When JUNGWON speaks, he sounds calm, firm and full of passion all at the same time. He has all the confidence of someone who knows exactly what he wants, where he needs to go and the effort it will take to get him there.
How’s Maeum doing these days? You said on the EBS radio show Youth Communication Project: Listen that you’re worried because he only seems to like snacks. (laughs)
JUNGWON: I got to see him recently when my parents popped by our group’s home and brought Maeum with them. He keeps getting bigger. (laughs) I don’t have much time these days to visit my family so I get all my updates from the family group chat, but apparently he was looking at me when I was on TV recently. But I have a feeling he doesn’t actually recognize me—just he’s interested in the light coming from the screen. (laughs) As for snacks, he likes beef jerky and dog yogurt, same as last year. He honestly likes anything but kibble. (laughs)
It seems like you always emphasize the importance of taking responsibility for pets whenever you talk about Maeum.
JUNGWON: There are so many abandoned dogs these days. As the veterinarian who was on Listen said, if you’re going to raise a dog, you have to be willing to dedicate a part of your everyday life to them. But I think the number of abandoned dogs is going up as people try to raise a dog and still try to do everything they want for themselves.
Since you’ve been hosting Listen with SUNOO since February, you must have had a lot of opportunities to meet experts in other fields and have many new experiences. [Note: This interview took place on June 2.]
JUNGWON: The show is meant for teenagers so we have people with a lot of different jobs come on. I learned how hard it is being a veterinarian and a lot of things I never knew. You know, I do a lot to make myself seem more impressive when I’m shooting with ENHYPEN, and that’s good, but sometimes I want to let people hear my natural voice only, and that’s exactly how Listen is. My voice goes really high when I’m excited, but it’s usually pretty low when I talk. I can hear my own voice when I’m on the radio and it sounds relaxing so I like it. (laughs)
When you host radio like that, you have to welcome the guests and show how you can be quick on your feet sometimes. I’m noticing that you’re slowly becoming more relaxed..
JUNGWON: I feel a lot of pressure because there are some people who don’t watch and only listen to the show, so if there’s suddenly an awkward silence, it might sound like something’s gone wrong. Now I throw in the phrase “by the way” and change the topic slightly. (laughs) Then we take a little detour and then eventually get back on track. My heart sinks whenever that happens. My chemistry with SUNOO only gets better the longer we do it. We don’t specifically plan things ahead, but it almost feels worked out in advance sometimes, like who’s going to talk when and who’s going to ad-lib something. I don’t sound very energetic when I’m talking but SUNOO has tons. (laughs) We balance each other out that way.
Listeners of the show also send in their own stories. What’s it like commenting on issues people your age are dealing with?
JUNGWON: At first I worried if it was okay since I’m young, too. (laughs) It’s unusual for people to start working when they’re as young as we are, so I thought some people might think we would find it hard to relate. But I still had experience hanging out after school and I saw my sister stressing out about her career path once she entered high school. I’m doing my best to give people advice based on the experiences I do have.
The songs on the show are chosen based on those stories, too. Did Listen also have an influence on how you listen to music?
JUNGWON: I don’t even have time to listen to music these days but it’s nice being able to hear songs I haven’t heard before. I remember LUCY’s cover of “Run Away” because of the title. I mainly like R&B but I’m listening to a lot of K-pop lately, too. Part of that is influenced by Listen and I also gave BTS’ albums another listen while on the airplane to and from Germany and loved them, so I ended up getting more into K-pop than before. My sister was also an EXO fan so I listened to them a lot when I was younger, and it brought back a lot of memories when I listened to them again.
I imagine it would feel quite different listening to the K-pop you used to listen to when you were young again after debuting. How does it feel different now?
JUNGWON: Back then, it was like, This song’s good. Now it’s like, They’re so talented. It’s impressive how they sound that good even after all this time. It’s the same thing with BTS: I’m sure there’s a reason why certain K-pop artists reach the top. I still have a long way to go, but I hope we can get there someday, too.