Although Ryeowook was bright and mischievous, as time passed he slowly revealed his nervousness. He appeared to be quiet and humble, but would often suddenly break out with an unexpected joke. His enthusiastic fans, who were camped out nearby our interview location, could hardly contain themselves when he joked with us. As he says hello with a bright smile, one gets the feeling that he’s just like the boy next door.
Due to time constraints, our interview did not last very long. Although we’d expected the usual rhetoric of idol group singers, he spoke with us as candidly and openly as possible. Instead of just listening to the usual phrases like “Thank you for your love” and “I’ll work really hard”, we were shown the real Ryeowook. He will will soon be debuting as a musical actor in the show “Temptation of Wolves”.
“An idol who’s ready to make noonas’ hearts flutter”
“I’ve said before through my entertainment company that I was interested in doing musicals. I thought it was appealing because I would be able to show everything I can do since I would be singing and acting at the same time.”
It was a fairly hot summer day. As soon as we sat down in the cool coffee shop, Ryeowook brought up the topic of musicals with a bright smile. In a time when people are always talking about whether or not idol singers should be taking on lead roles in musicals, Ryeowook showed his firm resolve about the issue as if trying to erase all concern.
The lead character in ‘Temptation of Wolves’, Jeong Taesung, could be best summed up with the line: “A role well suited for Kang Dongwon”. To take on the role, one must be mischievous and cute, while also dark and strong. The actor must be a young person able to steal the hearts of all the women in the audience, regardless of age. There was a lot of curiosity about who would be cast in this role, and so Ryeowook’s casting has been the topic of much conversation.
Although in Korea only a few members of Super Junior are well known to most people, on an international level Super Junior’s fandom has been growing by leaps and bounds. In each country, every single member has their own fan base. Ryeowook is both Super Junior’s main vocalist and its youngest member, and is loved for his many talents. He was accepted by SM after winning radio contests like the Starry Night Competition and Chin Chin Singing Competition, and has since been recognized for his comedic acting skills after his appearance in “Attack on the Pin-Up Boys.” When asked why he was chosen to play the role of Jeong Taeseong, Ryeowook replied “The visual?*” and then burst out in laughter, before becoming serious.
“I think that usually when I go on stage, the act of singing itself involves some acting. Even if I’m sad, I have to sing upbeat songs in a really energetic way, and even if I’m happy, I have to sing sad ballads in a way that will arouse emotion. I think of even just performing on stage for 5 minutes as acting, so the opportunity to have to perform for 2 hours in a long musical is really appealing to me. Although I’m not doing a traditional drama, I’ll still be able to act, as well as sing, so it seems like in a musical I’ll be able to show everyone all that I can do.”
Although he’s in the midst of show rehearsals, Super Junior is also preparing for its 5th album – meaning like most idols, Ryeowook will have to split his time wisely. The role has been triple cast, and Ryeowook says he’s getting ready for his first performance by watching the taped rehearsals of his sunbaes who are rehearsing separately. But he doesn’t try to hide the fact that he’s worried about taking on the role that Kang Dongwon had been so perfect for.
“Jeong Taesung is a role with many sides to it, as the character has to be able to act cutesy and loveable while calling out “noona, noona!” while at the same time fighting well and being gloomy and dark. Even when I was just reading the script I knew that I’d have to portray that kind of feeling, so I think I’ll have to practise a lot in order to portray the character well. Kang Dongwon’s version of the character left a large impression so it’s a bit burdensome – it seems like I have to make my own version of Jeong Taeseong, right? Like I’m really calling out for my noona [laughter]. In the script there’s a line that goes ‘It’s me, noona. Jeong Taeseong.’ I really want to make noonas’ hearts flutter when they hear that and make them think to themselves ‘Oh my, Ryeowook is calling me.’ [bursts out laughing]”.
Ryeowook watched “Temptation of Wolves” in the theatres when it was at the height of its popularity. He says when he watched the film again after he was cast in the musical, it really made him think. “There was a big difference in my reaction to the film between the time I watched it when I was a teenager, and watching it now in my 20’s. Also it made me think about how I had been dreaming of being a singer when I was a teenager. I’ve already achieved my dream of being a singer, but now I have new dreams. Through my performance, I want to convey the unique way that only teenagers can dream and love.”
A few of his sunbaes in his entertainment company have already appeared in musicals, such as Yesung, Sungmin, and Luna. Ryeowook has seen all of their musicals. Out of all of them, he was particularly surprised by Luna in “Legally Blonde.” “I knew that my fellow Super Junior members would obviously do well, but I was surprised when I saw how good Luna was.”
As the musical is a “idol hit song jukebox musical”, Ryeowook will likely be singing songs by groups like DBSK and Shinee, which before he had only seen performed. At the recent Paris SM Town concert, Ryeowook received advice from DBSK’s Changmin about how to sing their songs. He added with sparkling eyes, “Although singing Shinee’s songs myself will be difficult, it’s also really exciting.”
His entertainment company sunbaes like Sungmin and Yesung have taught him that acting is not something done alone. All the actors have to be in sync with each other, and achieving that sort of harmony requires much practice. Ryeowook earnestly confessed, “Every single person plays their own important role, so I’m so grateful that they help me to shine.”
“I can’t even go outside in Taiwan”
We conducted the interview right after Ryeowook had just finished up the Paris concert and returned home. I had to ask about the concert, which has become a topic of conversation nationwide. The concert really showed how popular Super Junior has become. Ryeowook, as the youngest member of Super Junior, said “Even we were really surprised.”
“Doing a concert in Europe was like a dream. Even right before we went on stage, I doubted that we were really in Paris. But then the audience went crazy for ‘Sorry Sorry’. I particularly remember how one black male audience member was cheering for me while holding a sign that said my name on it [laughter].”
Super Junior’s popularity in the Chinese region cannot be compared to that of any other singer. Their song “Miina” is currently in its 54th week of being number one on the Korean music charts in Taiwan. Their previous song “Sorry Sorry” had been first place for 34 weeks. Not only that, but Super Junior was also picked as the Korean Wave stars that international fans most wanted to travel to Korea with.
“We know how popular we are in foreign countries, but everyone in Korea, even our families, are still doubting us, asking ‘Is Super Junior really that popular in Taiwan?’ [laughter]. In Taiwan there were so many fans outside of our house that if we wanted to leave, we had to sneak out. If we were walking around on a main street, we’d be recognized right away.”
As they attempt to break into the foreign market through activities such as Super Junior M, they’ve built up fanbases in China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe, and even North America. He jokingly says “We have a joke that since we take plane rides every week, it feels like we eat inflight meals more than we eat in our own dorm”.
Out of all of the 10 members, Ryeowook has a big dream.
“I like to sing. In the future I think I’ll continue to do work that involves singing in some way. I even wanted to do musicals because they involve singing. Many people wanted to see a new image from me, and so I want to challenge myself. I’m excited about what I will do in the future.”
He also thinks about appearing on national variety shows. He shyly says, “Eunhyuk hyung told me I should go on more variety shows with them this time, but I don’t know if I could do as well as my hyungs.”
He’s currently immersed in preparations for Super Junior’s 5th album as well as the musical. At the same time, Kyuhyun and Luna will also be appearing in the musicals “Three Musketeers” and “Coyote Ugly”. He looks slightly troubled when asked if this doesn’t mean they will be competing against each other.
“I’m the same age as Kyuhyun, and since this is an encore performance and not a debut, of course he’ll do well. It seems like there’ll be a bit of competition but I have a lot to learn. I’ll take advice from him like I’m his hoobae [laughter].”
Now is the time for him to show his talents and skills. I look forward to seeing how the name “Ryeowook” will come to distinguish itself from the rest of Super Junior in the future.
*He literally said “Visual?” in Konglish here, meaning something like “Because I look the part?”.
Original source: Play DB
Translated by: Jubee at SJ-World.net.
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