Credits: Numero TOKYO
Photographed by Leslie Kee
English translation: tenshi_akuma
— deep emotional range —
Even an adult can’t help but fall in love again…
Jang Keun Suk’s attraction; mysteriousness and beauty.
You’ll see his crazy world never before shown to anyone. Jang Kuen Suk, who released his first album “Just Crazy” at the end of May in Japan, got a No.1 ranking on Oricon daily and weekly chart. It means he became the first solo foreigner artist in the history of music in Japan. He has a clear and beautiful voice we can’t help but get lost in. Listening to songs into which he puts a lot of emotion, we tremble all over with the rhythm. It’s a moment when his new creative talent sublimes. Who on earth is this 25-year-old young superstar? A close-up of the real face of Jang Keun Suk, the most mysterious and attractive guy who is gifted with remarkable talents inside.
He is only 25 years old, but this year is his 20th anniversary since his debut. Jang Keun Suk has succeeded to become the most popular Hallyu star, with superb acting skill he has gained from his experience as an actor and born artistic sense. Now, he’s taking the first step in becoming a singer. His free spirit helps this new challenge.
Looking back over the past 20 years, Jang Keun Suk started his career as a model when he was 5 years old. Then, he debuted as a child star on TV when he was 10 years old. Whenever he went for shooting, he brought a big bag and used expressway bus from his home in a rural area to Seoul, all by himself. As his parents daringly had his son do anything by himself, it encouraged his self-reliance. He had wanted to study abroad since elementary school and went to New Zealand for studying English when he was at the first year of high school. He planned to attend the school until graduation, but he went back to Korea to accept an offer for appearing on TV. Since then, he’s pushed forward with his work as an actor.
A while later, the trial which every child stars would experience also came to Jang Keun Suk. There is a jinx that says “Actors who have career as a child star never succeed”, which means it’s hard for them to break away from the fixed image. For him, especially he has a long career as a child star was not exceptional. He experienced hard times in his late teens. When he was 20 years old, he appeared in the drama “Hwang Jin Yi” and it became his turning point. He was selected as the first love of the lead actress. Contrary to viewers’ expectation that young Keun Suk can’t play the role, he did quite well. The success helped him to become more mentally mature. And he gradually succeeded a transition from a child star to an adult actor and expanded his range of acting. Movie “The Happy Life” in 2007 and Drama “Beethoven Virus” proved his acting skill and he won the Newcomer Awards for each work. He eventually got rid of the image as a child actor.
In 2009, he had a chance to act his perfect role in Drama “You Are Beautiful”. He played Hwang Tae Kyung, a leader of a popular pop band, who is a very sensitive and very difficult person to get along with. He perfectly performed this bossy character and after YAB, he’s become increasingly popular. Without exception, as soon as it was broadcast in Japan, he’s became a big hit and getting a ticket of his tour is very difficult to obtain now.
Despite of the success of his tour, a dilemma occurred to his inside. Most of the songs he sings at the tour are those of which his characters on dramas sing. Since then, he gradually began to think that he wanted to sing his original songs. Then, he debuted as a singer in Japan, with a single CD “Let me cry” released in April last year. He set a new record for the first solo foreign male artist who topped on Oricon chart with his debut single. Furthermore, he released his first album “Just Crazy” this May. It contains various songs from rock music to ballad. It’s really a high-level of completion which shows his many talents.
He talked about the album as follows. “I first thought I wanted to make my own album when I was 23 years old. Honestly I had a dream to be a singer when I was a kid, but in Korea I was satisfied to be appreciated as an actor. However, while I was singing songs of my characters, I gradually came to think that I want my own! My dream to release my album came true this time. I’m more than happy to be on stage as a singer who has own songs from this tour”.
He describes that the title “Just Crazy” reflects “his real self” perfectly.
“When I wonder what is happiness for everyone, it might be thought that everyone feels happy every day. Every day is a new day. As for me, when I wake up in the morning, I feel very happy thinking about what will happen or who I will meet today. Our life is so short that I put a message in the title saying ‘Let’s do whatever you want to try, not you have to do. Let’s enjoy your life like living in CRAZY WORLD.'”
Then, we asked him what inspires him most to be crazy. He replied immediately, “It’s my album. It’s my first album in my life and all songs were selected by me and I love them all. And to keep trying to achieve my goal to conquer the world also inspires me”. Then, we asked him about the moment when he becomes crazy in his private life. He answered shyly, “Well, I’m crazy every day. Lol. While working, if I think it’s ‘work’, it’s absolutely ‘work’. On the other hand, if I try to enjoy it, I feel happy at that moment and I think it has a different meaning. Work and play is totally opposite like black and white, but by just changing our view or way of thinking a bit, we can enjoy working as well as playing. And this thought encourages me to be crazy”.
It’s because he approached the work with a feeling that he tries to enjoy everything, he has confidence in the album. He said, “Every song reflects my life”. Interestingly enough, there are similarities in songs “Let me cry”, “Abracadabra” “Tomorrow” and “In my life” which he wrote the lyrics and music. All the songs include a word, “fly”. This word implies his view of life?
“I want to become ‘a free man’ more than an artist or a singer. I don’t think it necessary to restrict what we should speak in interview to keep the image of an artist. As long as it isn’t impolite to others, I want to show all my view of life. That’s why ‘fly’ might have a meaning of ‘freedom’. My goal to conquer the world doesn’t mean to gain more money or expand my business to the world. Rather it means I want to meet, talk and drink with various people living all over the world. If there were Doraemon, I would ask him to give me wings with I can fly to the world freely. Lol”.
His saying that he wants to be treat people in the world frankly reflects his belief “I’m a human before I’m an artist”.
“People consider me as an artist, but I’d rather want to be considered as an individual, ordinary person like everyone. My view of the world might be different from yours, but I eat the same food as you. I also enjoy eating. Of course, I feel lonely, too. I’m living with such various feelings like everyone. That’s why I use Twitter and my apps on smartphones to share ‘the world I see’ with you. In this way, I open my heart to my fans first, so I believe they also open their heart and we can feel an intimate connection with each other”.
It’s Jang Keun Suk who follows the path he believes in. To our surprise, he had never thought what he wanted to do until he turned 20 years old.
“As I started to work in showbiz when I was 5 years old, I have more memories of staying at TV stations than those at school. I always cared about what seniors around me thought. That’s why I had not had my own idea in those days. However, when I turned into 20 years old, I began to think if there was my own will in my life so far. I want to be a good actor. But at the same time, I want to care about my own life. Since then, I’ve started to think ‘fly’ and ‘free man’. It might be a bit slow, but now I can search for my new life by myself and finally enjoy my own life”.
When it comes to the story he got No.1 ratings both as a single and an album on Oricon chart, he told us an interesting episode. “When I knew the news I got a No.1 ranking on Oricon single chart, I was in Hong Kong. At first, I thought it must be a fraud. Lol. Someone must have posted a fake news on the Internet as a joke. I can’t still believe I also got the No.1 with my album. I’m sure I got the No. 1 ratings not because of my effort only. I made it because a lot of fans and staff united together and supported me. For me, this achievement means more than No.1 ratings. As I want everyone to listen to my good songs, I bought 50 copies of my album at TOWER RECORDS in Shibuya (I paid for them out of my own pocket), autographed on them, and gave out them to passers-by while walking around. Lol”.
He’s been active in various areas such as Actor, Singer, MC, DJ and Director of movies. He’s quite versatile. He said, “I want to be an artist, not just a celebrity. The important thing is I have something to express inside me. I don’t want to act like a robot. Whoever has something to speak or tell can become an artist. For example, when I write lyrics as long as I use my own words, it becomes my song. No matter what genre it is, the most important thing is what I want to express myself. I think there’s no longer a big difference”.
Talking with him, we felt his solid vision as an artist.
He always keeps his antenna fully spread out to catch immediately what he wants to do. Then, he expresses them freely. He stands firm in his own convictions even if he faces new challenges. “I just do what I want to do. So, I never feel pressure. If I feared pressure, I wouldn’t try to do anything”. Hearing his reliable saying, we can’t help but feel his unlimited potential that he will surely accomplish his goal to conquer the world.