Talk of the Cloud
GOT to be you
An exclusive conversation backstage with the only Thai member of GOT7
The calm before the storm
I thought of the idiom “The calm before the storm” when talking about the interview with a young Thai man who lives as a singer in Korea. Outside this white silent room where the sound of breath can almost be heard, an enormous number of fans are waiting for the appearance of the GOT7 member, BamBam – Kunpimook Bhuwakul, for est Cola BamBam One Man Show. The atmosphere of excitement, anticipation, and contentment overflows and fuses in front of the stage. The current of love has built up many hours beforehand and it will amplify many times louder as the superstar steps out.
As for me, I am in the Green Room with a few questions, a few minutes to have an exclusive talk with him, and the nervousness (hits) as if I’m about to take an exam.
When a fiery red hair boy sat down and sent me a smile, it came clear to me.
There. Here comes the storm.
Starting to learn what the real life is
The graph of BamBam’s life is different from the ordinary. While others are in junior high, 13 year-old Kunpimook left Thailand to be a trainee in Korea. He learned languages, singing, dancing, and practiced life skills outside the classroom until he debuted as one of the seven GOT7 members in 2014. There is a price to pay for starting to work at an early age. The missing childhood is exchanged with status, fame, and fortune which many dream of.
“There are (certain) things that I regret and (certain) things that I think are better off this way. What I regret is not having a childhood life. I don’t have any close friends in Thailand. That period of time in making friends in school and entering university together, is when I was training in Korea. However, it is good to start working at a young age. You can still change if it’s not right for you. It might be a little wasted, but there is still enough time to make decisions.”
“The best thing that happened to me after debuting is making my family members’ lives better. Before debuting, my house was very small. The zinc roof would leak every time it rains. Being able to change the living environment and the house is the best thing.”
BamBam turns 20 this year and is entering adulthood according to the international age system. At the same time, GOT7’s popularity is consistently increasing. Their songs start to win first place and (they) receive more various end-of -year awards. In addition, this boy band has recently finished a 4-region tour held in Nakhon Ratchasima, Chiangmai, Bangkok, and Phuket. They are the first Korean group to have performed across Thailand. The only Thai member then gets to work in his home country more often, and sometimes have solo schedule like he does this time. From the debut day until now, it is clearly evident that the boy has grown both physically and mentally.
“I’m not sure if I’m already an adult or not. But certainly, I have become more mature. I’m starting to learn what the real life is. I think I get to learn it earlier than many of my age. Most of them would be starting second year of university and haven’t been in the real society as much. I don’t have a social life in school but I get to meet various people. I get to learn to prepare for the future, what I have to do to get myself from where I am now to where I want to be.”
Learning outside the book
Singing, rapping, dancing, Korean and English – these might be in JYP’s practice rooms, but working experience can’t be taught. Life under the spotlight gives lesson after lesson for Kunpimook to grow exponentially.
“I might not have learned by the book, but I have learned quite a lot outside of it – whether it be associating with people or conducting myself. I might be young, but I don’t really get to spend my life as a youngster. I started to learn how to behave in various situations; what to do when meeting with the higher-ups; when there is a schedule – what are my responsibilities and what I have to be careful of; when should I have my personal time; how should I spend my free time.”
“This type of industry is highly competitive. It’s not easy to survive. When I was younger, I just did as I was told. Now, if I have a different idea, I will try to do what I believe in – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But as I learn about life, I started being able to read the game and knowing how to play it. Say if there is a schedule for a show, someone who doesn’t know how to play the game would not be prepared and would not know what the show is about, how to prep, what to say, and what the audience want from them. I’m not an expert 100%, but I started knowing what many want from me, what they want to hear me say, the things they are curious about pertaining me. So I will say things that they want to hear more than just things that I want to tell.”
Then how much truth is there in what we see – I wonder. If an idol’s actions on screen or on stage is scripted, the moment that Ahgases’ or fans’ expectations flock in – does Kunpimook’s identity gets somewhat washed out?
“No, I’m not faking or lying. If I have something they want to know – I tell them. If there is really nothing – I tell them there is nothing. There is no pressure. If people start to see what I am like, start to know who I really am, then I will speak the truth and I won’t only say the things they want to hear.”
Idol vs. Ordinary person
Many years of working allowed BamBam to see the goal he wants to reach. The young man knows that he wants to keep walking on this path, but that’s it, idols or celebrities are full of flesh and blood like ordinary people. BamBam said frankly that there were some days he really wishes he was just a teenager.
“Sometimes I want to end everything and go back to being an ordinary person. There were days when I thought if I were an ordinary person, I wouldn’t have to experience such things. It is quite difficult to describe my dream, but to put it simply; I want to be an inspiration for people. Many said they want to be like BamBam hyung/oppa. So I want to be an icon, not just to the kids who want to work in this industry. But by working here, I have to sacrifice many things, sacrificing freedom in order to do the things I like, sacrificing my childhood. So I want to be an inspiration in terms of working, and in being patient/persevering. But I don’t position myself as a superstar. I’m still me. I‘m chill. I go crazy on stage, and when I come back home, I go to the local market. (laughs)”
The eyes of the professional singer are full of sincerity and liveliness. In a few minutes ahead, BamBam of GOT7 will go out and spread joy to the people who love him. The red hair boy made an eye contact with me before saying clearly.
I want people to like the real me. They don’t have to see me as anything – just as BamBam is enough. If they don’t like it, it’s okay. It’s better than having to be fake it for people to like you. I don’t like that kind of things. I’m a chill type of person and don’t get dramatic about things. I’m not good at expressing sadness. If someone tells me ‘BamBam, cry’ wow I can never make my tear drop even once, I can’t cry, it has to be really sad for me to cry.
The sound of fans waiting for BamBam can be heard from outside the room. Our conversation ended with Kunpimook’s smile. He stood up, getting ready to be in charge of embracing the affection of people as a professional would. I kept my curiosity about the time BamBam lost his tear as I walk out – passing by hundreds of people who are waiting for him with hope and happiness.
It’s time for the storm to blow.