Since his debut in 2005, Park Jung Min and his group SS501 have become part of the Kpop world known as the elite. Those idol groups who have been around for long enough to know what it was like before the “hallyu wave” swept across the western world. When going “overseas” was a quick trip to Japan, and a “world tour” meant China and Taiwan, and Europe was very far away..
10 years later, the members of SS501 have gone their separate ways, exploring solo careers and actively promoting their own passions without the shackles of being part of a group. Park Jung Min is a multitasker without comparison and has since 2011 touched on everything from musical theatre in Japan, to acting on the small screen in Taiwan. In 2012 he debuted his very own alter ego to promote a new style of music in Japan, and with Romeo, Park has toured the world from Japan to South America and Europe.
Now, Park Jung Min has taken precious moments from his otherwise busy schedule to talk to his European fans, sharing his plans for the year and what it is like transforming from Park Jung Min to Romeo.
“After completing a world tour, I am planning to enlist in the army this year,” he says. He recently finished a tour in South America, performing for fans in Peru, Bolivia and Chile for the second year in a row, and is expected to enlist later in the summer.
“When I get to go abroad, I can feel closer to my foreign fans, because our hearts are close even if we are far apart,” Park says about his world tour. “It’s very touching seeing my fans supporting me so passionately, and I always hope that I will get to meet everyone again in the future.”
Aside from looks however, he doesn’t find his foreign fans any different from those in South Korea or Japan: “The passion, the support I feel and their shiny eyes are all very similar. When I perform as Romeo they shout, but when I perform as Park Jung Min they just smile at me. They love me regardless of Romeo or Jung Min.”
“the pride of being Korean”
As a performer from South Korea, a country largely unknown to the average westerner, Park spends a lot of time thinking about what it is he represents, not just to his fans, when going to a new place.
“I’d like to show the good parts of Korea, with the pride of being Korean,” he says. “When I’m out in foreign countries I behave, even if it’s just a little thing, so that I don’t embarrass Koreans. I’d like to show people about the fancies, tastes and entertainment of South Korea.”
He is excited to travel more, and has expressed a desire to travel to the Middle East and India. According to Park, he is curious to see how they would react to his music and style as a performer. But, the singer turned actor has a place he would like to return to first: “The UK. I really liked it when I went there last time,” he says, confidently assuring his fans he is returning. “First of all, I’d like to meet with all my fans. And if I have time, I’d like to check out the musicals. I’ve seen some of them when I travelled to the UK alone before, they really taught me a lot for my career in musical acting.”
“I’ve never considered myself an Idol”
As a member of SS501, Park was confined to the world of being an “idol”, with high expectations and strict rules of what was and was not appropriate. As a solo artist, those reservations are no longer as strict.
“I’ve never considered myself as an idol after being with the group, but I appreciate that I used to be one,” he says, thoughtful. “Isn’t it a good thing that I can be a bit freer on a stage? I think it’s tough having to show only my good sides, so I’ve created ROMEO to express my inner sadness.”
Over the past two years, Park has taken more responsibility for his own songs, vital in all aspects of production himself, from composing the music to writing his own lyrics. Especially his lyrics as Romeo have drawn a lot of attention, sexy, dark and mysterious – a clear contrast to the sweet and happy sounds we are used to hearing from Park.
“I have a switch which I turn on for Romeo’s songs. The difference is in the charisma. My Romeo switch is on when I write lyrics for Romeo’s songs and Park Jung Min switch is on when I write lyrics for those songs,” he says about the differences in character. “I draw inspiration for my lyrics from everything. Every little thing, abstract things and feelings inside me.”
According to Park, it varies if he composes melodies or writes the lyrics to a new track first. But more often, the lyrics will come from hearing a melody: “I imagine words I think of from melodies and then finish it by adding my own experiences.”
“I’ve gotten better by facing things on my own.”
In the 10 years since his debut, Park has evolved as an artist and as a person: “I think I’ve gotten better by facing things on my own. Being one out of five group members to start solo activities, I felt a lot of pressure, so I worked very hard. I had a lot of difficulties finding my voice, but I practiced a lot, gaining confidence on stages little by little.”
When hearing his greatest wish, it is easy to tell how much Park and his fans love each other, to the point of him referring to them as his own family. “If I could have any superpower, I wish to have all the time in the world, so that I can meet all my fans one by one, listen to my music together with them and tell them to be happy.”
Finally, Park has a special message to his fans in Europe: “Look forward to a better version of Park Jung Min and please support my all activities beside music. I can’t wait to see you guys, until then, please support me. I’m sharing all my love with you guys.”
Check out some of Park Jung Min’s music below, and like his official european Facebook page!