Super Junior has proven to be not a mere flash in the pan.
YOUNG K-pop fans may kill for the chance that we’ve had: go backstage during M Countdown, a popular cable television music programme.
Stepping inside the place, an immaculately-styled Sung Min, a member of Super Junior, whizzed by us. Further ahead, in the room with the group’s name on the door, there was Shin Dong having his violet-coloured hair styled, as Si Won stepped out to greet the interviewers.
With its 10 members executing dance moves and addictive tunes in perfect unison, Super Junior is topping the charts in South Korea, Taiwan and China, and selling out seats in the Tokyo Dome in Japan. But that hasn’t stopped the group and its talented members from evolving.
When they made their debut seven years ago, they were still very much music and fun loving boys, with the youngest Ryeo Wook in his late teens.
But after the release of their sixth album in July this year, the Super Junior members we met were confident, suave young men who evoke the album’s title, Sexy, Free & Single.
“Yes, we thought about slowing down on activities like appearing on entertainment programmes, acting or other things. But it’s our participation that propelled us, in a synergistic way with our music, to our current position,” said Lee Teuk, leader of the group. “We want to be able to continue as Super Junior for a long time to come, we would like to be national idols so I don’t think we will be slowing down.”
Super Junior commands some very devoted fans not only in South Korea, but throughout Asia.
“Allow me to speak frankly. We have no rivals in South-East Asia, and particularly in China,” said Ye Sung with a deadpan look. There is, however, a glint of humour in his eyes, making one wonder if he’s serious about the group’s success.
“I think the fans like our approachability and our good looks,” said Lee Teuk.
“I’ve read a lot on what foreign fans wrote on the Internet. That’s what they said ... we’re good looking,” Eun Hyuk chipped in.
It was at this point that they made it obvious that they were joking and bantering among themselves, having a good time in knowing that their hard work over the past several years has paid off.
Since their debut in December 2005, they have worked doggedly not only in music, but appearing in popular entertainment programmes to increase the group’s exposure. They also performed in South-East Asian markets, where other big name groups like TVXQ were cautiously knocking on doors.
“In the early 2000s, not many South-East Asian nations were open to K-pop concerts. But after our performance, things changed. You can say that K-pop grew as we grew,” Lee Teuk said.
The universal appeal of music, heightened interest in South Korea and collaboration with leading world musicians and choreographers also helped. “We also work with world-class talent on our music,” the leader added, elaborating how the group’s songs gained fame worldwide. The choreography for Sorry Sorry was done by Nick Bass and for Sexy, Free & Single, the choreographer was Devin Jamieson.
The fact that they have the most members – a total of 12, but currently only 10 are active as Hee Chul is serving military duty while Ki Bum is focusing on acting – works to their advantage.
The individual activity of each member is what keeps the fans focused. By pursuing different interests, the members are showing to fans qualities that can get buried in a group.
Members like Lee Teuk, Eun Gyuk, Kyu Hyun and Shin Dong frequently appear in entertainment programmes as emcees and also as guests. “I would like to be a next-generation MC,” Lee Teuk stated boldly, only to laugh sheepishly when we noted how his eyes were burning with ambition. Kyu Hyun shared the same ambition.
The others Si Won, Dong Hae and Ye Sung chose to focus on acting while Sung Min is nurturing dreams of starring in more musicals.
“I would like to represent the face of Korea so that people know there is a Choi Si-won in Korea,” Si Won said.
Kang In, who has just returned from military service, said he would like to be more involved in musicals and music writing. So does the youngest member, Ryeo Wook.
However, they are not turning their backs on music in any way.
Since its debut, the group has swept numerous awards, including Asia’s Most Popular New Group at the Music King Awards in 2008, Most Popular Group at the China Music Festival in 2010 and Popular Group at the Taiwan HITO Music Awards in 2012.
Other accolades include the grand prize at the 24th Golden Disk Awards in 2009 and the 21st Seoul Music Awards this year.
They embarked on a world tour – Super Show 4 – in cities including Seoul, Osaka, Taipei, Singapore, Macau, Bangkok, Paris, Shanghai, Jakarta and Tokyo since last November for six months.
Super Junior will perform in Jakarta on Sept 22 as part of the SM Town Live World Tour. – Article courtesy of Korea Times, KF and CJ E&M