TVXQ began their Five Dome tour in April and their successful finale has made them the first international singers to hold a stadium concert in Japan. To get this far, TVXQ have slowly but surely climbed up the ladder of success, starting in small-scale concert venues in 2005. True to Max Changmin’s words of, “From small-scale venues to halls, arenas, domes and now a stadium. I feel as though we’ve personally paved each and every step of the way down this path TVXQ have taken,” such an achievement was possible because they are TVXQ, hard-working and humble. How do TVXQ feel about rewriting the history of K-POP’s Hallyu boom through their Nissan Stadium performance? We met with TVXQ right after their ‘TVXQ LIVE TOUR 2013 ~TIME~’ finale performance on the 17th at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, Japan and their faces were filled with joy and pride.
Q. Now that you’ve ended your concert, how do you feel?
U-Know Yunho: I feel great because I was able to share this stadium experience with our staff, fans and Max Changmin. Most of all, I’m happy because I feel as though we’ve shown our best to the people who have cheered us on with all their hearts. The venue is 1.5 times larger than the Tokyo Dome, so I was worried at first. But when I heard the cheers of our friends, a strange energy that I can’t really explain just filled me up. We ended the concert in high spirits.
Max Changmin: I’m extremely happy because we were able to end our ‘Five Dome Tour’, something we’ve been dreaming of for a long time, in great success and we were also able to fulfill our unexpected dream of performing live in the stadium. I’m very grateful to all the fans who stood in line and waited in the Summer heat, though the concert began at 5.30pm. It was the biggest concert that we’ve ever held. I thought I’d be shaking with nerves because this was the biggest crowd we’ve ever performed for, but I was more excited and happy than nervous.
Q. You’ve finally reaped the successes of having spent the last eight years in the Japanese music industry. What’s your secret behind rewriting the history of K-POP?
U-Know Yunho: No matter what stage we stand on, we’re a team that values enjoying that moment over the thought of, ‘We have higher places to get to’. Even when we first started out in small concert venues and then moved to medium-sized halls, we found and enjoyed the charms of each and every moment, rather than thinking ‘We have to do better’. That’s why we don’t think ‘We’re big stars,’ now that we’ve held a concert at this stadium. I think a lot of people have loved us from the early days because we show an honest side of ourselves, always working a little harder and trying to find new things to enjoy.
Q. Was holding a concert at this stadium a goal for you since you made your Japanese debut in 2005?
U-Know Yunho: When we made our debut in Japan, we heard from others that this could be a great, new experience for us, or a hard and painful ordeal. We always thought, ‘As long as we do our best, we’ll be okay,’ but it was harder than we thought it would be. I talked with Changmin back then and said that we just needed to work our way up, slowly but surely. It feels great to see that something we talked about in private has become a reality.
Q. What does a stadium concert mean to you personally?
U-Know Yunho: Usually, people think that a ‘Dome concert’ is a really big deal. Meaning that a singer who has performed at a dome is considered to be amazing. But when I saw the stadium in real life, I realized that this place is on a completely different level. This was also a problem the directing team faced, but our task was ‘How can we make sure that the audience will have fun?’ We believed that the best thing for us to do was to get closer to them physically. The stage was big and tiring on our bodies, but I just told myself that it would help me lose weight. Personally, this concert was an opportunity for me to look back on everything. In life, there are times when people get stressed out. The place that helps me relieve my stress and find who I really am is the stage. Our stadium concert helped me realize that. I could see elderly and disabled people in the audience. They all waved their towels and had fun. Seeing that made me realize, ‘I’m someone who can give others hope.’
Max Changmin: The stadium is a venue I’ve only seen for a soccer match. Tonight’s concert was the biggest concert we’ve ever held. Though Japan is a foreign country for us, so many Japanese people came to see us foreigners perform. I’m so proud of the fact that we were able to attract the largest crowd possible, and it made me feel determined to work harder and become international singers who can overcome the barriers of languages and nationalities, and be loved by more international fans across the world.
Q. How did you feel when you stood on the Nissan Stadium’s stage for the first time?
Max Changmin: ‘This is a magnificent sight’ was the only expression I could think of. I was so proud of the fact that I was able to see the biggest crowd we’ve ever brought in at once with my own eyes. I don’t think simple phrases like ‘I liked it’, ‘It was great’, ‘I was happy’ are enough to express what I felt then. It was a precious experience with a myriad of emotions crossing through me.
Q. Aren’t the two of you being too humble? We read in another article that performing at the Nissan Stadium ‘makes an artiste feel like God looking down on the people of the world’. Didn’t you feel exhilarated or pleased with yourselves when you were on stage?
Max Changmin: To be honest, it would be a lie to say that a singer doesn’t feel pleased about oneself when one stands on stage. I want to describe it as self-confidence. We feel this need to captivate our audience with our songs, dance and words. It’s true that we’ve gotten addicted to it and it makes us want to do better and play the audience a little. Though ‘pleased with oneself’ may sound a little conceited, it becomes a driving force that makes us work even harder. I want to feel even more ‘pleased with myself’ from now on whenever I’m on stage.
Q. Since the stage is quite big, there must have been some physical issues you faced with your bodies keeping up?
Max Changmin: It must be because of KBS2’s ‘Our Neighborhood’s Master of Variety and Sports’, but I’ve gotten much more fit. There were times during our Dome tour when I was so tired halfway through that I wanted to just lie down and rest. But I think badminton is an absolutely amazing sport. It’s helped me turn over a new leaf! (laughter)
U-Know Yunho: If you think about it, I’m hitting my thirties next year (born in February, 1986). (laughter) I work hard because I hate to lose, I hate hearing that I’ve gotten old, and I love surpassing the limits that are set for me. The decision to run and jump during our last song ‘Somebody to Love’ was made yesterday. Since we’d be tired by the end of the concert anyway, we decided to just run around the entire stage. The cheers we received from our fans helped more than my fitness level. Maybe I should start playing badminton too. (laughter)
Q. There were a lot of sets and props that used clocks to fit with ‘TIME’, the title of your concert. What does it mean?
U-Know Yunho: The title of the album we released early on this year was ‘TIME’. Our concepts surrounded the past, present and future. We wanted to show that our past efforts have made TVXQ who we are now, and we’d showcase who we are now as TVXQ in the future as well. That’s what we based our story on. I think all of that really melded well in the concerts.
Q. We met with your fans before the concert and we noticed that you’ve gained a lot of new fans. What’s your secret?
U-Know Yunho: We heard that some people come to TVXQ concerts for their dates. What makes me feel the happiest is the response we get from our male fans. I think it starts out with people coming by themselves and having fun, then bringing other family members with them, and then that spreading even further. Our concerts have become a show for families, rather than just a performance for fanatics.
Q. U-Know Yunho talks really well and jokes around when on the stage. Are you making yourself known as a comedian in Japan?
U-Know Yunho: In Japan, a comical conversation involves a person who attacks and a person who receives. In Korea, I have quite a charismatic image but in Japan, Changmin speaks very well so we’ve fallen into such a comedic concept. People seem to really enjoy it and I think it’s stuck.
Q. During the concert, we enjoyed watching you imitate other celebrities and the animation ‘Attack on Titan’.
U-Know Yunho: I wanted to say some popular Japanese catchphrases to make the audience laugh. I also recited some lines from ‘Hanjawa Naoki’, a popular drama in Japan. ‘Attack on Titan’ is an animation that I enjoy watching. I imitated one of the characters from the animation. This is something that Changmin does as well, but when we get a character in our hands, we like to imitate them. Comedians we recently imitated really enjoyed our imitations, so we invited them to our concert.
Q. You made your debut in 2004 and will be celebrating your 10th anniversary this year.
Max Changmin: It makes me think of everything from our first stage, to our showcase at the Jamshil Stadium, to performing at houses, halls, arenas and domes in Japan. Back then, I used to think that time was passing by so slowly, but now when I look back, I find myself thinking, ‘I’ve grown so much in the past 10 years’. I saw a few staff members wiping tears from their eyes. We didn’t just work hard with vague goals for the past ten years; I feel as though we’ve personally paved each and every step of the way down this path TVXQ have taken and that makes me feel so proud.
U-Know Yunho: Oh, Changmin’s become much better at expressing himself now that he’s become an emcee for a variety show.
Max Changmin: But I don’t even talk that much in that show. (laughter)
U-Know Yunho: A lot of thoughts have passed through my mind because it’s our tenth anniversary in Korea. It’s a bit difficult for me to give any details as of right now, but we’ll definitely be doing something to commemorate the date, whether it be a concert or an album. We’ll show the many sides of ourselves that we’ve shown till now. When we were younger, we’d look at our seniors in the industry and think, ‘They’re amazing,’ and now that time has passed, I’ve realized that I want us to be great artistes rather than just stars. Artistes who can connect and communicate with all our juniors. I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
Q. You promised that if your sixth album ‘Catch Me’ sold over 350,000 copies, Max Changmin would go wakeboarding shirtless. You really have sold over 350,000 copies and we’ve received a request from your fans to make sure that promise is kept.
Max Changmin: (with an expression of honest confusion) Did I really say that?
(A representative of SM reminded them that during an interview for their sixth album, U-Know Yunho jokingly said this to Max Changmin when talking about how many copies they hoped to sell.)
Max Changmin: Oh, so basically my consent was never asked for in this promise, right? (laughter) But since that promise has been made, I won’t let my fans down. I’ll do my best to show the ‘bare’ side of me.
Q. You’ve become the first Korean singers to hold a concert at the Nissan Stadium. What’s your goal now?
Max Changmin: Rather than thinking, ‘I want to perform here next,’ I’m just focusing on the fact that we’ve achieved the dream of performing at the Nissan Stadium. Because the concert venue is so big, we were able to play with the set and perform in front of a large crowd, but I realized that it might not have been the best experience for our fans because we were so far away from them. I felt bad that we weren’t able to connect with them as much as we wanted to. I wanted to lock eyes with each and every fan, and greet them and thank them. In that aspect, I want to hold a concert where we can really connect with our audience, regardless of the actual venue. My goal is to be a long-running singer who stays close to his audience and is filled on the inside rather than flashy on the outside.
U-Know Yunho: Wow, Changmin took the words right out of my mouth. (laughter) Though it is important to move to bigger and bigger venues, I’d rather become an artiste who listens to what the fans want in terms of concept and size of the venue, than someone who focuses too much on ‘more and more’. For example, we may invite only our male fans or just our elderly fans for our next concert. Most of all, I want to a singer who sings for a long, long time.
Q. What would you say to the K-pop singers who will follow TVXQ’s footsteps?
U-Know Yunho: Our juniors are amazing. There are a lot of great people. But I think that once you begin to think ‘We’ve come this far, that’s when everything really begins. K-pop will continue to do well because there are a lot of singers who will become great artistes if they do their best wherever they go, and never stop studying their own performances.
Max Changmin: We’ve left behind some great records and achievements. But I sincerely hope that our juniors will surpass our achievements in the future. That’s the only way K-pop will continue to grow and prosper internationally. You could call it a form of enhancing the nation’s prestige. We hope that our juniors become much more successful than we are now, and we hope that our achievements become a foundation for Korean music to prosper, rather than something that only points out what TVXQ have achieved.
Q. Any final comments?
U-Know Yunho: Today’s concert was the greatest gift of our lives. We want to thank everyone who shared this moment with us. Though we’ve achieved so much, I think that TVXQ’s true value has only just begun to shine. We promise to share more of ourselves with everyone in the future.
Translated & Shared by: dongbangdata.net