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*translation by heich_, please repost less than half with full credit to justjyh.

Jung Yonghwa's Private Wonderland

Did you think of Jung Yonghwa as a typical, predictable guy?

A man who has built a firm, unique world of his own underneath that wholesome image.

His certain hidden desires, and the possibility of departure from the norm

-writer Kwon Minji, Photographed by Choi Young Bin

Earlier this year, while on the variety show “Radio Star,” Jung Yonghwa kept saying, “I’ve got nothing more to lose.” After the drama “The Three Musketeers,” he had earned the title as a “Chart-topping singer” in both Korea and China with the solo album “One Fine Day”. Though Yoon Jongshin and Kim Gura overlooked the album’s success and sharply  criticized the low ratings of “TTM,” Jung Yonghwa responded calmly with a little bit of self-deprecation. He would introduce himself as “I’m Jung Yonghwa, the best solo singer in the entertainment industry who can act, sing, do variety, compose, and write lyrics,” and brag “I’m really hot in China!” when nobody’s asked. Everyone reacted in awe, “Yonghwa, what made you become this way?” On another hand, on his one-man reality show “Jung Yonghwa’s Hologram,” his spending time alone idly left the staff bewildered; the show’s theme ended up being about his solitude.

In other words, Jung Yonghwa is no longer just that upright, predictable guy in “You’re Beautiful” so engraved in our memories. CNBLUE’s second full album “2gether,” released on Sept. 14th, was also a surprise. Unlike the strong band sound that seemed to have dominated CNBLUE’s genre thus far, it was filled with 11 tracks of danceable synth-pop. Not a single sweet, acoustic track or melancholic ballad that’s a must in every idol album. A distinct color, much like the laid-back kind of confidence that he exuded in variety shows, was filling the beats. Naturally, one becomes curious. What happened to this good student who used to be goaded by his agency ceo to go date somebody?  Following the photoshoot at a hotel in Seoul, Jung Yonghwa, sitting on a bed, began to speak in Kyungsang-do dialect, entirely different from how he speaks on TV. “I always speak in dialect in private. This is comfortable for me.”

-Upon release of the title track ‘Cinderella’ from the second album “2gether,” your fans speculated it would be ‘DSM (Dark Sexy Metal)’ style. That’s Jung Yonghwa’s specialty, they said (laughs). Perhaps that’s because in the introduction, you said you tried to embody CNBLUE’s unique identity.

Just like putting on different clothes during a photoshoot, I tried to find clothes that fit CNBLUE. To be honest, there was a kind of a burden so far. I was conscious of the views that thought, “CNBLUE’s an idol band, what do they know?” and forced myself to insist on powerful music. Now, I don’t care much. Once I put aside that desire to be acknowledged, I came up with more comfortable music like disco and synth-pop. That’s the reason I didn’t include an acoustic track in this album. Before, we always included a song like ‘Love Light’ because people liked them. But actually at concerts, I tended to not sing them much. I just wanted to fill the album with songs that we like, the songs we would play during live performances. 

-Just as the rappers who don’t write their own lyrics aren’t MCs, bands that don’t make their own music are considered “fake” bands. But in fact, you’ve been writing music since you were in middle school, and now you arrange songs as well. However, because you were labeled as an idol, you tended to be underrated.

Now it’s much improved, but many used to think we couldn’t even play our instruments properly. Being too conscious of such things, even though I wrote those songs, it didn’t seem like my own. As if I’m creating Jung Yonghwa to show others, not being the real Jung Yonghwa. But I’m not the type that tries to break away from being an idol. I think it’s less cool to purposely throw that away. When you’re a kid in everyone’s eyes but try to act like you’re an adult, it looks tacky.

-Jung Yonghwa’s solo album is close to an acoustic feel, whereas CNBLUE’s albums have been much fancier. “2gether” seems like you’re trying to find the middle ground between those two colors.

That happened naturally. It’s true that we were swayed by what people wanted. But because we had that time, we could find the middle ground. If I had insisted on one direction and said, “Either this or I quit,” I don’t think as many people would have listened to my music. Since I’m a popular musician (*as in musician for the masses, not bragging about his popularity), I don’t want to release an album that only I like. Some day, something extremely experimental would be nice, but not yet. I want to take it slow and look further.

-You said that you used to like the melody of ‘It’s only my world,’ but now it’s the lyrics that pierce your heart. It must ring true all the more since you’re in the process of defining your own color.

It’s a punch line from the get-go: “‘You don’t know the world at all,’ you would say to me.” In fact, I dream of the day that I live in seclusion. I’d make albums, do a round of tours, and go back to my own world. Because I wanna do that someday, I’m building foundations for that right now.

-If that’s your final vision, the first step would have been ‘Easy Love’ that you wrote in 3rd year of middle school. I wonder what it was about.

There’s not much to say. I don’t know why I wrote it, nor why is it ‘Easy Love.’ Back then, I wrote it with an ambition that I don’t wanna sing someone else’s song anymore. But it had an air that was not appropriate for a middle schooler. “Easy love, sing a song with me,” kinda like that (laughs). That phrase doesn’t make any sense, even to me.

-From ‘Cinderella’ to ‘Hide and Seek,’ ‘Roller coaster’, and ‘Catch me’. Just by looking at the track titles, I can see a sexy woman who’s such a tease. What kind of woman is ‘Cinderella’ that you pictured?

The word ‘Cinderella’ popped up in my head while sitting in my studio. At first, it was just an interesting keyword, but later I read an article about the women who dream of becoming a Cinderella. I got a gut feeling then, “Oh, this means I should write a song.” (laughs) If you just look at the lyrics, it’s talking to a woman who has to go home either because of work the day after or curfew. I restrained myself once or twice, but no more, we’re adults, let’s stay together tonight. But what I really wanted to say was to break away from the framework. Everyone’s living very busy daily lives these days. It’s such a hectic schedule to dream of stepping outside the box. I hope everyone could have vicarious satisfaction from listening to ‘Cinderella’.

-It seems like a wish you also hope for yourself, not just for the listeners.

Does it? Sure, I wanna get away from the everyday, too! But my personality doesn’t allow it. It’s not to look good in the eyes of the others, but it bothers me. I wanna put everything aside and go on a trip for a month, but even if I left, I would keep thinking about work. In fact, I haven’t even really traveled by myself. 

-I heard you like Homer Simpson very much. He’s like the symbol of living without tomorrow. Though he’s a father of three, his dream job is to work part-time at a bowling alley. Are you having vicarious satisfaction from him?

I really do. Homer Simpson is a complete rock star. “The Simpsons” isn’t just a cartoon. There are so many parts that makes me think, “How do they come up with those things?” so that watching it makes me feel like I’m breaking my own inner conventions. For instance, the 13th episode of season 6! Finally, Homer submits his resignation letter and fulfills his dream of being a part-timer at a bowling alley. But because his youngest daughter Maggie’s born, he has to return to the nuclear plant. When the president pastes a piece of paper that says “Don’t Forget, You’re here forever” on Homer’s wall, he mixes his daughter’s photos to change the phrase into “Do it for her.” I was very touched watching that episode. 

-Perhaps not to the level of residents of Springfield (the town in The Simpsons), you definitely seem above the fray compared to before. In “Radio star,” you kept saying you had “nothing more to lose.”

In the beginning, there were often times when I had to do what I didn’t want to; in the case of making music, there wouldn’t be enough time so I had to release what I wasn’t satisfied with. Now, I can focus on what I need to do, my level of self-satisfaction has gone up. I was also very influenced by the American TV show “Entourage.” It’s about a Hollywood actor Vince Chase and his friends, a complete mind-blower. Despite a film totally flopping, Vince would pass it over saying, “It’ll be fine next time, I’m from the slums anyway, flopping here is much better than before.” Although he’s so at ease about everything, he’s such a professional when he’s acting. When he doesn’t feel like it, he’s got the guts to reject tens of millions of dollars. Wow, you can live like that. That’s the real swag. I was so impressed and watched all the way to season 8 twice (laughs). The mindset of Vince Chase is such a great role model. Before, I used to avoid many things, but now I tend to think, "If I do it, I do it. If not, I can try something else next time.”

-“The Simpsons” and “Entourage” have some things in common. They’re both representations of desire, very personal activities. Watching “Hologram,” you seemed to really like spending time alone.

Early on during my debut years, I was so sick of not having time to rest. Maybe I was a bit burned from that, I’m so happy when I’m slacking around for couple of days, not writing any music and just watching TV and playing games at home. The perfect feeling of liberation that I don’t have to do anything today… Come to think of it, I like GTA(Grand Theft Auto) — I guess there’s definitely that desire for the things I can’t do in reality. When I watch TV, I just watch it (without effects), but when playing GTA,  I turn on the home theater. Blasting the sound, I’m like, “I’ve come to this world, there’s no more Jung Yonghwa, I’m Michael!” (laughs) I would go shopping all I want, buying and riding all the cars and yachts I’d wanted. It’s so much fun, I cleared it three times. Playing it made me really want a yacht. I must have mentioned it so much, my brother already got the yacht license (laughs). I tended to say out loud the things I wanna accomplish, and they really came true one by one. So these days, I talk about even bigger goals.

-What are such sayings that came true?

I heard this from my mother a while ago: when I was a kid, I said, “When I grow up, I’m gonna wear an Armani suit and drive a red sports car.” I have no idea how an elementary school kid knew about Armanis, but it came true. It’s a fascinating and grateful thing. When gaining popularity, sometimes what I have right now can be taken for granted. I always try to be alert about that. When I’m communicating with fans, instead of for business, I try to be genuine and friendly. That’s why I read each and every replies on certainly the Korean ones and the Chinese social media, Weibo. If I don’t understand, I use the translating software. I also study because I must know Chinese culture and popular phrases to share them. 

-So, you’ve been acting the roles that girls dream of. But you said in an interview, “my real self is much more attractive than in the drama.” Were you being serious? (laughs)

Yes. I’m more attractive (laughs). So far, I’ve done too many roles that are in unrequited love. They couldn’t approach the girls, grieve alone and watch from behind the wall. I’m the type that honestly expresses that I like someone. Also, the roles I’ve played weren’t witty at all. They would stare wistfully and smile once in a while. They were all stiff. A(n ideal) guy has to have a sense of humor.

-I thought maybe your last drama “TTM” was a reaction to such characters that had targeted girls. It was your first historical drama that highlighted the male camaraderie, but it didn’t do well in ratings.

Most works after my debut, “You’re Beautiful,” had low ratings. For a while, I thought I need to do something with good ratings rather than what I want to do. I used to enjoy acting, but it became scary after a certain point. Though I’m not the type that cares about negative comments, I realized that when I kept reading criticisms like “It’s because of you! Because of you that this flopped!” it made me get cold feet and get hurt. When you’re shooting a drama, you have to be completely immersed in it for a few months, which means I should do projects that I’m attracted to. Honestly, filming “TTM” was so much fun and I learned a lot. Ah, I’ve got one more thing to brag about: now I’m good at riding horses too (laughs).

-There’s news that tvN has purchased the license from HBO to produce the Korean version of “Entourage.” You’d be great in it.

Whoa, really? I really wanna do it. I can do any of the roles (laughs).

-If you get to take the role of Vince Chase, perhaps you could have a more laid back life?

I’m starting to get laid back. Though I’m not showing it overtly, a little by little inside myself (laughs).

  • 사루 2015.09.23 13:27
    안투라지 내용이 엄청 궁금하네요. .뭔지 몰라도 용화가 끌렸다니 해봤으면. ..하고싶은거 다 해봤으면...
  • 안나 2015.09.23 13:30
    인터뷰 너무 좋네요..뭔가 조금씩 스스로 틀을 벗어나고 있는 그러면서 자기세계, 가치관이 확고한 용화를 보며 저도 대리만족..ㅋ 앞으로의 행보도 기대됩니다..감사~^^
  • heich_ 2015.09.23 13:47
    너무 좋아서 백번쯤 정독하고 다시 후기를 써야겠습니다. 히히. 솔직하고 꽉찬 이야기들, 한마디도 공허하지 않은 말들 너무 좋네요.

    "우리 성인인데 오늘 밤은 같이 있자. 하지만 진짜 말하고 싶었던 건 틀을 깨라는 거였다." --> 다른 의미로 너무 좋은 두 문장들!
  • midnightblue 2015.09.23 15:08
    인터뷰 읽고 진짜 놀랐어요. 내가 아는 용화가 짐작하는 거보다 더 넓고 더 깊은 사람이구나. 호머심슨도 그냥 이미지를 좋아하는 줄알았는데 지극히 철학적인 생각들 .. 미드도 그렇고 .. . 언젠가 하고 싶다는 은둔 생활 , 투어 , 용화에게는 행복할지몰라도 왠지 그날이 천천히 왔으면..
  • 용하늘 2015.09.23 15:13
    안투라지 빈스역 드라마 하게되면 용화가 하면 좋겠다. 시청률도 좋지만 용화가 좋아하고 하고싶은역 했음 좋겠다. 인터뷰글 보면 진짜 더 더 더 용화팬이 되고만다
  • 뜨락 2015.09.23 20:49
    더욱더 내면이 단단해지고 성숙해진 모습이라 반갑고 앞으로 원하는 모든것을 이루길 응원하고 싶네요. 감사히 잘 봤습니다.
  • jj 2015.09.23 22:57
    이번 인터뷰 상투적이지 않아서 너무 좋은데요~요즘 용화 ...생각이 무척 많은가 보군요..
  • 키마용 2015.09.24 10:00
    한국판 앙투라지라니 우오오오오오오오오 완전 기대되요 얼릉 복습 다시 시작해야겠어요!!!
  • elasticheart 2015.09.24 17:18
    THANK YOU <3
  • yongyongjii 2015.09.24 17:28
    Thank you for the translation! I really had heartache reading about his acting trials & tribulations. But I'm also relieved he's learning to be more laid back and do what he enjoys. I especially like his attitude "if I do it, I do it. If not, I can try something else next time". In fact, that's what I try to abide by as well so it's touching to know JYH is the same :D
  • s.jefferson 2015.09.24 17:54
    Thanks for translation. He turns matured little by little!! His lyrics can tell... I feel the great difference between One Time and Catch Me. Glad to witness his every change.
  • Iput 2015.09.24 18:23
    Wooow, yonghwa as vincent chase..please make it happen
  • sakuratint 2015.09.24 18:27
    As always, thank you so so much! Your translations are really a gem to fans who don't speak korean ^^

    I feel like this is a hidden side of yonghwa that cannot be seen through variety shows and such. Contrary to his light and playful manner, he's actually someone who has given much thought on how he wants to progress, and what he wants to achieve in future. I'm really glad that such interviews exist :)

    My heart aches to know the trials he has gone through in his acting career. I'm glad that yonghwa was able to put down his burdens, and is doing what he enjoys, in both his musical and acting career. Yonghwa who is able to gain inspiration and energy even from the film and cartoons he watch... he really makes me want to watch them as well!

    I hope i will be able to witness the changes in him as much more time goes by! After all, this is what makes him Jung Yonghwa.
  • steelyhazel 2015.09.24 20:30
    Thank you! A great interview.
  • Ira 2015.09.24 21:01
    Thank you so much for the translations. Again and again, yonghwa is always so sincere in his interviews that make me as a fan feel so close to him!
    Once again, thank you for the translations, really appreciate your hard work! :)
  • littlelynn 2015.09.24 23:29
    Thank you so much for this!
  • yhfan 2015.09.25 01:41
    인터뷰 한조각이 이렇게나 많은 생각을 담고있다니요. 길지않지만 정말 뜻깊습니다. 개인적으로 정말 좋아요 이 인터뷰내용. 짧은 답변속에 담긴 깊고 넓고 멀리보는 정용화의 마인드. 이런 마인드를 가진사람이라 제가 좋아하나봐요 ^^ 멋진 정용화!
  • Pearl 2015.09.25 03:14
    Thanks for the translation. Great interview who tries to uncover what lies beneath that happy face. He's such a sensitive guy but one that has a level head. I am glad that he is slowly letting go some of his earlier concerns and is choosing projects that he likes and songs he likes. I still think it was such a pity TTM did not make it to season 2 and 3 as he could have given us so much more. I love him as an actor and I hope he never gives up.
  • ta_yooong 2015.09.25 04:21
    Thank you for this! another insightful interview to this complexly talented guy through his answers. For someone so young to have a vision of what he wants and slowly building a foundation for it is something impressively mature for me. He feels artistically, emotionally and socially confined and has to conformed to a lot of things in this kpop world but im glad he is slowly letting go of those restrictions and be "laid back". To do what he feels in his heart to be right and not let the criticisms get to his heart. The time when he is truly artistically free we are all in for a talented treat from this guy.
  • Elsie_AR 2015.09.25 17:10

    -Thank you so much for the translations-

    Even for me, it was reallly hard to read 'It’s because of you! Because of you that this flopped!', he doesn't need that negativity in his life. He's very smart and strong guy, using all the negativity as the engine to surpass himself, that makes him the great man he is today. And I'm very happy he is always giving all his best. I wish he keep playing the roles he wants to. He is a real artist in every way, there's nothing he can't do! He can even ride a horse!! I love the way he is, very confidence, positive, charismatic/funny, but he is, indeed, VERY MATURE, proving it when he needs to.. :)

  • gardenofdarkness 2015.09.25 19:50
    A year ago I gave him a letter telling him to don't give a darn about negative opinions about him and his work. I'm glad each day he cares less and less about those things. :) Way to go! I loved the interview, thanks lots for translating. I always look forward to your translations <3

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