You’re My Destiny
The boy who b-boy, Lim Jaebeom, and the boy who came from Jinhae, Park Jinyoung, met in 2009. At the open auditions for Seoul’s JYP Entertainment. Even their wait numbers were 24 and 25, lined up next to each other; beating out 10,000 applicants, they were the unprecedented joint winners. They debuted together through [DREAM HIGH 2], and through the name ‘JJ Project’, released an album. With the group ‘GOT7’, they promoted and together these boys’ heart beat. And after 5 years, ‘JJ Project’ has returned. Now they are in their 20s. JB and Jinyoung whom participated in the composition and writing of all 8 songs were modest throughout the interview but their confidence and ambitions seeped through. The two men who said that without regrets, they poured everything (into the album) and they couldn’t recommend only one point so they ask (for listeners) to pay attention to everything – their profile, how are they so similar.
An indestructible relationship with Jinyoung; seems like our tombstones will be next to each other too
JJ Project whom gathered together again after 5 years released your album on 31st July. On (JJ Project’s) homepage, ‘track card’ videos were uploaded of you reading out a line out of the lyrics you’ve personally penned. The lyrics of ‘Fade Away’ are pretty strong. “You cover my mouth and call it love. This sucks. You make me forget the person I am.” Did this come from experience?
Experience and imagination. At first, the biggest topic of the song was, “The thing that hinders/blocks me.” In matching that topic, I wrote picking out from my experiences and imagination.
You participated in the composition and writing of the 8 songs. Which song was the hardest to work on?
‘Icarus’ and the title song ‘Tomorrow, Today’. The theme for ‘Icarus’ is clear but choosing the right words were hard so I thought about it a lot. For ‘Tomorrow, Today’, right from the beginning I couldn’t grasp the feel of what to write about. Park Jinyoung PDnim gave a subject/material but for me, I feel like writing the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the music (melody) is more important. Writing lyrics in order for the people in my age group having troubles in choosing their path to relate with was hard.
It is said that the first thing you do in the morning is to read out three lines from a book? Seems like because you like reading, it helps you in writing (lyrics) as well.
Ah, that’s something in the past. (everyone laughs) Now, the minute I open my eyes, I give my cats food.
Hearing that, you’re raising three cats right? They’re called Nora, Kunta and Odd? I was looking at the scar wounds on your arm and wondered if they were the works of (a) cat.
That’s right. But these scars are not from the cats I’m raising, but from stray cats. I give stray cats food and I tried to touch them (laughs). Whenever I meet cats when I’m walking around, if they’re not too wary/cautious (of humans) then I’ll head to the nearest convenience store and buy cans of tuna. I even leave the leftovers for them. Because there’s nothing else I can give them apart from that.
You are a cat butler to your very bone. I heard that you were away from Nora for a while and then brought her back?
Yes. Actually, the GOT7 members used to all live together in the dorm but now a few of them have left. At first, Youngjae and I shared a room but the boy suddenly developed a cat allergy. So I asked the other members for a swap but everyone turned me down (laughs). So I left Nora in a different place for a while. As the members left and we each started having a room to oneself, I went to bring her back and she recognized me. My parents were bringing her back and in the car, Nora kept crying. After I got on the car and went ‘Hi Nora’, she immediately stopped.
You’re saying that no one wanted to change rooms even though you’re the charismatic leader? (laughs)
I gave up (laughs). It’s not like I’m the kids’ sunbae or anything; we’re friends of around the same age doing music together. But it’s just that I talk to them in a straightforward way. If I talk in a roundabout way, I don’t know if the boys will be able to understand it well so it’s uncomfortable. However, I just talk very cautiously.
As you’re promoting as JJ Project, you’ve relieved yourself of the GOT7 leader title right? Honestly, on one hand, it’s comfortable right?
Of course. It feels much lighter. But there’s a different kind of burden. Because 2 people have to fill up the spots of what 7 people did. Also, it’s not that Jinyoung and I are extremely entertaining people. I’m worried that it may turn too serious.
We went to look up the interview you did 5 years ago when you first started promoting. JB was 19 then. In a question where you were to express in a word how your teens were, you said ‘Secretly’. How about JB’s 20s?
I’m still only 24. If you’re asking how it’s been up till now, then it’ll be ‘in vain’. There are people who say that you shouldn’t think too much and you should enjoy yourself in your 20s but on second thoughts, I could have worked a little harder, and I could have been more detailed and intelligent concretely so it’s regretful.
After debut, you’ve been continuously working hard, haven’t you? After JJ Project, you filmed for [DREAM HIGH 2], then you promoted as GOT7 and saw the great fruition.
I have a tendency to be like that. I keep thinking of the regretful moments. Even for this album too, I was satisfied at first but listening to it after the mastering I was a little disappointed. I thought ‘I could have done a little more (better), it’s too late to fix it now right?’ (laughs). I try to not lose my sense of chosim*.
Note: The heart/mindset one has when first embarking on something.
Since you touched on chosim, it made me think of something. You b-boyed before you joined JYP Entertainment as a trainee right? I heard that each time you practiced (for b-boy), you would eat 1000won worth of vegetable crackers?
Ah, back then there was no practice room so it was the period where (I) practiced at subway stations. As I was a student, I didn’t have money and because I was dancing, I got hungry quickly. Back then 3 rows of vegetable crackers cost 1000 won so I bought those and ate it as snacks.
And in JYP auditions, you were joint winners with Jinyoung-ssi right? Then you debuted as JJ Project together, filmed [DREAM HIGH 2] together, promoted as GOT7 together and now you’re back as 2. The two of you really have an indestructible relationship.
Exactly!! I think later on our tombstones will be next to each other too (everyone laughs). By chance, I saw a post fans wrote. The things I did (Jinyoung mirrored), and the thing Jinyoung did, I mirrored it exactly. Unconsciously.
Back in an interview in 2012, you answered ‘the floor’ when asked which step/floor JJ Project is on. How about now?
Still the floor. Although we’ve developed skills now but since we’re returning after 5 years, I have to think that we’re starting from the floor again. The music from 5 years ago and the music we’re releasing now too are completely different. And in the music industry now, there are so many talented people too (laughs).
Then I’ll change the question. For this promotion period, how far would you like to climb?
Um… If there’s 10 steps then about step 3.5? That exact spot where you’re on the third step climbing up to the fourth?
If you were to give a tip to the fans in enjoying/basking in the emotions for this album?
I can’t just recommend one. Please have a look at everything. I (we) paid a lot of attention to it. Not just musically but every aspect. I was afraid that my face and body would swell up so I didn’t eat in the evening and lost weight too (laughs). We paid attention from the music video to our outfits. Even as I left the work studio, I gave and received opinions through mail and worked really hard in order to create even better songs. Please have a look at everything (laughs).
‘The Day’ was a song written in the plane as I listened to a song and started missing my parents.
When JJ Project was decided to regroup, how did you feel?
I went to ask the company (reps) honestly. Why now of all times? I thought that GOT7 still have many things to achieve. But the reps from the company said that ‘You guys are the representative of GOT7; if you show a different side, it can help in growth of GOT7.’ I was taken by those words (laughs).
As you prepared for the album, it seems like you realized your own growth.
No matter how you look at it, there’s a little more freedom/easygoing than 5 years ago. Ah, also, my throat doesn’t hurt. During JJ Project’s first album, it was the ending stages of my puberty development and I didn’t sing much too. I only rapped so in the few instances where I sang, my throat hurt. This time my vocal chords have definitely became sturdy. Feels like I found the way to comfortably produce a sound.
The lyrics you wrote are very literary. Especially the lyircs for ‘Coming Home’. ‘When emptiness passes, cold breeze blows. When longing passes, the spring rain.’
Those are lyrics I wrote as I listened to New Age music on the plane. Suddenly I missed my parents so I was really gloomy. So I wrote those feelings down. As we worked on the album, I found a song that suited the lyrics.
Looking at the lyrics, you could say that the team’s color has changed a lot in these 5 years.
You can just think of it as being opposites. Back then it was really bright, wasn’t it? In the beat this time round, there’s youth included in the song so we will sing and dance.
Which song do you have the most attachment to?
My solo song called ‘That Day’. I wrote about something I really wanted to write about. The content of the lyrics are, “The day that I thought everything was good; thrown away so easily. The day that I thought the world was falling apart, I’m forgetting about that like it was nothing.” I’ve always lived thinking ‘Good thing aren’t (always) good things and bad things aren’t (always) bad’. No matter how sad or how happy you are, it’s reality that a year down the road, that memory becomes faint.
Do you get embarrassed or cringe when you read the lyrics that you wrote out loud?
I just think of this. ‘I need to do this. When this ends well, I just need to go home. There’s no time. I need to go quickly.” (laughs).
I looked up an interview you did in your early days of debut. You described your teens as ‘preparing’. If you’re to describe your 20s in one word?
‘Warming up’. (HC: Isn’t that exactly the same as your teens?) It is undoubtedly different. If you would compare it to working out, your teens is bringing your clothes along and your 20s would be you slowly warming up your body by running on the treadmill then getting on the bicycle? I’m just 24 so I haven’t started sweating yet. I think sweat would appear when I’m around 29.
In that interview, you described your ideal type in details. ‘When we’re in a cafe, I hope she’s a little talktative when we’re chatting; I hope she looks natural. It’s fine if she goes for surgery, as long as it looks natural to me. I hope her eyes are a little huge and her features are distinct. No bangs, long natural hair cascading down naturally like a goddess. Jeans, shirt and canvas shoes.”
I remember why I said that. That was influenced by [My Girlfriend is A Gumiho] that Shin Min-ah sunbaenim appeared on. Every time I receive a question on my ideal type, I tend to describe the female lead in a movie or a drama that left a deep impression on me. Therefore, right now I don’t have an ideal type. Because I haven’t been watching any love/romantic movies (laughs). Although I do watch a lot of movies.
You said your hobby was to watch movies alone.
I watched 5 movies in a span of a few days. ‘Dunkirk’, ‘Hedwig’, ‘Amazing SpiderMan’, ‘Maudie’ and what was the other one.. ‘Dunkirk’ was edited to intercross three perspectives like a novel so it was great. The running time was short so I like it even more. I cried watching ‘Maudie’. I cried knowing it was a biographical movie. I’m happy when watching movies alone. I don’t need to concern myself about anyone else and I can focus fully. And every time I watch a movie, I talk to myself. When a character does something unsatisfactory, I’ll be like “Aigoo why are you like that…” If there’s someone next to me, I can’t do that can I? (laughs)
You would be busy but you’re watching quite a lot. Is it the level of learning acting?
I watched them without any thoughts but people say to go watch and learn (laughs). No matter how well an actor acts, I think it’s hard to analyze that. Not too long ago, I went to the Pixar Animation Exhibition.
Don’t people recognize you when you go around like that?
If they recognize me and go “Jinyoung right?”, I’ll be like “Yes that’s right, shhh”. They recognize me but because they’re not fans, they don’t follow me (laughs).
You must be busy with this and that. In the JYP Pictures production of [Magic School], you’re taking on a role of a college student who has never dated and dreams of being a civil servant, right? Heard that filming has ended. Isn’t this your first time acting in a role where you’re in your 20s?
That’s right. Although it’s acting, I got to experience the ordinary life of being in the 20s by proxy so it’s nice. I was most envious of (the role) being able to live with his family together. I haven’t been able to go to my parents’ house in over a year.
As I was on the way here today, I went to your ‘fancafe’. You have a lot of interest in the fans so you have a nickname ‘Fan-Jal-Al*’? Looking at SNS, it caught my eye how GOT7 fans would go on holidays and bring along their official goods, GOTOON dolls, take photos of it and upload it. Did you know about this?
No. Really? (Manager: You haven’t seen it even once??) I don’t use SNS so I don’t know about this at all. Wah, I feel so sorry now. I’m really thankful. A holiday is your own time but to bring the dolls with you.. I should go look it up once this interview ends. When I go for a trip, I should bring along the goods, take a photo and upload it too.
Note: Fan-Jal-Al is a short form to mean ‘He/She who knows fans best’.
With regards to JJ Project’s return, the fans expectations are high. 5 years ago, at the question ‘Which step/floor is JJ Project on?’, you answered ‘20th floor basement’. With this album, how many floors do you think you’ll be able to climb?
Till 5th floor (above ground)? Because the 5th floor is where the JYP Management offices are. Our company’s top floor. (everyone laughs) With regards to this album, I have no regrets. I did everything that I could. Our stories are included. Please enjoy it.