Love is patient, love is kind*, the song “Love is Always,” do you know it?
It’s also a reference to the ‘o-new’ of summer**. Haha. I’ve heard that my name was created as reflection of my personality. I don’t really know, but the people around me say that. That my name matches me well.
You’ve been defined as ‘flubber,’ a person who doesn’t know where he’ll bounce, and people around you also say that unlike the calmness of nature you’re 4 dimensional and silly?
I’m not silly. Since I debuted at a young age people around me have watched over my growth. Perhaps that is why they say that? I’m not that special.
It seems that you may be referring to something else when you say that you’re not special?
I think I’m just ordinary. I really changed a lot after debuting. My personality was originally quiet, but in comparison to my age I’ve gone around meeting and getting to know many people, so I’ve become outgoing to match the atmosphere.
Do you have a thirst as an idol singer in regards to freedom?
I have plenty of freedom now. The things I can express I’m expressing as a MC, singer, musical actor. I’m not in confinement somewhere.
Did you ask the people around you for their reactions to your lyric-writing for this album?
Speaking honestly, I don’t think that there are many people who will speak truthfully about everything to those around them. Only my parents, close friends, and members can speak of my personality with certainty. However, I wasn’t able to receive much feedback from those people. So I don’t think this portion is something I can speak about with certainty.
Rather than speaking with uncertainty, do you opt to not say anything at all?
You don’t know how other people will accept words you say by mistake. I believe that you can change a life with just one word. If I feel that I’m in the wrong then I apologize no matter what. If I happen to slightly brush past someone on the street I say that I’m sorry first. That’s what my parents taught me to do since I was young. To always greet the security ahjusshi even if I see him several times a day. I think the inner thoughts that I formed as I lived like that have made me who I am.
What do you think when you compare the lyrics Jonghyun wrote for “Obsession” and the lyrics you wrote for “Your Name.”
“Obsession” is better. They are lyrics that feel a lot more than the scenes I’ve seen and thought of up until now. Even though I concentrated on the lyrics as well, I don’t think they’re always right. I don’t think there’s an answer. There are many points in “Obsession” that are missing in my lyrics. Though another person’s thoughts and my thoughts can’t possibly be the same.
So you’re saying that although it wasn’t the best, it wasn’t particularly the worst either?
I did what I wanted to do and what I felt was fun. There are so many people who are better than I am. Though of course there must be people who are worse as well.
The lyrics for “Your Name,” and the title of the song you sang with Kim Yeonwoo is “The Name I Loved.” Do you have something with names?
There’s a part I wrote while thinking of my mother. Rather than being called by their names, mothers are usually referred to as so-and-so’s mother. I felt that when they’re called by their names something would reach out to them more.
Kim Choonsoo’s “Flower” approaches that topic.
It was that sort of meaning. I think it means that the general practice of calling them so-and-so’s mother is awkward. There are pet names between lovers as well. I thought that in relationships of love and affection, names would be very important.
When people call you by your real name ‘Jinki’ and when they call you Onew, do you feel a difference about yourself?
There is a difference, but as I’ve been called that for 3 years I’ve gotten accustomed to it and it’s no longer awkward. And people tell me it matches me well. Some fans say that Jinki has more sentiment. Truthfully I also like it a little more when I’m called by my real name. It’s precious because it’s the name my parents created for me first. If my parents had called me Onew from the beginning, then I would be Onew.
What would you want your significant other to call you?
I would like it if another pet name was created. But if I had to choose between the two I would like my real name.
Do you have a nickname close friends call you?
I do. They call me ‘yah.’ Haha. My friends don’t call me by a nickname. Adults often did. ‘Jinki Myungi.’
You know that fans say that they’re “aching for Onew,” right? Because it’s used as a term of endearment it’s a bit complicated. You use this term when you like someone but no matter how much you endure you can’t fill the void. What sense of responsibility do you feel towards these people?
I think that I need to repay them. Even if things are really difficult before going up on stage, I know that if I just complete this I’ll receive strength from fans and create synergy. When I’m on stage I unconsciously do things that fans will enjoy. I wonder how I would perform if it wasn’t for these people. I first began all this simply because I enjoy singing. Without a sense of responsibility or burden, I want to do this for them.
I felt quite sad for you when I once saw you talk with the air of ‘one day I’m going to try dating too.’ It’s not as though dating is something that needs to be postponed. In order to pursue music you’ve sacrificed a lot. So if there is something you’ve gained, is it that explosive emotion you feel on stage?
I believe that it will occupy many different parts. At concerts I often feel a sudden burst of emotion. When cheers come and go I feel like I was physically hit.
Rather than on the stage, how is SHINee’s musical profession being set? As the leader.
This is just my personal thought, it may be different for the members. It’s to become the contemporary band in all the aspects we always talk about, like fashion, music, dance, artwork, everything. Honestly, even with “Lucifer” there were many points that were difficult in terms of public appeal. However, didn’t the public ultimately came to understand and like it? I think it would be good to lead the contemporary in such a manner.
By saying that, does the public point to all age groups?
That’s right. Like when you talk about the South Pole you think of penguins. So that when you talk about contemporary, you think of SHINee.
The composition of idols receives love from all age groups, but don’t you think there ultimately is a limit?
I don’t think of that as being the answer. It hasn’t even been 20 years since idols began to debut. I think that if we do well we’ll be able to promote for as long as we want. There’s a lot left ahead without restriction.
You see it as being longer?
Objectively I’m still young.
What do you think the virtues of a person who is acknowledged by society as a grown-up, a man who is an independent adult, are?
Above all dreams, aside from character and personality. I think that if you just think that you’re going to do everything you want to, then everything is possible.
How about a man who cries easily?
He can cry. Every person is different.
What do you mean by different?
I said that objectively. Personally I think that somewhere there is a person who looks like me or behaves the way I do. A person who is simultaneously doing the same thing as me or singing the same song. I have many thoughts. It’s a bit strange.
You are a ‘musician’ and are referred to as an ‘artist,’ it seems quite natural that you would think that there’s someone out there who is the same as yourself.
I think that somewhere there is a person having the same interview that I’m having and doing the same work that I’m doing. I don’t think that only our earth exists.
What do you mean by that? Andromeda?
It could exist outside the universe, or it could be something that makes us look like a speck of dust, or something that’s a speck of dust to us. (horton onew hears a who?)
By any chance do you put in a lot of effort in studying physics?
I want to. I also want to study psychology. I’m accustomed to thinking to myself, but I think that certain parts would become official, and be cleared up.
Most recently when you cried on a music program, there was much speculation about your tears. Your colleagues said that the preparation for the 2nd album wasn’t that difficult, and that they couldn’t understand. I wonder if perhaps you faced difficulties through your individual schedules like your musical “The Brothers Were Brave.”
That could be a part of it. But I think that when a person cries, he doesn’t necessarily think of just one single happening or moment. We won 1st place and I cried, that’s true. However, it would also be true if I said that I didn’t cry at winning 1st place. Couldn’t I also be crying because of my maternal grandmother who treated me warmly? I didn’t cry because of a certain reason and I didn’t cry because of a lack of it either. Everyone is different.
You say that people are all different quite often. What about SHINee? Do you have characteristics that make you different from other teams?
We’re working to give off something that is surely our own. Giving off our own color is the ultimate point. However, I think with that comes personal satisfaction. If we reach some point and go “Now we’ve become SHINee,” wouldn’t that be the end?
Just as you wrote the lyrics for “Your Name,” I hope that you will be able to write the lyrics for SHINee.
There are many different directions that can be taken. I could choose many, or I could choose one, or I could not choose at all. You can say that taking on various activities from different fields is an effort to collect diverse experiences and make a broad choice.
* in the Korean lyrics of the song, the actual word used is “onew.”
** “o-new-wol” is a short way to refer to the months of may and june. onew is joking about his stage name.
Is this fun?
I don’t usually get to wear these kind of clothes. Normally, I have a natural style and dress like a “teenager.” Because there’s so much I want to do, I wish time would go by slower.
When you look at your face when you debuted in 2008, what do you think?
I definitely think my face looks much better than before.
After monitoring your growth, what do you think about yourself?
Rather than saying I’m perfectly content, I merely like myself. I’m not extremely good-looking, I don’t have a body like a model, I don’t have the best voice in the world, I’m not the best dancer. But I just like myself?
There would be a thirst too? (Thirst to do things, to be known …)
Well, there’s a lot. If you ask “What do you think when you think of me?” to people, a lot of them don’t know. Whatever I do, people always say ‘Oh, it’s like Key’ so I find solace in that. I think that time is too precious to waste.
At another interview, you once said that you wondered most about being 28 and 70?
By then, I wish I was really a pro. I don’t who to give as an example. Without giving an explanation and just saying “I don’t really have a person I want to become” makes me sound impertinent. But I really don’t, so what can I do? I don’t really have a person I want to become. Rather than saying ‘I’m the best’, I just want to be able to say “That’s mine”. Even if I don’t become calculative, I just wish I could be a person who could do anything thrown at them.
What is the most dangerous thing you desire on stage?
When I just want to think. We have to practice perfectly for it to sound like an ad-lib. When a really talented person stands on stage, whatever they do looks like a pro. A person who isn’t like that however, makes anything look like a mistake. Everything is plotted beforehand. When on stage, you always have to think. You can’t ever let down your guard. Because you can’t do the things you can, you see. You can forget something that could be a plus. Did Michael Jackson say to not think when you’re dancing? That’s for himself, but I myself can’t not think whilst I’m on stage.
Compared to the other members, you really look like you’re enjoying yourself [on stage].
I try my best to make it look like like I’m doing this for fun instead of looking like someone forced me to do it. Doing all the songs that I want to sing, and dancing everything I want is not ok, right? Because we are a team.
Which member causes you to feel jealous?
We all have moments where are envious of each other’s good points. You can be embarrassed when you think “he can do it but I can’t.” I would think that because of that greed, many sunbaes have gone on to go solo… I could be jealous of another member’s songs, or even another member’s gags.
Jonghyun sings the most, right?
It’s because it is his most charming feature. When I see someone who was bad at singing become good at it, that’s when I want to become like that the most. The fragments of us that you see in the media is not everything.
What do the other members get jealous about you for?
We haven’t talked about it, so it’s faster to just ask the members themselves. We all would feel something, whether we know it or not – when someone is good at something, always good at something.
Because you’re at this teenage age, I’m sure that there has been some instances where SHINee has fought and been jealous.
Over time because of jealousy, you do come to hate that person. There are situations that I don’t like. A tame example would be if someone has prettier clothes? But I can’t hate the member because of that. It’s only, a “Oh, I want to wear pretty clothes too” kind of level.
Isn’t it like a brotherly feeling now?
They are not family and they are not my closest friends. There’s no way I could explain them. “Member” is the best word for them.
That’s why I am getting this cool and distanced feeling.
If we become too close like family, I feel like there will be a problem. You will begin to think about your relationship instead of the person. We only meet for work so the “we have only a work relationship” is the best description. I’m not being cool and distant.
So until when do you think the loyalty will last? If you’re not family or friends.
I wish that the members won’t ever get angry at what someone says, or have their own thoughts. There is a reason we are a five. Whilst we do have one our fanclubs, there is more meaning to us because we are “SHINee”. The members will think like that too. Until now, and even in the future, I think we will have good behaviour because none of us seem like idiots.
When you were feminine in the past, I’m sure it was because you had to, as well as wanting to yourself? Although you were pretty.
I did it because I was told to, of course. It was so different from what I had thought it was. I had thought we would be the centre and we could take control … But because we were told to do it like that before, I think we now know what is right and stuff. If we had been let free, I don’t know what we would’ve been like now.
‘Noona You’re So Pretty’ was for the elders. At ‘Ring Ding Dong’ we saw your greed again, but now with ‘Lucifer’ – even with the newspapers saying that “Shinee returned as men” – the fan response is the same, isn’t it? (Basically, you’re still not seen as men by your fans?)
Whatever we had done in the past, the noona fans would have followed us in the past. Truthfully, we aren’t a group where guys can think we’re attractive/cool. “I don’t understand why girls like them.” We’re one of those groups. I think that’s obvious, because we’re not like men. When the media says ‘They’ve become men’, it’s something that we hear all the time with a new album. Even if I was an outsider, I don’t think I would’ve liked SHINee much. We’re just pretty. Haha.
What about the songs? ‘Electric Heart’ on this album …
It’s my best track. I really like our songs. I think it’d be good if this Lucifer album was an album that was worth buying. These days, it’s usually just a title track, a remix, a second remix, a third remix, a fourth interlude … Really, I hate it so much. It’s pretty ridiculous. I mean, if I was cheap, maybe. Our album is 13 tracks, and it’s sold the best out of all our albums. People aren’t idiots. Even if they’re not professionals, they know what’s good. A professional might say why something is good, but everyone can just say it’s good. It’s like that.
I saw you taking out a magazine as soon as you can into the studio. What about fashion is it that excites you?
Clothes, even if it sounds a bit awkward to you, is what you see. The reason why rumours have spread that I like clothes is because clothes is what you see. Truthfully, I like art, dance and stuff as well.
Why do the people that like you, like you, do you think?
Because I’m me. I’m simple. I divide easily the people I like and the people I don’t like. If I don’t like them, they’re people I hate.
You’re not one of SHINee that makes a big impact. But sometimes a sound you make or the way you move your body is surprising. Like a band’s bassist. You don’t get jealous?
I like it just like that. It doesn’t faze me.
When people say idols have come back as a ‘man’, what do you think that ‘man’ is?
It’s an obvious transition, but I think when people can’t get used to the new version, they say they seem ‘manly’.
You like life the best now, don’t you? Whether you’re young or not, a man or not.
I’m the happiest now, everything I do. But what’s scary is that this is the time I have to think what I should do more in terms of work. I just hope I don’t think ‘If I sing better, won’t people like me more?’ I want to sing well because I want to sing well, not because “If I sing well or dance or rap well, people will like me, right?” Or “I’ll get complimented?” I don’t want to do well because of those things. You get what I mean, right? This is probably why I don’t get stressed.
Are you forever going to be a singer?
Well, when people hate me, it’s time to give up, I guess. I can’t just, make people … Like, I think that’s the scariest time for me. I should give up easily, but I have regrets and so want to do a bit more. Rather than being scared, I want to know. When will it be? But when people don’t like me being a singer, I don’t understand why I’d have to do more activities. Rather than that, it’s better to find another direction. There hasn’t been a time I’ve talked this seriously. Sometimes when I just say things like this off the hook it may seem like I’m impertinent. So I want to say, whatever I do, I wish you wouldn’t misunderstand. That I’m not a bad guy. Behind a thought is always a reason, and I wish you’d understand that.
Do you think you’ll ever be able to promote your favourite song on stage?
I don’t think so. Because what I like and what I have to do are different.