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Kwanghee’s DongA Interview

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[O2/Cover Story] ¡®Plastic-dol¡¯ Kwanghee, “If Wonbin is 100 points, my face is 60 points”

¡Ü “I feel sad if I hear that I looked fine before plastic surgery”

Hwang Kwanghee, member of 9-member group ‘Children of Empire’ (ZE:A). After confessing having undergone plastic surgery before his debut on broadcast, he has emerged as number 1 in variety programs and is even to make a cameo in the KBS 2TV Mon-Tues drama “Crime Squad”.

When asked if he feels embarrassed or hate the nickname of ‘plastic-dol’, he answered cheerfully “Not at all”.

Kwanghee, belonging to the group ZE:A, made their debut with single album ‘Nativity’ in 2010. Their debut has already been about 2 years but the team¡¯s name is still not widely known within the country. Even though Kwanghee is known, there are still many people who do not know ZE:A. Kwanghee replied while laughing “It was a very hard time when the album did not do well after our debut, but by chance the second half of last year was very enjoyable to be on varieties”.

¢º ‘Kwanghee, who greets well’¡¦Possessing love from entertainment seniors

Before Kwanghee made his debut with ZE:A, he has said that he had auditioned for other entertainment agencies but made the decision to settle at Star Empire because they had the image of raising ZE:A as the leading idols in the company. He then added in a reliable voice “I am working hard so that I will not bring disgrace to the reputation of the company”.

- Presently, out of all the ZE:A members you seem to be the most famous. Do you feel any sense of burden of being a ‘variety-dol’?
“I have to hold myself up with my ability so the burden is big. To be prepared, I have watched many people on what they do on variety shows and above all, I read diligently. Since it is important to select the right choice of words, I have been reading any kind of books that I can and have been doing a lot of physical training. I¡¯m putting in effort so that I can be the ‘Kwanghee, who greets well’ to the seniors that I appear on shows with.”

- What kind of books do you mainly read?
“I read the newspaper and articles on the entertainment section. I think I have read a lot on what is going on around in the entertainment world, what kind of breaking news is there, and what kind of trends people are thinking about. I don¡¯t know what the big, general trend and the new trend is so I try to carefully listen to everything and be organized with all those thoughts. The book written by Park Jisung senior, ‘Sacrifice Myself to be a Better Me’, left a deep impression on me when I read it. You should run while you¡¯re young, you¡¯re at the age to even eat stones, you need to go through all hardships in your twenties, and don¡¯t rest, these writings are left in my mind. Many fans send me a lot of books like how to live a happy life. I also read all books on pronunciation and how to have better pronunciation.”

When asked if there are any seniors who give him a lot of advice, he replied with ‘King of Varieties’ Kang HoDong. Kang Hodong, who leads shows with his unique speaking skills like ‘Strong Heart’ and ‘The Knee-Drop Guru’ (MBC), promised Kwanghee that he will raise him within the Kang line. He also added “I will read a lot of books and I will not turn down anything that is asked of me on varieties”.

- Are there anymore seniors that treat you well?
“Psy sunbaenim, Kim Janghoon, Park Kyungrim, Kim Wonhee, Yoo Jaesuk, Kim Jisun, and Jo Hyereon sunbaenim. I really like them. A senior who has a noodle business said, ‘Kwanghee, I will supply you with noodles’ sends noodles to me. Kim Jisun senior saw me drinking cold water so the next day she bought me a tumbler from Starbucks. I am happily doing broadcasts.”

¢º Sleep, fight with food …Living as an idol in Korea

After becoming the member to become the team representative, there has been no time for him to sleep. There are countless days where he has only slept for one or two hours. There has even been an occasion when they had to go from one broadcast station to the next because they were flooded by work for idol specials during the Lunar and other holidays the past year. It makes him feel crazy with the lack of sleep, but because of the responsibilities, he endures it.

- What is your driving force?
“There have already been idols that have walked down this road before and I have had friends in girl groups where one has worked in varieties by themselves or has been the group representative for the group. There are girls who do that but I thought about myself as a man, what is there I can¡¯t do. Even now, I am very sleepy but what can I do since I already made arrangements to have interviews. I just do them. I¡¯m not distracted by doing other things because I¡¯m doing everything for myself and for my group.”

- What are some things you had to give up after becoming an idol?
“It is love and freedom. I broke up with my girlfriend 7-8 months before I debuted. After I started working, we were both busy, fought frequently, and thought that it would be better to break up. I feel envious when I see a couple pass by. However, this is the path that I have chosen and no good use will come out from regretting. All there is left to do is to work hard. If I don¡¯t work hard, then it would go downhill.”

- Are you on a diet?
I am on a diet very much so. I always thought that a man didn¡¯t need to go on diets. However, I have been gaining weight. I was enjoying going out at the height of being on variety programs but I gain a lot of weight. My face has gotten chubbier, it¡¯s an emergency. An idols height is 176~177 cm, but I have to maintain a weight of 60kg. I have lost about 4kg. (While showing his slender wrists)Who would like a man who has these kinds of arms?

¢º His goal for plastic surgery was Wonbin, wanted to look like him but satisfied with his current appearance

- To be honest, you looked fine in the past. Was there a need to do plastic surgery?
“If I had revealed it in the past when I was not popular, people would have probably said ‘He can¡¯t even sing or he¡¯s not even good-looking, what a joke’.”

- You¡¯re face was not bad-looking before your surgery though.
“It is definitely better that I did. I feel sad if I hear those kinds of words. I went through all that suffering and then saying it looks the same from before. Fans also say that it looked fine before the surgery but if it looked better before then why would I have gotten plastic surgery?”

- So you¡¯re goal outcome for your plastic surgery was Wonbin from ‘Ahjusshi’?
“Yes, that¡¯s right. Right now, I am satisfied with my face. If Wonbin is 100 points, then my face would be 60 points. But, to a certain extent, I cannot get rid of the original. Surgery on my nose made it high and low, but having it look natural is the best. I don¡¯t think I look perfect, but it doesn¡¯t look too excessive either. It would look weird if I did more.”

- Didn¡¯t you feel burdensome when you revealed the truth about having undergone plastic surgery?
“At first, the company told me not to say it. However, it wasn¡¯t fun talking about our albums on broadcasts. I felt the need to say the truth so I said it. There are people who look down on it and those who put a label of ‘plastic-dol’, but because I have revealed it and it has allowed me to be known for that, I don¡¯t have any regrets. However, because of me I am worried that plastic surgery is perceived as easy to undergo. Please spend some time to think it through before having plastic surgery to be right for you.”

¢º What is the relationship between 2AM Jokwon and yourself?

His position on variety is being the ‘frivolous character’. He is similar with 2AM Jokwon with those aspects. Kwanghee has viewed the entertainment industry like a jungle and thought that he would last long. However, he is safe with his unique way of speaking.

- You said your true side is your ‘kkap’ side, you show that side on shows a lot, but what is your real personality like?
“It¡¯s the same. I get asked this question the most. If I was acting fake, the public would have already seen through it. I think people like it that I show a genuine appearance. Even though we¡¯re not the most talented, extremely good-looking, or the best group, when I see how much we are loved, I think it is better received for being honest.”

- Jokwon¡¯s character overlaps in varieties with yours. What do you think about Jokwon?
“He is a good senior. At first, I felt burden when people said ¡®in reality, can you make it?’, but my personality isn¡¯t swayed by something like that. After doing my activities, our areas of ‘kkap’ are different. There was no confrontation with each other. He gives me advice and we get along well.”

- Is there an aspect where you think Jokwon is more outstanding than yourself?
“There is. When I see Kwon dance, it is very funny. Kwon has also told me that I am funny, but when I see him, I laugh very much.”

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¢º Kwanghee is a singer. Idols are singers.

- Ultimately, you are a singer. In varieties, do you feel any burden standing out?
“Lately, when I go to music shows, they are very delighted when they see me. The same goes for the audience, they go ‘Why is Kwanghee here?’ with that kind of gaze. From now on, I will put an emphasis on singing.”

- You probably heard from people that you can¡¯t sing. You have heard that also?
“Since this has been said from my own mouth, it is my homework to clear it up. Since singers have an image and because I am a singer, I need to qualify to be one. I am practicing singing a lot. You will be able to see a good appearance. I will stand on stage for a live performance.”

- In February, during the fanmeeting, you sang Sisqo¡¯s ‘Incomplete’. Did you practice a lot for that?
“Ah, I couldn¡¯t practice very much for that.”

- I felt uneasy for you. Hoping you won¡¯t make any mistakes.
“Our company was also very uneasy about it. When it was my part, they were paying close attention.”

- Is there a fan that has remained in your memory?
“I said I really like meat so there are a lot of people who prepares me bossam. [T/N: meat wrapped in lettuce with other vegetables, etc.] The people who prepare healthy foods are the best. Deer antlers, vitamins, multivitamins, there is nothing better than that. I become less tired. I don¡¯t even get sores on my tongue. There are seniors that ask why I take medicine, but it definitely gives me strength.”

- So you have a lot of Japanese fans?
“There are seniors who have already opened the gate, so I think it is easier for us. The response from the Asian regions is good. We have even gotten 2nd on Oricon Daily. Whether it is Taiwan or Thailand, the popularity is huge. We have gone out of the country a lot last year. But, since we are Korean singers, I hope we will be more famous in Korea this year. We will strive for more Korean activities.”

¢º Interest in girl group f(x) member Krystal, what is the progress so far¡¦

- Are you worried about the sudden gain in popularity?
“I am worried. My seniors have told me that this is the most important time right now. They have said ‘How much you will grow is up to you. You need to maintain your part. In the entertainment industry, failing or success can happen in an instant’. I am learning more and then become an adult.”

- Have you earned a lot of money?
“To the extent of feeling good about the amount I have made. I have repaid my parents for all the surgery fees. I have also given my mom a bag and some spending money. My mom manages my money for me. It is said that it is easy to spend when you make a lot of money when you¡¯re young. So instead of me saving up, I give it to my mom for her to take care of it.”

- What kind of person is your mother?
“My mom has always been cold. She has never complimented me. Even if I was late, she would not wake me up. She would say ‘Just sleep! See how they will really accept you when you go out into society’. For several years, I was always late. After I got on my teacher¡¯s bad side, I started to recognize that it was my fault. Other parents would even record the small parts their kids appear on and watch but my mom would say ‘I have my own things that I need to take care of. Kwanghee, I can pray in hopes that you do well, but I don¡¯t want to see you be arrogant’.

- Your age is the prime time for you to date, so when you go on varieties, there are girl groups that appear. Is there a friend you are having feelings toward?
“It is Krystal from f(x). I thought it would be awkward if we talked in public but it is not like that. From before that, she already knew that I liked her. I would ask the other members of f(x) ‘Why didn¡¯t Krystal come?’ so they knew from that. It is a very sensitive topic between idols to be asked that question. I would feel nervous if someone were to say ‘I like you’ and would feel uneasy, but I guess I give off the feeling like I¡¯m an older sister to her.”

- This is the first time I¡¯ve seen such a cute guy.
“Actually, I have been told that often that I¡¯m cute. (Laugh)”

¢º If your girlfriend says she going to do plastic surgery? ¡°Well, I did it too.¡±

- What is your ideal type of girl?
“Somewhat like a city girl but she must have a good personality. Not all city girls are cold girls. There is no need for her to be cold in her usual personality. I also like someone who absolutely does their work. I would like someone with a good personality and who is a regular person rather than a celebrity. It is because we can meet comfortably.”

- Could a fan be successful enough to be your girlfriend?
“I personally think that it doesn¡¯t matter if it¡¯s a fan or not. What I like is her personality. It¡¯s said that outer appearance won¡¯t last long. All other people say the same. Ability is the best. Isn¡¯t it best to eat to live? For age range, up to 6 years apart! Either way, when she becomes a grandma, being 50 years old or 56 years old is the same. I would like it if she were of Korean nationality. I want to have a Korean baby. I¡¯m curious to know how my baby will come out. Will the baby come out being good looking, if not…”

- What if your girlfriend says she will do plastic surgery?
“It¡¯s up to her. Well, I did it too.”

- What if your children wanted to have plastic surgery?
“I would try to keep them from doing it, but if that is something they want, then I would not want to block their way from doing it. What would you do if your way was blocked because of your dad or if the company says you can¡¯t do it?”

- Please tell me your future plans.
“Our first full album will be out in the middle of March. We have put a lot of thought into it. I would like it if we could receive an award for the year of 2011 for our album. If I earnestly drive towards the end of the year, I will feel the end result. I feel a sense of satisfaction.”

- Is there something more you want to grab for this year?
“I want to be in a sitcom. I am in meetings for ¡®High Kick¡¯ Season 3 (MBC). But I think it is difficult to do. There are many actors that prepare a lot but since I¡¯m a singer, I feel like I am behind. I will work harder to take on the challenge. The talks for ‘We Got Married’ are going well also.”

Source: dongA
Translation Credits: truelove21 @ Empire Children
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