Seungyoon will be on the cover of Fashion magazine, BEAUTY+ November 2020 Issue! The said magazine will have 2 Seungyoon cover versions.
” time after time “
<With the premiere of his new drama <Kairos> ahead, Kang Seungyoon is makign sure to spend as much personal, private time as possible. For a past without regrets and a future full of imagination. >
beauty+. It’s been a while since you’ve had the opportunity to dedicate all your time solely to yourself. Is there anything new that you’ve discovered about yourself?
seungyoon. I don’t think I’ve discovered any new sides to me per se, but I am definitely trying to be new and fresh. I’m trying to invest more in myself and to love myself more, too. Like doing whatever I enjoy doing and making sure I have a lot of personal time. Taking photos when I want to take photos, reading when I want to read… I’ve been enjoying moments like that more.
bty+. Where do you usually go to take photos?
sy. I can’t go very far because I don’t own a car, so I just bike to Han River. I capture skateboarders riding their boards, stuff like that. I don’t find myself taking a lot of scenery photos though. I prefer taking photos of people.
bty+. If you were to take portraits of people under one theme, what would that theme be?
sy. Wrinkles. I want to take close-up shots. I’ve noticed that each person has a slightly different set of wrinkles. I once bought a 90mm close-up lens, sort of as a joke, and diligently took photos of the members during one of our photoshoots. It was a lot of fun — they were all extremely close-up shots of just their foreheads, or just their eyes, or half of their face. It made me want to take photos of a lot of different people’s wrinkles from similar angles. In order to do that I’d have to ask people I know, but since there’s a limit in my acquaintances I’m not very sure how to go about this… (Laughs).
bty+. Are you the type to easily make requests like this?
sy. No, not really. I heard street photographers usually approach strangers and ask if it’s okay to take their photo. But I don’t think I’m there yet. I get shy and scared and worried that they might think I’m weird or that it’s a weird request. But I guess that’s an obstacle I need to get over.
bty+. You mentioned earlier that you’ve been focusing on the things you like nowadays. Could you tell me what some of those are, exactly?
sy. Reading books, riding a bike to quickly go somewhere, going to the studio to chat and joke around with my hyungs, taking photos, binge-watching dramas or movies on Netflix, winding up my watch, and I also take out my watch collection every once in a while to take care of them too. It’s fun. I’m gradually setting aside personal time like this. It’s how I try to fill up the empty space left by the members.
bty+. Was there a particular book or movie that you enjoyed recently?
sy. I read a mystery novel by Keigo Higashino the other day called “Dream Flower”, and that was a really interesting read. One of the dead characters in the book had a similar thought to me. He’s an artist, but he constantly envies the female protagonist who is a swimmer. But from the female protagonist’s perspective, this guy has so many different talents. He’s artistic, athletic, smart, and musically inclined, too. Yet on the other hand, the artist is jealous that this girl was able to go to the Olympics with swimming and swimming alone. He felt that his problem was he wasn’t good at one single thing. And I couldn’t help but think his situation was similar to mine.
bty+. How come?
sy. I’m good at a lot of different things but I’ve always lived thinking that I don’t have a singular thing that I excel at. So I found myself immediately drawn to his character. I guess I wish I could be really, really good at one thing and be acknowledged with that one talent.
bty+. Then what do you make of the talent you have as a vocalist, the talent you have as a songwriter, the talent you have as an actor, and all the other skills you possess?
sy. I think there’s room to improve. I’m actually surprised when I see myself in comparison to true geniuses. But I do think that I’m good at picking up on and learning new things. That’s how I gained my experiences in music: I learned and absorbed and learned and absorbed. I’m at a point now where someone will say that I’m a good singer and I won’t feel shy about it anymore. Of course, I dull in comparison to the best singers. But in the past, whenever I was told I was good at singing, I would get embarrassed and say, “I’m not all that good.” But nowadays I don’t really feel that anymore. The same goes for how I feel about myself as a songwriter and lyricist.
bty+. How important do you think raw talent is in order to succeed in the entertainment industry?
sy. Talent is important in its own right but I think luck is crucial, too. If you take any example of “success”, I would say 40% of that is effort, 20% is talent, and the remaining 40% is luck. You know how they say timing is everything. I think when the timing is just right, that’s when the synergy happens. I’ve seen cases where people who lacked talent succeeded, but I’ve also seen exceptionally talented people go unnoticed. There are also probably instances where talented people work hard but they don’t go anywhere. I can say all this because I know for a fact that my life has been a series of fortunate events.
bty+. So are you saying that luck played a heavy role in your accomplishments? Can you give me an example?
sy. Well, <Superstar K2>, for one. I didn’t want to go at first but I tagged along with a friend, and I ended up making it to the next round. I was also very lucky with the people I met. I was blessed to have consecutively encountered such great individuals. I’ve never been deceived and hurt by anyone, so in a way, I was lucky in that sense, too. Deciding to go on <King of Masked Singers (KOMS)>, debuting as WINNER, meeting the WINNER members, achieving 1st place as WINNER… these were all a series of lucky events. Of course, I also believe that I’m here because I had the courage to take a chance on luck, but I think good fortune played a huge role in my life.
bty+. Then I have to ask. You’re the leader, songwriter, and lyricist of a famous idol group. So why the need to become an actor on top of all that?
sy. I happened to start acting before I debuted as a singer, and I got to taste the fun of it. But once I became “WINNER”, I didn’t like dabbling in other things because it felt like I wasn’t being loyal to WINNER, my original job. I didn’t want to delay any potential WINNER comebacks or put a brake on the group’s career just for the sake of my acting. But of course, I never stopped wanting to act. When you continue to work on and make music, sometimes you’ll come across…not necessarily slumps, but a moment when you feel like you just need a breather. That’s what acting does for me. It’s an escape. When I act for a while and then return to being a singer, it makes me cherish music that much more, and after I work as a singer for a while, I find acting very precious to me, too. To me, both these jobs are symbiotic forces in my life.
bty+. Do you ever find yourself appreciating music as you act, and appreciating acting as you work on music?
sy. Yes. When I come back to making music after acting for a while, I feel a rush of new inspiration. When I was shooting “Prison Playbook” at the end of 2017, I wanted to work on music so badly since I was away from it. So the songs that I quickly wrote up came to be the songs that were on <EVERYD4Y>.
bty+ I can only imagine that acting in <Prison Playbook> was a unique experience. Not to mention the great response you got as an actor.
sy. Oh, it was so much fun. Since the drama is about prison life, you’re inside a prison all day. In between cuts we would joke around and the hyungs would switch up characters and mimic each other’s lines. I joined in and copied (Lee) Kyuhyung-hyung’s Looney. It was a time where I learned a lot, but also got to have a lot fun, too. I was happy and satisfied. I was fortunate enough to meet so many good people. None of them held any prejudices.
bty+. Prejudice against idols who act?
sy. Yes. I think it’s completely understandable for actors to disapprove of singers trying to become actors. That’s why I pursue my acting career with a greater sense of responsibility on my shoulders. I know that a part of the reason why I was cast has to do with the fact that I am a recognizable singer and idol. It wasn’t just about my talent alone, I can guess that much. So thinking about that, I feel apologetic towards other actors who were after the same role as me. That’s why I always discuss this with the director and the seniors of any project before we officially begin filming. I tell them that I’ll work hard and make sure they don’t regret casting me.
bty+. You said in a past interview that you “lucked out with roles that required a satoori accent.” Are you the type of person to look at themselves as objectively as possible?
sy. It’s just an undeniable truth. I think my satoori almost acted as a mask to hide my shortcomings as an actor. It’s my natural dialect, so I didn’t need to put any extra effort into my acting. But my character in <Kairos> doesn’t have satoori, so I’m worried that it’ll be awkward for others to hear me talk.
bty+. “If only I could turn back time.” “If only I could see the future.” These two ideas seem to be the key motifs in this drama. Is there anything you wish you could change about your past, or hope to know in advance about the future?
sy. I wouldn’t want to change anything about my past. I guess I’m quite good at adapting. I could think in the beginning, “Did I make the right choice? Ah, maybe I shouldn’t have done that,” but I realized that I didn’t really enjoy thinking that way. So I don’t have any regrets about the choices I made in my past. Not yet, anyway. Now that I think about it though, I don’t know if I want to find out anything about my future, either. I don’t like getting my fortune read and stuff like that, because I don’t feel an urge to know about what the future holds for me. Although I admit, it would be interesting to see where I am 10 years from now. But thinking about how to live today in the moment, about how to live today for my tomorrow, is just enough for me.
bty+. You put in a lot of effort this year to show your vocalist side by featuring in <KOMS> and <War Of Villains>. It was also a time for you to focus on music and music alone. What was that like?
sy. <KOMS> was something I really wanted to do. I went on the show once back in 2017, and I knew I could’ve done better but felt regretful that I couldn’t properly show that. But when I was offered to go on the show again, it was a chance for me to let go of everything pent up inside me that was related to singing. (Laughs). For as long as I can remember, the rivals that I set for myself were all the greatest singers of South Korea. They were my goal and the point which I had to surpass. I’ve been striving for the past seven years to reach that point, and <KOMS> acted as a great catalyst to propel me even further. It was such a relieving feeling. But I want to continue to progress.
bty+. I heard you’ve been working hard to broaden your vocal spectrum, like your pitch and singing style. How exactly have you been doing that?
sy. I constantly make music, record it, listen to it, and repeat the cycle. There’s no better way to learn the craft. It’s easier to do it too, since nowadays you can get one of those condenser microphones to use at home. Toying around with different genres like dance, R&B, and hip-hop has also allowed me to use my voice in a much broader style. If I sing this way, my voice will sound like this, if I sing that way, I can express it a certain way. An understanding of this has allowed it to become a sort of weapon.
bty+. That kind of extra work is something you do completely voluntarily and purely out of self-motivation. What was your internal driving-force?
sy. Just by being very nosy. I hate it when idol vocals are criticized just because they choose to make music that’s dance or performance-based. We’re all very talented — you’d be surprised if you really listened. It’s just that we tend to put out title tracks that emphasize presentation and divide up the song based on each member’s specialty. But I’ve always wanted to change that prejudice, especially as a main vocalist of an idol group myself. This isn’t a bias that can just disappear by earning the title, “The best idol vocalist out there.” You need to have legendary vocalists like Park Hyoshin, Kim Bumsoo, and Yim Jaebeom as your goal and role model. I think that’s the way to make sure you can stand unashamed before juniors who are also working in this field, and in front of fans, too. I have this major desire to be acknowledged and approved, but I just had to be nosy on top of all of that, too. (Laughs).
bty+. The music you make as a team is usually in the trendy genre like dance, hip-hop, or electronic, but when you work on your own songs it tends to be rock or folk. Is there a disparity between your group’s color and that of your own?
sy. It’s not necessarily that I like folk and rock more than the other genres. I mean, I actually tend to listen more to trending music nowadays. But I also can’t ignore the ‘Singer Kang Seungyoon’ that people want to see. What others wanted and what separated me from everyone else just so happened to be folk, rock, and rock-ballad, so that became my specialty. I have a lot of ambition too, so even within trendy music styles I try to look for areas where I can set myself apart. I don’t want to be known by everyone simply as a ballad or rock-ballad singer. I want to be an artist that everyone looks forward to. I want to be someone that makes people wonder, “What kind of music will he come out with next? What does he have up his sleeve?”
bty+. It would be nice if what I wanted to do, what others want from me, and what differentiates me from others could all just be one and the same. But when it’s not, how do you prioritize everything?
sy. It’s very simple. Since I’m a pop singer, songs that I think will appeal to the general public are always a priority. We have never once put out an album that consisted of songs that were pushed for just by me and my tastes alone. My dream is to give energy, comfort, and solace to as many people as I possibly can through my music. To repay everything they’ve given me, in a sense. And I love doing it. That’s why I’m here, that’s why I hope a lot of different people can listen to my music. Music that I like? I can make that on my own for just me to listen to. But will the general public enjoy listening to it? Does this song have the potential to reach a large number of people? Can people empathize with this song? That’s the standard.
bty+. I’ll ask this as my final question since the name of our magazine is <Beauty+>. What’s something that recently made you think it was the most beautiful thing in the world?
sy. I regard every single experience as something that is beautiful. Whether it be riding a bike or going on a walk with Thor, it’s the everyday experiences that I value. I also recently learned that tears of empathy are a beautiful thing, too.
The whole cast comes together for a table reading every time we get a new script. In the middle of one reading, Shin Sungrok-sunbaenim stopped in the middle of his line and began to cry. And without me realizing, I began to cry too, and so did the other actors around me. We knew what he was feeling, so we cried with him. An empathetic heart… Empathy is such a fascinating thing, isn’t it? It’s so beautiful and incredible that your tears can move the person next to you to tears too, even if they may not have experienced the same thing. Working on this project has really gifted me with a number of invaluable experiences. That must be why I find experiences so beautiful.