Even when he’s just saying hello, JOSHUA looks you in the eyes sweetly and smiles. Good, good. That’s right. I guess it must be. The considerate way he goes on to speak only after chiming in with another person’s words makes the whole aura surrounding him feel sundrenched.
These days you refer to yourself as “gentle sexy” JOSHUA. You’ve jumped up a level from “gentleman.”
JOSHUA: I said I want to be soft but a bit more sexy, half-jokingly (laughs) because I feel like I don’t want to be just soft and innocent on the stage anymore. If you look at 2PM, they have a cool, mature vibe. I think it’s important to have that kind of aura.
I think you can see that gentle sexy side of you in the I dream of love trailer. The fans got all excited about the way you stared at the bouquet.
JOSHUA: I was trying to capture the essence of the lead single, “Ready to love.” In the video, I’m falling in love with someone I’m close friends with. I think I had that sparkle in my eyes because, while I was acting, I was imagining I was waiting for the person I love on the day I had chosen to show my love for them with flowers.
Your introduction, where you cautiously ask for someone’s heart, builds up the atmosphere in “Ready to love.”
JOSHUA: I’m in charge of the “exposition” part of the narrative. (laughs) I sing in my typical style for the intro. I went back and forth on whether I should use falsetto or my normal voice, but BUMZU said it would sound better if I sang softly. But I put more energy into my vocals for the chorus to match the rest of the song. I think I revealed myself through this song. It’s completely me.
Whereas you are yourself on the single, your voice is more firm than usual in “Anyone.”
JOSHUA: Normally I project my voice a little and sing with a “haa,” but I took a different approach to this song and sang from my chest. I first sang in a higher key compared to the final version and lowered the key of that recording, but when I just sang in a lower key and compared it to that modified version, my voice sounded completely different. I decided to try singing it in a deep, solid voice. I never realized I could sing that way. Our unit song, “Same dream, same mind, same night,” was really, really challenging. It might not sound like it, but it’s actually a really hard song to sing. I jokingly asked if it was possible to change my part but I went ahead and practiced anyway. (laughs) Me and the other members find new challenges exciting. I think the only way to rid yourself of the pressure associated with taking on new challenges is to practice sufficiently and have confidence in yourself. I have to work even harder since I’m kind of lazy.
I think everyone will find it weird that you, JOSHUA, known for having many hobbies, thinks of himself as being lazy.
JOSHUA: I guess I have high standards. I recently watched all of the Netflix series Snowpiercer by myself. I recommended it to the other members but, you know when you get a recommendation and you don’t want to watch it? Check this out. And then: OK, I will! But you can tell they won’t. (laughs) I took a one-day workshop where I made my own perfume, mixing soapy and rose scents. I’m interested in pottery but it’s hard to do it without any help, so I’m making paper clay crafts instead. I watch YouTube videos by myself and make things like bowls to hold accessories, candleholders, and incense holders.
If you made something like that as a present, who would you like to give it to?
JOSHUA: I never had a quality problem with beadwork, as long as I chose the right colors and could tie the knots, but I have to practice a lot more before I can give someone a clay tray as a present. Because I want to give good presents. I hope to give some to someone who’s interested in interior design someday. DK is really into it lately, so we talk about how we should arrange furniture and stuff. I love to travel, but it isn’t really possible to go outside these days. I think that’s why I’m concentrating on hobbies I can do indoors for now.
It’s impossible to go anywhere in person right now, but you’re busy doing promotions for overseas online.
JOSHUA: And it feels great. I always wanted to go on these shows but I never imagined it would happen for real. I got messages from my high school friends in the States: You were on the show? Amazing! Congrats! Like that. (laughs) The things I say could be a reflection on SEVENTEEN, though, so I feel like I have to be responsible. I have to introduce the songs in English and explain them in interviews, but it was hard to express myself. So I thought maybe I should take speaking lessons, and VERNON thought the same thing. We’re planning to study together.
You must have realized that people are paying more attention to SEVENTEEN. MAX also mentioned you by name in an interview this year, where he said it would be fun to do a collaboration with you and HOSHI.
JOSHUA: I really enjoy listening to his music. If we do a collaboration, I’d want to do it with him on his own music—the music he’s so good at. He sent HOSHI and me a copy of his album Colour Vision. I listen to it at home on my record player all the time. Usually, once I like a song, I like it forever.
And let’s not forget about Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning.” (laughs)
JOSHUA: I never stop singing that one. (laughs) I liked it ever since I was young. I’m still carrying around the bag I bought three-ish years ago exclusively, too. It means a lot to me because it was the first thing I was really made up my mind to buy. The memory and feeling of that moment is so good. I took a camera with me when we were filming our latest music video and took pictures of the scenery. I can look at the pictures later and be transported back to that enjoyable time.
You seem to place a lot of importance on initiative.
JOSHUA: I don’t want to forget how to be humble. Consistent, hard work. And an attitude not to take CARAT’s love for granted. I think about it even more now because I can’t do the things that I used to do all the time without thinking about it any longer—especially how we used to be able to have fun and be happy with CARAT in concert. There’s still online concerts, but there’s a big difference between CARAT being physically present and them not. I can’t hear any cheering, and I can’t look into CARAT’s eyes. It makes me feel a little less energetic. If I could be back at a concert venue, I’d be more energetic and working harder.
What do you do to make sure you don’t lose your initiative?
JOSHUA: I keep telling myself I should keep my head on straight or I that I have to do more. And I read the comments CARAT leave on Weverse all the time. I feel so bad that I don’t upload my pictures more often. It’s because I worry so much, like, I took this kind of photo for CARAT before—what kind of photo would they like to see this time? I want the gifts I give them to be as good as possible. For me, CARAT are just like old friends. And since we’ve grown closer from spending so much time together, I’m able to show them more of me now.
When do you get the feeling like you’re more grown up?
JOSHUA: I didn’t want to be the one to make a fuss before, so I decided to just put up with things, but I speak up now when I feel it’s necessary. But only when it’s just me and one other person. You know, if I say something to them in front of a bunch of other people, they might feel intimidated. It’s a problem to be solved just between us, so there’s no need to do it where other people are watching. I was never the kind of person who talks about their feelings, but I think I changed after spending time around the other members.
Was it also the members who caused you to become the “funniest member off-screen”? (laughs)
JOSHUA: The guys naturally goof around a lot, so it was bound to happen. I don’t try to be funny on purpose; it just automatically happens that way. After over 10 years together, we’re just like family. I hang out with them all the time when we’re off-camera and off the clock. I do everything with them that I’d do with my family—eat, watch movies, have a drink.
Are you still drinking wine these days?
JOSHUA: I don’t drink it very often—for health reasons—but I do like red wine. I found out about a wine called Killibinbin from THE 8. I like it because it’s dry and full-bodied—both things I enjoy. It pairs really well with truffle cream gnocchi and oil pasta. I put on music, too. You can search playlists on music streaming sites, right? I listen to something like “songs for a rainy day” or “music for lonely nights” based on how I’m feeling that day.
You also did your Wine and Cheese V LIVEs back in 2019. There’s lots of fans still waiting for your sequel.
JOSHUA: I’m not good at doing those shows alone. I thought about doing a craft show, but then figured it would be boring. (sighs) Filming shows is still a source of uncertainty and difficulty for me. I felt a lot of pressure to make the “CARNIVAL” episode of GOING SEVENTEEN fun. But I like it when the other members tease me when they say they don’t want to mess up like I did on “CARNIVAL.” I’m sure they say it to make me feel more relaxed. Even after we finished filming, they all told me I did fine, so I said, “Yeah, I thought I did fine, too.” (laughs)
That was the day you made the acrostic poem with “Yongdu Rest Stop,” wasn’t it? (laughs) You’ve proved you’re an acrostic master with “MANSAE,” “California,” and so many other words.
JOSHUA: I try to do it on the spot, but more often than not it doesn’t work out, actually. Those get edited out. (laughs) I think I’m at an advantage because I use a mix of Korean and English. I wonder if reading so many books when I was little helped. I always enjoyed reading books because they painted mystical worlds in my mind. And Harry Potter was one of my favorites among fantasy novels. One time in my dream, I actually became Harry Potter. If I could be in one of the houses, I’d want to be in Gryffindor. Courageous Gryffindor. (laughs)
What gives you courage?
JOSHUA: I feel reassured and energetic when I’m with the other members. I once worked out every single day for an entire year, and thanks to them I managed to go every day, even after work. They motivate me. I recently started taking the vitamins that SEUNGKWAN recommended to me, too. I take better care of my health because SEUNGKWAN is taking care of me.
I heard your endurance and fighting spirit are positive motivations for the other members as well.
JOSHUA: Even when I was a kid I was pretty persistent. I used to go hiking with my grandma and my mom. I hated getting up at 5:30 in the morning and leaving the house every day, but I enjoyed it once I was on the mountain, so I never quit partway—not even once. It’s also a point of pride for me that I don’t give up. So my pride was really hurt when I gave up on knitting. (laughs) I’m fine with almost anything that involves my hands, but when I knit I can’t control my strength and then the stitches get too close together and I can’t get the needles to work. It’s different when it’s my job, though. Knitting’s a hobby and it’s only for me, so even if I give up it won’t impact anyone else, but I could never quit something like my job that I’m responsible for. That’s something I need to see through.
That reminds me of HIT THE ROAD, when HOSHI described you as a “long-distance runner.”
JOSHUA: I think endurance requires a strong mind more than it does physical strength. I got a lot of influence from my mom in that regard. I see my mom as someone who has managed to succeed in everything she’s wanted to do. Before my mom became a doctor of traditional Korean medicine, she worked in fashion, and a restaurant after that. She started studying traditional medicine around the time I graduated from middle school. I watched how she never gave up and followed the work she loves all the way and I want to follow her example.
Is there anything else you’d like to accomplish?
JOSHUA: I’m interested in acting, but I think I need to practice a whole lot. I tried taking acting lessons once or twice, but I was distracted from how busy I was. I’m going to start over again when I can focus properly. Of course, I’ll work hard at anything anybody tells me to do. And I want to do a good job, too. (laughs)
You revealed on JTBC’s Knowing Bros that you have a dream to build a hotel.
JOSHUA: My goal is to be a cool person no matter what area I’m working in. I want to build a cafe or a hotel and then I want to let the people I care about have a good time there as a gift. I’ll put them up in a suite for free. I also want to donate more. I want to donate often, both with SEVENTEEN and on my own, so I’m looking for a charity to donate to. I made it all the way to where I am because of all the people who helped me. And now I want to leave my mark in my field. And perform at the Billboard Awards or the Grammys. But I have to practice really hard if I want to do that.
You emphasized working hard several times today. What keeps you working as hard as you do?
JOSHUA: The expectations. The feelings of the people who love and wait for us. There are people who find strength through us; for that reason, I work hard. I don’t want to give an overused answer when I’m talking about CARAT, but CARAT is the reason I can be here at all and they are SEVENTEEN’s fans. I’m CARAT and CARAT is me at the same time that they’re SEVENTEEN. That’s what keeps me going.
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