ENHYPEN’s leader JUNGWON isn’t easily shaken even when bad things happen. It’s because he believes there is a solution to every problem.

How does it feel to finally debut?
We’re on music shows, we’re doing a lot of promotional activities, our videos are on YouTube and social media, and even MR removed videos are being uploaded. These videos used to feature other idol groups, but now that I see our faces in them, the fact that we have debuted is slowly sinking in.

It must have been difficult getting ready for your debut right after I-LAND ended.
We didn’t have much time until our debut. So our biggest priority was to perfect our debut performance, and once it was ready, we tried hard to become a tight-knit team. Trainees usually spend years together before they debut, but it’s been less than a year since we became a team.

You must have put in a lot of effort.
We practiced “Given-Taken” so much. (laughs) We did practice “Let Me In (20 CUBE)” a lot too, but not as much as “Given-Taken.”

Which performance did you particularly enjoy or focus on at the DEBUT SHOW?
“Let Me In (20 CUBE)” is a cheerful song, and it has a lot of jumps in the choreography, so we had a lot of fun performing it.

What did you want to emphasize in the choreography of “Given-Taken”?
NI-KI is an incredible dancer. So I copied NI-KI’s moves and added my own feel. But if I did things too differently, the details of the movements would change. So I would adjust the angle of my head just a little bit. But then, if I lower my head while I perform “Given-Taken,” I would look like I am glaring so I tried to be mindful of that.

In the last episode of I-LAND, your role model Jung Kook said you were memorable because you were really good. The DEBUT SHOW featured “Given-Taken,” “Let Me In (20 CUBE),” “10 Months,” and “Flicker,” which all have completely different moods. You must have worked hard to put on the best performance for each concept.
Some people are born with expressive faces, but that’s not the case for me. So I practiced making pre-planned expressions for each part. I believe that idols should be good at everything. So I think the point is to be well-rounded and do everything well. Jung Kook became my role model because he’s good at everything. He’s very laid back on stage. So I take inspiration from his relaxed expressions and strong vibes - “Boy with Luv” for relaxed expressions, and “ON,” as well as the solo performance of “My Time” from the recent concert for strong vibes.

I can tell that “ON” is the kind of performance you want to do. (laughs)
I’d like to try really difficult performances like that. I was actually hoping to do that for the final test of I-LAND. That’s the kind of performance I wanted. But I also liked our final performance.

How was it like acting in the “Given-Taken” music video? Your nose is bled from the first scene.
The scene where I wipe off blood wasn’t very difficult but the weather was so cold that the fake blood would harden as soon as it’s put in my nose. So the scene took about an hour to film because of that. I was also worried that I might look ugly getting a nosebleed and wiping it off.

Some of the scenes from the music video are quite scary. What was it like on set?
First of all, it was freezing (laughs), and there were eyeballs and fangs for props, but they were all made of jellies. When we had to look into each other’s eyes, we would burst into laughter, so we had to retake the scenes quite a few times. We laughed so much when we got bitten on the neck, we made a few bloopers. 

When I watch videos featuring ENHYPEN, like the ones on V LIVE, you seem to have a keen eye for the things happening around you. How does that help you as the leader?
There are times when we have issues as a team, but sometimes, two members might be at odds with each other and get hurt while the rest of us don’t know anything about it That can ruin the atmosphere when we’re on site. So I think it helps me notice those things and solve those issues, but it’s still not easy for me to go up to them and talk about those matters. It’s because of my personality, and I’m still working on it.

As the leader, I am sure there are times when it’s hard for you to decide whether you should bring up certain matters or not.
So we made rules on that. If everything goes well at work, that’s good, but you can’t always guarantee that. And if our feelings are hurt, that’ll affect our performance. So we agreed to put work above everything else and deal with the other issues later when we come back home.

I heard that the leader was decided after a lengthy selection process.
We all thought HEESEUNG would be the leader until the day before we had that meeting on “ENHYPEN&HI.” But then he called me over before bed and told me that he wanted me to be the leader. He thought it would be better if he remained a team member and the oldest member because if the oldest member also becomes the leader, the other members might be hesitant to express their opinions clearly. And he said the pressure that comes with being a leader can change people.

Did he say anything else or give you advice?
HEESEUNG was under a lot of pressure when he was the leader on I-LAND. So he already experienced all that and thought I might struggle in the same way. He told me that he doesn’t want me to feel too much pressure, and this is something he mentioned very casually, but he said if I know something, I should pretend I know more, and the members will have more trust in me. That’s a little trick - a tidbit he taught me. (laughs)

I’m sure you take care of the members a lot, but how do you take care of yourself?
I don’t usually get stressed out much, but when I do, it gets overwhelming. When that happens, I talk with HEESEUNG a lot. He catches on quick, so he lays it out for me. So I share my feelings with him and talk to him about my struggles, how I’m doing, and how I should deal with certain issues.

When you were asked what kind of leader you want to be, you said you want to be a friendly leader. Is there a reason why you think allowing everyone to voice their opinions freely should be the top priority?
This is something I’ve felt ever since we filmed I-LAND, but if we keep things to ourselves, we’ll end up with people who are dissatisfied. I think we have to include everyone’s opinions as much as possible. And since we’re going to work together as ENHYPEN for a long time, no one should be left behind, and that’s why I think communication is the most important. We promised we’d settle any issues or matters on the day it happened. So we have meetings at home about three to four times a week after work.

I’m sure you learned many things and grew while filming I-LAND, including how to be a leader. I noticed that whenever you receive feedback about your performance, you would look for ways to improve instead of being discouraged.
My usual priorities are to practice dancing, singing, and live performance. But when I receive feedback about something, that becomes my top priority, and I practice it more.

So after receiving feedback and practice, did you ever feel that you’ve improved a lot in a short period of time?
This is a behind-the-scenes story (laughs), but when we were filming I-LAND Part 1, I got a lot of negative feedback even off camera. I wasn’t able to make much progress until the fourth performance of Part 1. But when we had a break before filming Part 2, I looked up different idol group performances and studied their facial expressions at the training studio and tried to copy them. Later, when I took the first test of Part 2, I felt like I had grown a lot.

On “ENHYPEN&HI,” members picked you as the member who can stay calm when bad things happen. What is your secret to maintaining composure?
I have a hard time, too if there’s a huge crisis. (laughs) But most of the time, I just try to ignore it. I believe there is a solution to every problem so I think it’s best not to think about the problem and just focus on the solution. When things got tough during I-LAND, I tried to ignore everything and worked on the solution right away, and I think that has been helpful even until now.

Do you think you were born with that kind of personality? Or has it changed after you experienced that big event of your life, I-LAND?
I am a very shy person, and I don’t usually wear my feelings on my sleeve, but I was really stressed out. But I think I’ve found a way to let go of stress while filming I-LAND. I talked a lot with the other trainees during that period. I even cut back on sleep to talk, and the producers would tell us to go to bed. We had to wake up at 10 a.m. the next morning, but we would talk until 6 a.m. Even when we finished practicing at 2 a.m., we would keep talking after taking off our microphones. We were all very anxious so I think talking to them often helped me hold myself together.

You used to practice Taekwondo before you debuted. Did your personality change in any way with your training?
When I was in kindergarten, I was extremely shy. You know how they have talent shows in preschool? I heard that when I went on stage, I would just freeze and stand there, doing nothing. That’s when my mom took me to Taekwondo so I could be more sociable. But honestly, I don’t think it was that helpful for my social skills. (laughs) But practicing Taekwondo with music and all that seemed to have helped me with what I do now.

You competed in Taekwondo sparring matches.
When I first started Taekwondo, I didn’t like it because I didn’t know anyone there. But I’ve come to enjoy it more and more, until I became a Taekwondo sparrer. The first time I sparred in a competition, my opponent was a member of the national team so I lost with a KO, and that was a bit terrifying.

You must be very sad about missing out on a lot of the school experience because you were an athlete and then a trainee.
When I was in middle school, I would often leave school early, and I couldn’t even go on school trips. That was the saddest part. When I came home early, I had to eat lunch, so my grandma always made lunch for me.

You seem to have a special relationship with your grandma. What are some of the influences your grandma had on your life?
It became a habit of mine, but taking off my socks whenever I get into bed. My grandma hates it when I wear socks in bed.

You seem very mature as a leader, but are there any moments you are reminded that you are still 16?
Whenever JAKE tells me I am cute. He says that a lot. The other older members rarely say that when I’m around, and SUNGHOON usually doesn’t say things like that. So I think I feel like a 16-year-old when SUNGHOON tells me I am cute once in a while.

Perhaps some pressure is lifted off your shoulders when older members treat you like a cute younger brother.
When we’re in a good mood at home or before going to bed, we all chat really loud like teenagers. So we’re the most energetic before we go to sleep or get off work, and that’s when we have a lot of fun (laughs).

What kind of team do you want to make with the members? What’s your definition of a good team?
One whose members always think about the team. The members of SEVENTEEN told us that we should do what’s best for the team, not what’s best for a particular member. But if we only do what’s best for the team, some members might end up doing the things they don’t want to do. So, in the end, I think the best team is the one that does what everyone wants to do.

Then what kind of person do you want to be? At the end of I-LAND, you said you want to make others proud.
There are so many talented people these days. So if we become a group that stands out with our talent, our fans will be able to take pride in us and root for us. When that happens, I think I’ll be able to be proud of myself.

I was surprised that you knew Weverse was scheduled for website maintenance on December 2. I think that shows how often you communicate with your fans and how much you care about them. You must be very sad that you can’t meet them in person.
That’s how I felt ever since we filmed I-LAND. But wouldn’t we be able to meet someday? Recently, a staff member of a TV program came up to me saying they are ENGENE. I think it’s great that I can at least meet our fans like this once in a while.

Is there anything you would like to say to your fans right now?
The one thing I want to do the most right now is to perform in front of all our fans. Not only myself but all ENHYPEN members are on social media because we really want to communicate with you. I hope our sincerity reaches out to everyone.

Article. Minji Oh
Interview. Minji Oh
Visual Director. Yurim Jeon
Visual Creative Team. Gunhee Lee(BELIFT LAB)
Photography. Sunhye Shin / Assist. Seungjo Baek, Minseok Kim, Sangwoo Kim(@co-op.) (Digital camera), Yurim Jeon(Film camera)
Hair. Iljoong Lee, Minjeong Kyung
Makeup. Sunghee Ahn, Sojeong Kwon
Stylist. Kyungwon Choi
Video. Ujeong Bang, Surin Kim, Jibin Yeom, Yujeong Kim, Yeongeun Min(Big Hit Three Sixty), Yeongjae Cho, Jaehyeong Kim, Taehun Kim(Brandhood)