SHINee – Prologue
SHINee and photoshoot staff with Yukiko (in the middle)
About a year ago, Elle Girl Japan asked for related materials and our opinions in their preparation for an article on K-pop. One of the questions was which boy group’s debut in Japan is most expected, and Elle Girl Korea’s answer was SHINee.
The five slim boys’ slogan, “(we are) a contemporary band,” was elusive in the beginning, but now the public understands what it means intuitively. In their pursuit of what is new and best in everything from music and performance to fashion, SHINee was born to be global.
The joint interview both magazines have planned on for months was made in a studio in Shinsa-dong on an April afternoon. An Elle Girl Japan editor came over to Seoul to meet with SHINee whose debut in Japan had been scheduled, and set the place for the meeting with the five members with Elle Girl Korea.
There was a bit of tension as people communicated in Japanese, English and Korean in the studio, but when SHINee came in, the atmosphere became livelier. The members looked in a good condition, maybe because they were resting well during a break. They showed no hint of exhaustion or nervousness while greeting the staff and talking about the photoshoot.
During their interview with Elle Girl Japan, they showed off their Japanese and introduced themselves excitedly as if they were back to their debut days. In the following photoshoot, they left behind their usual attitude as ‘chic fashionistas’ and acted free like backstage ‘rock boys.’ The five members laughed, played with each other, and made expressions unseen before. Whether it was because they liked the photoshoot together for a magazine pictorial they didn’t have for a long time, or because they were excited about their debut in Japan, they were full of restless and positive energy.
After the photoshoot was finished, I asked Yukiko, the Elle Girl Japan editor, how she felt about SHINee. “I watched SHINee’s performances through Youtube and had an impression they are very stylish. On today’s meeting, the different personalities of the five members seemed to have synergy. They are cute, professional, and awesome.”
SHInee will start their promotions as their Japanese debut single Replay is released on 22 June. The Japanese version of “Noona Is So Pretty” must melt Japanese noonas’s hearts. I feel sorry about having fewer chances to see them in Korea, but look forward to seeing their shining performances on new stages. I hope they will enjoy it truly most of all, like they did today!
Translations by jujugal
During the interview and photoshoot session, Onew seemed to be observing the environment leisurely. He would not take the center stage but offer his support whenever there were any shortages or problems. In comparison with magnae Taemin’s flower-like smile or with statuesque Minho’s killer smile, Onew’s trademark “Ahahaha” laughter is never inferior. Is this SHINee’s leader Onew’s leading style?
“Instead of telling members to do this and that, I tend to listen (to them). They are doing well on their own path already (laugh).”
Approaching the 4th year of SHINee since debut, many things have changed, but he says, most of all, he himself has changed.
“Through activities as SHINee, my personality has changed a lot. I may say I’ve become more out-going. Compared to before, I’m now more willing to approach people and initiate conversations with them, so I feel good (about my change).”
Whilst SHINee establishes themselves as a talented group in the industry, the market has expanded with lots of new groups debuting. How does he feel when he watches them as a ‘sunbae’ (senior)?
“Currently I’m MC-ing for a program, I see the new groups become younger and younger, and think to myself, Were we like them too? They all look quite good these days.”
In addition to MC-ing, Onew has challenged himself in Musicals, and has made a lot of good outcomes. But it is likely that he will concentrate on SHINee’s overseas activities for the time being. I asked if he didn’t feel stressed out with or afraid of their upcoming Japan activities?
“We’ve had several performances in Japan already. I just wish we could laugh a lot. I’d like to communicate with our fans and enjoy our activities.”
Onew is well recognized for his entertaining sense excellent to the extent he was seated not with guests but with the panelists in Happy Together. Will his entertaining sense work in Japan too?
“Actually, I’m not sure if it is going to work. If I throw a lot, then a few will hit the mark, haha. Want to prepare a unique self-introduction. Something like “I am Onew who is rarely startled watching scary movies”? (Really?) I am startled inside but don’t flinch, so people do not know.”
Onew says he forgets immediately even when he has some trouble, sleeps when he feels down, and sings songs he likes when he feels happy. He answered calmly (questions) about his everyday life as if his life were not so different from that of others. He says he doesn’t really mind how people evaluate or see him.
“I hope they take me (as I am) comfortably rather than telling me this or that. As I do so.”
A 23 year old idol who doesn’t show vanity as a star nor look impatient at all as a man in early 20s. There seems to be something that will surprise us hiding under his calm and composed look.
Translation: vivz | Soompi, Revised by jujugal
He was unreservedly relaxed throughout the photoshoot. When he had an eye contact with me, he didn’t avoid it. My first impression of him was different. A born vocalist and emotional man who cries often on stage. I expected him to be shy, but he wasn’t.
“We have had photoshoots with a variety of concepts. The formal style with a shirt and tie is not very comfortable to me. I usually pose and act relaxed and loose.”
Jonghyun endured the first half of the year “patiently” because of his leg injury.
“We had our solo concert for the first time since our debut, but I couldn’t dance for most of the time. But we had lots of performances together at the later part of the concert, and special stage sets helped me slake my thirst somewhat.”
His tears before fans during their concerts in some Asian countries, including Japan, became a hot topic.
“I’m sensitive and easily moved to tears. Usually all our emotional rhythm goes “up” during performances. My emotion seems to become uncontrollable as all kinds of thoughts come to me. But I’m not crying because I am sad.”
How does Jonghyun think of his voice as a vocalist?
“Most vocalists don’t like their own voices very much. Some of them receive training to change their voices. But I can at least assure you I can make whoever listens to my singing recognize it like “Ah, this is SHINee Jonghyun” instantly. I think I have my own distinct color.”
Then, what song does Jonghyun like most amongst SHINee’s songs? He answers immediately:
“Actually, there are some unpublished songs I like. Yet ‘Noona Is So Pretty’ is the song I feel most attached to.”
I was curious about ‘Obsession,’ the song whose lyrics he participated in writing.
“When I was little, my mom didn’t give me pocket money if I didn’t write book reports, haha. Maybe because it’s become my habit, I feel relaxed when I am writing. I make notes of ideas and use them when I study writing lyrics.”
Jonghyun was serious throughout our Q&A about music. He was back to being lively when I asked an unexpected question.
“Three things I like most besides music? Well, I think I have nothing left with music excluded. Ah! I like animation with heroes and comics. And also exercise except for playing with a ball.”
Jonghyun was a very good speaker. He used every word precisely and made clear pronunciation carefully. It didn’t take him long to answer any question. Lastly, I asked him about the ‘identity of SHINee.’
“(Identity of) SHINee? SHINee is SHINee. What more is there to explain? To me, SHINee is like this: Going together all the way as we get older.”
Translation by jujugal
This is our second meeting after (the pictorial for) the March issue of Elle Girl. He greeted me saying, “People liked the pictorial.” Key’s fashion sense is as outstanding as last time. The eye-grabbing unique pink piercings on his ears are his own. He says he found it after ransacking a store.
Another thing that surprised me was his Japanese skills! Only one month since he started full-scale study, he was talking with the staff proficiently in Japanese. I got envious of his talents ranging from dancing, rapping, fashion and art to Japanese skills.
“I’ve watched lots of Japanese dramas for a long while.”
He says he cried a lot watching ‘One Liter of Tears.’ He is known to fans for being a fan of Ghibli Studio’s animation.
With lots of interests, likings, and talents, Key’s daily tasks these days are ‘practicing, studying Japanese, exercising, and painting.’ Recently, he had an exhibition of his paintings with his uncle who is an architect (I overheard him saying he participated in it under his real name without calling any press to do it quietly). According to Taemin’s testimony, he paints while dancing to music and choosing matching clothes. He is such a multiplayer. Has he ever been anxious and nervous?
“I was anxious and nervous about everything in my trainee days. Debuting was also stressful in many ways.”
But he then gave an answer which can be defined as ‘Key-like.’
“I’m so happy and good now. I think I’m what I am now because of what I went through, I needed the period. So whatever happens, I try to enjoy it.”
Key acquired this ‘coolness’ from his hot passion and precious wisdom. Last winter, SHINee had their solo concert held in the National Yoyogi Stadium successfully.
“I wondered if it wasn’t too much when it was announced we’d have a concert in Japan. Because we didn’t make any amazing sale records with our license albums and didn’t make an official debut. I was surprised when so many fans turned up. I cried. At the ending both times.”
I asked what he wants to achieve in his 20s as he is already doing so much. Another clear and ‘Key-like’ answer:
“What if I don’t make it after I set my mind to something? Then I become a failure. I think I’ll achieve something if I work hard. If I have fun and live happily, I think there’s nothing more I have to do.”
Translation by jujugal
A slim body with long arms and legs, a small face with big eyes. Which part of his face does Minho, who is agreed to have the top visual amongst idols, like most?
“My eyes. When asked (to choose a part), I always answer it is my eyes.”
Seated face to face for the interview, I found him a serious and straight young man who wasn’t as talkative as I thought. He had a low voice too gentle and quiet to be associated with a guy who won triple gold medals at the ‘Idol Track & Swimming Competition.’
“I think I’m rather serious and prudent. I’ve been like this from my childhood. But I like exercise very much. Especially playing with a ball. I’m very competitive. Desiring to win and do well whatever I do? Haha.”
I was curious what he thinks of his image fixed as an athletic idol.
“I enjoy it. That is what I am. When I filmed ‘Start Dream Team’ with grand sunbaes, they treated me like their maknae and let me win the race. I am very thankful for that.”
What else is Athletic Idol Minho doing recently?
“It’s now Champions League season, so I’m trying not to miss any game. I’m also studying Japanese hard for our upcoming Japanese activities. Oh, I find it really difficult as I learn more.”
Our conversation naturally turned to their concert when he mentioned the Japanese activities.
“We had our solo concert in Japan at the end of last year, and then in Korea. Members all had high expectations. We had lots of concerts with our SM sunbaes, so we had this longing and desire for our solo concert. It was great fun. I felt, ‘Ah, this is what a concert is like, how it tastes.’”
He made a debut as an actor before their first solo concert. He starred in ‘Pianist,’ a KBS special drama which was aired last November.
“It took two weeks to film it. My character was a piano repair man with an innate talent for piano. I had a hard time practicing because I was not familiar with piano. Although it wasn’t easy to practice in a short time, I enjoyed the experience.”
As he often revealed his desire for acting, I asked what kind of roles he wants to try in the future.
“I think I’m too much a beginner to be desirous of roles. Yet I’d like to do a character that is my age. I want to play a character I can express naturally based on what I am.”
I saw a 21 year old young man positive and enterprising during our Q&A. Minho says he tries to follow his plan two out of three times and to be leisurely the last time in his everyday schedule. I wondered what hobby he enjoys while he is busy studying Japanese and practicing for their debut in Japan.
“Please, don’t laugh, it’s soccer. And soccer game. Haha, soccer is really my life.”
Translation by jujugal
When did noonas’ Taemin grow up and become a 19 year old who worries about the College Entrance Exam? Yet a skinny body, smooth skin, and angelic smile still represent his looks. Taemin is a cute maknae who is forgetful of where he put what he was holding a minute ago, but he is also a mature maknae who takes good care of hyungs. He exudes unique masculine beauty when he is absorbed in performance with smoky make-up on. Even so, doesn’t he have any complaints about his image as a baby-faced handsome boy?
“In fans’ eyes, I’m maknae in the team and actually young. I have no complaints about it. They see it favorably, so I like it too.”
If you watched him for a minute, you could see Taemin is not boisterous as shown in his serene answer. He is still shy before the photographer’s camera unlike the other members. He is tender-hearted, but you can see he is so reserved he finds it difficult to talk with someone before making friends with him.
“I was an introvert from childhood, so I couldn’t respond well when a stranger approached and talked to me. But I’ve changed a lot since we debuted. It was hard for me even to talk to our staff noonas, but now I kid around them.”
I asked how he’d like to spend his 20s, although it’s still too early (to ask).
“I want to live day by day without regrets like I’m doing so now. I’ll probably like to do things I couldn’t do in my teens, but there is nothing specific I’m looking forward to.”
Did he become an adult too early because he had to adjust himself to social life at a tender age. Key threw a joke while listening to us, “Watching us, he must have felt there’s no big change in 20s.”
Now approaching their 4th year after their debut, SHINee has become Korea’s representative boy group ready to start activities in Japan with the Japanese version of Noona Is So Pretty.
“I think the title Replay itself shows our ambition that we’ll make another start.”
He says it is the same song but with a different mood and concept. It made me curious in what looks they will stir Japanese noona fans’ hearts. Taemin says with his unique innocent smile:
“There’s nothing too demanding. As our team work is good, I’m preparing (for our debut) with hyungs in a good mood. Since our sunbaes made way for us, I’ll work hard so we can climb up step by step along the path.”
The boy who danced in admiration of Michael Jackson has spent the ‘storm and stress’ time of adolescence on stage calmly and is now facing splendid days of youth. Even though he says he has no expectations, we are curious of Taemin’s tomorrow which will be beautiful in itself.
Translation by jujugal
Compiled by: bruneishawols.wordpress.com