[TRANS] 'Star Born in the Year of the Rooster' EXO's Kai

"Lately, my passion is firing up like a fighting rooster. The year of the rooster, because it's my year."

The past 2016 was a year of regrets in various ways for Kai who is the first pick for the 'dancer' of the nation's top idol group EXO. The team was successful as usual, but (Kai) personally couldn't commit to (EXO's) activites only due to injuring his ankle twice and devoting himself to rehabilitation treatment for 4 months. That could be the reason why 'born in the year of the chicken' Kai's determination to face 2017 is unusually different. In a recent meeting (with Kai), he was very much anticipating the year of the rooster like a cockfighting rooster raising its cockscomb.

- EXO's activity in 2016 was amazing.

"Personally, it was a year that made me feel a lot of regret. I liked that the members' individual activites increased, giving them more opportunities to show each of their own charms and talents, but because of that, our whole group activities decreased a little. It means our chances to directly meet our fans were small. Our (number of) fansigns also decreased compared to the year before. Apart from whether our song becomes a hit or not, doing a lot of activites, having time to communicate with fans, and standing on stages as a whole group more often is my personal wish.

2016 might have felt different for each member. There were members that did acting or unit activities, and there were members who spent that time practicing to develop/hone their skills. Each of the members were able to look back at themselves from their own positions, and I think it was a year that allowed us to think about what we each did well and what more we must do."

EXO, including Kai, achieved successful results more than any other team with their enormously strong fandom as the base/background. Their 3rd full album released last June set a new record making EXO a triple million seller (third time selling more than a million copies of an album) following their 2st and 2nd full albums, and they also swept music charts and received loved with their collaboration track 'Dancing King' with Yoo Jae Suk. Apart from their group (activities), their unit and solo activites were also lively, with member Lay's Chinese solo album 'Lose Control' and Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin's unit 'ChenBaekXi (CBX)' gaining attention. D.O also played the main role in the movie 'Hyung (My Annoying Brother)'. EXO also released the winter special album 'For Life' last December and it was a show of their hard work. However, it was also a year that left regret for Kai personally. It's because he has to devote himself to 4 months of rehabilitation training for 4 months due to his two-time ankle injury, and because he had to show fans (the image of) himself sitting in a wheelchair.

- What kind of year was 2016 to Kai

"Personally, it was a year that left regrets. I also showed the fans me moving (to a schedule) in a wheelchair because I hurt my ankle badly. I also couldn't properly dance, which I like (to do) so much, because I has to do rehabilitation training. I also received much stress because I was worried that I would get hurt again. That could be why I felt my recovered self firing up in the end of 2016. I'm doing self-practice for at least 8 hours (at a time) and firing myself up like a cockfighting rooster. I'm anticipating this year. Year of the rooster, because it's my year."

- If you could pick the moment you liked most following EXO's debut

"I don't think I can pick just one. Firstly, I remember the date of our debut showcase, March 31, 2012. There wasn't a reason for me to show my performances to other people before this, and truthfully it was my first onstage experience. The audiences' cheers, the trembling I felt. I don't think I'll be able to simply forget it. I was really nervous before getting up onstage, but when I got onstage I started smiling/laughing in the moment that we were waiting for the music to come on. I was so excited that I couldn't dance a dance that I was satisfied with.

I also remember May 2012, the Dream Concert we went to right after our debut. It was at the Seoul World Cup Stadium and we sang Super Junior sunbaes' 'Sorry Sorry' at that time. All the members were very nervous because it was such a huge stage. Before we went onstage, all the members gathered, yelling loudly, shaking off each other's nerves, and gave each other strength. So I think in that moment, our members were all happy and full of fighting spirit before we got onstage. When we talk amongst ourselves, we often remember that moment. Receiving a daesang at music awards are also always emotional/moving."

- What is a moment that was most regretful or difficult until now

"It was really hard when I injured my ankle for the second time last year. I rested for 4~5 months. It wasn't easy to escape depression and sadness. It hasn't been that long since I fought those feelings. I'm normally a person that practices diligently, is happy to dance, and enjoys standing on a stage more than anyone, but because I injured my leg, I couldn't dance or do the things I wanted to do. I fell into a slump.

My body recovered, but it's not 100% yet. Until just a while ago, I had the burden/worrying feeling of injuring my leg again. Also the burden of whether I can do well. I guess at some point stress piled up because I was hurt for a long time. I need to dance happily even when I'm practicing, but I realized the fact that I wasn't practicing and was resting often even after my recovery. At some point I started to wonder what I was doing. I also couldn't be satisfied monitoring my performances. Should I say it was like the fireworks in me are becoming smaller?

At around September~October of last year I made a resolution, that I couldn't be like this. Now, on days when we don't have schedules, my day consists of practicing only. 5 hour dance practice, 2~3 hour acting class, 3 hour singing class, and when I'm done with all that it's 2 a.m. I'm really anticipating this year. I still personally feel like I've sort of lost my touch onstage. I'm anticipating my sharpened self (a Kai who is back to normal 100% strength, if not better)."

trans cr: @ctribeat
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