JUNGWON - Leader
ENHYPEN’s leader JUNGWON isn’t easily shaken even when bad things happen. It’s because he believes there is a solution to every problem.
How does it feel to finally debut?
We’re on music shows, we’re doing a lot of promotional activities, our videos are on YouTube and social media, and even MR removed videos are being uploaded. These videos used to feature other idol groups, but now that I see our faces in them, the fact that we have debuted is slowly sinking in.
It must have been difficult getting ready for your debut right after I-LAND ended.
We didn’t have much time until our debut. So our biggest priority was to perfect our debut performance, and once it was ready, we tried hard to become a tight-knit team. Trainees usually spend years together before they debut, but it’s been less than a year since we became a team.
You must have put in a lot of effort.
We practiced “Given-Taken” so much. (laughs) We did practice “Let Me In (20 CUBE)” a lot too, but not as much as “Given-Taken.”
Which performance did you particularly enjoy or focus on at the DEBUT SHOW?
“Let Me In (20 CUBE)” is a cheerful song, and it has a lot of jumps in the choreography, so we had a lot of fun performing it.
What did you want to emphasize in the choreography of “Given-Taken”?
NI-KI is an incredible dancer. So I copied NI-KI’s moves and added my own feel. But if I did things too differently, the details of the movements would change. So I would adjust the angle of my head just a little bit. But then, if I lower my head while I perform “Given-Taken,” I would look like I am glaring so I tried to be mindful of that.
In the last episode of I-LAND, your role model Jung Kook said you were memorable because you were really good. The DEBUT SHOW featured “Given-Taken,” “Let Me In (20 CUBE),” “10 Months,” and “Flicker,” which all have completely different moods. You must have worked hard to put on the best performance for each concept.
Some people are born with expressive faces, but that’s not the case for me. So I practiced making pre-planned expressions for each part. I believe that idols should be good at everything. So I think the point is to be well-rounded and do everything well. Jung Kook became my role model because he’s good at everything. He’s very laid back on stage. So I take inspiration from his relaxed expressions and strong vibes - “Boy with Luv” for relaxed expressions, and “ON,” as well as the solo performance of “My Time” from the recent concert for strong vibes.
I can tell that “ON” is the kind of performance you want to do. (laughs)
I’d like to try really difficult performances like that. I was actually hoping to do that for the final test of I-LAND. That’s the kind of performance I wanted. But I also liked our final performance.
How was it like acting in the “Given-Taken” music video? Your nose is bled from the first scene.
The scene where I wipe off blood wasn’t very difficult but the weather was so cold that the fake blood would harden as soon as it’s put in my nose. So the scene took about an hour to film because of that. I was also worried that I might look ugly getting a nosebleed and wiping it off.
Some of the scenes from the music video are quite scary. What was it like on set?
First of all, it was freezing (laughs), and there were eyeballs and fangs for props, but they were all made of jellies. When we had to look into each other’s eyes, we would burst into laughter, so we had to retake the scenes quite a few times. We laughed so much when we got bitten on the neck, we made a few bloopers.
When I watch videos featuring ENHYPEN, like the ones on V LIVE, you seem to have a keen eye for the things happening around you. How does that help you as the leader?
There are times when we have issues as a team, but sometimes, two members might be at odds with each other and get hurt while the rest of us don’t know anything about it That can ruin the atmosphere when we’re on site. So I think it helps me notice those things and solve those issues, but it’s still not easy for me to go up to them and talk about those matters. It’s because of my personality, and I’m still working on it.
As the leader, I am sure there are times when it’s hard for you to decide whether you should bring up certain matters or not.
So we made rules on that. If everything goes well at work, that’s good, but you can’t always guarantee that. And if our feelings are hurt, that’ll affect our performance. So we agreed to put work above everything else and deal with the other issues later when we come back home.
I heard that the leader was decided after a lengthy selection process.
We all thought HEESEUNG would be the leader until the day before we had that meeting on “ENHYPEN&HI.” But then he called me over before bed and told me that he wanted me to be the leader. He thought it would be better if he remained a team member and the oldest member because if the oldest member also becomes the leader, the other members might be hesitant to express their opinions clearly. And he said the pressure that comes with being a leader can change people.
Did he say anything else or give you advice?
HEESEUNG was under a lot of pressure when he was the leader on I-LAND. So he already experienced all that and thought I might struggle in the same way. He told me that he doesn’t want me to feel too much pressure, and this is something he mentioned very casually, but he said if I know something, I should pretend I know more, and the members will have more trust in me. That’s a little trick - a tidbit he taught me. (laughs)
I’m sure you take care of the members a lot, but how do you take care of yourself?
I don’t usually get stressed out much, but when I do, it gets overwhelming. When that happens, I talk with HEESEUNG a lot. He catches on quick, so he lays it out for me. So I share my feelings with him and talk to him about my struggles, how I’m doing, and how I should deal with certain issues.
When you were asked what kind of leader you want to be, you said you want to be a friendly leader. Is there a reason why you think allowing everyone to voice their opinions freely should be the top priority?
This is something I’ve felt ever since we filmed I-LAND, but if we keep things to ourselves, we’ll end up with people who are dissatisfied. I think we have to include everyone’s opinions as much as possible. And since we’re going to work together as ENHYPEN for a long time, no one should be left behind, and that’s why I think communication is the most important. We promised we’d settle any issues or matters on the day it happened. So we have meetings at home about three to four times a week after work.
I’m sure you learned many things and grew while filming I-LAND, including how to be a leader. I noticed that whenever you receive feedback about your performance, you would look for ways to improve instead of being discouraged.
My usual priorities are to practice dancing, singing, and live performance. But when I receive feedback about something, that becomes my top priority, and I practice it more.
So after receiving feedback and practice, did you ever feel that you’ve improved a lot in a short period of time?
This is a behind-the-scenes story (laughs), but when we were filming I-LAND Part 1, I got a lot of negative feedback even off camera. I wasn’t able to make much progress until the fourth performance of Part 1. But when we had a break before filming Part 2, I looked up different idol group performances and studied their facial expressions at the training studio and tried to copy them. Later, when I took the first test of Part 2, I felt like I had grown a lot.
On “ENHYPEN&HI,” members picked you as the member who can stay calm when bad things happen. What is your secret to maintaining composure?
I have a hard time, too if there’s a huge crisis. (laughs) But most of the time, I just try to ignore it. I believe there is a solution to every problem so I think it’s best not to think about the problem and just focus on the solution. When things got tough during I-LAND, I tried to ignore everything and worked on the solution right away, and I think that has been helpful even until now.
Do you think you were born with that kind of personality? Or has it changed after you experienced that big event of your life, I-LAND?
I am a very shy person, and I don’t usually wear my feelings on my sleeve, but I was really stressed out. But I think I’ve found a way to let go of stress while filming I-LAND. I talked a lot with the other trainees during that period. I even cut back on sleep to talk, and the producers would tell us to go to bed. We had to wake up at 10 a.m. the next morning, but we would talk until 6 a.m. Even when we finished practicing at 2 a.m., we would keep talking after taking off our microphones. We were all very anxious so I think talking to them often helped me hold myself together.