Taemin: We’re just grateful for the fact that there are fans in countries we’ve never been to who know us and have an interest in us. By all means, I want to go to those countries and share a little more about us. If we have the opportunity to promote in those countries, I would really like to go.
Key: When there are a lot of fans waiting for us in a country that we’ve never been to, all I can think of is how amazing the internet is and how fast it is. I mean, when we release a music video [in Korea] it’s basically the same thing as releasing it worldwide. We love Youtube very much.
Q: What country or place do you especially want to visit?
Onew: Alaska. I want to go at least once.
Taemin: The North Pole.
Q:The number of international fans of K-pop is constantly growing. How does this affect your training, your songs, and your promotional activities?
Onew: The more support we get, the more we feel we have to work harder. We always want to show our fans better performances so we work hard to train and practice more.
Key: If there’s a country where there are especially a lot of people who love our music, I think it’s possible to make plans to do promotions there. Of course, our licensed albums are always available. But, for example, we go to Japan every so often after we finish promotions in Korea. [To do this] we study Japanese and things like that, which is definitely an influence that comes from the rise of international fans.
Q: SHINee is quite popular now amongst the K-pop groups in South East Asia and the United States. Do you notice any differences between your Korean fans and your international fans?
Minho: The way Korean fans cheer for us is a bit different because they can understand the lyrics. For international fans, because they don’t understand the lyrics, I think they cheer more for our performance aspects. We heard that many people learn the Korean language because they love Korean culture and Korean music, and through that, they try to understand our songs. We’re really amazed by this and the effort that international fans put into learning Korean to tell us that they love us.
Q: What was your favorite or most memorable music video to film?
Key: Our debut album music video. It was our first one and I was really nervous about it. It was cold. It was fun. It was dizzying. I was nervous. I was concerned about so many things. After that one, though, I thought, “Wow, music videos are nothing to worry about!”
Taemin: Lucifer. We shot the group dancing scenes for about 11 to 12 hours. It was difficult because we just kept on dancing – that’s why it sticks out more in my mind. Also, the set was fun to work with.
Onew: When we shot the Ring Ding Dong video, there was a scene shot in the water. The water wasn’t up to our heads or anything – it was just our up to our feet to give a splashing effect. During the shoot, we wore boots and so much water got into them that we couldn’t move our feet. (Key: That shoot was also very cold). And we shot on a set that was kind of like the top of a building, which was pretty fun.
Q: What is your favorite or must-sing song for karaoke?
Onew: I went a lot when I was younger, but since our debut, I haven’t really been. But before that, there’s a Korean song called “Let’s Race Horses” (“Mal Dal Lee Ja”) that’s really exciting. It’s a great song to set the atmosphere.
Taemin: When I went with my friends after our debut, they would always make me sing our own songs. They would make me sing the first verse of all of them.
Minho: When I go with my friends, I sing our songs a lot. But also, the most exciting song, the one song that I think I always have to sing, is Psy’s “Champion”. I think we always sing it because it is just so exciting.
Jonghyun: I went a lot when I was younger and I sang a lot of ballads. For example, songs by Buzz or S.G. Wannabe. I was a student then and their songs were really popular at that time.
Key: My must-sing songs are all the new K-pop songs. You know, all of the songs on the last page in the karaoke book. (Taemin: The new songs for November are already too old for him.) I can’t really remember old songs …
Q: What is your favorite song off of your albums?
Taemin: I think the song that all of us really love is “Replay”. It was our debut song and the nervousness that we felt together, the practicing, the shooting of our first music video – all of these things are special memories for us.
Q: Now that you are past your 1st and 2nd albums, what styles of music or concepts would you like to experiment with in future albums that you have not had a chance to do yet?
Onew: I want to try band music.
Taemin: I want to try something like Linkin Park. It seems really stress relieving.
Key: Definitely not trot music (Korean folk music).
Q: If you were not a singer, what career would you be interested in?
Taemin: My childhood dream was to become a pilot. But that changed to becoming a celebrity. After becoming a celebrity, I thought about it and I kind of wanted to become a fisherman. However, we rode a boat once and I found out that I get very seasick. So then I thought, “Ah, I should just stick to being a celebrity.”
Q: Have your families always been supportive of you being a singer?
Onew: Ever since I was a younger, my mother always suggested that I become a singer. At first I told her I didn’t want to, but I changed my mind in 9th grade. Since then, she has been very supportive.
Minho: For me, they were quite opposed to it at first but when I told them that we were going to debut, they became very helpful and supportive. After our debut, they were very happy about it. You know, since we’re on TV and things like that.
Taemin: Like Onew, my family was pretty supportive from the beginning.
Key: My family was really against it. They really didn’t like the idea of it. (How did you persuade them?) I just kept going with it and at first they were like, “Fine, go ahead.” But afterwards, they were really happy about it.
Q: What is the strangest habit of the person sitting to your right?
Key on Taemin: He keeps losing things so every day, it’s our job to find things for him.
Taemin on Onew: He has a lot of weird sleeping habits. For example, he sleeps with his blanket covering him from head to toe. He can’t sleep if there’s any light. (Onew: But they always keep the lights on. ) So he sleeps like that and in the morning, he wakes up covered in sweat.
Onew on Jonghyun: Jonghyun sleeps with his eyes slightly open. Just very slightly, though.
Jonghyun on Minho: There are moments when he gets very serious very suddenly. He always takes our jokes seriously. We joke around a lot all the time, but he takes them seriously by himself. In the end, we always have to make sure he knows we’re joking. (Key: He says we can joke around with others but not him.)
Minho on Key: Key is from Daegu (a Southern province of Korea). When he talks to us, his accent comes out only from time to time. But when he talks to his friends or his parents, he speaks completely in a Daegu accent. (Key: My accent comes out when I get really excited about something, too.)
Q: Do you have any odd eating habits?
Taemin: I used to be a really picky eater and ate only the things that I liked, but not so much anymore. For example, if there was kimchi jjigae (kimchi soup), I would pick out and eat only the meat.
Onew: I hate when stuff gets on my face so if something gets on my face, I wipe it off immediately. When I ate jjajangmyun (black bean noodles) when I was younger, I would wipe my mouth after every bite. In the end, I’d have a pile of napkins by my plate.
Q: What is your favorite Korean side dish?
Taemin: Anything meat.
Onew: Right now I’m obsessed with “nak jee bokkeum” (panbroiled octopus seasoned with red pepper). I like when it’s really spicy. It’s delicious.
Jonghyun: I don’t really have a favorite food, but I love meat.
Minho: I really like ramen noodles. (Is there a special ingredient that you put in the ramen when you cook it?) Sometimes I don’t put in anything extra, but sometimes I put in Chungyang red peppers. (*note: very, very spicy Korean peppers)
Key: I really like cream pasta, but my favorite Korean dish is green onion kimchi.
Questions for Onew
You’ve participated in several musicals up to now. Do you have any desire to act in a drama?
Yes, I think it’d be a lot of fun.
What type of character would you like to play?
I haven’t really thought about it too much.
Questions for Jong Hyun
How did you realize your passion for music composition?
Ever since middle school, it was always my dream to become a composer or a vocal trainer.
If you could do a dream collaboration with any artist of your choice, who would you choose?
I would want to work with someone who isn’t the same age as me and isn’t Korean, an artist who is much older than me and understands culture from before I was born. Working with people like that would give me a lot of experience. In terms of Korean artists, someone like Kim Gun Mo and in terms of American artists, Babyface. I really like him as a producer.
Questions for Key
Recently, on Soompi, our members were talking a lot about your use of make-up and “guyliner”. The overwhelming response was that our members think you are very sexy when you wear eyeliner and make-up. What are your thoughts about being recognized for this characteristic?
I do it because I want to. I think that make-up is an extension of our outfits. Hair, make-up, clothes – it’s all a part of a concept. So I do it when it fits the concept. For example, in “Hello”, I don’t wear make-up because it doesn’t really fit. But for “Ring Ding Dong”, it fits.
Did you get any shopping done in the states while you were in L.A. for Hollywood Bowl?
We didn’t have much time when we visited last, so I was only able to buy an iPad. When we went for our first Hollywood Bowl, though, H&M wasn’t in Korea yet, so I bought a ton of accessories [from H&M].
What do you think of fashion in the states compared to fashion in Korea?
I think American fashion is closer to the style that I like – I mean, designers like Jeremy Scott live and work in L.A. Also, whatever country you go to, there’s always a concept of “teen fashion”. For example in L.A., I saw a lot of teenagers wearing a white shirt with jeans and a pair of Nikes. This is just a normal, everyday thing in L.A. but if that comes to Korea, it’s considered a type of “style”. In the same way, if Korean “teen fashion” were to be adopted in L.A., it would be considered a different kind of “style”, too. I find this really interesting.
If you could have a shopping spree anywhere in the world, where would you go?
England. I want to go to vintage shops there.
Questions for Minho
It’s well-known that you love sports a lot. If you could pick your dream soccer team, which celebrities would you pick for it?
I don’t really know who’s good or not so I’ll stick to people from SM. First, Eun Hyuk and Dong Hae from Super Junior. For goalie, I’d pick Shin Dong.
Questions for Taemin
What choreography do you like the most from your promoted tracks?
I like the choreography for all of our songs but the choreography for “Replay” was very fresh and exciting for me. We worked with a foreign choreographer for the first time. It was very exciting and shocking to me, and I remember really liking the choreography.
How would you compare your dancing skills today to when you first debuted?
Working with and learning from many different teachers, foreign choreographers, and dancers has definitely helped me improve little by little. Also, I have a lot more experience performing on stage than I did before, which has helped me improve, too. So in conclusion, I am much better compared to before.