I really like this article and their interview. Welcome back.
And thank you for finally saying something even though you are still being bashed for it.
TVXQ made a comeback last week through KBS' weekly music show "Music Bank." They had not changed in the sense that they gave a powerful performance of "Why (Keep Your Head Down)" but the TVXQ on stage was no longer a five-member group and instead a duo.
After members Jaejung, Yuchun and Junsu filed a lawsuit against agency SM Entertainment in July 2009, demanding for their exclusive contract with the talenthouse to be nullified, they formed trio JYJ which launched its activities last year. And leader U-Know Yunho and youngest member Max Changmin are now back under the name TVXQ.
Below are excerpts from a press conference with the two singers held in Seoul on Wednesday.
Q: You're back for the first time in a while. How does it feel to be performing on stage again?
U-Know Yunho: To be precise, it has been exactly two years and three months. I was very nervous and felt a lot of pressure. I practiced really hard as well, constantly telling myself that I need to do well but I caught a cold just four days before going on television for our first comeback performance. I was very worried because my voice wouldn't come out but I got IV shots and kept practicing. I think I was able to well thanks to everyone's support.
Q: It must've been difficult to decide to release an album by yourselves. Was there a certain reason or event that led you to reach the decision?
Max Changmin: We put on a duo performance for the first time during SM Entertainment's world tour "SMTOWN LIVE" last year and it was more nerve-racking than when we staged our comeback performance on television last week because we both felt anxious and restless to see what our fans would think. But our staff helped us out a lot and we received great response from our fans, many of them saying that they think we’d do fine even as a duo.
U-Know: We had halted on our activities to wait for our three friends, but two years passed and it seemed like we were getting forgotten. I once met a seven-year-old while I was out and when I asked which singers he likes the best, he answered Girls’ Generation and SHINee. I asked whether he knew TVXQ but he said he didn’t.
Max: When he’s talking to THE Jung Yunho! (laugh)
U-Know: Nah. (laugh) He may not have known us because he’s young but it made me realize that we’d been on quite a long break and that someone should carry on the name of TVXQ. And since we regard TVXQ as the sum of SM Entertainment who has been there to see us grow, the five of us members, and all of our fans who love us, this is how I want to put it.
The three have briefly left home and the two us have decided to take care of the house in the meantime so that TVXQ will not get forgotten. There are a lot of complex issues but I’m hoping they will all get solved for the better one day.
Q: I’m guessing you’ll have to approach your album in a different way from when you worked as a five-member group.
U-Know: We wanted to bring out TVXQ’s original style. One of our traits is that we will sing live accompanied by powerful dancing so that’s why we decided to go with song “Why.” And while before there was a lot of chorus to our songs, this time we fused our individual styles of singing together. There have also been changes to our parts. Max usually doesn’t rap a lot but he did in a song called “Our Game” and I used to be the bass singer for the choruses but I sing a lot of the high notes this times.
TVXQ member U-Know Yunho [SM Entertainment]
Q: What are the points you tried to emphasize for your performance for “Why”?
U-Know: TVXQ is strongly associated with powerful performances so we thought hard about how we could work with the dancers to give off the powerful image. “Why” itself has a rather heavy beat than being fast so we worked at including many fine movements within. That’s why a lot of people helped us out including Black Beat’s Shim Jae-won and Hwang Sang-hoon, the choreographers for Girls’ Generation and Super Junior, the choreographer for 4minute’s “Hot Isuse,” and the dancers for Lee Hyori’s “U Go Girl.”
Q: Max, you seem to stand more at the front of the stage this time and your dancing stands at more as well.
Max: From the start of our debut, U-Know was the guy people thought of when it comes to dance and I wasn’t that guy at all but it’s just the two of us this time so I didn’t want to bring our group down in the slightest bit when it comes to the performance. In other words, I didn’t want to seem less capable.(laugh)
U-Know: It’s the same for me as well, Max can sing high notes and he had the image he can sing well but not me. So I worked harder because I’d be working with him.
Q: In the ‘Thanks to’ segment of your album jacket, you wrote “Yunho, like a real brother who I have been through more thin than thick with.” I’m sure you two have grown closer to each other while experiencing various things.
Max: Our personalities haven’t changed ? we’re completely the opposite. But when you spend a lot of time with someone, you look for the good things and similarities in the beginning but discover one flaw after another. It doesn’t really relate to us but that’s also why married couples fight. (laugh) So we have our differences but we’ve come to respect each other more after accepting the fact that our differences are just part of who we are.
Q: In exactly what ways do you clash?
Max: They’re very small things but for example, when U-Know will drink out of the water bottle with his mouth to it or wear his shoes into the house… I feel bad over the fact that I may unintentionally be criticizing him but they’re things I just possibly can’t understand. (laugh)
U-Know: When I’m in a rush, I’ll sometimes go inside the house with my shoes on to grab what I’ve forgotten but he’ll immediately say, “You’re not going to take off your shoes?” He sometimes like my wife. (laugh)
Q: What do you do when you’re on breaks?
Max: We’re completely different. I’m more of the quiet type so I live like a loner (laugh) and U-Know likes to meet his friends from his hometown because he’s more active.
U-Know: Max likes going on the computer and I like playing sports outdoors. And I know I don’t look like it but I don’t like drinking too much. (laugh) Papparazzi’s, you can wait for me in front of bowling alleys. You don’t need to chase me all the way to the end of the world. (laugh) And Max sometimes joins me but me and my friends are very loud so he only comes when there aren’t too many people.
Max: I can’t get used to it. The bowling alley is not the place for me to be. (laugh)
Q: Max Changmin, SBS TV series "Paradise Farm" which you'll star in, will go on air starting late January. And U-Know Yunho, you've been cast in a drama as well -- SBS' "Poseidon." How's the acting coming along?
Max Changmin: I was able to reflect on myself a lot while filming the drama for the past six months on Jeju island. When you're part of a group, it's important that you show your individuality while also fusing with others. But if I may say so, I think I held back a lot and to exaggerate, I spent a lot of time cowering and sacrificing myself. And with acting, you need to become your character and express everything -- from the smallest details to the most fierce emotion -- but it felt like I forgot how to express my emotions by being in a group. So by taking on a drama, I was able to look back on how I'd been in the past and my personality, and now have a clear conscience. I had a very hard time with it but it'll be a time that I will remember for the rest of my life.
U-Know Yunho: There's a lot of things I gained through MBC drama "No Limit" although as you know, it hit a limit with its ratings. (laugh) There were a lot of things I was awkward with since it was my first time acting but I tried hard to improve with every episode and I myself felt I was getting better. I think my personality changed as well after playing my role as the Cha Bong-geun who goes through so many difficulties in life -- I've become more composed and positive. I've been doing music for six years now so I'd be lying if I suddenly said I like acting more than singing but I was able to learn a lot through acting. There's also the common denominator that if you add a melody to lines, it'll become a song. I've started filming "Poseidon" where Eric and Kim Kang-woo treat me very well. I'm trying to improve on my shortcomings that people pointed out from "No Limit."
Q: The things you experienced last year after three of your group's members left the agency last year must have been a lot for you two in your early twenties to handle. Have your values or thoughts changed due to it?
U-Know: I would say they have. I've become more positive. And the harder the time I was having, the more I walked. I went on the subway, riding it a full circle, went mountain climbing, ate street food... although I did disguise myself a bit. (laugh) And I felt quite a bit of warmth from such activities, which made me think that maybe I should be thankful that I'm experiencing such things now. I think I've come to think that everything will work for the better since I've experienced something like this at a young age.
Q: But don't celebrities usually hide or cut off contact with others when incidents like these occur?
U-Know: I didn't purposely try to expose myself but I just like people and I needed to organize my thoughts so I wanted to learn whether the road I'm taking as Jung Yunho is correct and if I'm judging correctly. That's how I came to release this album, after riding the subway and mountains, and I still don't know whether I'm on the right path but I think things will turn out for the better. More than anything, I think everyone is trying.
Q: What are your thoughts on the other three members?
U-Know: Come back soon.
Max: It may seem like we're battling each other and it’s becoming mentioned in the press as well which is why a lot of people are asking how we feel about the times we were a five-member group. But the times we spent together were precious, beautiful and fun so I believe that I and U-Know are just standing where we were before we debuted. We’d be denying the reason we’re here today if we denied those memories. I know that such battling may not be a pretty sight to see from a third person’s point-of-view but I’m just hoping that it won’t tarnish those memories.
U-Know: You all probably know that the five of us got along very well when we were together. We met because of the simple fact that we love music although our values may have changed along the way. To your previous question I asked them to come back early, which I hope they’ll give thought to from where they currently stand. I think we’re past the point where we can do something about what’s going on right now. It’s not like we exchanged money, we’re far apart from each other and the three of them have filed a lawsuit against the agency. We shouldn’t confuse fans anymore than we already have. Everyone should work hard at what they're currently doing and things will get solved somehow someday. And everyone, stay healthy.
Q: I think you may have resented them at one point as well.
U-Know: I was hurt. I was hurt about people. I think I got hurt even more because I’m the leader of our group. But I don’t think it’s mature to ask someone to listen to what I have to say. I was angry at myself and hurt a lot rather than resenting someone. I also didn’t have time to resent anyone.
Q: Is there a chance you guys may get back together if you reconcile?
Max: That’s not for us to decide. The outstanding issue is between them three and the agency, not us, so for that to happen, they and the agency will have to reach an agreement. They’ll need time to talk.
Q: Have you thought of contacting any one of them personally?
U-Know: We’ve been asked that question a lot but their phone numbers have changed so I haven’t been able to contact them first and they haven’t contacted me either. I saw an article saying that we have but that’s distressing to see because nobody would know the truth other than the one's who are actually involved.
Q: You said you don’t want to confuse your fans but there is speculation that “Why” gives off the nuance that it’s criticizing the three.
U-Know: There’ve been a lot of provocative lyrics to our songs so far. “Why” is about a man letting go of the woman he once loved but depending on the situation you’re in, certain songs will sound like they're referring to you. And that’s why some people have asked whether "Why" is meant to 'diss' them but I actually didn't know what that meant till recently. (laugh) Based on our current situation, I think even the lyrics to our past song “Triangle” would come off as a diss as well.
Q: But didn’t you think it could be interpreted in that way when you first got the lyrics to the song? Before you decided to release it?
Max: I don’t think we’d be able to change the minds of people who want to interpret our song that way even if we asked them not to. So we’re trying not to pay attention to such talk. We have no such intentions and however they may interpret it, we’re just grateful that they're showing attention to the song.
Q: After your latest album was released, Kim Junsu wrote on his Twitter account, “I had thought that all five of us were thinking of them as our enemy but I guess they weren’t enemy to all of us. Brother, we may be apart but this isn’t right… We used to have the same understanding.” What do you have to say about this?
U-Know: Well I don’t even know if he’s even talking to me when he says ‘brother’… although everybody and anybody would say it is. (laugh) But it felt like Junsu was making a mistake after I read his message. Not a lot of what he said was correct although I understand he may have his own thoughts on how he may be disappointed about certain things. But I don’t think it’s proper for him to have used the word ‘enemy’ to refer to people you’ve spent time with and are your teachers. However, I don’t think it’s my place to talk about it because I haven’t asked him about it and he hasn’t said anything. I just feel bad for our fans and agency because of how much talk there is about this these days.
Q: We’ve heard that you’ll be promoting your album in Japan as well. What are your plans for this?
U-Know: The Japanese versions of “Why” and “Maximum” will be released as singles in Japan on January 26. I think we’ll be meeting our fans there for the first time through our “SM TOWN LIVE” concert which is set to take place soon but other than that, we think it’s right that we meet with our fans in Korea first. We’ll then meet with our fans not just in Japan but throughout Asia and make many memories with them so we hope they’re looking forward to it.
Q: Any last words to your fans?
Max: I think you must’ve waited for us for so long. And we ourselves apologize for making you wait for us for so long -- whether it was because of us or not. So it’ll be important that we don’t let you down but more than that, we too will try our best to feel that we’ve really put in our best effort so that we won't be left disappointed in ourselves.
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* Reporter : Choi Ji-Eun
* Editor : Lee Ji-Hye
* Editor : Jessica Kim