English translation: Aphrael77
English translation: Aphrael77
Sohu Entertainment – Korean star Jang Keun Suk’s debut “Let me cry” album, originally slated for release on 23 March, has been postponed as a result of the massive Eastern Japan earthquake, and now the release date is confirmed on 27 April. Television dramas such as “You are Beautiful” and “Marry me Mary” have made this actor the best loved Korean star in Japan. His official music album debut has been much anticipated, and fans are not unfamiliar with JKS’ voice as he has sung drama soundtracks at fan meetings and on television. His musical talent demonstrated in Lounge H collaboration with good friend Big Brother also amazed fans. Upon the first hearing of “Let me cry”, many Japanese reporters who are not familiar with JKS are greatly surprised by the explosive power of his voice, and comment that JKS is frankly a rock singer and has performed his debut song effectively. Recently, JKS accepted the interview of reputed Japanese magazine “Cut”. Facing the reporter who has a reputation for asking challengingly tricky and sophisticated questions, JKS was open and talked freely about his experiences thus far, and answered questions like why he chose to launch his singing career in Japan.
Japan’s Hallyu craze is well known and doesn’t need further elaboration. In this fiercely competitive market, JKS stands out with his unique charm. Interestingly, in spite of his high popularity and seemingly sunny disposition, JKS has always maintained a certain level of doubt about his position, or a kind of severe, critical look at himself as a star. This left a deep impression on the reporter. Maybe JKS himself wonders whether the label of a “pretty boy” can be rescinded – there is too much unpredictability in the future, and this makes JKS feel a continuous sense of crisis. This interview gave the reporter a deeper understanding of the real JKS and how JKS defines his true self. At the peak of his career, JKS launches his new identity as a singer, showing his willingness to accept new challenges and singing not from a fictional identity but from Jang Keun Suk as a person. In the face of his ever-rising popularity, JKS’ grasp on reality and self-discipline are what the reporter most admires about him.
As the representative of the younger generation stars in Asia’s showbiz at the age of 23, what is JKS thinking about? The interview not only provides a window into JKS’s internal world, it also uses a theme of “JKS’ facial expressions when alone in the house” to shoot a series of photographs. Below are the main contents from the interview. (C = Cut, J = JKS)
C: First, why did you choose Japan as the first platform for your debut as a singer?
J: In fact, 4 or 5 years ago, I had received invitations from a few record companies in Korea to release album. I deliberated over it anxiously for a long time, and feel that now is the best time. It is not just a good opportunity, Pony Canyon places sufficient trust in me and accepts many of my ideas about the way I want to make music, so I made this decision.
C: When making your decision, is the thought that Japan is your strong source of support one of the main factors?
J: I often get asked the question why it is Japan. The musical style I like is band. If I must say the reason, it is because Japan has the music style I like. To date, people know me through my acting performances, and everyone can see a different side of me from now onwards. Frankly speaking, I’m very nervous. So I think, instead of just working hard, I should steadfastly do each step well. And one important reason is, many people know actor Jang Keun Suk well because of my many characters. Korean dramas air in Japan either in the form of original voicing with subtitles, or with Japanese voice-dubbing whereby the voice-dubbing will be half a beat behind the actors. Because of this, I hope it is not through subtitles (which influence the audience’s appreciation of the actors’ actual performance) and voice-dubbing, but to let everyone see a Jang Keun Suk that is real.
C: After hearing you say this, we can now understand your wish to express your feelings through songs.
J: Song is a way to express one’s feelings directly and instantly without pre-rehearsed artificiality. To me, it is the best way to convey my current feelings. I expressed my thoughts to Pony Canyon. They prepared around 40 songs for me to select the debut song. I chose 4 of them for my first album. Actually, this is the same logic as that of choosing a script. As a singer, I hope to find a song that complements my voice and style, of course voice is also important in expressing feelings. No matter what, choosing what kind of music is an important thing.
C: Now, is the meaning of music to you “directness”? It complements fictional acting, do you bring this concept into the development of your singing career?
J: Yes, this is the case. An actor transforms himself into the character after knowing the script very well, so he cannot present his own individuality. But a singer is not like this. For example, what one says in front of the camera during acting is completely different from what one says as a singer on stage. Therein lies the charm of a singer.
C: Did you previously have this idea of organising events as a singer?
J: In fact, before becoming an actor, many people advised me to debut as a singer first. I ever had the experience of acting indifferently without knowing what my main identity was (whether being an actor or singer suited me better). My acting career so far can be said to be a journey of self-discovery… even now I am not clear what my main “identity” is. So challenging the role of a singer is also part of my journey. I am not living each day indifferently, but facing each challenge with renewed vigour. Of course, I know that there will be failures and successes. But even if I fail, it’s all right, this is the price to pay for being young. So singing is what I should be doing now. Being alive is a happy thing, because one never knows what would happen in the next second. I often say this: life starts from ‘B’ and ends at ‘D’. ‘B’ for birth and ‘D’ for death. ‘C’ refers to the many choices in life. Making choices (or chance) will, to a great extent, result in a different kind of life.
C: I see (laughs).
J: As for my “main identity”, I’m always searching for the real me. To do music now is perhaps fated.
C: I think self-discovery is a lifetime’s work, but maybe in the process of singing, one does not need to consider anything, and just present one’s genuine feelings.
J: It’s like what you said. Rather than say it’s singing, at the moment when one stands on the stage, all the stress and worries vanish. But during acting, what I see in the camera is not myself (watching my own drama is like watching someone else’s life). Hence, singing to me is a form of catharsis (unburdening feelings).
C: Keun Suk, you’re now a super star. Be it in Japan or Korea, you’re clear about the direction of your future development and you have many methods to replenish your energy. But after listening to what you said just now, I feel that you are fighting with a part of yourself? Why is this so?
J: It’s not really struggling with myself. It’s just that I feel now is the best timing for me to become a singer. I choose this myself, so I don’t want to regret. Hence, I always expend most effort when making a decision. The company does not make me do things; all the work is chosen by myself. If I fail, I cannot push the responsibility onto other people. The company respects my judgment and go all out to support my work. The responsibility for my life is mine alone to bear.
C: Oh I see. To summarize, you have two main reasons for being a singer: One, you have accumulated sufficient support from fans and have the confidence to accept new challenges. Two, “Jang Keun Suk” is shouldering many expectations and responsibilities, and needs a bigger space to present yourself. Music then is an appropriate stage.
J: I agree with both your points. I am not even absolutely clear about the reasons and necessity of becoming a singer. Though being the champion on the best-sellers chart is important, another reason is, the songs I have sung up till now are songs belonging to the characters in the drama. I hope to sing songs that belong to myself… choosing the songs I like, and singing for myself. So during singing, maybe many lies may be exposed and everyone will see the “real JKS”. This is what I’m thinking about mostly.
C: Keun Suk, from your current standpoint, you should be feeling the stress of the thought that “the dramas you star in must become popular”. Because you are already a successful actor, you should also be feeling the same stress in the role of a singer, that “your songs must become popular”. How do you adjust your mentality?
J: I guard myself against these thoughts that “the dramas I act in must be very popular” and “if I act in this, this will also become very popular in Japan”. What is important to me is how I face challenges. I will not lose myself in a world of my own, thinking that “I am Jang Keun Suk”; I always remind myself. If I only stay in my own world, the ending is that I will destroy my own self completely.
C: Ah, maybe it’s like this.
J: But there was a time when I slumped into depression in a world of my own, and this happened in a much earlier period in my life compared to other people. When I was a senior high student, I acted in sitcom “Nonstop 4” which became popular and many of my co-actors became popular too, except for me. I didn’t get any work in the following 3 years. At that time, I once thought, it doesn’t matter how other people looked at me, what I needed to think about was where my motivation lay. And also, there are many people who applauded and cheered for me, but they also applauded for others too. Of course, I don’t expect the audience to applaud for me only. In order to gain heartfelt applause from the audience, I always give my best acting efforts in every drama and I don’t want to give myself any chance of regret. If I don’t push myself, I won’t gain results. I believe in my ability, yet I don’t completely trust in myself, isn’t it contradictory?
C: Why don’t you trust in yourself completely?
J: Speaking of the reason, it’s because not everything that I have chosen is good, so I will maintain a critical attitude. The consequences of what I have chosen, no matter good or bad, are my own responsibility. For example, I receive around 50 scripts a year and it is extremely tedious to finish reading all of them (laughs). So I will remind myself to be patient and finish the reading. Of course, if my manager can select 3 out of the lot, he is a good manager then (laughs). In order not to lose myself in a world of my own, I have to battle with myself. So from a certain perspective, I am perhaps a lonely person, always bearing my worries alone. When I watch dramas, I will classify them into “interesting” or “boring”. As for my own dramas, I will make notes such as “I did well in this part” or “I screwed up that part”, and think about what kind of acting method will touch the audience’s heart more deeply.
C: Lastly, your commemorative debut as a Japanese singer is perhaps the biggest challenge in your career. What ambitions do you have?
J: To date, I have attempted many challenges, but to be a singer now is also a big choice in my life. Maybe this choice will become a very important milestone in my life. My CD debut launch is a decision that I will not regret. I also want to find out quickly what the results are, and so I will continue singing.