Youth that Never Returns
Go for it, because you’re young enough
by Jo Eun-ho | email@example.com
“TEN YEARS is longer than you think. You should try everything before you turn 30!” Kim Jun-su said with a smile. As a globally popular singer and actor, Kim has released albums such as …IS YOU and XIGNATURE, held a concert, and performed in musicals including Dracula and Dorian Gray this year. His hard work and careful dedication to his craft has led to huge success in both his albums and musicals. The Yonsei Annals started the interview by congratulating him on winning the popularity award with the character Dorian Gray in Yegreen Musical Awards. Although he is a superstar, his attitude during the interview was sincere, and his answers had powerful messages full of meaning. The interview focused on three aspects: music, musicals and Kim himself.
Annals: What inspired you to become a singer? From when did you dream to be a singer?
Kim: When I was young, I wanted to be a soccer player. My friends liked singers and groups such as Seo Tae-ji, Solid, and DEUX, which I wasn’t really interested in. However, when H.O.T., another famous Korean idol group made a debut a few years later, I thought that being a singer would be attractive. I decided to become a singer and stopped playing soccer. H.O.T. sparked my interest in the entertainment industry. After I found my passion for singing and dancing, I had an audition when I was in 1st grade of middle school and entered an entertainment agency.
Annals: This year, you released two albums: …IS YOU and XIGNATURE. Could you tell us about your philosophy towards music?
Kim: In former days, the public loved individuality. Many singers had their own style, and they made mega hits when the style suited them. Therefore, singers were more open to challenging themselves with various genres, producing diverse songs in the process. However, nowadays, music tends to follow certain trends that make the songs similar. For example, the current trend is hip-hop. In spring and autumn, ballads are a big hit. In other words, many singers tend to follow trends rather than focusing on their own unique style, which I find unfortunate.
I feel cautious saying this, but I consider myself standing on a bridge between individuality and conformity. There are singers who do not bother testing their individuality, but singers from my generation were open to experimenting with both sides. This is quite difficult, but in a sense it’s fun. Sometimes I have a feeling of doubt, but I also feel lucky to be on both sides. Actually in the past, I assigned great importance to my signature and individuality, at the same time communicating with the flow of the contemporary period. Overall, I guess that a singer who has experienced both sides can have rich diversity in music.
Annals: You recently finished the musical Dorian Gray. Performing in a purely domestic original musical was a notable challenge. Was there a special reason behind this challenge?
Kim: I performed in seven musicals, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that over half of them were original ones. This is because although some are licensed musicals, they were modified while being imported to Korea. I made my debut as a musical actor by Mozart, which provided me an opportunity to reveal myself to the world again. I attended several Musical Awards, and was thankful for the fact that I could sing.
At that time, I didn’t know how I could influence the musical field. However, as time passed, I realized that I could contribute largely to this field by performing in original musicals. As people came to watch my performance, I provided support to those musicals by making the field more widely known. Therefore, I decided to challenge myself by starting with Tears of Heaven, although it was hard for a rookie to perform in original musicals. I made a promise, which was that I would perform 50% of my works in original musicals. I regretted saying this at first (smiles), but I found myself working hard as I continued to receive lots of love from the audience.
I gained much from performing in original musicals. Licensed musicals have their own frames that I am forced to follow. Thus, there is a limit to how much I can individualize the character I play. However, there are no such limits in original musicals—I am free to do whatever I want. In addition, if these original musicals later become licensed, then I would be the basis which all subsequent actors would have to follow. The idea makes me thrilled.