YEONJUN already knows—when to rely on your senses, when to push yourself and when to trust your instincts. But behind the unreserved appearance he put on for the camera, there was a fine-tuned, intense passion inside YEONJUN. I asked him about the reason behind that passion.

​You put on a number of fantastic performances at different awards shows from the end of last year to the start of this one.
YEONJUN: Even though I already knew it, those performances reminded me there’s nothing I can’t do when I set my mind to it. I just told myself it’ll all work out and said, You can do it! You can do it! And kept on practicing. I wasn’t 100% happy with everything but I’m proud I got through it all without any major mistakes.

What was the most memorable performance for you?
YEONJUN: The most memorable one was the opening performance at MAMA [Mnet Asian Music Awards]. I felt a lot of pressure about that performance since I was representing our group. I wanted to show people just how good our group could be. It also had simple acrobatic moves that would seem easy to professionals but which were a little tough for me, so it wasn’t easy practicing them to perfection.

Were you not scared when you practiced those moves? There was also a move you did at MMA [Melon Music Awards] where you jump up and over the backup dancers.
YEONJUN: Ah—I actually hurt myself a little when we were getting ready for MMA. One of the times I was a little off on the landing. After I got hurt, I was a little scared to jump, but I was even more scared that we wouldn’t have enough time to do everything—because of the pressure to get it perfect within the time we had left.

Looking at the behind-the-scenes footage, you’re not the type to not feel pressured about performances.
YEONJUN: I feel a lot of pressure. (laughs)

How do you cope with the pressure?
YEONJUN: I don’t try too hard to get over it. I think I always need to feel concerned and feel pressure. It’s the pressure that pushes me through to the end and allows me to do the performances one way or another in the end. Even if I’m worried at first, if I practice, I’ll always have made something by the end. So I tell myself it’s only natural to feel pressure and it’s right to feel nervous, and so I have to practice more. And then I keep practicing.
Before your rap performance for ENHYPEN’s “Blockbuster” (feat. YEONJUN of TOMORROW X TOGETHER) at 2022 Weverse Con New Era, you said you were worried you would be overly excited.
YEONJUN: It was my first time featuring and my first time to rap that much without any choreography. I think more than anything I was kind of over-excited because there were so many MOA right there and I wanted to do a really cool rap for them. (laughs) I only thought up a few moves and gestures in advance, to be honest, and the rest I just did on the spot. There’s a real big difference between the rehearsal and rapping in front of MOA. There’s this cool vibe you give off when you’re hyped, so I thought I’d look cooler during the live performance.

What is it you like about rapping?
YEONJUN: I feel stronger when I rap (laughs) and it’s nice I’m free to say whatever I want since I write all the words. It’s fun trying to think of a better rhyme or line to write, too—like solving a puzzle.

You used some tough expressions in the new lead single, “Good Boy Gone Bad,” like, “I give up,” and, “give it to the dogs.”
YEONJUN: To be honest, I didn’t feel entirely satisfied with those expressions. I probably would have written even tougher lyrics if it had been a solo song. (laughs) So I wanted to write tougher lyrics. When I make a rap, I’m less worried about how to structure it and more about how to get the feeling across in such a short rap. And while “Good Boy Gone Bad” is all about anger and madness, “Lonely Boy (The tattoo on my ring finger)” is more like sadness, and the idea of a tattoo on the ring finger was clear. The reason the speaker’s so sad is very obvious, so I wrote the rap according to that theme. The two songs deal with the same breakup but have the opposite feeling, so I could express each one differently and had fun doing it.

But compared to the strong emotions of the song, the choreography for “Good Boy Gone Bad” is quite subdued. In the chorus, you have to make a big impact with simple movements like putting your head in your hand or resting your hand on your chin. How did you work with such fine details?
YEONJUN: I think with moves like that, it’s more important to get the grasp of how it feels through experience, not obsess over the angle. The choreography had a restrained feel to it, so I tried to fill the void that was left by expressing the feeling the song gives. I’ve told MOA I watch a lot of movies and sometimes I get inspired by some of the lines so I was able to make the madness of this song feel real, too. And I also gave a suggestion about the choreography.

What did you say?
YEONJUN: In choreography, we usually make sure our hands are not in the way. We put them in my pockets or hold something, but those moves are too rigid and gentle for this song. This song has a raw feeling—a tough, raw feeling. So I asked them if we could try letting our hands wave around freely. They all said it was a lot better so we ended up using it in the final choreography. It’s a small change, but I think change always starts from small differences. I actually made some choreography for the chorus, too, but it never made it to the final choreo. (laughs)

You made your own choreography for “PS5” (feat. Alan Walker), which you and TAEHYUN also featured on, and posted it on TikTok. I got the impression you really understand what’s required of a TikTok dance.

YEONJUN: I’ve been making choreography sporadically since I was a trainee, but I never posted any of them until I started using TikTok. I think you need to make sure the dance moves are fresh and that the meaning and what you want to express come across clearly. There’s lots of popular challenges on TikTok, you know. I thought about why those dances were trending, and their common factor is that they’re easy to learn and copy. So I tried to make one that’s easy to copy, but when I actually made it, it was so hard it gave me a headache. But I feel proud when other people say, “Wow, I love it.” (laughs)

Back in March, on a V LIVE titled “Dancer Is Back,” you danced for MOA to songs by female artists, like “WA DA DA” by Kep1er and “Yumeiro Patissiere” by IU.

YEONJUN: I think it is so cool when men pull off girlish dances. I saw men nailing girlish dances while doing a workshop in the US. It was so cool and left a deep impression on me, so I thought I would look cool if I covered female artists’ dances, too. And I didn’t want it to look like a caricature, so I tried to dance in a way that was thoughtful and cute. What I really wanted was to show it’s another thing I can do well. (laughs)

You usually come across as a perfectionist when it comes to performing, but you are quite comfortable sharing your dance practice process to MOA in The Essence of Dancing.

YEONJUN: The more I do Essence of Dancing, the more I want to show MOA the things they want to see. When MOA suddenly comments saying they want to see something, some of the songs I have never tried before. But it’s not a big issue because, even if I look up and learn the choreography on the spot, I’m quite confident that I can dance without looking too bad. (laughs) Anyway, I tend to pick up and get choreography down quickly, so that’s probably why I can do that.

It seems like you’re both self-confident and strict with yourself at the same time. In BACKSTAGE: TXT x EN- DOCUMENTARY, you monitored the video as soon as the performance was over, before your sweat even had a chance to dry. You looked relieved, saying you did better than you thought. I think that one scene summed up your whole attitude toward performing.

YEONJUN: That’s all for MOA. If I’m being honest, the reason I can smile when I’m monitoring even while tired and panting like that is because MOA will watch the performance—because they will like it. After performing I check whether MOA liked it and whether I did a good job. I can breathe easy and find a way to smile even when tired out like that. That’s my sense of purpose and my motivation.


Why are you always that strict with yourself?

YEONJUN: I don’t think I’m naturally a cool person. I wasn’t always a cool person. In fact, I pushed myself to the edge to become that kind of person, and became strict with myself. That way, I think, people see me as being cooler than before. And even now, I don’t think my cool vibe will necessarily last forever—I think it depends on how I nurture it going forward. That’s why I’m always strict with myself and putting in the effort.


You have pretty good fashion sense for someone who says they’re not cool. The photos you post on Instagram always go viral. You had 7.77 million followers two days ago, but you were suddenly up to 7.85 million when I checked again earlier today. (laughs) [Note: This interview took place on April 18.]

YEONJUN: Oh, really? (laughs) I started using Instagram thinking I could show another side of myself, and it was interesting. Everyone my age uses Instagram. I felt like I became a part of the new generation. (laughs) You know, there’s a kind of “Instagram vibe.” I want to show off my fashionable side, and what makes me cool and unique. But I feel like I need to develop my fashion sense on my own lately. I feel like now I sort of need to have a more open mind about clothes and try out a wider variety of clothing.


Why is that?

YEONJUN: I feel like I’m still a little bit narrow-minded. There’s so many people who dress well, so I think I need to learn a bit more. These days I actually feel a little embarrassed sometimes to say I have an interest in fashion.

Are there times when you feel like you need acknowledgement from others? During the 2022 DREAM WEEK TXT Content Strategy Meeting, you said, “It feels the best when the members recognize me.”

YEONJUN: I always feel the need to be devoted to my role as a member of the team anyway, but even beyond that, when the other members tell me they’re proud of me and say nice things about me, it pushes me to do even better.

You must feel happy receiving recognition from the other members since you also realize how much they’ve grown and improved. How does it feel when you look back on the past now?

YEONJUN: I know what the members were like back then. We came in knowing nothing and worked ourselves to death ever since we were young, but I’m so grateful when I see how we’ve grown up as a result, and there’s so much to be proud of them for. They’re all grown up both in terms of mindset and skills, and they can make up for the things I can’t do well. To use when we record vocals as an example—simply speaking, TAEHYUN and Huening can hit high notes better than I can. And there’s a lot of things that idols have to do, even when they’re not onstage, and they’re all good at everything else they do, too.

It sounds like you all balance each other out.

YEONJUN: Exactly. We’re so important to one another, and we trust each other no matter what.

​There’s something else you said in BACKSTAGE: TXT x EN- DOCUMENTARY, too: “I hope we become a unique group, and if we become that kind of group, we’ll eventually be on top.”
YEONJUN: That’s what a friend I used to practice with said to me when I was in middle or high school. I always found that very moving, and that’s the goal I’ve been chasing ever since.

I imagine that would make your passion for MOA all the more special. On a V LIVE you did in February, you told them to “just relax and feel free to come say hi” if they ever see you. I understand that, as an artist, you might want others to respect your personal time, but you could say that because you have a true connection with them.
YEONJUN: I was able to say that because I trust MOA. MOA always keeps their promises. I never had a situation where I talked to MOA in person and asked them to do something and they didn’t do it. And, of course, since Covid, we didn’t have many opportunities to see each other. So I could say that because running into MOA in the street like that would make both me and MOA happy.

You were the first one to cry at the MOA X TOGETHER fanlive event when MOA opened up their clappers and showed what was written inside them.
YEONJUN: Yes. (laughs) I wanted to become an idol so I could experience the joy of standing on stage and hearing all the people cheer, but we weren’t able to see MOA in person unlike before. So even though I always knew how meaningful it would feel, I could really feel it this time. The stage wouldn’t mean much to me if MOA wasn’t there to watch, to be honest. I can only fully enjoy it if MOA is there. They stayed firmly by our side even during the time we couldn’t see each other, and as time went by, I grew confident that they would be there by our side always.

“By our side”—that says it all.
YEONJUN: There’s no way I could feel any other way. I always want to do everything I can for the people I care about—the members, MOA, my family, my friends. There’s no particular reason. I just cherish them. Because they’re my people.
Article. Rieun Kim
Interview. Rieun Kim
Visual Director. Yurim Jeon
Project Management. Jiyeon Lee
Visual Creative Team. Suchung Chung, Rakta(BIGHIT MUSIC)
Photography. Jiyong Yoon / Assist. Wonyoung Ki, Minhyung Jun, Kiwoong Kim, Eunji Song
Hair. Seungwon Kim
Makeup. Seulki Noh
Stylist. Aran Lee
Set Design. Darak(Seoyun Choi / Yehui Son, Ayeong Kim)
Artist Protocol Team. Daeyoung Kim, Jisoo Kim, Seungchan Shin, Juekyung You, Youngwook Ko