I went to the musical “Elisabeth” the night before interviewing him. It was the first performance by Kim Junsu, who stood tall as a JYJ member and a musical actor. The audience became breathless as if the air had disappeared when Junsu appeared as the captivating “Tod” with platinum blond hair. Kim Junsu with intense charisma and husky voice explosively proved himself every second, minute and moment. What I saw was free but passionate youth. Kim Junsu, during our first exclusive interview with him, proved he is a smart man who guides his own destiny during his honest conversation with us.
-Yesterday was your first time for “Elisabeth.” How do you feel?
It was quite burdensome because European musical is unfamiliar to us [Koreans] and “Elisabeth”, especially, has more lyrical elements. I think it is special because it also contains fantasy. Although people’s expectations were too high and I felt more burdens on my shoulders, I feel really satisfied as I finished the first performance. I feel exhilarated that I can make drama with the best actors and actresses.
-Did you feel the fans? The audience’s reaction was the most passionate during the curtain call. It felt like a concert.
I can feel them during the curtain call, but not during the show. They seem to be too cautious and feel diffident thinking ‘can I clap?’ I wish they will feel more comfortable because they don’t need to stand on too much on formality for musical.
-People in Europe, the home of this musical, and those who visited Europe to watch the musical are most ardent about the character ‘Death.’
I heard the one who acts as ‘Death’ usually gets number one when people vote for the popularity of musical actors in Austria. Thus, stars of that country usually acted as Tod. I obviously considered Mozart was the best character (because I performed “Mozart”). Before, I could not understand why Tod was popular when Elisabeth is the main character of the show. Tod is attractive because he is not a human, but a god, and can describe something human cannot show.
-You should have been excited when you got the offer.
I actually hesitated a lot. Because the word ‘death’ felt too heavy to me, I wondered ‘doesn’t it require dignity, am I not too young to portray the character?’ Although I knew it is the best musical with the best character, I was first worried if it would suit me because there is a difference between what I would like to do and what I can actually do. On the other hand, who can define death? I thought no one would know. Death can be an old man, a child, a sexy young man, or a middle-aged man with big belly. Well, then, I wanted to portray Death like ‘me.’ It was a good opportunity for me to become a better musical actor after performing “Mozart” and “Tears of Heaven”.
-I was surprised that Death could be portrayed as extremely sexy.
I was cast in the role with (Ryu) Jung-han hyung and (Song) Chang-eui hyung. We decided to interpret the character freely. But I lacked profoundness and dignity compared to the other hyungs. I wondered what can stand up to the profoundness, and decided to be young and sexy but also heinous at the same time. So, I used the walk like a god at first, but I changed and walked like a cat to give more sexiness. I feel pleasant that the audience recognized and appreciated those details.
-The scene with group dance was wonderful. It was like a concert.
I am the only one doing the group dance [among three of us]. It used to be really short but the director told us he wanted to expand, and it became longer.
-Death is attractive because it has complex characteristics. Death loves Elisabeth by seducing her to a bad path, tempting her, and chasing her away.
That’s what makes it difficult but love acting as Death. It needs to be portrayed as sexy but evil and emotionless. Because Death is death, it guides people to death as if it were nothing.
-Because of that, it might have been painstaking to portray the love. What kind of love does Death have toward Elisabeth?
It is the love that you ask ‘oh, was it really love?’ when Elisabeth dies and finally comes into his arms. The director told me to portray that feeling with a single drop of tear. It is the tear of irony and vanity because you are extremely happy to have her but she is gone at the same time. I thought a little shudder during Elisabeth’s death would give a huge impact because I portrayed him as a cool-headed when killing others.
-To be honest, I could not see the tear because the stage was too far. The kiss, however, gave a strong impression.
Mine was the most intense (compared to Song Chang-eui and Ryu Jung-han). Haha. I didn’t mean to kiss too passionately either. I didn’t do it like that even during the rehearsals, but I fell into it as I was on the stage. I thought I should do it because I finally got the girl I really wanted and longed for. At the after party, Ok Joo-hyun noona told me I was good. I thought the last scene was extremely important to show love because there are not many scenes where Elisabeth and Death actually meet as the musical portrays the life story of Elisabeth.
-I heard that you need to convey the emotions by singing for most of the scenes. How do you feel?
Even during “Mozart”, I was insufficient in the beginning, but I got better as I performed. Yesterday was the same. With the audience, I do motions and act differently than I have done during rehearsals. Although these are small, they help to portray the death in complete details. Because I have 30 shows, I will hunt for them for at least 10 performances. Haha.
-What is the emotional difference between concert and musical?
People clap for me, Kim Junsu, at a concert while they clap for me as the character in a musical. I am happy that I can live a different life during these two to three hours, and I get exhilarated that people understand what I wanted to deliver on site. I don’t know which one is better, but they are different. I am a lucky person who gets to taste both of them.
-Park Yoochun came last night. What did he say?
I was surprised. He said “I saw the 1st act” after the 1st act was over. He told me he just came without telling me because I would tell him not to come. (Towards the manager) What did he say? (Manager: He said he was proud and it was the role that only Junsu can do.) Huh? He told me “the ladies would love it, wouldn’t they?” Haha.
-Musicals also require acting. Don’t you want to act on plays or in dramas? Park Yoochun and Kim Jaejoong also act in dramas.
I would like to if possible. I am not drawing lines but I would like to play out as a musical actor because I started with musicals.
-You lost a lot of weight by playing soccer. Are you very active with FC MEN, a football club of celebrities?
I only play soccer once a week because it is winter. During summer and fall, I even play three times a week.
-Are you close with any professional soccer player?
I am close with Jung Sung-young, goalkeeper. I used to get along with Park Jisung, Lee Chung-young and Yoo Sang-chul during the benefit performance at Veitnam, but I don’t dare to call them because they would be too busy.
-What do you love about soccer?
Oh, I would like to be a soccer player if I was reborn. Did you know it is okay for a soccer player to have a relationship and even swear? He can even participate in a game after drunk driving. That is the difference between entertainers. Entertainers live with images and they live with their skills. They are forgiven if they are skilled like the incident when even Suarez refused Evra’s handshake. On the other hand, entertainers are finished if their image is not good even if they have talent. Also, I loved playing soccer since I was young. My brother played baseball and I played soccer, but my family could not support both of us. Because my brother had better physique, I had to forgo when one of us had to give up.
-That twin brother Junho became new Korean star in Japan.
My brother was really good at baseball and he even got proposal for professional team. Ironically, he confessed he did not like baseball. He said he would not be happy even if he succeeded and earned great amount of money as a professional baseball player. This happened when I just made debut as TVXQ. My father, who supported my brother, suffered and I also vented my anger on my brother. But, I feel really great as his younger brother because he is working hard and doing well.
-Since when did you have husky voice?
I think it was since I was in 9th or 10th grade. I started singing since I was 5th grader in elementary school. My voice broke when I was in middle school and could not sing for 3-4 years. I screamed a lot because I could not sing. When my voice changed, it had already become husky.
-Did you like your voice?
I did not realize at first. But people, who only knew me through songs, always asked me “do you have sore throat?” “You must practice a lot” whenever I met them. That was stressful. Later one day, even I was shocked listening to my voice on radio. It was too husky and I could not dare to listen. Haha. Well now, I am okay with it.
-Because we are talking about singing, did you know Jun Soo-kyung and Park Sun-joo praised your voice? Don’t you want to try new challenges with your voice, like attending shows like “I Am a Singer”?
We talked about it. Xiah Junsu can participate in “I Am a Singer”, but we cannot participate in any entertainment shows.
-Are entertainment shows the only hindrance?
We can participate in every area including current affairs, economy, culture, drama, film. But not entertainment.
-You must feel suffocated.
Well, I am not greedy about to going on entertainment shows. But, there is huge difference between not participating and cannot participate. I would like to be on good music programs like “Music Wave”, “Open Concert”, “Love Request”, or “Sketchbook”. It is sad that we cannot participate although we are singers.
-JYJ’s world tour was a breakthrough with enthusiastic response. Whose idea was it?
Our agency’s representative made it go well. The three of us also were anxious for it too.
-How did you feel when you met international fans?
I was shocked. I was surprised even when we first had our showcase in the U.S. I was really happy and surprised when fans in Canada, Spain, Germany, and other places sang along with us and shouted our names. They energize me whenever I want to give up.
-Do you still want to give up?
Sometimes. I became placid compared to before. We could not do 10 out of 10 but now we can at least do 2-3 things from 10 options. We plan 10 events secretly. We just do not announce it until we are certain. Many fans criticise that the agency does not work hard enough, but I would like to tell them that is not true. If we can do all what we plan freely, we would be way busier than right now.
-There was a report that JYJ was the most discussed celebrity on twitter. Is SNS helpful to communicate with fans?
Yes. It is the only method. News articles are not a method of communication to be honest. I can only express my opinion through SNS.
-You once said you developed a desire to become a singer after seeing Kangta. There are many people who want to be singers after you. Do you have anything to tell them?
Don’t become idol? The world of idol in Korea is… Haha.
-How do you feel now? Do you feel tough to live as a star?
Well, I enjoy challenges and I try hard to get over stress. Because one gains something when one loses something. Every celebrity and idol must realise this in order not to go extreme. They don’t realize this at the beginning. They only see what they lose and suffer.
-Although you suffered a lot, didn’t you also achieve something normal people cannot? You gained fame at 27 years old.
In the beginning I only thought in the other way. I was pessimistic. Why did I become an entertainer? I cannot have romantic relationships easily, I cannot go to places like LOTTE World or CarribeanBay, I envied normal people a lot. Other idols would think the same because there are many restrictions. But, I realized I only saw what I have lost instead of what I have gained. When I listened to my friends, they were worried about what I thought was natural. I realized, aha, we are all the same. When I started to appreciate what I have gained, I felt differently. But I would never become an entertainer if I were reborn. I am certain about that. It is not that I hate my current life, but I would like to enjoy what I have lost.
-Oh, you really would like to visit LOTTE World, don’t you?
Yes. I really love it, the world of dreams!
-What do you most appreciate?
I appreciate the whole situation when people notice me, clap for me, and love me. I am thankful to enjoy this life like it is.
-Did you start building a school at Cambodia after you appreciated what you have gained?
I thought I could not work as a singer any longer when I came out from the former company. If I did not have determination, I could not have dared to come out. It was during the time when we were at the top selling out all 6 concerts at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. It might have seemed as imprudent to break everything. I was really scared and afraid, but I was certain I would not be happy with my life like that. I thought, will I be able to say I lived a happy life when I leave the company after thirteen years of contract when I would be in my 30’s? It was impossible to endure the work for the rest of the contract years with only two hours of sleep per day. Of course, I was worried about the staff, who took care of me and worked for me, but I thought this was really not a life for me. We came out at the risk of our singing careers; we started again. I found my new life as a singer. So, I would like to share with others. People should share when they can.
-Is a romantic relationship a large part of what you have lost?
There are many restrictions as a celebrity. One of them is having a romantic relationship.
-Many celebrities announce their relationship. Can you not do that?
It is possible. To be honest, it is funny not to be in love when you are 27 years old. It is not something weird or having an illness. But fans always tell us “you can do it. Just don’t get caught.” I know what they mean because there is huge difference between not knowing and knowing.
-Is it etiquette for fans?
Yes it is. But, all three of us now don’t think we must hide it. Having a relationship does not mean we are getting married. It is not something bad. It is something beautiful.
-What is your ideal type?
A lady I can love. It would be better to meet a lady that I love instead of a lady who loves me. On the other hand, a lady should meet a man who loves her to live a happy life.
-Tell me in more details.
I don’t think appearance is important. But I love someone who is kind and respects elders. I hate women who smoke. I am conservative. I think it is also because I have never smoked. I wouldn’t like someone who can’t meet these two criteria even if she is popular and pretty.
-Don’t you want to have a romantic relationship?
I do. One sings better when they are in love. Songs by singers in their 30’s and 40’s are deeper because those singers are not only talented with singing but also have different emotions. When Yim Jae-beom sings “How come, we are” the emotion really becomes ‘how come, we are.’ Many young singers in their 20’s can sing better with high notes. But we cannot follow their sensitivity and emotions because these come through experience and time.
-Is that the reason why you indicated emotion is more important than the technique? Techniques can be learned. How do you keep your emotions?
You cannot practice it. Every song contains joy, anger, sorrow and pleasure. One should sing with those emotions. Then, they would reach out to the listeners. People can easily differentiate songs sang by singers with magnificent techniques but no emotions. Thus, I even think before when I only sang few measures of a song. If I don’t have the experience the lyrics say, I imagine a similar experience and sing. If the lyrics are happy, I smile a lot and if it is sad, I make a sorrowful face. Then, emotions would be released through my voice.
-Kim Junsu in his mid-30’s will be a very sensitive man.
I just want to be a splendid middle-aged man. I am not afraid of aging up. It will be okay to have a big belly and wrinkles, but I want to be a middle-aged man with wonderful personality like my father.
-Is your father your role model?
I would like to resemble what he does to my mother. He is really good to my mother. I understand my father because my mother used to be Miss Korea. He followed my mother for five years, but my mother hated the fact that he loved her. Haha. Since we were young he always emphasized “You guys should at least do dishes if you want to be loved by your wives” while he was doing laundry and dishes. He is not patriarchal at all.
-Your house must be in peace and harmony.
Yes. We are a harmonious family. Hyung is also funny.
-Do you really do laundry and dishes by yourself?
Of course. I know how to do them because I used to do them since I was young.
-Hmm…What a well brought up young man~
Translator Notes (by @dlwpdldhkdlwp)
-Because this is a rough translation, there might be many grammatical and spelling mistakes.
-No infringement of copyright intended.
-Please DO NOT post and/or modify my translation on any TVXQ5, TVXQ2, COUPLE SHIPPER, ACGAE, and/or ONLY-ONE-MEMBER SUPPORTING sites.
-Have a nice day! 🙂