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30 January 2009

[TRANS] Tohoshinki SHINE 2nd Artist Book Interview - Changmin

Q: What is the happiest thing that has happened to you since you’ve debuted in Japan?
A: The happiest thing was the final show of our second tour at Budoukan. It’s a bit embarrassing to say this myself, but in Korea Tohoshinki is a group loved by many people. But when we started holding activities in Japan, we were newcomers with no achievements in Japan of any kind. So we would be singing on very small stages, and when we compared this to Korea there were a lot of feelings of vexation and loneliness….Those kinds of memories came to mind when I stood on the stage of Budoukan. I was extremely happy at that time when I thought, “So we’ve come to have this many people love us even in Japan.” It was a moving moment.

Q: What kind of image was reflected in your eyes at the moment you actually came out onto the stage?”
A: There were so many guests that had come. I could see many red lights. I tried to hold it in, but at the moment I witnessed this scene, it was like my tears were already going to fall.

Q: It’s been often said that Budoukan as a venue feels like you are being enveloped by the audience, but how was it really?
A: It certainly did feel like we were being enveloped by the audience. Even though Budoukan is a large venue, when you stand on the stage the distance between you and the audience is nearer than you’d think. And because of this we became even more passionate (about our performance).

Q: Could you see the audience members’ faces properly?
A: I could see them clearly.

Q: I see. Next, what’s something that made you sad?
A: I think coming to hold activities in Japan, the saddest memories I have were caused by, as expected, Japanese. I really felt that, “No matter what kind of things I feel, if I cannot express them properly, they really become completely meaningless.” In the period immediately after we first came to Japan, I always carried around painful thoughts. Even our staff members, because I couldn’t hold deep conversations with them to find out what they were thinking when they were working for us, I didn’t know these things, and at sets or wherever, even if I had any questions, because I was totally unable to comprehend what they were saying in Japanese, I was full of uneasiness. There was also a period of time where I closed my heart up a little because of those kinds of things happening. I couldn’t express anything, and nothing could be expressed to me, so I created a sort of distance between myself and others; I might have come to behave so that people would not try to come closer to me…..But now, I’m getting used to even Japanese a bit at a time, and thanks to many staff members, I’ve come to be able to communicate well. But because I am still unable to hold conversations as smoothly as I imagine, I think I must study more.

Q: That’s true. And now I’d like to ask about “enjoyment”.
A: Yes. Something I enjoyed was “a-nation”. Last year only four of us participated because our leader Yunho got injured, but it was so much fun. Though I’m really apologetic to Yunho for saying this (laughs). Because in Korea there aren’t any of that kind of big open-air event tours, and it was the first time we got to experience them. Holding a big event while going round the different regions, there were lots of really fun happenings!

Q: What is a country that has left a deep impression on you, or what are memories of a trip that you’ve taken?
A: For me it’d be Prague in the Czech Republic. We went there for work in Korea, but I used lots of time to walk the streets of Europe. But of course we did nothing but work, so you couldn’t really call it sightseeing (laughs). But because it was a city I was experiencing for the first time, whether it was things to see or things to hear or things to eat, I had a deep interest in anything. The scenery was really beautiful. There were many houses preserved on the streets that had a sense of nostalgia, so it was so beautiful that no matter where we took a picture it’d be good enough to put in our photobook.

Q: Was the food alright?
A: I……it doesn’t matter what country I’m in or what kind of food it is, I can eat anything well (laughs). Since getting to experience that country’s peculiar foods is also one of the thrills of travel.

Q: That’s true. That’s something I really understood when I had a meal together with you at a restaurant in Okinawa. After all, you did really well eating goat testicles (a delicacy) too (laughs).
A: I became reealllllyyyy energetic eating those.

Q: You were having a slight cold on that day, but you became energetic?
A: That’s right! There might be people who will think this is a lie, but the next day after I ate that my physical condition got a lot better (laughs). If it’s for health, I will challenge anything.

Q: You seem like someone who is rather able to monitor their health closely, don’t you? For example, what kinds of things do you do in order to maintain your health?
A: At home, if there’s even a little time I’ll use dumbbells or do weight training. I build up my body with a machine.

Q: Is that so? By the way, what kind of personality do you yourself think you have?
A: I am clear about what I like and dislike. There’s that personality assessment based on your blood type, right? I think I am a perfect B type (laughs). I have a bit of a quick temper and get angry easily. But if I decide, “I’m going to do this”, I will definitely unshrinkingly do it all the way till the end!

Q: Which foreign artists do you like?
A: Recently…well I’ve been listening to them a lot from a long time ago, so can I list more than one? Stevie Wonder, Bryan McKnight and the gospel artist Yolanda Adams, as well as Eric Benet and lastly, Connor Reeves.

Q: That’s a wide range of genres!
A: Recently I’ve been more aware and am listening to a wide range of genres. Yolanda Adams is extremely good at singing so I admire her as an artist as well. I’ve liked Eric Benet since his first album.

Q: Eric Benet’s newest album, Hurricane, was a good album, wasn’t it? I liked Cracks of my Broken Heart.
A: Lately I’ve been totally engrossed in listening to him. Speaking of, as an addition I like George Michael as well. What these two have in common is probably their genre as artistes, I think. George Michael and Eric Benet sing from R&B to jazz to electronica, it has nothing to do with genres. Both of them also have soft singing voices.

Q: How about Japanese artists?
A: The one I’ve liked for a long time, ever since being in Korea, is the Gospellers. But of course there are many people in Japan who can sing well, like Kubota Toshinobu, Lyrico and so on. Earlier Jaejoong said out of Korean artists he respects Naul, but I respect that person even more than Jaejoong does (laughs). I’ve really liked him from a long time ago; I remember when I met him for the first time I was so nervous my heart was really beating fast. Speaking of, before this we got to meet the Gospellers for the first time and had the opportunity to practice together. At the rehearsal for an event (”SOUL POWER SUMMIT 2007″). I was really nervous at that time too. It was the first time I had felt as nervous in Japan as I had when meeting Naul in Korea. I think they are Japan’s number one male group and artist.

Q: Which song do you especially like?
A: It’s just one of the many, but as expected, it’s “Towa ni”.

Q: Your favourite artist in Korea is, as expected, Naul?
A: That’s right, and I also respect Cho Yong Pil as an artist, as well as our producer Yoo Young Jin (has written famous songs by S.E.S, SHINHWA, BoA and other SM artists. Also composed DBSK’s Rising Sun and “O”-Jung.Ban.Hap, and others). This is something I always feel when Yoo Young Jin is recording with me right next to me, but he is really good at singing. I think you could call him the Stevie Wonder of Korea. He is someone who really has a great talent for singing, but he is a humble person. I admire him as a person as well.

Q: Changmin, do you not compose songs like the other members?
A: I don’t. I feel instead of being fixated on composing songs, there are still things that I should be doing. I want to increase my level of proficiency in Japanese too, and I also feel I’d like to pursue “songs” a bit more. I think if I start composing I’ll definitely become too engrossed in it (laughs). But now, my feeling of wanting to properly learn other things more is stronger.

Q: Right now, you want to energetically work on your performances and singing in Japanese, don’t you? Do you feel, “I’d like to compose sometime”?
A: That’s right. Since the other four are doing it, there is a part of me that is influenced by them after all. But right now, what I pay attention to when I listen to music is the singer’s voice or method of enunciation. Certainly, I pay attention to even the arrangement of the music and so on, even though I don’t know it. But because composing songs is really difficult, I don’t want to do it yet (laughs).

Q: How about composing lyrics?
A: I have an interest in composing lyrics. Please look forward to it in the future!

Q: Right now, is there anything you’re addicted to?
A: Recently I’ve been watching movies a lot.

Q: What kind of movies have you watched a lot of?
A: I especially like sad movies.

Q: Are you the type to cry when you watch sad movies?
A: I do cry (laughs). There’s a saying in Korea that “People with big eyes have a lot of tears”, which means “People with big eyes cry a lot” - that’s in referral to me (laughs).

Q: What was the movie that made you cry the most recently?
A: Out of the Japanese movies, “Love Letter”. I watched that yesterday and cried again. I think I’d like to watch a lot more sad Japanese movies in the future.

Q: Is there anything you feel, “This is the one thing I definitely have to try and do!” about?
A: I think I’d like to go on a world trip. Because there are lot of countries I still haven’t been to, I would like to broaden my horizons more.

Q: What kind of trip would you like to take? For example would you want to go round the world by ship, or traverse the continents by car..there are lots of methods, aren’t there?
A: I’d like to take a trip around Europe by train. I’d also like to go to America. America is one country but made up of 51 states, so even laws differ by state, and cultures differ slightly too. I think each state almost feels like its own country, so if I made a trip there it feels like I’d be able to experience all sorts of things. I want to have lots of different experiences.

Q: In America music also differs according to area, doesn’t it? Like if you go to the Midsouth there’s the blues or country music and stuff.
A: Japan is like that as well. Okinawa’s music and Fukuoka’s music are also a little different, and so is Sapporo’s. Each place’s distinctive characteristics differ slightly.

Q: A trip taken while being able to feel that kind of thing would be a good thing, wouldn’t it?
A: That’s right.

Q: By the way I’m just going to change the topic here, but if there was a time machine here right now, which you of which time do you think you’d like to meet?
A: I’d like to go and meet the me of my middle school days.

Q: And why is that?
A: In Korea there is a teaching that studying is the easiest thing you can do. “Because your studies will be easier than any kind of job you can get, if you don’t study while you are young, you will suffer later on.” There is that kind of teaching in Korea. That is something that I too feel now and then, nowadays. I think that doing my best at normal studies, and entering a good university, that would be easier or should I say, simpler to do, than going out into society, and performing a special job. So I want to meet the middle school student me, and I want to tell him, “You’d better study properly.” (laughs)

Q: If you hadn’t become a member of Tohoshinki, what do you think you’d be doing?
A: I think I’d be enjoying a campus lifestyle now.

Translations: Pinkulemon

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