A slim body with long arms and legs, a small face with big eyes. Which part of his face does Minho, who is agreed to have the top visual amongst idols, like most?
“My eyes. When asked (to choose a part), I always answer it is my eyes.”
Seated face to face for the interview, I found him a serious and straight young man who wasn’t as talkative as I thought. He had a low voice too soft and quiet to be associated with a guy who won triple gold medals at the ‘Idol Track & Swimming Competition.’
“I think I’m rather serious and prudent. I’ve been like this from my childhood. But I like exercise very much. Especially playing with a ball. I’m very competitive. Desiring to win and do well whatever I do? Haha.”
I was curious what he thinks of his image fixed as an athletic idol.
“I enjoy it. That is what I am. When I filmed ‘Start Dream Team’ with grand sunbaes, they treated me like their maknae and let me win the race. I am very thankful for that.”
What else is Athletic Idol Minho doing recently?
“It’s now Champions League season, so I’m trying not to miss any game. I’m also studying Japanese hard for our upcoming Japanese activities. Oh, I find it really difficult as I learn more.”
Our conversation naturally turned to their concert when he mentioned their Japanese activities.
“We had our solo concert in Japan at the end of last year, and then in Korea. Members all had high expectations. We had lots of concerts with our SM sunbaes, so we had this longing and desire for our solo concert. It was great fun. I felt, ‘Ah, this is what a concert is like, how it tastes.'”
He made a debut as an actor before their first solo concert. He starred in ‘Pianist,’ a KBS special drama which was aired last November.
“It took two weeks to film it. My character was a piano repair man with an innate talent for piano. I had a hard time practicing because I was not familiar with piano. Although it wasn’t easy to practice in a short time, I enjoyed the experience.”
As he often revealed his desire for acting, I asked what kind of roles he wants to try in the future.
“I think I’m too much a beginner to be desirous of roles. Yet I’d like to do a character that is my age. I want to play a character I can express naturally based on what I am.”
I saw a 21 year old young man positive and enterprising during our Q&A. Minho says he tries to follow his plan two out of three times and to be leisurely the last time in his everyday schedule. I wondered what hobby he enjoys while he is busy with studying Japanese and practicing for their debut in Japan.
“Please, don’t laugh, it’s soccer. And soccer game. Haha, soccer is really my life.”
This is our second meeting after (the pictorial for) the March issue of Elle Girl. He greeted me saying, “People liked the pictorial.” Key’s fashion sense is as outstanding as last time. The eye-grabbing unique pink piercings on his ears are his own. He says he found it after ransacking a store.
Another thing that surprised me was his Japanese skills! Only one month since he started full-scale study, he was talking with the staff proficiently in Japanese. I got envious of his talents ranging from dancing, rapping, fashion and art to Japanese skills.
“I’ve watched lots of Japanese dramas for a long while.”
He says he cried a lot watching ‘One Liter of Tears.’ He is known to fans for being a fan of Ghibli Studio’s animation.
With lots of interests, likings, and talents, Key’s daily tasks these days are ‘practicing, studying Japanese, exercising, and painting.’ Recently, he had an exhibition of his paintings with his uncle who is an architect (I overheard him saying he participated in it under his real name without calling any press to do it quietly). According to Taemin’s testimony, he paints while dancing to music and choosing matching clothes. He is such a multiplayer. Has he ever been anxious and nervous?
“I was anxious and nervous about everything in my trainee days. Debuting was also stressful in many ways.”
But he then gave an answer which can be defined as ‘Key-like.’
“I’m so happy and good now. I think I’m what I am now because of what I went through, I needed the period. So whatever happens, I try to enjoy it.”
Key acquired this ‘coolness’ from his hot passion and precious wisdom. Last winter, SHINee had their solo concert held in the National Yoyogi Stadium successfully.
“I wondered if it wasn’t too much when it was announced we’d have a concert in Japan. Because we didn’t make any amazing sale records with our license albums and didn’t make an official debut. I was surprised when so many fans turned up. I cried. At the ending both times.”
I asked what he wants to achieve in his 20s as he is already doing so much. Another clear and ‘Key-like’ answer:
“What if I don’t make it after I set my mind to something? Then I become a failure. I think I’ll achieve something if I work hard. If I have fun and live happily, I think there’s nothing more I have to do.”
When did noonas’ Taemin grow up and become a 19 year old who worries about the College Entrance Exam? Yet a skinny body, smooth skin, and angelic smile still represent his looks. Taemin is a cute maknae who is forgetful of where he put what he was holding a minute ago, but he is also a mature maknae who takes good care of hyungs. He exudes a unique masculine beauty when he is absorbed in his performance with smoky make-up on. Even so, doesn’t he have any complaints about his image as a baby-faced handsome boy?
“In fans’ eyes, I’m maknae in the team and actually young. I have no complaints about it. They see it favorably, so I like it too.”
If you watched him for a minute, you could see Taemin is not boisterous as shown in his serene answer. He is still shy before the photographer’s camera unlike the other members. He is tender-hearted, but you can see he is so reserved he finds it difficult to talk with someone before making friends with him.
“I was an introvert from childhood, so I couldn’t respond well when a stranger approached and talked to me. But I’ve changed a lot since we debuted. It was hard for me even to talk to our staff noonas, but now I kid around them.”
I asked how he’d like to spend his 20s, although it’s still too early (to ask).
“I want to live day by day without regrets like I’m doing so now. I’ll probably like to do things I couldn’t do in my teens, but there is nothing specific I’m looking forward to.”
Did he become an adult too early because he had to adjust himself to social life at a tender age. Key threw a joke while listening to us, “Watching us, he must have felt there’s no big change in 20s.”
Now approaching their 4th year after their debut, SHINee has become Korea’s representative boy group ready to start activities in Japan with the Japanese version of Noona Is So Pretty.
“I think the title Replay itself shows our ambition that we’ll make another start.”
He says it is the same song but with a different mood and concept. It made me curious in what looks they will stir Japanese noona fans’ hearts. Taemin says with his unique innocent smile:
“There’s nothing too demanding. As our team work is good, I’m preparing (for our debut) with hyungs in a good mood. Since our sunbaes made way for us, I’ll work hard so we can climb up step by step along the path.”
The boy who danced in admiration of Michael Jackson has spent the ‘storm and stress’ time of adolescence on stage calmly and is now facing splendid days of youth. Even though he says he has no expectations, we are curious of Taemin’s tomorrow which will be beautiful in itself.
*The interview pinpointed the reason for part of the tender feelings I have toward Teamin: the fact he had to become an adult too early as he spent his adolescent days exposed to media. Taemin, I also believe in your splendid 20s. Go, Taemin~*
Source: Elle Girl Korea
Translation by: by jujugal