FUMA is happy to see himself as the SP (security police) and Papa of the group. This interview shows how wide and deep his love is, how much he embraces the other members, and tells all about his dancing, his music and himself.

You really seem to be into camping these days. I heard you went camping with your family a lot when you were younger too.

FUMA: I found camping with my family a little annoying when I was a kid. I’d just think, I just wanna stay home and play games. (laughs) But now that I’m older and busier and I see the photos from when my family sometimes goes camping without me, it makes me want to go. So I’ve been buying camping supplies lately. I haven’t really been out camping yet but it’s fun just getting all the supplies together for now.

What is it about collecting supplies that’s fun for you?

FUMA: My hope is to have a collection of camping supplies that are all from the same company so they match. I don’t really have time to go camping these days though, so even when I’m just having a meal, I use the special chopsticks I bought instead of any random pair, and it actually makes the food taste different. It tastes so much better! Seriously. (laughs) Anyway, I’m having fun doing that for now.

So that’s why you gave MAKI a set of spoon and chopsticks for his birthday. (laughs)

FUMA: Yes. It makes me happy to see he uses them sometimes.

Is there anywhere you’d like to go camping in Korea while you’re in the country promoting?

FUMA: Well, camping’s really popular in Korea right now. I actually like spending time alone so I’d like to try camping solo. I want to have some time to sit in a chair and be with my own feelings and take in the atmosphere around me.

​Reading appears to be another way that you spend some alone time. In &ROUTINE, you said, “I read every morning as I go to work.”

FUMA: I didn’t actually used to enjoy reading, but I wanted to be able to write lyrics and I want to be able to use captivating words in interviews or just everyday conversation, so I started reading more and more. I started by buying a lot of different books. I figured if I bought them then I’d end up reading them. (laughs)


What kind of inspiration do you get from reading?

FUMA: Ever since I started reading, if I happen upon a good expression, I write it down. For example, if I see a pretty star then I write down a metaphor about it. Now that I’m writing these things down, I hope I can eventually use them to write some lyrics with. The funny part is that what I write down seems fine at the time I write it but it’s really embarrassing when I see it again the next day. (laughs) Sometimes it’s trying too hard to be romantic and I think, Why did I write this?


I feel the same way when I look at what I wrote sometimes. (laughs) I imagine your love of books must also have a positive effect on your vocabulary and ability to express yourself.

FUMA: I’m still not that great at languages so I still worry a lot about whether I can express myself well in front of fans. When I get nervous, I find it hard to talk. I feel like I’m not very good at Korean but some people on staff have complimented me, and my Korean teacher told me, “You just need to be confident,” so these days I’m working on my Korean and my self-confidence in tandem!

​The new album has Korean versions of your songs as well. Did you find it difficult practicing for this one?

FUMA: I’m okay when I’m just talking but there’s things I have trouble pronouncing correctly when singing. EJ helped me a lot with that and I think it turned out well in the end since I did it over and over. And when I first heard “Road Not Taken,” I thought it would be a really hard song to dance to—like I would literally die from it. (laughs) And it is challenging, but I feel like the vibe of the dance and the whole song are a good fit for me. I think I’m good at dramatic dance moves and at being energetic and I could really feel that in that song. And as soon as I heard “FIREWORK,” I knew I’d definitely do a good job with it.


Which is your favorite?

FUMA: Definitely “FIREWORK”! I really love my part in it especially and I was already hoping to get to sing it before it was mine.


Why is that?

FUMA: The part that goes, “When I met you / You taught me that I’m not alone,” really suits my voice, and most importantly, the lyrics sounded like something that were really about me. I had gone through the process of dreaming of becoming a singer and going through auditions all alone, but I’m not alone anymore—I have &TEAM. And the line, “The wet fuse, I’ll light it again,” reminded me of a time when I felt like giving up, but I didn’t, and how now I’ve made my dreams come true. I really wanted to sing both parts, and in the end, I do. It feels like fate was at work for me in “FIREWORK.” (laughs)

​You worked on the choreography for the song with K and YUMA, right?

FUMA: When everyone’s practicing together, we contribute a lot of ideas, like, This angle would work—let’s go with that. K’s ideas were incorporated into the final version this time around and the process of just talking things through together turned out to be really helpful. I hope we can all write some choreography together someday.


It sounds like you worked really hard on it. Is there anything in particular you’d like people to pay attention to?

FUMA: I paid special attention to making sure the moves were explosive like fireworks but also full of precision. The last part is so good it gave me chills while dancing to it. It practically makes me cry. It wasn’t easy pulling off a group dance with such tight timing, but when LUNÉ sees the looks on our faces and how natural we look, I think they’ll be really impressed.


Did you help the other members with anything while practicing the dance, given how difficult it is? You can be seen teaching them moves in &AUDITION - The Howling and in some behind-the-scenes videos.

FUMA: Sometimes the other members have it down but they suddenly look nervous before the performance. When that happens, I don’t go into any details, just give them general advice on how to make sure they can pull things off. For example, HARUA told me he wasn’t sure about what he should do for the part in “Road Not Taken” where he’s supposed to pretend like he’s walking. So I just said, “Don’t overthink it—just keep your hands open like this and make big movements,” and he did a great job. I try to give small tips like that rather than too much information.

​It’s amazing how you’re always encouraging them when they feel nervous by saying things like, “You looked cool. You did a great job.”

FUMA: When the other members are happy, I’m happy. I feel really happy when I see them smiling. So if they look unsure of themselves or like they’re getting tired, it’s like a habit for me to say, “Don’t worry. You’re doing great.” My family also always had my back whenever I was auditioning and I think I was influenced a lot by how encouraging they were.


When you were talking about how thankful you were for debuting, your family were the first ones you thanked. How do you feel now about your decision to go on &AUDITION and how it eventually led you to meet the other members and debut as part of &TEAM?

FUMA: I want to congratulate myself on making the right choice. I had to think it over a long time. Actually, there are so many auditions in the world and I was starting to wonder if I should try a different path. It’s really lucky I chose not to give up on my dream of becoming a singer despite all that and chose to be on &AUDITION. I felt sorry for my family, though. They cheered me on all the way to the very end and I’m just so grateful I had all their support because that’s why I was able to debut. I don’t know why they believed in me. (laughs) Oh, I just remembered this: Right before the final round, I sent a message to my mom because I seriously thought I couldn’t do it. I said, “I’m not sure I’m actually going to get to debut. I’m really sorry if that happens.” I don’t want to show myself being teary, which you could call a weakness, and that was the first time I ever did.


What did they say to you?

FUMA: They said it doesn’t matter what happens—that I already made it that far, so I should just keep doing my best, at least until the end of this one. And I’m an only child, so I thought about how they must feel to see their only son auditioning and never giving up. Some might say I should’ve moved onto something new but my family truly did support me right to the very end.

​You may have been an only child, but thanks to your family’s support, you’ve now debuted with eight new brothers. How did you end up being Papa and SP to them?

FUMA: (laughs) How did that start? I think it started after HARUA called me Papa first. I’m nearly the oldest and I’m physically big, so I think that’s why the others have this image of me as their Papa or SP looking out for them. Now they all call me SP like it’s nothing and HARUA calls me Papa instead of FUMA. I really think of the youngest members as my kids especially. (laughs) They say things like, “Watch this!” And they all listen to me well. I didn’t see much of HARUA or MAKI during auditions but nowadays they stick to me like a pair of puppies. It’s cute how they keep following me even when I say, “That’s enough, you guys!” And TAKI really likes games, and when I see the way we play together, I really do feel like I’m Papa. (laughs)


What was the reason you decided to take on that role for them?

FUMA: Even when I was young I felt like I wanted to take care of people. It’s still my dream to be a superhero—a hero to somebody else. And I just like having the names Papa and SP. It’s hard to talk about yourself or show off your special skills, but anytime I introduce myself as Papa or SP, the fans can easily see the kind of person I am. So good job, kids! Thanks for calling me that. (laughs)


What made you want to take care of people, even when you were young?

FUMA: I like superheroes so I watched a lot of superhero cartoons, and Spider-Man was a big influence on me. I wanted to be Spider-Man when I was little so I even tried purposely putting a spider on my hand. (laughs) It started just because I liked Spider-Man, but eventually it changed to wanting to look after my mom and my friends. As I became an adult, it got to where I wanted to be a hero for the people around me that I care about.


That reminds me of when you played the hero for EJ when he went to a gyūdon restaurant without his wallet. (laughs)

FUMA: I started moving unconsciously toward the restaurant when EJ called me. It was like I just said, “Okay, I’m on my way,” and my body was moving by itself. I think I liked feeling like I really was a hero, the way my body just started moving by itself. (laughs) I hope when things like this happen in the future I can be the first person there for them.

​Is there someone you can rely on too?

FUMA: Among the other members, I’d say it’s EJ. Since we’re the leader and subleader, we spend a lot of time talking together. I can tell him about all the good things and the bad things I’m feeling inside. We talk a lot about the group when we eat together too. We were having barbecue together recently and talking about how there’s actually a big age gap in our group so it’s especially hard for the youngest to speak up with their ideas. So we talked about how we could create an environment where everyone feels comfortable exchanging ideas.


I feel like your efforts will pay off and that you’ll be able to create that kind of environment. Are you usually pretty open about your opinions on different things?

FUMA: I’m usually more about listening than giving my own opinion. And I’m really happy we didn’t let age get in the way between all the members. I’ve discovered a lot of new things about myself too. The others have changed me in a lot of different ways.


This is your first comeback with this group that has brought many changes for you. What are you hoping for for the comeback?

FUMA: I hope people will still cheer us on through our activities in Korea even though we have a long way to go. (laughs) We have plenty of room for improvement but if they can keep on supporting us then it’ll be a huge help for us. And I can’t wait to get on stage and put on a performance for all of them. The stage is both where we perform and where we make videos and do photoshoots. It’s the only place where I can really showcase my charms. That’s why I place so much importance on every single performance. It’s only been half a year since we debuted but I’ll never let this feeling fade.

Article. Lee Jiyeon
Interview. Lee Jiyeon
Visual Director. Jeon Yurim
Coordinator. Lee Yejin
Visual Creative Team. Jang Yeaseul, UEDA SAEKO
Photography. LESS / Assist. Lee Sujeong, Park Sunseok, Jeon Junseo
Hair. Lim Jungho, Kim Minyoung, Kim Minwook
Makeup. Baek Hyuna, Lee Jimin
Stylist. Kim Beungkyu