The meeting with Kim Junsu was done after his continuous interviews since the morning and only started upon sun sets. The continuous of interviews and practices, what is going to happen if he is exhausted? To this, I was worried but in the end he replied easefully with, “I am in my best status now!”
Currently 26 years old, he said so himself, “As compared to the age, I went through much more issues.” Once as a high schooler, he debuted in TVXQ in 2004, becoming the top idol group in Asia and also a star; The fight and lawsuit against his agency in 2009 initiated an alarming storm. After which, he debuted in musical field and can simply said that it stirred up a sensation. The 3000 seats in Sejong Cultural Centre were sold out in a flash and he was born as the top star in musical field.
‘Elisabeth’ is his 3rd musical and also another challenge. Unlike the previous works, this lead needs to direct the whole musical alone; It is also unlike the innocent, pure male leads that he had acted before. Thus, he, who embraces sincerity towards musical, is once again welcoming the brand new world.
Q: Seems that you lost a lot of weight.
I exercise a bit, and only ate one meal a day. The other meals are just chicken breast meat. In the beginning, I only had chicken breast meat for all three meals but some ulcers starts to grow in my mouth and I became listless. Though the motive of dieting is for reaching the ideal weight, one should take care of the body too. I am now nursing my own health.
Q: Was the reduction of weight for this musical’s role?
The outfit for the role of ‘Death’ is a bit revealing, thus I wish to slightly sculpt my body shape. Even not for this musical, I have been thinking if I should exercise since a year ago. This (musical) provides the opportunity for me to have a try at it.
Q: It is different from the image from before, it seems to be more masculine charming.
Due to the character this time, it seems a mandatory to have such an image.
Q: ‘Elizabeth’ is starting its run in a few days’ time, how are you feeling now for this 3rd musical work?
Before the start of ‘Mozart!’ and ‘Tears of Heaven’, rather than anticipation, it was more of worry. But this time round, it seems that I’m feeling more of the anticipation. Probably it’s the 3rd time and thus (everything) seems more familiar.
Additionally, it could be the better adaptability to the musical stage and facilities, thus felt more relaxed. In the previous works, it was upon the reaching of the actual stage that I starts to get in touch with the equipments. However for this work, the rotation stage etc were already being used in the rehearsal room and in fact the worry was reduced.
Q: Regarding which part of musical that you felt better adapted?
During ‘Mozart’, I was eager to memorize the lines and movement. Compared to then, I was more able to indulge in the enjoyment of it, I felt more well-prepared. Thus as a whole, the meticulous details that I have not thought of, it all felt that I am able to consider it well now.
Q: Seems that it is not only the facilities but also the emotions that were lesser of a burden now.
In the past when was being taught by others on what to do, I would feel blushingly embarrassed. Though it will not be the case when I’m on stage, but when I was practicing, I would feel embarrassed. For example in a scene where I am supposed to cry, with everyone staring, even though they did not see me as a singer, such watching would still made me felt burdened. Additionally, due to shyness, thus I wasn’t sure what to do, standing in front. Right now, I am able to do it unsurprisingly and care-freely well. Seeing such oneself, I would actually be surprised and thought that I indeed changed a lot! Looks like I am getting closer to be a musical actor. I frequently had such satisfying thoughts appearing.
Q: The role of ‘Death’ seems to be a lot different from Kim Junsu’s playful charm that everyone knows.
To everyone’s impression, it seems that my image has been optimistic and bright. Though it was not the intention, but it (the image) seems to have deepened in everyone. My appearance in fact has more than that side. It also have another side of it and I wish to display the look that was not shown before and displaying it through this work.
Q: Was ‘Kim Junsu’s musical concert’ of 2 years ago, a premonition that you would be acting in ‘Elisabeth’?
At that time, though composer Sylvester Levay said that I was suitable for the role of Death, it was not confirmed that I was being casted. It was during rehearsal practices that upon singing two musical pieces that I felt that it is comparable to the excellence of ‘Mozart!’, it is really splendid! It was just a thought then. Afterall it is not a project of the following year but the year after and it doesn’t felt near-dated. When he came to ask about my wishes this time, it was at the timing where I was not satisfied with role-playing a similar character and had wanted to try a newer challenge, thus I wanted to do this even more.
Q: Though this is a challenge, aren’t the two previous works challenges as well?
‘Tears of Heaven’ was a huge challenge as well. Though everyone might not know this, but on the day of performance, the lines and movement lines changed and after I was on stage, it changed again. However when acting in ‘Tears of Heaven’, it made me understood musical even more. It was not a character created meticulously and it was like a painting freely painted on a white piece of paper with no specific ways of doing it. Therefore I started to learn and slowly changed the lines into my own accent. It was a piece of work that gained me a lot of experiences.
Q: In this work, ‘Elisabeth’ is a factual character yet ‘Death’ is a imaginary character. It seems difficult right?
As the other characters are of factual, thus was able to capture the feel of the characters. However it is very difficult to capture the feel of ‘Death’. Therefore I thought in a reverse way, how does Elisabeth thought of Death? After thinking like this, I had a grasp of it.
Additionally, I asked Sun Young noona and Joo Hyun noona about their interpretations of my character during acting. Though everyone’s thinking are different, this also shows how the impression of Death’s presence varies. As there are no correct answer to this character, there seems to be a restriction upon acting. On the other side, I felt that I can kept in touch with a variety of looks. Compared to (memorizing) lines, I have to emphasize on displaying my body and facial expressions.
Q: The past works have become topics of discussion, were there a lot of musical proposals proposed?
From what I know, there were rather a lot.
Q: What criteria do you based on for your choice of musicals?
Recently I have watched a lot of musicals and possibly watched all of it. After watching, if there are any works that I had wanted to try or felt that the work is outstanding, however might not be suitable for me. I based on these to consider. However after watching it all, I felt that there are many good characters that I had wanted to act as. No matter in future be it a solo lead or not necessarily be in a huge theatre or even in a small theatre, I would like to give it a try.
Q: You have watched quite a number of musicals, which musical do you think is interesting?
‘Jekyll & Hyde’ (with Cho Seung Woo as lead). I have been hearing about it being very very famous but after I watched it, I finally know the reason behind it.
Though ‘Billy Elliot’ is not a character that I can act in, I find it very amazing. I have watched ‘Zorro’ twice and watched both Gun Hyung hyung’s and Seung Woo hyung’s.
Q: In 2010′s ‘Mozart!’, the appearance of Kim Junsu caused an uproar, we heard that before you decided to be casted, you was troubled for a period of time.
It was a very difficult period back then. It is possibly till now, my most troubled and totally lack of self-confidence period in my life. The emptiness of six months and to stand in front of the public , I felt scared. And I was the first in the three members to step forward with the activity. The uneasiness from being a singer and this stranger-alike work that I have never tried before, plus I ever heard of bad impression of musical towards artistes’ participation. These were my worries. I would walk around for the whole day thinking “Ah, do it!” and the next minute thinking, “Ah, not doing it!”
Q: In the end, you did it.
Because I really love music. Through ‘Mozart!’, I got in touch with musical for the very first time and get to know that there are such music around. It was a brand new feeling, it has a totally different charm from ballad and pop.
And the character of Mozart attracted me. Though his life looks magnificent, as he is a genius, on the contrary he had doubts with life. That look made me felt the same way. At that time, though TVXQ seems to be glamorous and charismatic, I had doubts towards myself as an artiste. Therefore I want to portray the levels of how I felt and the emotions in it.
Watching this song ‘Gold von den Sternen’, I thought about where I should advance in this world. The lyrics moved me too. During the performance as well, though I was not supposed to cry while singing that song, I often cried. Though Young Su noona sang very well, (laughs) she cried every performance too. Even though you didn’t want to go into that kind of mood, you probably end up sinking into that situation naturally.
Q: Moving forward towards the world bravely, it seems nothing regrettable after-all.
If I didn’t do it at that time, there won’t be me performing in musical now. Although it was a very tough decision back then, I felt that this was one of the best decision I’ve done in my life.
Q: Looks like it seems to be a place of difficulties too.
As everything was a first, and I was skeptical of meeting people. Thus the thought of standing in front of so many people and the way to present what was to be presented, it was rather difficult. Additionally, I was worried about the everybody’s evaluation towards artistes; Luckily, I seems to have good rapport with people and this is very great, and I get along well with the actors.
Q: What do you think of singing?
In the beginning, I was troubled with the opera way of singing and I have never sang like this before. Everyone were using the opera way of singing and it seems that I was singing the wrong way. During the practice, I would think that I have practiced in vain and worried a lot.
That time, the director told me, “There are Park Eun Tae, Im Tae Kyung, Park Gun Hyung and Kim Junsu in Mozart. The audience has their own preference of Mozart and not a uniformed and totally alike Mozart(s). Just relax and do it naturally!” These words gave me strength. Therefore though I felt difficult in the beginning, I gradually adapt to it . No matter when I was supposed to cry, I would cry. When I should be happy, I will be truly happy. Though it is not perfect, I relayed what I had wanted to relay, gaining self-confidence.
Q: You mentioned that you are very worried about the public views on artistes. In fact you felt a lot right?
A lot. But I thought, if they were to see my improvements in works, won’t they like me even more? The reason I’m saying this is that even if it happens to your own child, everyone will be thinking, as compared to level 1, level 2 will be better, compared to level 2, level 3 will be even better. Therefore if were to be given love since level 1 and to watch as one gradually grow, (others) should be liking it more and more, right. As there are people who watched me began as a musical actor while slowly accumulating my own abilities, thus I would certainly not disappoint them and will work hard.
Q: Due to the idol status and acting as the lead right from the start, the prejudiced looks weren’t just against Kim Junsu only.
Compared to the singer industry, the market for musical is much smaller. To enter (the musical market) as an artiste and immediately being the lead actor, even to say that “I am a musical actor” will still be prejudiced. I can totally understand such views and therefore I have to maintain the thoughts of working hard and to consider the factors where I have to do well. At least, I have to maintain the thinking of “I did it because I love musicals.” I have to keep in mind that as time passes by and I was able to present what I had wanted to others, it will be left in others’ impressions.
Q: (You) don’t wish to be seen as an idol.
It’s not to throw away the status of an idol singer but my dream is not to be seen as an idol when I am performing in musical.
Q: If were to choose a role model for musical?
It should be Cho Seung Woo hyung. Though currently I like a lot of musical actors and the actors in ‘Elisabeth’ were great as well, Seung Woo hyung was able to act in both musicals and movies, balancing both sides This is what I wish to be.
Q: We heard that JYJ is releasing new album this year.
The worldwide album was released the year before and it was a worldwide release. Currently there is a plan for the second album. Though the actual schedule is not out yet, it is probably going to appear around summer? Currently, I am writing lyrics and composing during my free time.
Q: Is there no plan for a solo album or concert?
Currently there is no plan for such. Of course we wanted to create an event where we can interact with fans but our criterion for choices are different from other singers. In fact the choices are limited but we wish to do our very best with every single thing that we can have.
Q: The restriction in broadcasting due to the contract issues resulted in the loss of chance of standing in front of the public as a singer.
It is indeed difficult to not being able to be on broadcasting programs, it is due to unable to do it, not because we don’t want to do it. Since we can’t do it, why not find other ways to fulfill it? This is a positive thinking. It’s just that as a Korean singer, yet not able to gain the recognition in my own country and not able to participate in activities. It is indeed saddening. (I) am especially apologetic to Korean fans. Though the current situation has turned better a bit, we cannot take a back seat and easily give up. That’s what the members thought so.
Q: As it is difficult, thus the relationship between the members seems to be getting closer?
Now we can understand each other just by looking each other in the eyes, because we only have each other to hold on to. Therefore we became closer and work hard in not hindering each other. The things that we are able to do, we will do it to our very best effort and not becoming each other’s obstacle. I think that having such thoughts will attain the best result.
We also compose for our own album and we even participate in the planning of concerts. Though it is very tough and at times felt exhausted, we felt great happiness while doing it. Because of such sentiments, it made the three of us more united.
No matter when, I felt grateful. It seems that no matter in the future whether we are married or had children or even when we became old grandfathers, we would still sit together in the old folks’ home, playing chess.
Q: What is difference between Xiah Junsu and Kim Junsu?
Nothing. It’s the same. It’s alright to call me Xiah Junsu, though that was my name in TVXQ but Xiah Junsu is still me. I have never dreamt of leaving the idol status.
In the other countries like Beyonce and N’ Sync, aren’t they idols as well? It just seems that only in our country that the views and image towards idols are restricted. I think that no matter be it an idol image or a singer image, it can be created. Though I ever thought of changing an image of an idol I have never though of removing the idol packaging.
Q: You are already in the late twenties, and gained many experiences in the past, was it helpful with your singing?
When singing, you really need to sing it sincerely. Though it is a simple and easily neglected factor, it’s not to be lightly handled. Though I experienced a lot more than others who are of the same age, I am still sentimental in my twenties. When in my thirties, I will gain that feel suitable for that age and when I’m in my forties, I would be able to sing naturally the songs of a sentimental forties.
Q: Your hopes for this year?
I hope for good results in both musical and album. Right now I am not attached to awards and (sales) figures. Though I am still very grateful for my award in musical, but it seems that I have yet to make the musical work received an award. I am a bit sorry for this. If only ‘Elisabeth’ can receive an award for its work, that would be good. (laughs) So, next year is roughly like this. My members and I will sincerely do everything to very best amongst the tough situation and truly enjoy the satisfaction received .