Though he looked serious while posing on set, DK smiled radiantly at every opportunity, nodding along and listening to HOSHI’s impassioned rap, and sang according to the mood. Such moments reflected the many times he said during the interview: “I want to be strong for other people.”
You posted a picture of your pet rock Dodol on Weverse recently. (laughs)
DK: It seems like everybody loved it. I wonder if they were worried about me. (laughs) I looked at JEONGHAN like he was a little weird at first too, and wondered why he did it. (laughs) It was cute when I saw it in person. That’s how I ended up living with a rock. I bought it a bed that hasn’t come yet so I got this dog figure I like and set it next to the rock.
You also posted a picture on Weverse of you cooking. I guess you like to cook!
DK: I don’t have a lot of time to cook these days because of how full my schedule is, but I do it as a hobby and to eat. I tried cooking for the first time when I was around fourth grade: I thought doenjang jjigae only has doenjang in it, so I boiled some water and paste and ended up with a watery soup. (laughs) Regardless, I started to find cooking fun after that, and got really interested in it after our debut.
I heard on your birthday V LIVE that VERNON liked the kimchi jjigae you made for him.
DK: He really enjoyed it, plus it’s always better when you can eat together. That’s why I cooked for him.
It feels like you’re meticulous when it comes to looking after the other members.
DK: “Meticulous.” (laughs) You’re embarrassing me... It’s not something I plan to do; just like when the other members upload videos and I tell people to take a look—I do it without thinking. I do it because I like them.
Was it your love for CARAT that made you post on Weverse about SEVENTEEN’s sixth anniversary? You posted right at midnight.
DK: I wasn’t doing it because I wanted to be first; I just wanted to share in the congratulations as soon as it turned midnight. It’s not like I have to be the very first on birthdays either—I just like doing it right at midnight. So I wrote it in advance and posted it right on the dot.
You had an online concert in January, IN-COMPLETE. And you said you still think about when CARAT sang along to “Us, Again,” right?
DK: I guess I’m a little slow. I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t expecting it under the circumstances and it felt like they were right in front of me. I was overflowing with emotion, realizing yet again how important CARAT are to us. Even though we couldn’t be together in person, since it was a live performance, it was still meaningful to spend the time together, so I kept that idea of being together in mind while we performed.
At least with this new album you end up getting to be with CARAT indirectly. How did it go, shooting the concept photos that were released?
DK: They came out really good. There’s one version, though, that gives a kind of cold vibe, where I had to get wet for the shoot. That was really tough. (laughs) They were next to me, spraying me with the rain machine, and, wow… I was dripping wet. It was so funny. I was also worried if it would end up looking good, of course. All the other versions were warm and cold at the same time, but the photos we released focus more on the warm parts, I think.
The album feels like that, too—a mix of hot and cold feelings. Thematically it describes the moment of falling in love.
DK: If you think about it, it’s not like we haven’t talked about love before, but we’ve never shown this many different sides to love in so much detail like we did on Your Choice. It feels like this is the first time SEVENTEEN has ever done something like the music and choreography we did for the lead single, “Ready to love.” A song like “HOME;RUN” is full of energy, but this time our song is restrained and mature. Us members spent a lot of time discussing with the choreographer to make sure the choreography really suited the song.
What about the singing?
DK: “Ready to love” was a bit difficult as far as the tone and beat go. We’ve done many songs with all kinds of different rhythms before, but we had to think carefully about how best to record this song, and edit it a lot, too. Shua sang in the intro first and then me, but there was a feeling that it would be good if we showed a little contrast there, so I kept that in mind while singing. As soon as I heard “Heaven’s Cloud,” I felt it was soft and warm. When I heard it, I imagined what way I should sing it, then used that as a starting point. “Anyone” is intense in a way but really poppy at the same time, and I wanted to bring that out.
The closing track—the vocal team’s song, “Same dream, same mind, same night”—starts off with an impressive ad lib that you did.
DK: The vocal team all got together in a group chat and started trading ideas about what we could do that hadn’t tried before. We kept thinking about what we could do that would be original and not overlap with our old songs, and finally we decided to try something that sounds like a classic R&B song. The lead single was hard to record, but “Same dream” was probably the hardest. It was hard to get that old R&B vibe. It was the first time any of us sang that kind of song so we were careful to make sure the vocals and the tone matched each other. There was a melody for the ad-lib part with SEUNGKWAN, too, but we kept modifying it as we recorded more and more takes. Anyway, I’m so proud to have made this great song with the help of the members giving out so many ideas.
What is your goal these days, as a vocalist?
DK: I can never really satisfy myself. So instead of saying, I’ll keep going until I’m satisfied, I just want to believe in myself. In the past, I just said I want to be a good vocalist and didn’t give it any other thought, but I think it’s more worthwhile to give strength to others, so I want to be a good singer with that intention to help.
Is there something that caused you to change your mind like that?
DK: To be honest, I’ve heard from a lot of people since our debut that I’m good. And I worked hard. But I’m never really satisfied, so I didn’t see it that way. So sometimes I was in a slump or lost my confidence or even wondered if I should sing at all. But as time went on I got over it, and I realized, it’s not like you have to be good no matter what, and that being good at it doesn’t make me happy. I try to find importance in giving people strength through one small part than go overboard trying to hit some high notes.
You played the role of Arthur in the musical Excalibur two years ago. Did that experience change you in any way?
DK: I became engrossed in the character in the second half of the musical’s run. Not that I told the SEVENTEEN members to kneel before me or anything. (laughs) When I did photos and music videos for SEVENTEEN after that, I had more variety in my facial expressions and a new side of me came out.
I remember you said in an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine that you had some difficulty acting angry or yelling but realized you could while working on the musical.
DK: I get angry sometimes, of course (laughs) but I’m not the type to yell. But I struggled at first because there were a lot of angry lines where I had to yell. But I was able to immerse myself in everything because I was surrounded by great actors, and the ensemble cast helped me a lot. I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own. It was only possible thanks to being on stage and being with all those people.
What made you try a role that’s different from your real personality?
DK: I always wanted to try taking on a musical, but at first when we were practicing I felt bad. So I nearly worked myself to death trying to do my best. I feel super comfortable working as part of a team, but I’m not good when I try doing something alone, so I wanted to break out of that. I wanted to get over that feeling because I felt like it was limiting me.
I felt your desire to overcome things in the “High Sky and Plump Horses” episode of GOING SEVENTEEN when you went bungee jumping. Where do you find the courage to challenge yourself like that?
DK: I have no idea where it came from. (laughs) That was really, really challenging. It looks short in the edited version, but the other members waited around for 30 minutes. They could’ve asked me, “Why aren’t you jumping?” But instead they kept saying, “You can do it!” All right, they’re all waiting—just jump for their sake. (laughs) I just kept thinking, I just have to jump the one time—why can’t I do it? I’m a chicken and I was really scared, but I was able to jump because the others cheered me on. I think I can take on anything I want to as long as they’re next to me. They’re really great people.
Not surprisingly, you’re a good influence on the other members. You even have the nickname Seokhadachak [“Seokmin’s next to God when it comes to kindness”].
DK: That was a burden, honestly. (laughs) I mean, I was worried I would be trapped in that image. I’m not consciously being nice; I just really have a mindset of “fair is fair.” I’m quite sure that’s why the other members and the fans said that. Because I do what I feel like doing—it’s not a conscious effort. I just try to be thankful and not get too stuck. I get angry too, you know. (laughs)
So that’s why you, SEUNGKWAN and JEONGHAN had that incident on your trip to Jeju Island? (laughs)
DK: When things get better , we should fight somewhere overseas this time. (laughs) There’s a compilation video that fans made. Feels like I look like this petty person now. It was a little childish but there’s no bad blood between us. (laughs)
Sure, you can talk about things when you’re on good terms. In fact, it’s really cool how you always listen to all the others talking together on GOING SEVENTEEN and respond to what they have to say.
DK: Sometimes I’m not really paying attention and I just say, “Yeah.” (laughs) But I try to hear everything they say and respond. I saw Yoo Jae-suk on a variety show, actually, and I thought it was cool how receptive he was. I’m a big fan.
Do you think that’s where you get your knack for entertainment from?
DK: I don’t know if I ever mentioned this but, when I was in elementary school, my dream was to be a comedian. When I was in second or third grade I watched a variety show starring Yoo Jae-suk. He was so cool. How’s he so good at hosting—not aggressive at all, just gentle and making people laugh in that put-together way? I fell in love with the idea of making people laugh, so I tried really hard to make my friends laugh in elementary school. I was the kind of kid who practiced funny faces in the mirror before going to school. I watched a lot of different variety shows when I was growing up, which was a kind of non-research research for me.
I was surprised, though, to hear that you’re introverted.
DK: Everyone is this way, obviously, but I’m both an extrovert and an introvert. I wasn’t before but I think I actually became a bit shy after the debut. I get a bit uncomfortable when I’m around too many new people at once. But I love when I’m with people who are also comfortable being around me. We just eat or play games. When I’m by myself, I lie down and watch TV, read comics, and eat something good. It’s therapeutic for me.
What shows are you watching these days?
DK: I’m enjoying the drama Mine. It’s on today. I have to watch it. (laughs)
You shouldn’t rely too much on MBTI, but I do remember that you’re both an INFP and an ISFP.
DK: I don’t usually do it these days, but I actually did the same test like 10 times. When I first did it on GOING SEVENTEEN, it said INFP. Coups, HOSHI and JUN all got the same thing, but I feel like I’m completely different from them. (laughs) So I thought it had to be wrong and tried again, but it just said INFP nine or 10 times. Then I got ISFP once. It doesn’t define your whole personality, but I find it interesting anyway. But they say that’s a characteristic of INFPs. (laughs)
You remember all the other members’ MBTIs, too. I can always tell how much affection you have for them.
DK: I’ll sound like I’m making this up if I say it in an interview or on air (laughs) but—and sorry to my family, but the other members are more like family to me than my family. I don’t know if it’s because we normally argue so much, but I think it’s a chance for us to get close to one another and get to know each other better.
I think you have just as much affection for CARAT. You did a lot of V LIVEs last winter.
DK: I wanted to hang out with CARAT, first of all. “DK, please do lots of V LIVEs! … This makes me feel better … Oh man, thanks for coming on this late.” When I hear them say things like that, I feel so grateful and warm inside. I was trying to do it more often.
Where do you find the energy?
DK: It’s love, of course. You could call it an outlook of being considerate, being loving, and trying to have a warm heart.
If the members are like your family, what are CARAT?
DK: Seriously, CARAT are my legit legit besties. (laughs) There’s a saying that it’s hard to find even one true friend in life. They’re honestly precious to me. They give me strength in my life and are a huge help.
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