“Kang Seungyoon, aka ‘Joo Yoon Bal’ : ‘Proud that I was able to break prejudice about idol vocals, planning to release a solo album this year’ (Q&A)”
‘Joo Yoon Bal’ made history on MBC’s ‘King of Masked Singer’ by being its 122nd, 123rd, 124th, 125th, 126th and 127th Masked King for 3.5 months. Kang Seung Yoon, also known as elder brother King Joo Yoon Bal, shared some honest behind-the-scenes stories with the producers.
On May 25, through an official press release, the production team of ‘KOMS’ revealed a Q&A session that was done with Kang Seung Yoon, who had been reigning as the Masked King Joo Yoon Bal.
Q1. It was such a close round, you were unable to get your 7th consecutive win because of a difference of a single vote. What are your honest feelings about everything?
A. Honestly it’s such a shame, it was so close. I lost by one point. It was hard to walk away from everything too, because my time as the Masked King had become invaluable memories in my life. When I listened to ‘Shield’ sing for the first time, it actually did feel quite threatening. He had this charm about him as his weapon, something that I didn’t have and something that you couldn’t feel from Joo Yoon Bal. So I was predicting that I might lose, but then towards the end Gura sunbae said that he thought that I would win, then I thought maybe I might be able to win this time… I kind of got my hopes up, and then to find out that I had lost by one point, it was so disappointing… But I still feel grateful because I’m able to leave holding on to precious, priceless memories.
Q2. You defeated So Chan Whee, Masked King ‘Sweet 18’, to become the next King. Did you anticipate that you would become the King?
A. I was aiming for the throne before I came out onto the show, and worked hard prior to try to make that happen. But when I actually did become the King, I was so bewildered. I knew that ‘Sweet 18’ was the senior So Chan Whee, so I thought that there was absolutely no way that I would be able to win. But when the results appeared I was so surprised, it didn’t make any sense to me. I actually thought maybe they put up the wrong results. So I’d like to use this opportunity to say thank you to So Chan Whee sunbaenim. After she took off her mask, she complimented me in her interview, saying, “Joo Yoon Bal sings well, with energy and with power… He does a good job bringing the song’s emotions to life.” I was so grateful [that she said those things]. Thank you very much, So Chan Whee sunbaenim~
Q3. How did your fellow members react after you became King?
A. My members were the first people I told after I became King. They said, “First Masked King from YGE!” and they were proud of me. And when I would come home they would always greet me by saying, “Masked King, you’re back.” They gave me a lot of encouragement, and said things like, “Now that you’ve become the Masked King just keep going!”, “If you’re going to be Masked King, don’t come down from the throne. If you come down too soon I seriously won’t let you in the house.” Jinwoo and Seunghoon actually entered the military training center while I was King, and even from there they would phone me to keep checking “What happened? Are you still the King or not?” The members were really that happy for me~
Q4. ‘The youngest King!’, ‘The first idol to be King 6 consecutive times!’, and even ‘The first king to perform without a live, general audience!’ You’ve claimed many different titles during your time as the Masked King. How does that feel?
A. I’m just so thankful. And I’m satisfied that I was able to break the prejudice around idol vocals. I may have begun my career as a soloist, but as I started working in a team-setting, I found myself low on confidence around my solo works. I lost confidence in myself, and even though I’m planning on releasing a solo album before the end of the year, I found myself wondering if people would even listen to my music. I was in need of something that would help me believe that people would love not only WINNER’s music but Kang Seung Yoon’s music too. That’s when I was able to appear on <KOMS> and become the Masked King. I was happy that I had so many chances to show my own vocals. And after I became the Masked King, the company never once touched upon the way I made or produced my music. I usually receive some feedback on the songs I self-compose, but after I became King the feedback dialed down a bit. And! I felt proud that the staff at our company would call me ‘Masked King’ whenever they saw me.
Q5. What kind of turning point was KOMS for you in terms of your solo music activities?
A. It’s been 10 years since I appeared on <Superstar K2>, and that event in itself was such a major turning point in my life. So from that perspective, <KOMS> acted as a new stepping stone and foot bridge. That’s why I sang <Instinctively> after I took off my mask. And I got to sing songs of many different genres during my time as King. That allowed me to gain a sort of confidence and belief that, no matter what kind of music I decide to do, the public will enjoy it.
Q6. When we talk about ‘Joo Yoon Bal’ it’s impossible to leave out the trademark ‘kick’. Did you know that it created as much buzz as your singing did?
A. I knew that I was the type to use my whole body when I sing, but I didn’t know that I kicked around like that. People teased me in the beginning saying that it looked like I was being electrocuted, so I was restraining myself. Even now, it’s really toned down!
Q7. Did you like your ‘Joo Yoon Bal’ mask?
A. I was wondering how I would bring the ‘Joo Yoon Bal’ character to life, so I immediately fell in love with the mask when I saw it. It was cute while exuding Joo Yoon Bal’s cool vibes, but more importantly the glittering hair and the matchstick in his mouth were seriously the best! I’d like to take this opportunity to really extend my gratitude to designer Kam Seon Ju’s team.
Q8. Joo Yoon Bal’s identity was actually revealed to many of the show’s viewers from his first appearance. How was it though? I bet it was difficult to keep the secret.
A. Way too many people knew, so putting on a poker face and acting like I was the only one keeping this secret wasn’t such a difficult thing to do. For example, my friends from home would reach out to me and say things like, “You sang pretty great,” “I enjoyed it [your performance]”, but every time I would say “What are you talking about” and act like I didn’t know anything. And when I would do radio featurings, the live chat would just be flooded with KOMS-related comments. It was to the point that I nearly slipped-up and revealed my identity, so I almost got in trouble with the production crew. But I did a pretty good job keeping the secret to myself, enough to make me feel satisfied.
Q9. Finally, you’ve received a lot of love as ‘Joo Yoon Bal’. Could you say a few words to the viewers who adored you?
A. I wanted to give strength to many people during my time singing as ‘Joo Yoon Bal’ on <KOMS.> I hope that I was able to be someone who comforted your heart with my music, or gave you a brief laugh, or a moment of happiness. I’m not sure if I was able to do that for you, but thank you so much for showing me a lot of love all this time. I hope you will be interested and look forward to my future activities not only as WINNER’s Kang Seung Yoon, but as soloist Kang Seung Yoon or even as actor Kang Seung Yoon. Thank you.
Translations by @softboimino