Article. Rieun Kim
Jiheon was a middle school student when she debuted with fromis_9. She’s already 19 years old. She did her spring semester at university while simultaneously preparing for the group’s promotional period and documented her campus life for flover on HoneY_log, her personal vlog. In this interview, Jiheon talks about this period of her youth—one where everything is new and unfamiliar, and makes for more beautiful memories as a result.

With 19 comes change
Jiheon: I’m definitely more aware of my finances now that I’m 19. On the other hand, though, I also think I should dress up like a freshman since I’m 19 now. It’s a contradiction. (laughs) I don’t usually spend much money but I bought a lot of clothes lately. I bought a lot of pieces that feel effortlessly chic—that look that everyone associates with first-year students. I wore that kind of clothing on my vlog a lot and flover really seemed to like it. (laughs) But honestly, I still don’t get what the big deal about drinking is. I didn’t drink too many times—mostly with my dad, and with my friends because we all turned 19 and figured we should—but somehow I don’t drink that much. We share maybe half a bottle of soju between four of us. I decided to drink with the other members of fromis_9 one by one. So far I ended up drinking with Hayoung, Chaeyong and Seoyeon. It actually just feels like talking like normal, except getting alcohol instead of cola. (laughs)

The romantic life on campus
Jiheon: I was taking classes online at first, but I started taking classes on campus just as the COVID-19 situation improved and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. It was great: The first view of the campus I got was exactly as beautiful as I imagined it would be and looked like something right out of TV. (laughs) One of my dreams once I became a university student was to go to a school festival and it just so happened that my classes ended early when the festival was on so I had a chance to check it out around the school during the day. I felt a sense of release watching everybody my age having so much fun there. I wasn’t there long, but I sat in the shade on the grass, ate a croffle and watched other students busking. It was fantastic. I was supposed to perform at another festival at a different school that day, too. It was the first time in a long time for me to be in the audience instead of up on stage, and it made me feel like I needed to put on a good performance as well. Next time I want to go to the festival at night, and I’d like to perform at my school with the rest of fromis_9 if we get a chance to. Oh, and I want to try the cafeteria food, too. I haven’t eaten at the university cafeteria yet, but I’m really curious because everyone says it’s really good.

The joy of studying a new subject

Jiheon: I was always interested in studying something in a field outside the entertainment industry. It was a toss-up between child development studies and psychology, but not only do I love children, I also heard I could study psychology alongside child development if I went into that, so that’s what I chose. It’s only been one semester so I really only know about basic theories and the history of it, but I didn’t know anything about this field before so it’s all new to me. I was also required to take a coding class for general credits that was really fun. (laughs) I get a little tired when I have to work and attend class on the same day, but I forgot all about feeling tired when I was in the coding lectures. I worked on a presentation with a group for one of the courses, too, which was actually fun. (laughs) I really enjoyed working on that project. I met some really great people in my group and giving a presentation really suited me—maybe because I’m used to being in front of people for my work. I originally wanted to take some fun classes, too, but I was too slow. When I signed up for my courses, I managed to get two classes for my major and one optional course, but I couldn’t get the other three. (laughs)

Adjusting to university life

Jiheon: When I was preparing for the CSAT, I didn’t buy the workbooks, I just took notes on everything I needed right in the textbooks. But professors in university give out PPTs, so instead of taking notes, I organize everything on my laptop and memorize the PPTs directly. Up until high school I had my own way of studying, but since it’s only my first semester I didn’t really know how the professors make their exams and I couldn’t get a feel for how to write the reports. I got some advice from my friends who are going to school, too, but I’m still adjusting. (laughs)

​Tips from Jiheon on how to use time wisely
Jiheon: I love planning everything out. (laughs) I think about how much work I should get done like a guideline. Then I try to stick to that and usually finish things ahead of schedule, too. The more I put things off, the more bothered I get, so even when I get homework, I try to do it the day I get it. I can’t rest otherwise. The real problem is that I’m overambitious. (laughs) I schedule my time really precisely because I have to get everything done in order to satiate my ambitions. But, since that makes my body and mind both tired, I’m trying to place more importance on free time these days, too. I tried simple drawing books, learned how to cook and started working out. Now I understand why people work out. It clears your mind, and now in the mornings I keep myself in shape by running on the treadmill or taking a walk. And I de-stress by watching TV dramas and variety shows or calling my friends and parents. I’m a little worried about staying in shape since I have to do promotions and school side by side, but it’s my choice, so I want to take responsibility. I thought I wouldn’t be able to have this experience if I didn’t do it now, so I plan to keep it up.

Getting support from the other members
Jiheon: Whenever the other members saw me studying, they said, “You’re amazing.” Sometimes I would be hard on myself for having difficulty with something I personally chose to do. But the others said to me things like, “Do what you want”; “You’re right—it is hard. That’s okay.” And that filled me with so much strength. They seriously support me so much. (laughs)

Thoughts on the end of the first semester
Jiheon: What a relief! (laughs) I feel better now. I started half worried, half excited. Anyway, I wrapped things up nicely, so I’m really happy.

Words for flover
Jiheon: The “Study with me” video I put out last year got a lot of attention from people who were more interested in my studies than I expected, and I was really thankful for that, but I also felt sort of worried or pressured at the same time. But I really wanted to say thank you to flover for giving me all their comfort and support. Sometimes flover talks about their own study troubles, too. I’m not some phenomenal person and I can’t give them any simple solutions, but as someone who has experienced similar things, I’m confident that I can sympathize with them, so I want to tell them to feel free to tell me about anything that they’re struggling with. I plan to keep showing my everyday life in HoneY_log so I hope they watch it and can see the way I’m enjoying my life.

Jiheon’s dream
Jiheon: I was determined to go to university because I figured there’s certain things you can only experience at certain ages. I owe it to myself to do well in school because I already worked so hard to get to where I am. I was scared at first because it’s a new experience, but I had a wonderful semester and I realized I was all worried for nothing. I really hope I will remember this time as the pinnacle of my youth the way people always say it is—that I’ll be able to look back and think, that was amazing. (laughs)