a situation where their broadcasting activities were being restricted. The only way to appear on broadcast, was by acting in dramas. Members Park Yoochun and Kim Jaejoong were both starring in dramas, and gaining recognition little by little.
While performing overseas, Kim Junsu observed the fans’ responses. He got the feeling that, since he was not appearing on TV, he was gradually being forgotten. After much consideration, Kim Junsu decided to open the door to dramas. The agency found some dramas that were suitable for Kim Junsu, and they could begin filming as soon as he made a decision. But when he actually received the synopsis of the dramas, he began having mixed feelings.
Kim Junsu, who was performing in the musical ‘Elizabeth’ at that time, sat across from CEO Baek in the practice studio, neither saying a word for 30 minutes. Kim Junsu was the one to break the silence. This is the conversation they had then.
Kim Junsu: “Hyung, is it still possible to release a solo album now?”
Ceo Baek: “It’s possible anytime.”
Then there was another 30 minutes of silence.
Kim Junsu: “Should I release a solo album?”
CEO Baek: “I would like for you to make music. I only went to look for dramas since you said you wanted to do it.”
Throughout the hour of silence, there was only one thought on Kim Junsu’s mind.
“The one thing I’m good at and am confident in is music isn’t it? Even if I can’t appear on broadcasts, there should be someone who would like to listen to my music at least once right? If I were to act in dramas, who would look forward to my acting?”
Kim Junsu stopped pondering over it, and decided to go with releasing a solo album.
“I was not able to appear on TV for 3 years. I felt the difference when we had performances overseas, but since there’s Youtube now, I told myself not to fret over it. The situation wasn’t as desolate as before, so I decided to believe in “me”.
The Name He Found Again, A Name He Missed Greatly, XIA
Kim Junsu released his first solo album since debut,“XIA Tarantallegra”, in May 2012, and found the name “XIA” again. It is a representation of the musicality that he has gradually accumulated since his debut in 2004. Kim Junsu was insistent on “XIA”, because he saw it as a name that best represents him as a person. Along with “Tarantallegra”, which is also the name of a spell that makes people dance, encapsulating the charm of this album. There was a total of 12 songs in the album. Kim Junsu personally composed or wrote lyrics for 8 of the songs, including the title track “Tarantallegra”. His faith in himself saw him through in the end.
New records were being set right from the release of the album. The pre-orders prior to release exceeded 100,000 copies, setting the highest record for a solo album in 2012 (Gaon charts), ranked top 10 on America’s Billboard world charts, ranked 1st on the German Asian music charts. The records continued to be set.
“Although the broadcast activities were being restricted, the response towards the album internationally was very good. It was particularly surprising that ‘Tarantallegra’ could rank first on a German chart, but it seems it could have been the effect of JYJ being the first korean artiste to hold a concert in Berlin.”
The response to the music video was also huge. With their broadcast promotional activities being blocked, the music video was the only way to let people know the song.
Kim Junsu set expectations for himself. The choreography for “Tarantallegra” was handled by Jeri Slaughter, who choreographs for Christina Aguilera. In addition, the music video for “Uncommitted”, an English song produced for the world tour, was also of a high quality. “Let’s film it again, let’s film it more dramatically, let’s film it more provocatively,” were the requests that Kim Junsu constantly raised.
Although it was edited out in the final music video, Kim Junsu also tried playing a dual role for a kiss scene. A scene where Kim Junsu, dressed in a female outfit, kisses the real Kim Junsu. The person who was the most satisfied with his acting (in that scene), was Kim Junsu himself. He was pleased as he said, “I am holding onto the footage. I think I look better in a woman’s outfit than actual women do.”
A Bigger Stage Is Calling Out To XIA
Kim Junsu held a world tour which began in Seoul, then went round Asia, North and South America, and Europe. As expected, it was a succession of “sold-outs”. His “ticket power” as evident from musicals, was once again proven through his solo concerts, and internationally at that. It began with all 17,000 tickets for the Seoul concert, held on 19 and 20 May at the Jamsil Indoor Gymnasium, selling out within just 5 minutes. At that time, the server of the presale site stalled. There were also several fans who fainted watching Kim Junsu’s performance, and ambulances had to be called for. Both Kim Junsu’s and his fans’ were exploding with energy.
“During every performance, I would tell myself that ‘I am the best.’ If I didn’t do that, I think I would have been unable to deal with the nervousness. No matter what, I always stood on stage with the thought ‘Just believe in myself’’.”
With his ‘self-hypnosis’, Kim Junsu began in Seoul, and toured Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. The concerts were sell-out after sell-out.! Asia was immersed in ‘Xia Time’. The response was overwhelming. ‘Love calls’ also came pouring in from Europe and America. He once again began pondering, as to whether he should step out onto a bigger stage. A world tour that was difficult even with the members; he was worried about the fact that he would have to stand on that stage alone. At that point in time, he thought of the fans, the fans all over the world who were waiting. With that, Kim Junsu boarded a flight to New York, America, where the first stop of his world tour would be.
“Following New York, we held a concert in LA. Seeing the blue-eyed fans dance along and sing along with me in Korean, wow…the feeling at the time! As expected, the satisfaction I got from the result was as big as the worries that I had had.”
A Journey To Repay The Love From The Fans
The world tour was intense. The concerts in America were closely followed by performances in Mexico, Brazil and Chile. Over 5000 fans came for the South American concerts. Kim Junsu crossed over 17,000km for the North and South American concerts, but he did not find it tiring at all, as he got his energy from the fans. Kim Junsu gave a thumbs-up as he said, “As expected, it’s South America”, expressing his gratitude for the fans.
“I saw with my own eyes, that my fans loved me more than I knew. Being halfway across the globe, when is the next time the South American fans will be able to see me perform…It’s just hearts filled with passion. I saw the fans’ hearts.”
At the end of the concert in Mexico, Kim junsu teared up. His tears flowed out without him realising. “They were tears of gratitude, and tears of regret. The reason why I could keep up the same level of energy anywhere in the world is because of the strength of the fans.”
And then there was the final stop in Germany. Kim Junsu used only his own abilities to travel through the world, bringing passionate energy in its purest form to the fans. It was a final performance with passion that only he could bring.
Source : [The JYJ magazine: The story of 1000 days]
Translated & Shared by : dongbangdata.net