What the tears of Max Changmin, an original member of ‘Our Neighborhood’s Master’, has left us with
KBS’ variety show ‘Our Neighborhood’s Master of Variety and Sports’ is a program with many interesting aspects to inspect. As a program that features many famous celebrities like Kang Ho Dong, the show stays true to its title and focuses on becoming more ‘neighborhood-oriented’. Traveling from neighborhood to neighborhood, celebrity teams battle with ordinary folk in sports categories like table tennis, badminton, bowling and basketball. The concept and scale make it feel like something a cable channel might have done. Of course, there were special large-scale events, like visiting the Taereung training grounds or flying overseas.
The most interesting aspects of this program are teamwork and roles. Life sports clubs are usually communities where people passionate about a certain sport gather to share their hobbies. Though the members of ‘Our Neighborhood’s Master of Variety and Sports’ came together through a contractual relationship, they quickly morph into a sports club-like community. Popularity doesn’t matter as much as doing well in each match does.Each member is put on equal footing and given the same opportunities, whether they are popular, an entertainment company’s CEO, that entertainment company’s celebrity, a superstar leading the Hallyu Wave, a B-list actor, a model or a rookie. Though members are often rotated in and out, each member is welcomed with open arms and bid farewell with a warm embrace and a promise to meet again. With no requirements placed upon the members, the team runs just like a regular sports club would.
Max Changmin, who is currently busy promoting his song ‘Something’, will be handing in his ‘Our Neighborhood’s Master’ uniform with the end of the show’s basketball season. He is one of the original members of the show. He followed Kang Ho Dong from ‘Moonlight Prince’ to ‘Our Neighborhood’s Master of Variety and Sports’, and is one of the two members who have been on the show the longest. Max Changmin made the decision to enter the world of variety shows when Kang Ho Dong announced his return, but things got off to a rocky start. As he has never possessed a unique gift as an entertainer, and wasn’t athletic enough to become the star of the team, his final results may seem mediocre when compared to his achievements as a member of TVXQ.
In the show’s four-month long basketball season, Max Changmin was never given the spotlight as it was handed over to Seo Ji Seok, Julian Kang, JYP and Kim Hyuk. TVXQ’s Max Changmin, who is considered to be the pinnacle of the Hallyu Wave, mostly sat on the bench for most of the team’s matches. But never did he express any feelings of discontent about this. As though he had never once seen himself as a star, (He once confessed that he was probably the only person in his entire family with a job that requires him to stand in front of people so often) he knew how to be thankful for the opportunities that were given to him based on his skills. He put all his efforts into honing his athletic skills rather than his dancing skills so that he wouldn’t become a burden to his fellow team members. His efforts could be seen in the glimpses we got of him on TV. His sincerity and hard work could be felt, even without the staff shining a spotlight on his story.
What stood out most was Max Changmin’s attitude during the celebrity’s team match in Japan. The game garnered a lot of interest before it began, and the stadium was filled to the brim on the day of the match, with many people turned away due to the lack of seats. All of this interest and excitement was for one person, Max Changmin. But he was only given the spotlight during his entrance into the arena.
With both teams fighting neck and neck, coaches Choi In Seon and Woo Ji Won weren’t in a comfortable enough position to send Max Changmin into the match as fan service for the Japanese spectators. The staff agreed with their decision and focused on the flow of the game. Max Changmin ended up sitting on the bench for most of the game, despite the fact that the majority of spectators were there to see him, and even when he was participating in the game, he had to act as a role player rather than the ace of the team. But never did we see him act uncomfortable or disgruntled with his role.
He never felt a clash between his roles as a member of TVXQ and as a member of the ‘Our Neighborhood’s Master’ team. The show was an opportunity for people to see the amazing self-objectivity and humanity of this superstar, who has always been the center of attention and love. In that same sense, Park Jin Young was also a sight to see. Though he is the CEO of one of Korea’s biggest entertainment companies and a judge of SBS’ <K-pop Star 3>, he was just another player who would go wherever the team was sent in this show. It was a rare sight to see Park Jin Young and Max Changmin put in a position that is no different from anyone else’s.
There was never a sense of privilege or elitism. When it was announced that Park Jin Young would be late for the team’s boot camp, Max Changmin joked around and said, “Again? That’s not fair.” Kang Ho Dong retorted by jokingly saying, “At least he still comes, you sometimes disappear completely when something comes up.” This is what makes this variety show so interesting. Though he is a superstar who attracts thousands upon thousands of fans to his performances, even convincing Japanese fans to fly to Korea to see him, he is just an average youth who apparently wanted nothing but to meet beautiful women during his team’s boot camp in this show. Seeing such an effortless natural side to him combines with all the experience he has accumulated on stage to make him shine even brighter.
Max Changmin confessed that he had never felt nervous during his comeback performances for his latest album. But he was always nervous that he would mess up during a basketball game. He said that basketball had become an addiction for him. To be honest, it would be perfectly normal for someone of his position to think of the show as nothing but throwing a ball around. This world of variety shows isn’t even a part of his full-time job as a singer. But he silently put in hours and hours of practice for a few minutes of the spotlight. This is completely ineffective when compared to how the results affect money, fame or his image. But that’s the charm of sports clubs. Jobs and wealth don’t really matter. This is the mindset Max Changmin had when he became a member of the ‘Our Neighborhood’s Master of Variety and Sports’ team, enjoying his time and doing his best.
Just like what Lee Byung Jin said, ‘Does His Best’ Changmin is a name that fits Max Changmin better. There is only one more chance for us to see Max Changmin wearing his uniform. Though he may get a premium over the others because he’s leaving the show, he probably won’t be highlighted that much in the upcoming episode. But watching him do his best and sweat it out, even if no one noticed him, will be a positive memory that will stay in our minds for a long time. This is the charm of variety shows, as it erases the gap between stars and their viewers.
Translated & Shared by: dongbangdata.net