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Jung Yunhos Youth, U-Know Yunho

When we met TVXQs U-Know Yunho, soon to enlist in the army, what we wanted to know most about was not TVXQ nor U-Know Yunho, but Jung Yunho, a 31 year old man. That is because he is the person well meet as short-haired U-Know Yunho passes by the guardhouse.

Q. Todays photo shoot consists of three themes: Jung Yunhos youth, U-Know Yunho as an artist, and the images TVXQs U-Know Yunho. Which image do you like the most? It seemed that you were most enthusiastic during the shoot for (Jung Yunhos) youth. You even gave your suggestions to us first to try different things.

A. Youre right. In that shoot light was filtered through a water tank to make afterimages. I like that kind of sensibility. Its not stereotypical. After all, those afterimages are the lingering images of my youth. It made me feel good to go through the shoot thinking about its meaning in that way because it was as if were looking back on past times.

Q. We wanted to look inside Jung Yunho, not U-Know Yunho, because we wanted to show people Jung Yunho before he enlists.

A. Wow, thats incredible. Its scary.

Q. You dont need to be scared. What does your name Jung Yunho mean? The chinese characters.

A. Jung means name of country, Yun means to have faith, and Ho means big. (Altogether) it means to aim higher with a big and broad mind, to make others trust you, and understand and tolerate others. My name bears those meanings since I am the firstborn. I am also the eldest son of the eldest son in the 27th generation. 27th generation of the Jinju Jung familys Hwang Chungjanggong branch. I was school president in elementary school. I was also vice president at a time, and a member of the student committee. Since I was little, I always stood in front for everything I did. But it wasnt a role I enjoyed playing.

Q. But dont you get naturally used to the role when you keep on repeating your work as a leader?

A. Jung Yunho has always been lonely. When you think of him separately, Jung Yunho was a kid more innocent and younger(naive) than anyone else, but lonely. He doesnt know how to express that side of him to others. Rather, he tries to use his imagination to solve his way through his insecurities. Once he is given a certain goal or task, he tries till he becomes perfect even when he (initially) falls short for it. On the contrary, it was different as U-Know Yunho. He was always relaxed and thought that he was the best. The passion was the same, but the way he registered and worked through it was different.

Q. How can those two ways co-exist within the same person?

A. I have lived such a life. I live as U-Know Yunho to go up on stage. The stage is the only place I can free myself from stress. Its a place I can bring up stories Ive never been able to tell anyone. I think thats why I become a polar opposite (to my usual self) when I prepare to be on stage or am on it. I change completely (in an instant). I release everything in the way I feel them. For example, even when theres a set choreography and I practice it down to the details countless times, I break out of my shell without knowing it on stage. On the other hand, me as Jung Yunho is fairly conservative and pure. (laughs) Of course, both U-Know Yunho and Jung Yunho began from the same set of values.

Q. Is it because you debuted at such a young age that Jung Yunho and U-Know Yunho are becoming (more) separate with the passing of time?

A. Not really. It is true that Ive received a lot of love since my debut, but it hasnt been all smooth. Ive been through a lot of unexpected crises, and on that path I hit upon a moment when I came into conflict with my inner self. I couldnt help but endlessly asking myself, Have I changed? The easiest and simplest answer to that (situation) was to accept myself just as I am. I am a singer, and the audience cheers me on when Im on stage. I in turn respond to that. Ive been immersed in those moments that singer and audience create together as one. But Jung Yunhos life is a different matter. Hes still young, but someday needs to be responsible for someone and lead a family. He needs to have a perspective on people and the society, and learn how to break free from blinding fantasies. Above all, I really needed a shelter that U-Know Yunho could someday return to. A basecamp of sorts. My job is to be in the spotlight, and it intoxicates you without you even realizing it. Then you lose everything.

Q. So you started (separating Jung Yunho and U-Know Yunho) to protect yourself.

A. I like U-Know Yunho, too. But no matter how much I like him, my origin is Jung Yunho, and I cant lose that. But its very easy to when youre in this line of work. I really detest being that way.

Q. In your previous interview, you said Jung Yunhos inner world has stopped (growing) since high school graduation.

A. Its just like I said it. Living in the name of U-Know Yunho for half of my life, I gained a lot of things and was able to bring the leadership skills Ive honed as Jung Yunho to another level. How would I, a Gwangju hillbilly, have been able to travel to all those countries (had I not become U-Know Yunho)? Thanks to that, Ive experienced a lot and built a solid career. In the meantime, I dont think I was able to grow that much as Jung Yunho. I think my personality appears to differ depending on the image I take on.

Q. You were very bright on set.

A. Right. You must have noticed there that Im very bubbly. But actually, Im not. When Im alone, I become serious and get lost in my thoughts. Im the type that is keen on organizing my future plans and the order of my affairs down to a T. On the other hand, I think its important to accept your emotions the way they are, more so than anyone else. I think people should be warm-hearted, and Im very straightforward. When I look at Jung Yunho as U-Know Yunho, I can see those things, because I grew little by little living as U-Know Yunho. Of course theyre both me, but they are always in conflict. A simple example-there are celebrities who dont know how to get their resident registration forms issued, because they have their managers to do it for them. But I try not to be like that, and try to take care of those everyday affairs myself. It may be very trivial, but I think I constantly need to learn how to wade through life by myself.

Q. Hmm. Youre concerned about a lot of things.

A. Might it be because Im making a transition from my twenties to thirties? Above everything else, I tell myself that If I acknowledge the things I hadnt been aware of or hadnt been good at to carry on as a member of society, and try to make up for what I lack, Ill become a more terrific person. If I were to say I spent my twenties well as U-Know Yunho, then I can also say the beginning of my thirties with my enlistment in the army although my fans would feel it is U-Know Yunhos hiatus will for me be a chance to return to Jung Yunho and mature as a person. I feel that only in that way U-Know Yunho in his twenties and Jung Yunho left behind in his teens can meet one another. Ive been thinking about the future for awhile. Actually, Ive been doing that since junior high. I had my life planned out till age thirty then. (laughs)

Q. So thats why despite your familys disapproval you tirelessly kept on dancing and singing. What did Jung Yunho in his teens want his life in his twenties-youth-to be like?

A. I had a preposterous dream when I was a teenager. I wanted to be a prosecutor. My passion for justice was too strong and I wanted to be in the legal profession. But I fell for dancing and singing against my will, and went through many bumps. But in all those moments, fortune smiled upon me.


The Way Back to Jung Yanho


Q. We noticed that you talked about marriage from time to time in your past interviews. In the earlier days, you dropped a bomb when you said you wanted to get married at 27.

A. In middle school, I used to say Ill get married when Im 23. Even after debuting, I wanted to get married around 27, but as I aged I changed my mind. Now, I want to get married at an age when Im able to take responsibility for someone.

Q. At what age could a person become able to take responsibility for someone?

A. I dont think them is a certain age for that. I just want to make my ideal image of a responsible father come true (for me) someday.

Q. It seems you think about marriage a lot.

A. I dont not think about it. I want to meet someone I truly love. If the timing isnt right, however, I wont be able to meet that person even if we truly loved each other. Thats why although I dont know who Ill get married to, I wish that person will pray to meet me as much as Ive been praying to meet her. Even right this moment. And I wish my friends wont forget what weve promised one another. Thats a given for my family, and my fans too. They say if you know one another, you become to resemble that person.

Q. Seeing you caring for Mr.Son Hojun and your other friends, you seem more than capable of taking responsibility for a woman now.

A. I cant trust myself. Women are different from men. I am a more emotional person that people think I am, and I like filling up the pages of a relationship pages just for two in little and cute ways, but Im not good at expressing myself. Whether its a lover or a friend, I find it more difficult to speak my mind the more I treasure and like them. Im the type to keep it all in and make myself miserable.

Q. Did you make yourself miserable often.

A. I did. I keep a close circle of friends-acquaintances. When Im with guys, Im outgoing and come off as aggressive. I try approaching the staff (at work) as a down-to-earth person. I deal with people differently depending on the person and situation. I guess thats why some say Im the drill sergeant. But when it comes to the person I love, i first try to understand them. Of course I often wound up keeping everything all in. Im the kind of person who has to work things out for myself before saying it. But at work, I never (hesitate and) make my self miserable. Everything has to be made clear. That is when I feel Jung Yunho has not matured enough yet. And when people praise U-Know Yunho, I sometimes question myself, Am I really that good a kid?

Q. First love, break-ups, passion, puerilitythese are the words that pop into mind at the mention of a persons twenties or youth. What do you relate to?

A. (My) twenties? In your twenties, you have to keep running, of course. I was passionate. Regardless of the nature of the things I experienced be they good or bad I have always said this-Ill work hard. I have always said that as Jung Yunho rather than as U-Know Yunho. Ill challenge myself first. If Im bad Im bad. If Im good Im good. Ill take full responsibility for (the consequences of) my challenges. Thanks to being responsible, I was able to work on various things. Once people saw me as a person who knows how to take responsibility for his work, I was able to take on more work. In my twenties, I kept running with only one thing on my mind. Its better to experience difficult and painful ordeals in my twenties rather than in my thirties or forties. Ill take these challenges head on early, and when its time to decide everything for myself and I have people to be responsible for, I will without fail bring about better results.

Q.Suddenly curious. Are you like your father?

A. My father is a no-nonsense man, but he is very affectionate. My mother is affectionate, and has a pure heart. Im also(laughs) I used to think I was like my father, but recently Ive come to think Im also like my mother, too. At about a 6:4 ratio.

Q. Isnt there an image that comes to your mind when you think about your grandfather or your father?

A. For me, its my grandfathers thumb. I always raise my thumb up on stage or at the awards. Thats on account of my grandfather. He passed away of lung cancer right before TVXQ debuted. He worried about me a lot, as I was the eldest son of his eldest son. He always wanted to know when I would debut. Thankfully, I was able to be there for his passing. He wanted to see me, not my father, just before he passed away. He smiled brightly and gave me an awesome thumbs-up sign. That was his last moment. I cried for three days then.

Q. Did you get to spend some time alone before enlisting.

A. I went to Gwangju a few days ago. I went with a friend after finishing work. I went to see my parents and stopped by the park where I always go to when I have big concerns, since Ill be enlisting soon. I felt I needed to straighten myself up mentally once more.

Q. Have you by any chance sung A Privates Letter or On the Enlistment Train (*famous Korean pop numbers on army sentiments) recently?

A. No, Im not worried about the enlistment itself. Its just that Ill really have to say good bye for a short while to the stage Ive been on all my life and people Ive been with for more than ten years. I came to Seoul in middle school, struggled to participate in auditions, and went through many hardships as a trainee. Im preparing to say farewell for a short while to the times Ive spent as TVXQ.

Q. You bear through the army with your body and time, so maybe that might be better.

A. I dont know. I can dare not say anything about it. I feel that Ill be facing a fight against myself in there. First of all, you are cut off from your social life. Regardless of what you did out in society, everyones the same once you cut your hair and go in. Im excited In some ways, rather. My heart beats at the thought that Id be able to experience and feel things Ive never come across before. And I think its an opportunity for Jung Yunho to really grow. But I do feel anxious as well, as I dont know how Ill change. Thats why Im just enjoying this moment more. I plan to become a monster when Im back.

Q. A word to the readers who are waiting for post-army U-know Yunho, please, because thats probably what fans would like to hear the most.

A. At the last concert, I told my fans Ill be back, and asked them to just tell me this-see you soon. But now, I feel Im saying this as Jung Yunho and not U-Know Yunho. Thanks to you, a humble kid was able to dream with you, and see more things together. So now, Im about to dream of something different. I will be back as a brighter, more substantial person, as someone who has grown and can pay you back. So I wish you could grow with me, too. We are still bound in the present-continuous tense ing, and not at the end. So I told you Id be back from the army as a monster, right? I will for sure be back that way.


Additional article in The Celebrity on Yunho


A Dance for Just 3 Minutes

TVXQs U-Know Yunho began to dance in front of the camera. His past times were compressed into his movements. And he began dreaming again, for even more spectacular times.

I feel I was very lucky as TVXQs U-Know Yunho. I wanted to get in SM to be a singer, and really got in. Weve been breaking the records we set. It will be the same from now on as well. Im looking at the next 50 years, not the next 10.

I voice what I want to achieve after Ive imagined it vividly and in detail. I say, I want to do this today. I think hard work doesnt betray you, at least up to 70% (of your intended goal), even though it may not get you to 100%.

It rained heavily that day. To sound lame, the rain felt like U-Know Yunho fans hearts lamenting over his enlistment. But U-Know Yunho looked cheerful. Concerts in Seoul, Japan, cities around Asia, and back to Seoul again, a musical performance for the opening ceremony of Gwangju Summer Universiade, shooting for the web drama(also aired on SBS Plus) I Order You, shooting for the music video of Champagne (a solo track that will be on TVXQs special album) that went on till the morning two days prior to The Celebrity photo shootlt was hard to think that was the face of a person who had been ploughing through such a hectic schedule. However, his and his staffs laughter never stopped coming out from his dressing room. I could see why the cameos in his solo music video were so special to him. My hometown friends and SM Ent. employees appear in the music video for Champagne. It was the last memory and present I wanted to leave behind before enlisting. The music video might not have happened, but I wanted to push it if I had to in order to make it. Its because Ive been holding on to a promise Ive made to a staff some time back. That promise was a fleeting conversation with said staff. When the staff said itd be really cool to be in a music video together he said Ill do it. For a long time, he kept that short conversation engraved in his mind.

This time in the music videos, U-Know Yunhos feelings and ideas have been fully taken into account. It will be very different from other music videos. I bet fans will be really surprised and say, U-Know Yunhos doing that kind of stuff? I intentionally did not call any of my celebrity friends. I wanted to show (the fans) Jung Yunho, not U-Know Yunho, before enlisting. This is my first piece as U-Know Yunho and Jung Yunho. The song has already been showcased at the (last) concert, but the then medium-tempo track was arranged faster, and even a comedic touch was added in.

Just like now, U-Know Yunho has always been running, facing ahead. The hardest thing as U-Know Yunho was breaking our own record. Like a 100m sprinter who tries hard to drop 0.1 seconds from his/her record, we too sweat a lot for a long time to deliver everything in 3 minutes. But there was a time when some people said, Dont you get everything you want just from 3 minutes of singing?

Actually, he was more akin to a marathoner running on a notorious course rather than a short-distance sprinter. It was always the same, be it concert rehearsals or sript practices for dramas and films. For me, half-heartedness is a term that doesnt exist. Even though a concert may be a 10-time repeat for me, a fan may have come from very far just for that one day. I try not to forget that. That must be why you can find fans ranging from little boys to elderly couples at TVXOs concerts. There are a lot of male fans, too. This is on account of his sincerity. I wasnt praised for my singing at first, so I tried harder. It was the same with acting. Im still falling short, but I believe Ill get better.

U-Know Yunho said he asks the many people he meets what their dreams are. He thinks that the truth lies in the eyes of the person thinking hard to answer that question. So I asked him what his dream was. His eyes shone, and he spoke of so many meaningful things I could not (due to limited space) write here. But my eyes fell on his hands more than on his eyes. His hands were smooth around his debut, but now there were a lot of wounds that came from long hours of practice. Then he stood up, held out his hand, and said,Ill be back in health.


Credits:

The Celebrity and Rakuten,
Translated by @mystaryunho
Shared by TVXQ! Express

@: Interview