SUNGHOON used the word “fun” several times while reflecting on the past few months. He said it’s been more fun than nerve-racking. And that he’s having even more fun than ever before. In the five months since his last interview, SUNGHOON has yet again changed, his words showing deeper ambition and affection for his work.

​You’re finally able to directly experience your audience’s reactions a full year and a half after debuting.
SUNGHOON: I didn’t see it at first, but I came to realize that I could’ve been having this much fun all along. I was really pumped up and surprised when we performed in Germany at first, too, but I got used to it right away and got really into it and had fun.

It must feel all new hosting Music Bank in front of an audience, too.
SUNGHOON: I think there’s a more exciting atmosphere while I’m hosting now, and I can engage with ENGENE like it’s a mini fan meeting during standby. ENGENE even bring their light sticks and can write to me from their phones anything they want, so I can tell who’s a fan right away. I can mouth an answer to what ENGENE writes and I make a heart when they ask me to. (laughs)

After watching The Money School, it seems like you would be much more nervous on the Music Bank set since you have to recite lines live and react to everything that’s going on at the same time while being aware of the camera and when you go live.
SUNGHOON: Exactly. It’s sort of … very chaotic. Sort of hectic? And I felt pressured because I couldn’t get used to everything even after a month. I have to do a good job since it’s an important show, and I can’t get any assistance from the other members of ENHYPEN since I’m all alone. It was sort of hard for me at first because I’m not an incredibly high-energy or talkative person in most cases so I had a hard time being engaging. But now I’m pretty used to it.

What did you work on most to improve yourself within that environment?
SUNGHOON: I was most focused on not messing up my lines at first, but I’ve become better at that over time, so now I’m trying to sound more natural. I have rehearsed the previous week’s script while taking speaking lessons at the label a few times, and try not to stick too strictly to the script and speak like myself instead so I can interact more naturally with the other host. I’m a lot better than before, I think, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement, so I think I should keep working on it.

How do you feel after a whole day of working under such stressful conditions?
SUNGHOON: With all the different people I interview and now that the audience is there too, sometimes it feels even more demanding. These days, after I’m done, I come back to the label and practice some choreography, but it’s hard to say if I’m all there. (laughs)

I’m sure it’s tough practicing (laughs) but I’m thinking you must be looking forward to your own comeback even more after watching all those different performances on the show.
SUNGHOON: I learned a lot about acting and facial expressions from watching other artists’ performances, so I was really eager to get promoting. Now that audiences are allowed in again, I realized ENGENE will be able to see each and every step of how we put on a performance in person, so I’m really looking forward to that and I think it will be really fun. But this latest choreography is really hard to dance to, even one time through. (laughs) I’m a bit concerned about my strength so I’m taking personal training as well as CrossFit lately to build up my muscles and stamina.
​I could tell the choreography for your lead single requires a high level of endurance just by watching it. It’s amazing the way you dance so smoothly and keep your movements unembellished despite them being so full of power and requiring you to adjust your strength on a dime.
SUNGHOON: I usually try to keep my dances unembellished for every song. I was always told I dance too lightly when I was a trainee, so I worked on that a lot. Our choreography has a lot of rapid-fire moves so I think practicing everything we’ve done up to this point has helped a lot. For this song, I’m focused on capturing the hip hop groove and different aspects of the rhythm while sticking to my signature unembellished style.

Do you still feel unconfident if you don’t practice to perfection? I saw that you’re good at games that demand concentration like Quick Cups and omok, so I’m curious whether you use the same powers of concentration when you practice, too.
SUNGHOON: Yes, I think I’m still that way. I actually used to play Halli Galli all the time with my sister, so that probably drilled it into me, but I think you’re right that I naturally have good concentration. Even when I’m practicing, if I feel like I need to concentrate, boom—I’m usually able to concentrate really well.

Is there something you wanted to awaken in yourself this time around while practicing?
SUNGHOON: I wanted to be able to stare into the camera with such fierce intensity in my eyes that it would shatter. As far as my appearance goes, I extended the hair on the back of my head with a hairpiece and styled it more wildly to make myself look like the bad kid in school. I like tough looks a lot more than cute ones (laughs) so I want to make it so that, when I see myself, I’ll think, Looking good. Not bad.

Not only were you going for something visually tough, but you tried rapping for the first time, too. Didn’t it feel unusual seeing yourself rapping? You rapped some harsh lyrics like, “get lost.”
SUNGHOON: I got a little flustered when I first heard I would be rapping. (laughs) I didn’t know if I would be able to do it, but it wasn’t really rapid fire, anyway—more melodic rap—so I think that’s part of the reason why I was able to rap decently. I remember while I was recording that I pretended I was the tough kid in school, purposely mumbling the lines a bit unclearly. But I was a little let down that I didn’t have any singing parts in this latest single. (laughs)
​Are you interested in developing your vocals further? When I heard how well you sang the high part in “SHOUT OUT,” I could tell you’ve really improved.
SUNGHOON: Naturally I want to be able to sing well, but when I saw how much better I could be when we were doing promotions … it didn’t feel very good. (laughs) So I’ve been taking a lot of lessons recently and I practiced my vocals a lot in the meantime and between recordings. As I sang more and more, I could feel my vocal cords were improving and becoming better trained and my vocalization was developing. I think my vocals are getting a lot better than before after all that practice.

You’re mentioned writing lyrics here and there. When did you first become interested in that?
SUNGHOON: I’ve actually been writing lyrics since we debuted. It’s just fun to try and write and it gives me time to understand the song before singing it, so I’m trying to write every single time I get the chance. For “SHOUT OUT,” I wrote lyrics for the whole thing, but not a single line made the cut. (laughs) But the A&R team encouraged me by saying I’m good at matching up the syllables and that I should be able to get it if I keep at it, so now I feel like I want to write even more. I hope my lyrics will make it into an album someday. (laughs)

In many ways, you tried quite a number of new and exciting things on this album.
SUNGHOON: I think my desire to improve naturally keeps me motivated. I want to be better, look cooler and have something new to show off.
​It seems like you’re also enjoying what you do more than before. Do you think you’re doing what you want to be doing at this point? You did figure skating while under your parents’ care for a long time and also became a trainee on their advice.
SUNGHOON: I feel like I’m trying to think about many different things and make decisions by myself these days. I still ask for a lot of advice, of course, but I think I’ll still do whatever it is I want at the end of the day. You’re bound to hit a ceiling if all you ever do is follow someone else’s lead, like your parents’ or your label’s. And it makes it hard to focus. Anyway, I think the only way I’ll grow more is if I have the will to do things my own way.

You were on The Willben Show as a figure skating teacher a little while back. Depending on how you look at it, you could say that it’s both a new experience and your own choice to make good use of the part of your life where you were a figure skater to expand your scope.
SUNGHOON: To be honest, what I really think these days is that I’ve done quite a lot related to figure skating since the debut. So maybe the time has come to finally say goodbye … (laughs) After all, I’m not a figure skater anymore—I’m SUNGHOON from ENHYPEN. And, as a member of ENHYPEN, I really want to show a new side of myself.

Is that why you’re trying to have new everyday experiences, then? These days on EN-loG, you’re trying new things like barista work, tea ceremonies, playing golf, and so on.
SUNGHOON: Yes. (laughs) There have always been a lot of things I wanted to do. And I think I like learning new things, too. Golf takes time to learn, too, of course. And you have to learn how to make coffee properly, too.

You really looked like you had fun working part-time at a cafe on EN-O’CLOCK. To the point that you and JAKE made a pact to run a hip cafe when you’re retired and call it Figure Prince and Australian Friend. (laughs)
SUNGHOON: I wouldn’t actually give it that name (laughs) but we ended up only half-jokingly saying, “I bet it would be so fun. Let’s try it.” Making the coffee would be fun, greeting the customers would be pretty fun, the coffee would smell good and it always feels good going to some cafe with really nice interior design. I like that sort of vibe. I feel good going to that kind of cafe, so that’s why I’m thinking of trying my hand at running a cafe like that myself. (laughs) I think it would be good to have something like wooden tables to give the place a welcoming atmosphere. JAKE’s into that kind of vibe, too, so we would probably work well together.

Perhaps when you keep exposing yourself to these new environments you one day find you have changed.

SUNGHOON: I think my personality is naturally changing in some ways, including when we’re promoting. Maybe I’m a little more “E” than I used to be. (laughs) I try out everything I want to do and I usually end up saying everything I want to say, I think. I try not to pay attention to what other people think. And sometimes I really manage not to.

But when you took an MBTI test in the “EN-BTI” video, you said, “To be honest, I don’t know myself … but I’m a little different when I’m with you guys and when I’m out.” It seems like you’re still getting to know yourself.

SUNGHOON: I’m really cheery, talkative and playful when I’m with the other members, but I think I become calm and quiet when I’m alone. I joke around with my sister a lot the same way I do with the other members. When I’m around people I’m comfortable with, like my family, I tend to have a slightly different personality. But I’m also different when I’m alone, so it’s actually hard to keep track. I’m not even sure myself now. (laughs)

Would you say you can more freely express yourself when you’re around people you feel secure with?

SUNGHOON: I think that’s part of it, too. I think I feel really comfortable with the other members since there’s six other people I can rely on. And they have no problem expressing their feelings, which puts me at ease, too. I think the people I surround myself with are a really positive influence on me.

​What else makes you feel comfortable, besides being with the other members?
SUNGHOON: I think taking care of everything I feel I need to do helps me feel a sense of stability. For example, if I think I should buy clothes that day, then I need to do it to cool my nerves. (laughs) I was thinking about reviewing all the moves during dance practice, and I felt uncomfortable until I could finally do it. Sometimes I’m so busy I can’t work out, and I feel a sense of regret thinking about how I should have done it, but couldn’t, so it feels … bad. (laughs) Sort of like I couldn’t meet my goals. Something like that.

I think I know now why you were the only one who didn’t see your MBTI change in “EN-BTI.” It feels like you’re undergoing a change where you’re able to adjust more and more to life as an idol while holding onto your true self.
SUNGHOON: I think so, too. So I think now I have a tendency to change depending on the situation and my surroundings because I’m a little different when I’m alone, when I’m with the other members and when I’m on stage. It’s especially the case when I’m on stage that I focus solely on my dancing and singing and the performance itself, so I think I make facial expressions and get into a mood I never would otherwise. I’m nervous when I’m on stage, but my desire to put on a show is stronger than my nerves. And thinking that way can actually make it more fun in some ways.

Do you feel confident that you’ll be able to show everything you want to show during the upcoming promotions?
SUNGHOON: I think I should be able to as long as I keep on trying as much as I have been.
Interview. Lee Yejin
Article. Lee Yejin
Visual Director. Jeon Yurim
Project Management. Kim Rieun
Visual Creative Team. Heu Sae Ryeun , Lee Gunhee , Choi Ara , Cha Minsoo(BELIFT LAB)
Photography. JDZ Chung / Assist. Jeong Changheum, Song Junghyeon
Hair. Kim Sohee, Yeo Jingyeong
Makeup. Kwon Sojeong
Stylist. Ji Seyun / Assist. Kim Minseon, Choi Jaeeun
Set Design. Choi Seoyun, Son Yehee, Kim Ayeong(Da;rak)
Artist Protocal Team. Kim Sejin, Oh Gwangtaek, Hong Yuki, Kim Hangil, Kang Mingi, Lee Hyunji