[trans] 0517 esquire interview w jonghyun, part i
<Blue Night, It Was Jonghyun>
What Should We Do With Kim Jonghyun?
Shin Kijoo (referred to as “Shin” below): You told me you’d host <Blue Night> forever and ever, so can you explain to me what’s going on right now?
Kim Jonghyun (referred to as “Kim” below): My life is consumed with guilt right now.
Shin: Many people think it’s such a shame. Yesterday, Saturday April 1st, was the last broadcast of our “Midnight Spoiler” corner. And right after this interview, you have to go straight to Sangam-dong to proceed with the final live broadcast of <Blue Night, It’s Jonghyun>. There’s only about three, four hours left until midnight already.
Jung Woosung (referred to as “Jung” below): It’s time for listeners and fans alike to prepare their hearts. To prepare to let “Jjong-D” go.
Kim: Because I announced it on radio first. I felt that was the respectful thing to do for our listeners. Since the program airs every night at midnight, it could be disconcerting for me to suddenly vanish out of nowhere. And many of our listeners would wrap up their day by listening to <Blue Night, It’s Jonghyun>, so. It’s been a while since I made up my mind. It might have been around the end of last year, it took a little while because I was consulting people around me and deciding on the appropriate timing.
Jung: The period of time for you to wrap up seemed really emotionally taxing. When I was listening, I felt like, ‘He’s having to live the pain of saying farewell every single day.’ Jonghyun-ssi, you began to play your own songs quite often, as though you’d made a resolution. I had the sense that each day was like a farewell broadcast for you. Though today is truly the day of parting.
Kim: After I’d made up my mind about parting ways with the broadcast, each and every day was really precious for me. So I would choose to play the most romantic songs that suited the midnight time slot, the way you’d give music as a gift to a precious someone at a precious moment. I think that was my own way of saying goodbye.
Jung: It was a soft and gentle broadcast.
Kim: It wasn’t necessarily just like that, though. Shin Journalist-nim will know my tendencies, but…
Jung: This person right here? The journalist who specializes in film, economy, management, architecture, politics, and interviews! Why, how can you introduce yourself in such a way? Are you allowed to muddy the waters of journalism like this? Recruiting the help of Jonghyun, no less! Shin Kijoo begged you to introduce him like this, right? Be honest and tell me, I’ll keep it between us.
Kim: Haha, Journalist-nim is in charge of Saturday’s “Midnight Spoiler” corner on <Blue Night>. It’s a corner where we introduce movies. We’ve been greeting each other like that from the beginning, so it’s become like a signature.
Jung: So what I’m saying is, isn’t it due to coercion?
Shin: To be honest, eventually it got so that any time you didn’t introduce me like that, I felt a little disappointed.
Jung: So it was coercion. My suspicion was right.
Shin: My character got stuck that way, so what was I to do?
Jung: It wasn’t “stuck” that way, you grabbed it for yourself! In any case, the two of you met every Saturday for over three years. You must feel really regretful. (T/N – “Regretful,” as in they must feel it’s a shame they can’t continue to do radio together for longer.)
Kim: I started <Blue Night> in February 2014. And the corner that’s always kept its place since then is “Midnight Spoiler.”
Jung: My goodness, why?
Shin: What do you mean, “why”? I’m telling you, even though the PD-nims changed and the writers changed, I’ve been faithfully by Jonghyun’s side doing live broadcast with him every Saturday.
Kim: If we’re being totally honest, it wasn’t live broadcast. We did it live what, three times or so throughout the whole three years?
Jung: This is what I mean. I’m telling you, as you’re reporting you find, -- this is the type of editor-in-chief I work for.
Kim: It must be exhausting for you.
Shin: You know, we’re doing an interview with the last live broadcast of <Blue Night, It’s Jonghyun> just ahead. We started out with an emotional mood, so how did it suddenly turn into this? We even hugged each other after the live broadcast yesterday.
Jung: Editor-nim, I see you’re trying to change the mood by evoking sympathy. Mr. Journalist-nim-who-specializes-in film-management-interviews-and-evoking-sympathy.
Shin (ignores): The Kim Jonghyun I watched over the past three years was so, so busy. A Hallyu star that had to go to Japan yesterday, China tomorrow, South Asian the day after, even South America the next week. But despite it all, he consistently fulfilled his late night radio schedule duties. I was always curious what his source of motivation was.
Kim: Sometimes, people ask me what my life’s turning point was. Every time, I answer by saying that it was when I dropped out of school in the 10th grade. It wasn’t when I got into SM, or when I started making music. When I decided to drop out, I deviated from the life of the unspecified majority, and let myself free. And I can say that my second turning point was doing radio. More so than my debut, or when I published my book.
Shin: Why is that?
Kim: I think I used to have a narrow-minded perspective. When I get fixated on something, I have a tendency to see only that one thing as though I’m wearing blinders. It’s a disposition I was born with. But by doing radio, the scope of how I view the world became much wider. Just like it did the moment I dropped out of school.
Jung: How did radio “expand” the person that is Kim Jonghyun?
Shin: Through meeting Shin Kijoo?
Jung (ignores): Before and after becoming a radio DJ, how much and in what ways did you change?
Kim: For one, I got to have way more indirect experiences, so my ability to express myself artistically grew along with it. The breadth of my life itself became wider. I really love fantastical things. As Shin Journalist-nim already knows, I love the hero genre as well. It may be that I was always living in a fantastic, fairy tale-like world. But by doing radio, I became able to understand common, everyday stories too. For example, experiences I’ve never had such as working for a company or a part-time job. Stories about the minutiae of daily life. Things like making a mistake at work and getting in trouble with your boss, and being tired and disheartened by it. It’s impossible for radio to proceed as a medium without those kinds of stories, and it’s the only medium to which you can share all the mundane little details of that kind of story. I found myself peeking into the lives of the unspecified masses that I’d never imagined before.
Jung: As I hear you talking, the song you wrote called <The End of a Day> comes to mind. The lyrics that say, “Just like the bathwater that embraces you seamlessly.”
Kim: Truly, <The End of a Day> is a song I was only able to write because I did <Blue Night>.
Shin: You’ve worked hard. You’ve really gone through a lot. My dear, you are my pride.
Jung: Enough, enough!
Kim: (laughs) At first, I was burdened by the fact that I had to regularly sit in front of the mic every day. I’d quit school in order to escape that kind of regulated life. I find that kind of life hard to endure and get worn out by it quickly. It doesn’t suit my disposition. But maybe about a week after I’d chosen to do radio, I came to love the feeling of being inside a studio space every day at the same time so much. You could say it felt like I’d gotten a job and was working for a company. As you know, the profession of being an entertainer itself is really irregular. It’s a job where you live each day as though you’re working away from the office, but doing radio I got to “go to work” every day.
Jung: It seems as though you would have felt stifled, and stable, all at once.
Kim: It wasn’t easy. You develop an adverse reaction when you’re exposed to an unfamiliar setting. I don’t even like traveling. And when I have time off, I just like to stay at home. I tend to like being in a space that I can understand and am used to. But before I knew it, the radio studio had become so comfortable for me.
Shin: How long did it take? Until you felt comfortable.
Kim: I think it took about eight months. From around that point on, I started getting red in the face a little less frequently while broadcasting. And I got more comfortable with the production staff, and received a lot of help from them.
Jung: Was Shin Kijoo helpful to you? Surely not?
Kim: (Together, we would) Say we hate things that everyone else in the world likes. Express crooked ways of thinking. Reveal twisted inner thoughts.
Jung: What a bad hyung.
Kim: Since we have the same disposition, we suited each other well. How was it for you, Shin Journalist-nim?
Shin: Really, from some point on we started to click. As Jonghyun-ssi got relaxed in front of the mic, the radio studio became like our living room. From then on, I came to <Blue Night> every week just like I were going over to Jonghyun-ssi’s house. We did our broadcast like a bad uncle and nephew, or hyung-dongsaeng, or a pair of friends that would put on a movie and chat away. As you know already, I joined without knowing anything about the idol star, SHINee’s Jonghyun. It was like, now that I’ve come and seen him, it turns out he’s an idol! Or now that I see him again, it turns out he’s a Hallyu star. Rather, I was surprised seeing Jonghyun-ssi’s solo concert some time later. Because I realized the Jonghyun on stage is different from the Jonghyun in front of the (radio) mic. At first, the Jonghyun on stage seemed really amazing to me, but later on I was more proud of the person named Kim Jonghyun, who had broken out of the persona of SHINee Jonghyun on stage and was sitting next to me.
Jung: You really speak like an uncle.
Kim: You could say it’s heartwarming.
Shin: I feel like for the last three years, I’ve watched Kim Jonghyun grow and learn to communicate with the world and become a grown up.
Jung: Don’t cry already. Your eyes are too moist right now. Do you think if you met the Jonghyun from three years ago, he would feel like a different person?
Kim: Thoroughly so. If I traveled back to three years ago and saw myself, I definitely think I would feel like a different person. Though that’s impossible to do in real life.
Shin: Did SHINee’s other members understand the Jonghyun doing radio?
Kim: They often said it must be hard for me. And there were members that worried about me. Key especially worried a lot. He worried a lot about my health, too.
Shin: Live broadcast in particular really robs you of your soul. It’s inevitable that you’d get exhausted, going home after doing live radio from midnight to 2 o’clock in the morning. But I see you came to the radio studio to greet the world despite all of that?
Kim: It may be that I came running to radio in order to escape. I don't really like going outside. And I don’t really like having to meet a lot of people. I’m also afraid of trying new things. The radio now felt like my own personal space. It had become an escape hatch for me to greet new things without feeling awkward.
Shin: So you could say the unfamiliar world flowed into your own familiar space.
Kim: It became a mental refuge for me, but it also enveloped me with physical fatigue. You could say it was a space of love and hate.
Shin: I was amazed by how a person who finds unfamiliar places this hard to bear could shed all his clothes so easily on stage. You could say it was like tutoring a dongsaeng for Film every day in the living room, and one day, suddenly seeing him showing off his muscular physique on stage.
Kim: I think that’s simultaneously one of the greatest advantages and disadvantages of the profession of being an entertainer. Shin Journalist-nim is one of few people who understands quite a bit about what kind of person I am on a human level. That was how he understood Kim Jonghyun, so when he saw me as a singer, it felt different. It was shocking, and alien to him. And if he sees that side of me, and thinks ‘This is how Kim Jonghyun creates Kim Jonghyun on stage,’ I’d be thankful.
Shin: I think I’ve even thought about which one is the true Kim Jonghyun.
Kim: They’re both the real Kim Jonghyun. Only, I think it’s important which one I feel more comfortable with. Before, I think I was more comfortable being “the singer Kim Jonghyun.” Because that image of Kim Jonghyun was the one that was first exposed (to the public). Because it was the one I was used to. But that changed when I started doing radio. As I started expressing my human side to others, I became quite comfortabe with the image of Kim Jonghyun that I revealed through radio. And thanks to <Blue Night>, I was able to release my Collection albums and do small theater concerts.
Shin: So you came to be able to approach people on a more intimate level.
Jung: Radio has truly played an immense role. Now that I think of it.
Kim: In a little while, <Story Op. 2> is going to be released. I’m going to continue releasing two types of albums like this. Music that has elements of fantasy and allows for performances, and music that contains ballad, jazz, and acoustic sensibilities like the ones that are included in my Collections.
Shin: Kim Jonghyun of SHINee, and Kim Jonghyun of <Blue Night>.
Kim: In a way, if SHINee’s music contains the idealized version of myself, the music in my Collections shows a side of me that’s more ordinary and human. I plan to continue differentiating the two even more distinctly from here on out.
To be continued with Part II soon!
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