YEONJUN already knows—when to rely on your senses, when to push yourself and when to trust your instincts. But behind the unreserved appearance he put on for the camera, there was a fine-tuned, intense passion inside YEONJUN. I asked him about the reason behind that passion.
You made your own choreography for “PS5” (feat. Alan Walker), which you and TAEHYUN also featured on, and posted it on TikTok. I got the impression you really understand what’s required of a TikTok dance.
YEONJUN: I’ve been making choreography sporadically since I was a trainee, but I never posted any of them until I started using TikTok. I think you need to make sure the dance moves are fresh and that the meaning and what you want to express come across clearly. There’s lots of popular challenges on TikTok, you know. I thought about why those dances were trending, and their common factor is that they’re easy to learn and copy. So I tried to make one that’s easy to copy, but when I actually made it, it was so hard it gave me a headache. But I feel proud when other people say, “Wow, I love it.” (laughs)
Back in March, on a V LIVE titled “Dancer Is Back,” you danced for MOA to songs by female artists, like “WA DA DA” by Kep1er and “Yumeiro Patissiere” by IU.
YEONJUN: I think it is so cool when men pull off girlish dances. I saw men nailing girlish dances while doing a workshop in the US. It was so cool and left a deep impression on me, so I thought I would look cool if I covered female artists’ dances, too. And I didn’t want it to look like a caricature, so I tried to dance in a way that was thoughtful and cute. What I really wanted was to show it’s another thing I can do well. (laughs)
You usually come across as a perfectionist when it comes to performing, but you are quite comfortable sharing your dance practice process to MOA in The Essence of Dancing.
YEONJUN: The more I do Essence of Dancing, the more I want to show MOA the things they want to see. When MOA suddenly comments saying they want to see something, some of the songs I have never tried before. But it’s not a big issue because, even if I look up and learn the choreography on the spot, I’m quite confident that I can dance without looking too bad. (laughs) Anyway, I tend to pick up and get choreography down quickly, so that’s probably why I can do that.
It seems like you’re both self-confident and strict with yourself at the same time. In BACKSTAGE: TXT x EN- DOCUMENTARY, you monitored the video as soon as the performance was over, before your sweat even had a chance to dry. You looked relieved, saying you did better than you thought. I think that one scene summed up your whole attitude toward performing.
YEONJUN: That’s all for MOA. If I’m being honest, the reason I can smile when I’m monitoring even while tired and panting like that is because MOA will watch the performance—because they will like it. After performing I check whether MOA liked it and whether I did a good job. I can breathe easy and find a way to smile even when tired out like that. That’s my sense of purpose and my motivation.
Why are you always that strict with yourself?
YEONJUN: I don’t think I’m naturally a cool person. I wasn’t always a cool person. In fact, I pushed myself to the edge to become that kind of person, and became strict with myself. That way, I think, people see me as being cooler than before. And even now, I don’t think my cool vibe will necessarily last forever—I think it depends on how I nurture it going forward. That’s why I’m always strict with myself and putting in the effort.
You have pretty good fashion sense for someone who says they’re not cool. The photos you post on Instagram always go viral. You had 7.77 million followers two days ago, but you were suddenly up to 7.85 million when I checked again earlier today. (laughs) [Note: This interview took place on April 18.]
YEONJUN: Oh, really? (laughs) I started using Instagram thinking I could show another side of myself, and it was interesting. Everyone my age uses Instagram. I felt like I became a part of the new generation. (laughs) You know, there’s a kind of “Instagram vibe.” I want to show off my fashionable side, and what makes me cool and unique. But I feel like I need to develop my fashion sense on my own lately. I feel like now I sort of need to have a more open mind about clothes and try out a wider variety of clothing.
Why is that?
YEONJUN: I feel like I’m still a little bit narrow-minded. There’s so many people who dress well, so I think I need to learn a bit more. These days I actually feel a little embarrassed sometimes to say I have an interest in fashion.
Are there times when you feel like you need acknowledgement from others? During the 2022 DREAM WEEK TXT Content Strategy Meeting, you said, “It feels the best when the members recognize me.”
YEONJUN: I always feel the need to be devoted to my role as a member of the team anyway, but even beyond that, when the other members tell me they’re proud of me and say nice things about me, it pushes me to do even better.
You must feel happy receiving recognition from the other members since you also realize how much they’ve grown and improved. How does it feel when you look back on the past now?
YEONJUN: I know what the members were like back then. We came in knowing nothing and worked ourselves to death ever since we were young, but I’m so grateful when I see how we’ve grown up as a result, and there’s so much to be proud of them for. They’re all grown up both in terms of mindset and skills, and they can make up for the things I can’t do well. To use when we record vocals as an example—simply speaking, TAEHYUN and Huening can hit high notes better than I can. And there’s a lot of things that idols have to do, even when they’re not onstage, and they’re all good at everything else they do, too.
It sounds like you all balance each other out.
YEONJUN: Exactly. We’re so important to one another, and we trust each other no matter what.
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