The famous German writer Goethe left behind a passage about youth. 'Youth itself is one form of light.' Accordingly, Korea's 'big magazine' <Arena> decided to leave behind a pictorial about youth. This is to collect light-like youth as Goethe's words said. Now the five men of SHINee were the optimal subjects for us to enjoy the peak of youth to the fullest. How will we be able to collect them, whose every moment dazzles like light? If Goethe expressed perception with a majestic sentence, <Arena> will express vision with an artistic pictorial. It was too cramped to collect their various charms in a normal picture. The famous writer's words aren't wrong. Youth itself is one form of light. We will reveal the evidence.
Fashion Director Sung Bumsoo
Feature Director Kim Jonghoon
Q: I heard youre going to be a special MC on a variety show.
I think being a MC suits me better than being in a panel. You have to give me the spotlight for me to do well. When I take the lead, I can act naturally.
Q: Why do you think that is?
I think its just awkward. Ive been on <Quiz To Change The World> in the past, but I dont talk much when there are a lot of people. I dont like squeezing myself in. I can do well if Im given the chance, but I believe Im not in the position to just shove and go.
Q: I dont think youre secretive. When I see your interviews, youre quite honest.
I was careful at first. Thats why I grasped a way to protect the boundary. I dont say everything obstinately. If I know my limits and say things honestly up to a certain point, that becomes a charm. In other words, Im scratching an itch with words, so I will appear honest.
Q: I heard you like to drink. Youre doing a musical with Um Kijoon and I hear he also likes to drink.
I like drinking, but I dont fit in well with older people. I barely have any close hyungs. When I was doing the musical, I couldnt say a word when I was with Um Kijoon sunbae or Kim Pubrae sunbae.
Q: Then are you more comfortable with women?
Im comfortable with women. All of my relatives are women.
Q: You seem like the style to want to be a leader.
I think so.
Q: But youre not the leader of SHINee, right?
Just because Im not the leader of SHINee or because Im young doesnt mean I dont have a say.
Q: People often say that youre cute. Do you think youre cute yourself?
This is something I heard for the first time after I debuted. If I let my hair down, I look chic. If I wear mischevious clothes, I look like I cause mischief. I change. And I subconsciously feel like I have to act that way Well, its not my intention, but I change according to my style.
Q: Do you have a technique to make yourself stand out on stage or on variety shows?
I dont get many opportunities since the five of us have to share. Theres a selected time for me to make an entrance. So at least in that moment, I do my best to never make mistakes. Even if I make a small mistake, I cant sleep. I hate getting things wrong, so I calculate everything in my head and transfer that to my actions. I even calculate my gestures.
Q: Do you compose or write lyrics?
If I was a person to do it, I would have already. I dont think I have the talent for that yet and I dont think about doing it just because Im a singer.
Q: Then as a singer, what do you believe is the greatest skill that you possess?
Its directing myself. It was during the first concert. When I was organizing my solo stage, everything was in my head. I wrote down references for the LED and passed it on, I went out to personally shop for my outfit, and I cast Krystal who featured in it. When I got to show off the stage exactly as I'd drawn it and stepped down on it, I felt really satisfied.
Q: The jacket for the 3rd bound album is pretty unique.
They wanted to put a picture in the album, so I handed in 2 pieces that I had already done. But that drawing I made became the cover. Its a drawing I did lengthwise. I originally used a lot more color and the piece was a lot more complete, but they had to cut it.
Q: There are a lot of idols appearing these days.
When new idols stand on stage, I only look at two things. I look to see if theres anyone like me and I look at anyone who is better off being absorbed in academics.
Q: What kind of people are people like Key?
People who know how to show something rather than their skills. There are people who do their role and give off a Hey! Come out! feeling. I like that type of feeling and its the kind of image Im pursuing. When I was a newcomer, I received advice as SHINee, but nobody every advised us individually. If I can, I want to teach as much as I can.
Q: So have you helped anyone before?
I havent yet. I dont think theyre very curious about me
Q: This is because I really dont know. You released a Japanese single, and I heard the phrase Aoi Sora.
It stands for blue sky. We talked about that a lot too.
Q: Are you really popular in Japan?
Japan is different from Korea. In our country, popularity, money, and honor always come together. In Japan, there are teams who make money without being popular and then there are teams who are honored but dont make money. There are instances when singers who sell 100,000 or 200,000 albums but arent recognized on the streets. Its only the people who like them that know them, but its still a large number, so then
Q: It becomes money?
Q: Does the musical direction that SHINee pursues fit well with you?
I think becoming a SHINee member was luck.
Q: You must be preparing another album. Can you tell me what youre working on?
Were devoting our hearts and souls to the title track. I dont think theres been a time that the members talked as much as now. What I can say for certain is that at least the title track will be well-made.
Q: I saw your audition video. With that baby face, you said, Ill try my hardest. How old were you?
I was in the 6th grade. It was an audition I went to just because I liked to dance. I practiced indiscriminately without a role model. Even I think I was strong back then. It was to the point where, from my trainee days to when I debuted, people around me felt burdened.
Q: You must have been desperate about something.
I was hurt a lot back then. I thought that I had to sing well if I was a singer, but my voice didn't break, so I wasnt able to receive vocal training. I debuted in that condition, so all I could think about was catching up quickly. A singer isnt a dancer, so just dancing hurt my pride. I would take jokes seriously and feel distressed. But I think Im the style to improve more when Im reproached.
Q: Theres competition between the trainees, so inferiority complexes develop and feelings get hurt. It must have been worse since you were just a middle schooler.
To be honest, when the company first brought up the topic of debuting, I said Id think about it more. I thought that my skills at that time were lacking for debuting. Now that I think about it, it was actually an excuse. You can't do anything if you use the times that you couldn't practice as an excuse. I can just make my own feasible situations. If I absolutely dont have time, I can practice in the car while Im moving. After our debut, we would have 3 or 4 hours to sleep after finishing our schedules. Instead, I would go to the practice room and sing and dance by myself. After practicing crazily like that, I could see that I was slowly improving. So then my heart became at ease to a certain extent.
Q: Youve become an adult this year. And its been 6 years since SHINees debut. Have you ever been secretly disappointed that people only see you as a maknae since you debuted and up till now?
I dont mind it that much in everyday life. And now that Ive a bit more clever, there are times when I use my maknae image. (Laugh) There are many instances when others yield to me because Im the maknae, but on the other hand, that makes me think a little more. If I get greedy, I wont look good as a maknae. So rather than extending my position, I save my words and follow others.
Q: How mature. People dont really think that way when youre twenty. You should say whatever you want to say and cause a bit of trouble.
I experienced that stage a little earlier. I was actually like that when we first debuted. Puberty also came pretty quickly. When I was in 6th grade? Thats when I was really like the devil. Everything I did was pessimistic and cynical.
Q: You spent your school life as SHINee. You started your social life early, so you must have matured quickly.
That's true. I debuted when I was a minor and became an adult. Time passes by so quickly. Becoming mature implies that you grew internally, but now as I live my social life I'm just learning how to deal with different situations. Because it's been 6 years since we debuted, I think that my eyes are opening realistically, too.
Q: Youve shared half of your life with the public. Is there anything youre disappointed about regarding not having an ordinary school life?
I couldnt go on field trips with my friends during my school life. When I hear stories from others, I get really sad. I also feel jealous. But in place of that, I was able to get something else. Im content with my life right now. Because Im living a life that is different than others' lives. Being a celebrity is a unique life on its own. But being unique even in the entertainment business is important. Celebrities start following other celebrities. People who lead trends are cool, not just in music, but in fashion, entertainment, and things overall.
Q: You put the title contemporary band before your name when you introduce yourselves. It seems like you want to differentiate yourselves from other boy groups.
Weve received all kinds of songs from Denmark, Sweden, and England. We test out many things from genres to concepts, as well as styling. When you look at the big picture, SHINees color as a team is more colorful compared to other teams. The members personalities and individualities are different. With 'Juliette', I think we grabbed the SHINee-esque feel and with 'Dream Girl', our performances became stronger. Our band color emerged and we were able to prepare a cool and refreshing image with a SHINee-esque feel.
Q: Even now SHINee is experimenting. Is there an image you wish to do more of in the future?
I wish we will do more images that will get people asking 'What sort of kids are these?' when they hear 'SHINee'. While keeping our mystique and scarcity to the best of our abilities.
Q: What will Taemin's future be like? You've always thought that it was vague.
I have a big desire to keep the artistic feel. The appropriate time has been arranged for anyone, so to prepare for that time, I'm studying composition and practicing constantly. I don't know when that time will come to me, so I'm saving up my energy. Because of that, after I turned twenty, I find that I'm hiding myself rather than revealing myself.
Q: In continuation, it seems like you're storing up energy within yourself. How big of an explosion are you planning for the future?
Whether something explodes or not, I think it's best to save up right now.
Q: Youve promoted for 6 years and now youre twenty. This is a real advantage.
Hyungs from other teams talk about that too. They say theyre jealous (laugh).
Q: How do you release the fatigue that piles up from your busy schedule?
Im still young, so I feel fine after sleeping on time. But I feel mentally exhausted. I think its a time when I need some healing. Thats why I try to get some personal time and do some hobbies, even if I have to force myself.
Q: What kind of hobbies?
Im really into skateboarding these days. After I finish my schedule, its almost dawn, but thats when there are barely any people around. I go to Hangang Park and skateboard by myself. (Showing his elbow) Thats how I scratched myself here. (laugh)
Q: What kind of music does SHINees main vocalist listen to?
I listen to Robin Thicke and Pharrell. I try to find things that we can use for recordings. For example, Justin Timberlakes songs are the songs that Korean idols have to practice the most. Its the textbook of idol music.
Q: Is there a separate thing called idol music?
Of course. Its music that you have to show. Thats why we use a lot of exciting sources and beats. Its music thats made where you have to take performance and visuals into consideration.
Q: Do you have any thoughts on composing yourself?
Im an aspiring composer. When I was in a band during middle and high school, I thought about composing. When I got into the company, I became a singer.
Q: Did you hold a prejudice against idol music when you were in a band?
When I was young, I thought of my icon as the best and had the tendency to ignore music outside of theirs. It happened when I was really young. I was craving for a certain type of music, but I think it also had to do with the generation. Now the market has changed. The publics eyes and ears are different than before. Idols can now do music with a variety of colors mixed in it.
Q: Being an idol is a job, so it must get frustrating at times.
Theres stress behind being a celebrity. I have to put up with not being free, but there are people who make IDs with my personal information. There has been some harm from illegal activities, but Im used to it now.
Q: Since youre in a company, you can call yourself an employee. You must have times when you dont want to work, right?
The biggest problem is my condition. If my body isnt in a good condition, I cant record or practice well. I cant be efficient, so I get stressed out. As a result, I become disappointed. But I dont have a role in adjusting my schedule based on my body condition. Its too bad, but its something I just have to do.
Q: Its a common type of stress that employees face.
Theres nothing special just because Im an idol. When I talk to my friends, they also get stressed because of problems in their daily life. But the good thing for us is that we started working earlier than other people our age. Its already been 6 years for me.
Q: Thats assistant manager level.
Haha. Its been 6 years for me, so its nice that I'm able to fit well in society, even though my friends still get ignored.
Q: That's difficult. When you get stressed out at work and you complain to your friends, those who haven't had a societal life yet can't relate.
Thats why we dont talk about work. My friends cant relate or theyll deprived since theyre preparing for employment. We mainly end up talking about the past. There was a time in middle school when I was dragged off by a sunbae and was about to get beat up, but one of my friends saved me on the spur of the moment. We talk about that whenever we meet. Its always fun. I think its nice to dig into memories rather than present events.
Q: When youre close, you talk about the past. When youre not as close, you talk about women and soccer. That's what a man is.
Thats right. When youre getting close, you only talk about hobbies. If youre really close, you already know each others hobbies.
Q: You're at an age where you'd be drinking and going out to have fun.
Although I don't drink or smoke, I frequently go to gatherings where people drink. I also don't care what others think. I enjoy going to nice places with friends and sharing stories. I'm not different from those around my age. I go to PC rooms sometimes. I get nervous when I open the doors to the PC rooms and step in. It's fun when when I pick up my guest card at the counter, and I find myself funny doing this because I'm bad at games. I try to feel that kind of atmosphere.
Q: Your friends' perspectives will probably change when you enter your mid 20's.
When I attended music school, I had friends who were jealous of me. But as people get older, they return from dreams to reality. They understand the difficulty of being an idol. Now I dont have friends who envy me because they each have their own path. When I grumble about things being difficult, they accept that it's life.
Q: There are organizations and politics. What are politics like in the idol world?
Wouldnt it be similar with other companies? It's know-how. We know that it'll be more efficient when the five of us practice together. Even if we're late, we'll practice together. We also know the time frame where our recordings turn out well. We purposely try to record during that time frame.
Q: There's a belief that idols are companies' productions.
SHINee's case is different. When the company forms the outlines, the members directly contribute in the production process. We put in a lot of ideas. When there are problems, there are many times where the members will resolve it directly. We have to clearly understand the production process. The members are going in as players of the company's great capital and sponsorship. You can say it's a collaboration.
Q: Are there advantages to being in a massive entertainment company like SM?
We are often exposed in ways we couldn't think of. In that way, it's a big advantage to us. Hundreds of people agonize over showing off and packaging our strengths. I think we're able to produce better results.
Q: SHINee is in their prime right now. But for any company, people retire due to age.
Singers are storytellers. I have great interests in producing and songwriting, so I want to make a lot of music. As a songwriter, I'm preparing appropriately for my age. If you look at songwriters who are twenty-four years old, they write songs like I do, study, write lyrics, and sell. I'm preparing so that I'm not faster or slower than my contemporaries.
Q: As a soccer fan, which team do you think will win the Premiere League this season?
Chelsea. If you look at Hazard and Oscar, I think they're insane. Theyre really good. And wouldnt Manchester City be second?
Q: Do you watch all the matches every weekend?
I watch almost all the lives since I can watch it through my cellphone. I also watch recorded broadcasts and highlights.
Q: I listened to SHINees 3rd album for a few days. There are two CDs in the bound album which makes 18 songs.
We wanted to show a lot of things. Its been 5 years since we met our fans. As time passes, misconceptions are bound to be made.Thats why the album concept is misconceptions. We split the albums into Misconceptions of You and Misconceptions of Me as a means to resolve the misconceptions.
Q: It makes me think that it was made with a firm heart.
Thats right. We wanted to show people how much we prepared. The response for our third album was considerably good, but there were fans who were disappointed. But that disappointment was more along the lines of, they put out a good album so why weren't they able to receive more interest? Fans really liked it. But in idols' perspectives, idol fans are in continuous motion, and there's nothing we can do about it. The members are very aware of this fact. I'm sure all idols know this. If you take that into consideration, we've received much love from what we've put out already. It's definitely the same way for our third album.
Q: Even among idols, SHINee is known for their ability to complete projects with a high level of quality. There is some reverse discrimination by being bound as an 'idol'.
That's not true. Because there's a mold, we are able to become leaders within the mold or even break it. Many people tell us that we are the best among them, that we do really well. Every time I hear that, I believe that we have to tread on to the next level. I think because we have achieved this much, we should step forward again.
Q: There are so many idols. What kind of thoughts appear when new idols emerge and receive interest?
DBSK hyungs and Super Junior hyungs told us that they get excited by watching us. It's the same for me. I get excited and I also want to do better.
Q: Which idol gets you excited these days?
EXO, who's in the same company as me. But all rookies catch my eye. As a person who stands on the stage, you can tell when you observe performances. You sense that, ah, you're only able to achieve that through suffering.
Q: I'm not saying this to induce anything, but I'd be annoyed if it was me. I'd think, ah, they're a bunch of 'punks'.
Q: Why did you spill your coffee?
I was surprised.
Q: Among the members, you are actively acting. I think its because youre the most handsome one.
If I had to explain, haha, I think I have a face that the public prefers the most. Out of us.
Q: The drama <Medical Top Team> is starting. Do you like acting?
I didnt have enough time to prepare because I was doing album-related schedules at the same time.
Q: There's always a controversy with idols' acting abilities, but the comments about Minho's acting aren't bad.
Thats an excessive compliment.
Q: Do you monitor yourself?
I do. If Im busy, I just watch the parts that I appear in. Monitoring myself helps a lot. I watch what I did again and again, and after some time passes, I watch it again.
Q: People generally say, In SHINee, Minho is in charge of the rap. Do you think about wanting a change in this role? Like do you want to give more influence as a vocalist... or no?
I have the desire. I think that I haven't shown myself. Well... to some extent... I debuted without having been fully prepared. That time period of 1-2 years is disappointing. I felt like a fool. I didn't know anything, so I only did as I was told.
Q: Five people being in one team doesn't seem like it's easy. It's possible that you'll have different opinions and things you want to do.
We discuss with each other and try to look for the best thing. Usually at this point, reporters ask, "Still, don't you have anything that hurts or annoys you?" Then we would reply, "We really don't."
Q: Fans want idols to be free and not act only as their companies tell them to. Do you know that fans hold these desires?
I know it well. When I heard that, the first thing that came to mind was, "In that case, I can't stay in SM." I would have to leave to a place where I can express my views more freely. Our company has a producer. And there are many people who help us. It's a priority to heed their directions. We have to make it so that our views can be reflected in them. If we don't like this process, we'll have to leave the company, but that's not the case so that's why we're with the company. As time passes on, many of our views are being reflected. Everything moves like a gear. Many people are involved. It's also important to keep this rule.
Q: That is an awesome answer.
Q: How do you usually spend your time when you dont have plans?
I sleep a lot. Almost always sleep, sleep, sleep. Or I go out. I like throwing darts, so I go do it alone.
Q: You go alone? Isnt it uncomfortable when people recognize you, greet you, and ask you for an autograph?
What's wrong with going alone? Theres nothing like that. I dont really mind.
Q: Out of all the other things, why are you into darts?
I played pool and bowled and then moved onto darts. It has its charm. These days, dart machines have improved, so I play online against people I dont know. Its okay if I play alone too.
Q: Your sitcom ended recently. Youve stepped into the world of acting.
At first, it was burdensome. Since Im a singer, I thought a lot of things like, How am I supposed to act? Actors are people who have been preparing how to act since the beginning. There are those kinds of people, but I was able to get the part because a good opportunity came to me. I was becoming someone, so I worked hard on my own.
Q: Have you fallen into the charms of acting?
It was fun, but it was hard to make expressions while trying not to make expressions.
Q: Huh? What do you mean?
Since Im a singer, I look for the camera. Doing something while barely looking at the camera was hard. And the filming method was sort of like that of a play. We go from start to finish without stopping. If you forget your line, you have to do an adlib. Despite that, I knew how to transition smoothly after a mistake since Ive done musicals before, so it was okay.
Q: You are the leader and the hyung in SHINee. What kind of leader are you?
A leader who enjoys benefits? Like if we go to a hotel because of a performance, Ill have a room to myself. We usually have two and two in a room, so there are times when I use one by myself.
Q: Then not as a leader, but as a hyung, what kind of hyung are you?
I think I just accept everything. I wasnt like that before, but it became like that at some point. If I dont, then I get stressed out. But that doesnt mean I tell them to follow me.
Q: Do the members hang out together?
Were already together from the moment we open our eyes to when we close them, so what would we do when we saw each other again? What would I have to talk about with them? I have to create stories elsewhere and then talk with them. We each have our own friends. I meet up with my elementary, middle, and high school friends.
Q: Do you often pay when youre hanging out with friends?
I do. Were the types to pay if were each able to.
Q: Youre probably a good friend among your friends.
After I debuted and couldnt go home for 2-3 years, my friends put off their enlistment and took the role of sons to my parents. They thought of my parents who must have been lonely, went to their shop often, and even visited them during holidays. Thats why [using my money] is not a waste.
Q: Those are amazing friends. Is it that those friends are nice? Or is it that you maintained good relationships?
I became this way because my friends are nice. Mm, my friends have become slightly negligent these days since they have girlfriends. When they bring their girlfriends, I get to see them together. When I watch them from the side, I go, Are you happy? I tell friends or people Im close to, to ignore that Im a celebrity. Theres no need for me to feel uncomfortable when meeting friends.
Q: You changed your hair color. That became a hot topic among fans. When youre getting attention for your every move, dont you get to live with the feeling that youre like the center of the world?
Not at all. I actually lived like that before I became a celebrity. Id be like, Well, theres no one but me. But it wasnt like that. I am just a small part of the world. If you look at where Im sitting right now from far away, its a space that you cant even really see in the world. I perform in front of thousands of audience members? If you also look at that from far away, you cant even see it. Its nothing.
Q: Its been 5 years since you debuted. What has changed?
My face is thicker. At first, everything was difficult and awkward. But now I frequently find myself going, "I've done this before" because I do it often. Come to think of it, even if I haven't done it before, I'll think, "If I do it now, I'll do it better later."
Q: If nothing else, you've become more handsome. Can't you feel it?
I recently saw a picture of myself in elementary school. It's a picture of my younger self smiling, and I think I look the same then as I now. It was really fascinating because I thought, "Only my physique changed." They frequently do my hair and makeup for my appearance. Anyone can do it if they put their minds to it and receive maintenance.
Q: Are you saying that you've never been pleased by looking in the mirror?
I'm paying more attention to what I wear so that I can do that. I'm getting older, not that I'm saying that I feel old. It can be said that I'm at the peak of my youth, so I started wanting to dress up. I've thought about it before, but I've now put those thoughts into action. I ask about various things and then I put it on.
Q: Are you creating an awesome body, which is a necessity to idols?
I work out a little these days.
Q: Is your body nice?
Q: Come to think of it I've never seen you take it off.
I don't take it off. Even if I develop a muscular body later, I don't think I'll show it off. It's not like I'll feel good from other people looking at my body. I might feel good by looking at my body. Besides, these days, I feel like people's bodies are good, but they all look the same. Because I have a body that is unique to myself.
Source: Arena Homme
Translations by: kimchi hana & papiermache @ shineee.net