RIWOO: “I want to pour my heart into every performance I do”
BOYNEXTDOOR debut interview
RIWOO, who danced alone in a world of his own, met five friends. And now, they are all ready to show their dance to the world.
Dance, the first encounter
RIWOO: I first started going to dance lessons because of my mother. Although I wanted to be a professional athlete- I was pretty athletic, too. (laughs) My mother loved music, and she suggested that I take dance lessons, so I did from fifth grade. When I was in middle school, I got the opportunity to go on stage at the school festival. The teacher who was in charge of organizing asked me if I wanted to perform something. I did the dances for “IDOL” and “DNA” by BTS, and my friends started to treat me differently. (laughs) They told me that I was really good, and I think they thought of me as a cooler person from then on. But all that aside, I was really happy to be on stage.
RIWOO: The first reason I auditioned for KOZ was because I wanted to be a part of their very first group, and I wanted to grow with the company. I’m so happy I get to be a part of this. I have grown a lot in many aspects since I came to KOZ and became a trainee. I gained a lot of confidence from compliments given to me by the members and the staff, or when I liked what I saw when monitoring myself, so that has driven me to keep going.
When imagination becomes reality
RIWOO: The company told the other members and me that we would be debuting and encouraged us to do our best. I remember us looking at each other, stunned and not knowing how to react because it was our dream come true. It felt like we were just rehearsing up until then, but now we were actually at the starting line to go up on the real stage! And so, after we were earmarked for debuting, my family was really excited, and told me that “[they] knew I would make it.” When I was a trainee, I told them to not get their hopes up, because there was a chance that I might not debut, but they kept telling me that they believed in me. They were so sure of it. (laughs) My friends’ reactions were a bit more divided, I think. Some told me they knew I’d make it because they thought I was an amazing dancer, and while some were a bit surprised. (laughs)
BOYNEXTDOOR and the boy next door
RIWOO: I’d never heard of the expression “BOYNEXTDOOR” so it felt a bit unfamiliar at first, but the company told us what it meant. When I learned that it meant “boys who live next door” I thought “oh, that’s who we are!” and any doubts that I might have had turned to confidence. The boy next door is your neighbor, right? So, I like that it has that friendly quality. I’ve been telling the company and the staff that I want us to feel approachable to people, like friends, whether it may be our concept, songs, or ourselves as people.
RIWOO, a passionate dancer
RIWOO: I’m really serious about dancing. I wanted that to be reflected in the music video, and I think it did, so I'm happy about it. (laughs) I’m actually pretty shy and introverted, but a lot of people find that side of me endearing. (laughs) And I think my personality and how serious I am about dancing are captured really well in the video. Also, I’d like to be recognized for my dancing. So, whenever I perform, I really focus and try to do my best even in the parts that aren’t mine, because I believe that I can use my dancing to make other members shine even more. If other members complement my part with facial expressions and gestures, I want to do that through my movements and I want it to be clear that I’m sparing no effort.
“But I Like You” choreographed by RIWOO
RIWOO: I came up with the moves for my part in “But I Like You” that goes, “I don’t like your eyes, nose, lips even your jokes/ I like it, only me” after mulling over it for two weeks. At first the performance director suggested that the other members do the standard choreography while I did my own thing for that part and asked me to come up with what I was going to do that would reflect who we are a bit better. I tried out lots of different moves over two weeks and I think I did a pretty solid job. I came up with a lot of ideas for my parts, and I’m really proud of myself for that! (laughs)
How the boys next door prepare for a performance
RIWOO: We would pump up our confidence by saying stuff like, “Let's go confess our love now!!” or “We’re amazing! We’ll kill it!” before we begin practicing. Even when we practice, we try to think of new, more fresh ways to present the song. All the members are super enthusiastic and involved in coming up with ideas. As a passionate dancer myself (laughs) I tend to put in even more effort, try to share my know-hows that I’ve picked up over the years, and point out some of the details that we might be missing. For example, there’s this part where LEEHAN needs to make gestures, and I told him “You wouldn’t be making those gestures in real life. They don’t seem like LEEHAN’s. They need to reflect who you are a bit more.” So we tweaked them to suit him better. (laughs) We're also practicing a lot to work out any mistakes, no matter how small they might be. There’s this part in “One and Only” where I slip a jacket on TAESAN. It can be a hit or miss depending on the slightest shift in the angle of my hand. There’s also this part where I move the door with WOONHAK. Where it’s placed affects the entire performance, so we really have to plan and map out every little detail before we start.
RIWOO: I think fashion plays a huge role in giving a good first impression. I spend quite some time thinking about which outfits to wear to convey the impression I want. To be honest, I wasn’t always the best dressed (laughs) so I'd like to explore the world of fashion a bit more. I tend to consider what I’d be doing that day when I pick out my clothes. If it’s going to be an active day, I go for comfort, and if not, I go for a fitted look even if it isn’t as comfy. (laughs) I want to try out different styles, and not stick to just one. I can be hip one day, cute or casual another. These days, some of the other guys ask me to help them pick what to wear, which feels great!
RIWOO: I’m not so comfortable with walking up to someone first and talking to them, so the other members reached out to me. (laughs) I think I’ve gotten more talkative after meeting them. I rarely talk, and only say things that I really need to (laughs) but I’m having so much fun when I'm with the members, that I’ve gotten much more talkative. We’ve grown to know each other inside and out after going through our adjustment period. When one of the guys looks tired and needs a break, we try to be more considerate and get him to rest. Even when we want to turn on the air conditioning at home, we ask each other first - that’s how considerate we are of each other. All of the members keep the little details in mind and care for one another.
RIWOO: SUNGHO, JAEHYUN and I are the same age, and SUNGHO is the most mature out of all of us. (laughs) Whenever we get a bit sloppy at parts, SUNGHO’s the one who zeros in on them, and gives us feedback. That’s what you would expect from the oldest member, and he does that. JAEHYUN always says he’s the “matnae (the oldest + the youngest)” and I completely agree. He’s the oldest, but he gets along with WOONHAK so well. Sometimes, it feels like WOONHAK is the one humoring JAEHYUN. (laughs) They get along really well - they’re both so pure and just huge softies.
Three younger members
RIWOO: TAESAN is really confident and knows what he likes and wants, so he’s not the dependent type. He doesn’t really ask for help, he asks for confirmation. But he also keeps an eye out for you. LEEHAN treats me like an older brother. (laughs) Our MBTIs are different - I’m an ISFP, and he’s an ESFJ - but when we talk, we have this amazing connection, and his personality’s the most similar to mine. LEEHAN isn’t that talkative either, we chill and recharge together when we come home after spending the day around the other members. (laughs) WOONHAK wants to be regarded as the youngest member but also not really. So, in a nutshell, he becomes the youngest member when he needs to be. (laughs) He insists that he’s the youngest, and that he’s still quite young, but when we do call him the youngest, he says “I’m not a kid!” That’s typically what the youngest says though. (laughs) I find it adorable. I’ve been having this thought ever since we’ve become a team: I want to be the guy that the other members can rely on. Not just as a fellow member that they need to stay with from now on, but as a true friend.
RIWOO: I talked about this with LEEHAN yesterday, but I couldn’t believe that we actually were having a meet-and-greet and a signing event with our fans, and that we actually had fans. (laughs) I think I've finally adjusted to the fact that we debuted since our Weverse opened and we got to communicate with our fans. I’m amazed that we are getting fans who love us. Everything feels like a dream and like I’m in a fantasy world. (laughs) I might be slowly starting to adjust, but it still doesn’t feel real. I think it’ll feel even more surreal if we get to meet our fans in person. We’re still only communicating online, so I can’t wait to meet them face-to-face.
RIWOO’s dream performance
RIWOO: I love the oldies like “Everyday with You” and listen to them a lot. There's that sensitivity and sense of nostalgia that's unique to those songs. I like to imagine the future generation listening to our music like I’m listening to this sort of music. I’d like for us and our music to be remembered for a long time. And also, I’d like to put on great performances that are visually and musically pleasing. I hope that a lot of people want to sing and dance along when we perform and have fun. (laughs) I’d be even happier if people know how passionate we are about performing on stage. You feel these things in the little details. I want to pour my heart into every performance I do. I want to pay attention to every single detail when I perform.
Article. Lee Jiyeon
Interview. Lee Jiyeon
Visual Director. Jeon Yurim
Coordinator. Song Hooryeong
Visual Creative Team. Noh Hyorin (KOZ ENTERTAINMENT)
Photography. Yoon Songyi / Assist. Kim Jaemin, Bak Heonjun
Hair. Hong Junsung, Kim Haeyeon
Makeup. Gunhee, Kim Yeji
Set Design. Choi Seoyun, Son Yehee, Kim Ayoung (da;rak)
Artist Management Team. Jang Moonsung
Artist Protocol Team. Park Geunyoung, Park Byoungho, Wang Heesun, Won Joungyeon
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Unauthorized reproduction and distribution prohibited.
Knock, knock—BOYNEXTDOOR’s here!