Updated: Sep 1
(Photos and Korean text to be added)
How are you doing these days?
I do about 4 shows [musicals] a week. I'm also in rehearsals for <Xcalibur> so I spend most of my time in the rehearsal studio. After performing and rehearsals, I go straight home to rest. This is my day-to-day lately.
Kim Junsu is now more familiarly called a musical theatre actor. <Dracula> is currently at the height of its run?
I'm enjoying myself doing the musical. There's not much time left so it feels bittersweet to see the end of a long journey. It's a precious musical to me. But I don't know when I'll be able to do <Dracula> again. I'm having fun doing it now as I reflect back on the performances I've done.
The psychotic and wild 'Xiacul[a]' is a Kim Junsu creation. What's the secret behind choosing this musical and continuing the role over 4 seasons?
It's a really great musical. It's because the character of Dracula has a lot to offer within the musical. I'm able to portray a wide range of emotions in it. I think that's what I have so much affection for it. For me, musicals as a genre creates the greatest synergy when it meets with elements of fantasy. In that sense, <Dracula> is the best musical and I think that's why it's loved.
<Xcalibur> begins in August and it will be your second time since the first run in 2019. Are there any changes in the character and how you portray it?
I think this will be the first time I'm saying this - fans will be happy about this news: The character I'm playing, Arthur, has 3 new numbers. In addition, there will be new stage effects so please come see for yourselves at the theatre! Those who've seen the musical last season will be able to say 'Oh, that's how they changed it.'
Kim Junsu is called a Korean musical syndrome and the dateline of its history. What do you think it is that makes audiences continue to go to your performances? What is your greatest strength?
It's the same for all performers but I think it's that I don't hold anything back for every single show. I'm grateful to the audiences and co-stars who have told me that after seeing my show. My mindset is to perform every show like it's the last one, like there's no tomorrow.
You've been praised for creating a 'Kim Junsu style' (a singing style and vocalization different to existing styles) in the world of musicals. What are your thoughts on that?
Just 10 years ago, the standard for music in musicals was based in classical singing. The genres of music within musicals have diversified since then and that diversity brings on newness. I have an unusual, husky voice but I tried to play up that individuality and I think audiences began to understand and appreciate the effort.
You've also been part of <Mr. Trot> and <Ms. Trot>. As singer Kim Junsu, what do you think is the greatest appeal of trot music?
My mother really liked trot. I liked listening to it but my knowledge on it wasn't that deep. As I participated as a Master, I came to like it more after listening to the music and getting to know the contestants' stories. Trot is the most Korean of genres in which sorrow, sympathy and all kinds of different emotions are mixed. Sometimes, a conversational 'han' is found in the mix. I came to understand why people say young people listen to all kinds of genres but "it's trot when you get old."
I think it's about the power of the lyrics more than of the melody.
Do you think you'll sing trot in the future?
Mmm.. No. (laugh) I do anything if requested but trot is the only thing I can't. I'm cautious because I don't think I'll pull it off like a professional.
What is the music genre that Kim Junsu pursues?
I want to be a singer that can offer diverse genres. From dance to traditional ballads; trendy music to music with elements of musical theatre in it. I want to try and master diverse genres.
You still have the moves and superior live singing. How often do you practice?
To be honest, I don't practice all the time. I do for a new song and consistently rehearse for musicals though.
How to you keep in physical shape?
Doing musicals alone keeps me in shape. I'm soaked with sweat after every show so it feels like I've been running for 3 hours.
I'm curious about plans for Kim Junsu's new album.
As you know, the situation is really bad these days. I want to release an album when it's possible to interact with audiences in person. Timing-wise, it also needs to fit in with my next musicals. I know that fans are waiting for an album. I'm taking all situations into consideration and planning accordingly, so I'd like to ask for their understanding.
What inspires singer, musical theatre actor, and the artist Kim Junsu?
When I travel, I'm usually inspired by the vibe of the city and the emotions it evokes. I do a lot of thinking on plane rides. I spend the time being excited about the trip but also reflecting on myself.
What kind of destinations do you prefer?
Vacation spots. Whenever I plan on traveling, I end up choosing vacation spots. I like palm trees, sunsets and sand beaches.
How do you usually spend time at home?
I used to spend most of my time playing games before. Lately, I really got into virtual golf but lost interest as I became busy. I really just rest at home.
What's your fashion style these days? What kind of clothes do you tend to wear? I want to know if your interest in fashion has grown?
If I say this, the fans won't like it (laugh). I used to think it was enough to wear whatever's comfortable but I came to realize that fans like it when I dress in nice clothes and make an effort. So I tried to do that. However, these days I go straight to the salon, change into my costume and come straight home after a show. I can't help but always wear comfortable clothes like I'm wearing right now. I could dress up but I don't have anywhere to go and show it off or be photographed. If that's the case, I'm of the mind to dress comfy and increase work efficiency instead. I shall keep my focus on my performances only (laugh).
What's the real personality and appeal of human Kim Junsu?
It's embarrassing to say with my own mouth but I'm shyer than people think. I'm low maintenance and easy-going. I think I've changed a bit. I used to like what's flashy and special. Now I like what's simple.
There are a lot of junior idols that name you as their role model.
I'm very grateful. I become fans of theirs after watching their performances, too. Whenever I hear I'm someone's role model, I promise myself to work harder and do better so as not to become an embarrassing sunbae.
What would you tell them as a sunbae?
Their lives may look glamorous but they are probably harboring hardships inside. I also worried a lot and was troubled during my group days. It can make you impatient and lean toward negative thoughts. But if you widen your gaze just a little, you'll realize how much love you're receiving and how happy your life is. I'm sad I wasn't able to do that but I hope my hubaes will be happy and not experience that trial and error.
You're the original stan magnet. How do you feel every time you're called 'cute'.
I feel embarrassed. I used to hear it a lot but I never intentionally acted that way. Nowadays, it's nice to hear that I'm cute but back in the day, I was at the age when I wanted to look more grown up. In order to escape [looking cute], I would work out and try to appear more manly. I think fans like it when I do the cute things they ask me to do.
Fans still say you're cute.
Ah, but I'm in my mid-30s.. (laugh) I'm happy but honestly embarrassed. It's okay when it's just female fans but sometimes there are men, too, and it's really embarrassing then.
Other than musicals or music, what else gives Kim Junsu joy?
Mmm.. I don't know what it is that makes me happy but I'm happy. After a day's work, I lie on my bed and feel a sense of accomplishment and that makes me happy.
You've passed your teens and 20s and are now approaching your mid-30s. Has that affected your mindset towards work?
Yes. Comfort is most important. I like it best when my mind is at ease.
What does love mean to Kim Junsu? What kind of love and relationship do you dream of?
I think there's no greater blessing than to love someone and be loved back. It doesn't occur easily. It would be great to have that kind of love.
I heard you promised fans not to marry until you're 80 (laugh). Have you changed your mind on marriage?
I'm going to take this opportunity to say I never made such a promise. I only answered 'Really?" when fans told me that. I never promised them.. (laugh) Fans say they won't get married either but I've seen them getting married. Therefore, this contract is invalid. (laugh) They'll support me someday, right?
You are in your 19th year since your debut. Looking back, you've accomplished so much. What's the greatest realization you made through the years? What was the happiest and most memorable moment?
It's hard to say. If I had to choose one, I'd say it's my debut stage. I am here now because of that stage. I still remember it vividly.
If you could go back in time and talk to yourself as a trainee, what would you say?
From where I am right now, I'd like to say 'Don't have too big goals in life' but that might sound paradoxical. People will say, 'He's only saying that because he's already achieved a lot.' And I guess it's true. So I feel cautious saying this. Back then, I had nothing and had no choice but to work hard. Achieving my dream as a singer was the only goal I had. I think I'm pursuing comfort now because I've been through all that. Everyone has a time to work hard and a time to reflect. Everyone's peak differs. There isn't a fit-all right answer but I'd like to say "work hard because there will be payback for everything."
What was your driving force that enabled you to bear the hard times?
I don't tend to talk about these things but it's really thanks to the fans. The opportunity and recognition I received as a musical theatre actor despite not being on TV for about 10 years is all thanks to audiences and fans. Thanks to them I was able to meet my current management and I worked even harder because of the gratitude I held.
Which of life's values do you prioritize?
Stability and comfort. My values have changed a lot through time, especially since my military service. I used to really like glamorous and special things. Now I look for stability and comfort. They are the two things I'm living towards accomplishing. Wouldn't it be a happy life if I could live the rest of my days without big worries?
Are you comfortable these days?
Yes, and I'm trying to be even more comfortable than a year ago. Once I let go of my desires/ambitions, each day has become comfortable. Of course, I still have goals and spirit to take up a challenge. But for the past 19 years since my debut, I have been in a constant state of anxiety. I think it's okay to let some of that go now.
How do you feel about your fans who have been a constant source of support?
I feel thankful. I thank them and I'm thankful. [To fans] I will repay you. Let's continue the good relationship we have.
Finally, what are your goals and dreams for this year?
I have none. I think the year will come to an end when 'Xcalibur' is over. I hope to end the run without injuries or Covid-19-induced cancellations. I am aware that nowadays it's considered a success just to be able to perform on stage. I hope everyone will stay healthy, too! Thank you all.
From THE STAR Youtube: Show Me Your Bag