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Consisting of multi-national members from Japan, Korea, the U.S. and Canada, is the male dance and vocal group “NCT 127”, whose outstanding performance and ability of expressiveness, together with their heightened sensibility in music, have earned them acclamation the world over. This interview series showcases the individuality of each member through what they believe is their “own style”, delving into their approach on fashion to their methodology towards expressing themselves, as well as what their futures may hold, unraveling the group’s mystery from every angle all in the MEN’S NONNO way. With special contents, including pre-interview questions the members have each carefully responded to, online interviews connecting Tokyo and Seoul, and exclusive photographs provided by the members themselves, this interview series is certain to be a positive contrast to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. While calling himself “the youngest member with a cute smile,” through this interview we were given a glimpse into his many reliable sides, such as the sharpness to closely watch his surroundings, a sense of responsibility, and eagerness to grow. *For this interview, HAECHAN spoke to us in Korean. The parts in which he spoke to us in Japanese are described as “(in Japanese)”.
What is the youngest member, HAECHAN’s secret to maintaining a positive attitude?
HAECHAN: HAECHAN here~! Long time no see!!
MEN’S NON-NO: Good day, HAECHAN-san. Thank you for joining us today.
H: (In Japanese) Yes, it’s a pleasure to be here!
MN: (While glancing back at the questionnaire) HAECHAN-san, you as well took the time to carefully respond to our questionnaire. Thank you so much! You also provided us with photos of your personal effects and such. So, let’s talk along those lines.
H: Sounds good~!
MN: For the question, “If you were to introduce yourself to the readers of MEN’S NON-NO as if you were doing so to someone you just met for the first time, what would that be?”, you answered,“How energetic and positive I always am”. On “What image of yourself is most important to you as a global artist of NCT 127”, you responded, “To show how I am always positive and fun to work with. For “your favorite motto”, you also wrote, “If I’m going to do it, I might as well have fun doing it”. The words “positive” and “fun” pop up often, emphasizing the importance of what appears to be a playful mindset. Along with your self-intro, could you share with us how you always cheer yourself up?
H: Sure! Hi, there. The youngest member of NCT 127, HAECHAN here~. Through this series, I hope that you will get to know my true self and mindset. Um, also, I think the secret to how I maintain a positive and fun mindset is that I try to enjoy myself above all and have the energy to actually be able to make everything fun! If I don’t look like I’m having a good time, then I doubt that others who see me are going to enjoy it either. And not only that, I think you have to enjoy yourself and do things with a positive attitude in order to create something good. So, even if I’m tired or going through a rough time, I try never to forget to be positive inside, the most important part of my soul. That’s what I try to do, because I believe it leads to good results.
What are the different faces that make up who NCT 127’s HAECHAN is?
MN: You introduced yourself as “the youngest member”. From your eyes, what kind of big brothers are the other members of NCT 127?
H: Let’s see… Mmm, they are more important to me than anything else. I joined the agency when I was much younger than I am now, and everybody I worked with was at the center of my life. In all aspects, I learned a lot through them. I guess you could say I grew up looking over their shoulders. We have spent so much time together, learning from and playing with, crying and laughing together as family. I truly want to be members with them forever. They really are like big brothers to me.
MN: To the question, “Please list three things that make up who you are, HAECHAN”, you wrote,“Me on stage, me with the other members, and me face-to-face with the fans”. It really does appear that the other members mean a lot to you. You also mention the “stage” and “fans”. Could you kindly tell us the reason behind their importance?
H: First, I think that “me on stage” is the most important part of the way the fans see me. That’s why I’m always passionate on stage and strive to be more perfect. I always want to present the best I have to offer in order to satisfy the audience to the fullest! Then, “me with the other members” is because, as I mentioned in my self-intro, I am the youngest member… and so I’m nowhere near perfect as a person. When I’m with the other members, I can spend time with them as I am, my immature parts and all. I think that is very important for me.
MN: So, “Me on stage” means to always enjoy yourself and strive to face your performances with a positive attitude. “Me with the other members” means the time to charge up on your energy for the stage.
H: Exactly! And the third, “Me face-to-face with the fans” comes from how grateful I am and how to never forget to work hard. I’m always grateful to all the fans because they really like me and support me. And it makes me feel that I really have to work harder because of all their love.
MN: It’s rather difficult to do anything offline these days. Please tell us if there is anything you place value on when interacting with your fans.
H: It would be nice to have the opportunity to meet our fans in person, but these are not the times for that right now and it’s difficult as well, so whenever possible, I’ve been trying to do whatever I can online. I try my best to figure out and capture what the fans want. For example, live broadcasting on the Internet, frequent live streaming in real time. I’m also hoping to share with everyone as much as I can about what I’m up to and the little things I’m working on. I try to talk about things that the fans want to know and are curious about.
MN: The various faces of HAECHAN you spoke of are quite fascinating in their own ways.
H: If I were to consider the difference in more depth, although it may sound a little strange, I feel like the person on stage is “another me”. For the person with the other members and the person face-to-face with the fans, I think they show a more human side to me.
MN: That explains it. It feels like your work as an artist is always at the core of who you are.
H: Yes, that’s who I am. HAECHAN=NCT 127!
What’s the “natural coolness” of NCT 127?
MN: Now then, we’d like to talk to you further on what you think about the group, HAECHAN-san. For the question, “What is the coolness of NCT 127 that you, HAECHAN-san, would like others to see?”, you wrote, “Rather than showing us as something that was made for others, I prefer to show how fascinating and cool we are in a natural way”. To be cool naturally is something that can be quite difficult, but what do you do to maintain yourselves as a fascinating team?
H: I also believe it is difficult to be real with a natural coolness.
H: But there really are many different sides to me. So, rather than forcing myself to create a new coolness from scratch, I’d rather look for a coolness that’s already within me from all the different aspects I have, and work on expressing that. And it’s not so much that I’m trying to be cool in a particular way. It’s more like approaching everything with the attitude that I’m going to absorb a lot of things and learn from that.
MN: So, rather than going out of your way to create a coolness, you want to naturally become cool by improving on your own self.
H: Yes! For example, we have been on shoots and performances in many different places with many different people. Through that, we have gained experience by seeing and feeling a lot of things. So, from that, I believe I am in the process of looking for “what is better for me”. World tours, shooting music videos, they have all been a learning experience for me.
MN: To the question, “What do you think has had the most impact on you as part of the global artist NCT 127?”, you also responded,“Growth. I think that while meeting many people and experiencing various cultures, I have grown in many ways, including the way I think.”
H: That’s right. I think I’m in the process of discovering things and ways to become even cooler.
MN: So, you say that every single thing that has had an impact on you has given you the experience to help brush yourself up. Could you tell us what NCT 127 MVs you think are super cool, HAECHAN-san?
H: Yes, I’d love to~! Personally, I recommend seeing “Highway to Heaven”.
MN: Second to “Hero; Kick It”, all the members have brought that one up.
H: The reason why I recommend this one is because I feel like it highlights the “natural coolness” I was talking about earlier! It’s not about a cool set or a situation that was created. It was shot like we were all playing together in the wilderness, literally. I think it highlights the good in each of us, so please have a look.
MN: Thank you for talking to us about the different types of “coolness”, HAECHAN-san. We get the impression that you are particular about a “coolness” that is plausible to you. What do you think is your coolness, HAECHAN-san, that is right up there with the other members?
H: Woh… that’s a difficult one!
MN: Don’t hold back and let us know (LOL)
H: If I were to choose, that would be “how I laugh as I’m doing something”.
MN: Laugh while you’re doing something?
H: I mean, my smile~. As far as having a pleasing smile on my face, no matter what I’m doing, well, I am the youngest out of all the guys (LOL). Not too shabby, I guess. Haha.
Entire group: (Laughter)
HAECHAN’s love for the staff members is strong?
MN: You mentioned the word “young” just now. To the question, “What kind of adult do you want to become?”, you answered,“An adult who can enjoy doing what they are supposed to do”. “Having fun” with responsibility really sounds like you, HAECHAN-san.
H: I’m hoping that in my twenties, I will be busier than ever, be able to keep up with all my activities, and unveil great music and performances. I am still in the process of learning and searching, but I aspire to never forget to have fun while I am doing what I am committed to do, and find a coolness that is all my own.
MN: You’ve mentioned that you’ve been absorbing things that feed your spirit through various activities. Do you have any lasting impressions from visiting other countries?
H: When we toured through Japan, we spent time with many staff members. I really learned so much from watching these adults work. It was such a wonderful experience to be with Rino-san (Rino Nakasone: artistic director and choreographer for NCT 127).
MN: You’ve built up a trusting relationship with the performance crew and the local staff at each destination.
H: Exactly! I think I learned a lot from our last Japan tour, especially since we had so many shows! Of course, in other countries as well, when you see the staff working, you think, “Oh, so that’s how that works” or “that’s how the staff works”. It’s a real learning experience, because you get to see things that you don’t normally get to see.
MN: You certainly are aware of your surroundings…!
H: I really hope that we will be able to perform again soon and see everyone again. Personally, I very much want to go to Japan! I love Japanese food above all and my favorite hotel is in Japan, too. It’s awesome to go back to that hotel after a concert and simply relax.
MN: How wonderful that you have a favorite hotel abroad. It seems like you also find a lot of fun things to do while touring overseas.
H: Yes, that’s true. I’m also trying to learn different languages, even if it’s just a little bit at a time. Of course, it would be difficult to speak the language of another country perfectly when you go abroad, but I think it’s still very useful to remember something in that language and speak it! I mentioned earlier that I’ve learned a lot from the staff, and I’ll need to know those languages when I want to communicate with them.
What’s the source of your energetic performances?
MN: You said that as the youngest member of the group, you are confident about your smile. Could you please tell us what you are confident about when it comes to your performances and where you put a lot of your effort into?
H: I think it’s safe to say here that “energetic and positive”, which have always been keywords for me, come to life, and that’s because that’s my personality to begin with. That’s why I think that if the strengths and styles that I have within are fully demonstrated on the stage, I can shine even more. Speaking of an actual performance, there’s a song called “TOUCH”. It is a bright and cheerful song. Whether we are at a shoot or a concert, it is the song that I can express to by laughing and playing. I think one of my strengths right now is that my good qualities shine through in this kind of piece!
MN: As “somebody who had an impact on your style”, HAECHAN-san, you gave a photo of “Michael Jackson”. In the questionnaire, you also wrote,“He’s the artist I most admire”. Can you share with us what made you like him and what about him you are fascinated by?
H: I was in the fifth grade of elementary school when I discovered Michael Jackson. Ever since I heard the song “Billie Jean”, which I love, I’ve really liked him. From there, I listened to and researched his various pieces. Then, I learned that he writes his own music, and I saw him perform a lot. It made me think, “Yeah, I want to become an artist like that”. Listening to his songs really gives me energy!”
MN: You sent us a picture you took of the record “Thriller”.
H: Yes, It’s my favorite Michael Jackson album, and it’s the first LP I bought on my own, so I’m really attached to it. It’s a memorable album for me!
MN: Later on, we’ll have you list up some song recommendations for our popular playlist corner. So, please think about the songs you particularly like.
H: OK, will do~!
What’s the perfect balance of strength and weakness for you?
MN: We’d like to know a little more about you personally, HAECHAN-san. To the question, “What is the one thing that makes you proud?”, you responded, “To act fast. To have the sense to do so!”. Please elaborate.
H: For this, well, like when the other members need help, I have the ability to catch on to that. By noticing quickly and then figuring it out, I am able to be there to help out. And I think my strength is that I have the ability to absorb everything quickly, so that’s why I answered in that way!
MN: You’re quite dependable for being the youngest member. The same as when we were talking about the staff members, you certainly are aware of your surroundings.
H: Yes, I am. And I’ve always liked to get things done quickly and efficiently”
MN: In contrary, to the question, “What do you want to conquer?”, you wrote, “Getting over troublesome things”. Does that mean that you tend to find things troublesome, but you try your best to do many things quickly while paying attention to your surroundings? (LOL)
H: Finding things that are troublesome really does fall on me, doesn’t it (LOL). It’s true, there is a part of me that is dominated by this “troublesome” feeling (LOL). I do, but I think there are right and wrong times to feel that way.
MN: Completely agreed. That makes sense.
H: But I think I’m good at distinguishing those times with my good sense! (Chuckle)
MN: Ahh, I see (laughter). So that’s why you wrote “sense”. Ahh, understood. So, you appear at exactly the right moment.
H: That’s right! (laughter)
What kind of image do you want to appeal through fashion?
MN: Since this is a MEN’S NON-NO series, let’s now discuss fashion. To the questions, “Flat out, do you like fashion? What does fashion mean to you?”, you responded,“I love it! I think fashion represents my soul.”
H: Yes, I did. I think the way I dress changes depending on how I’m feeling and my mental state at the time.
MN: Is the outfit you’re wearing in this photograph a favorite of yours, HAECHAN-san?
H: What I’m wearing in this photo is an item I chose because I thought it was so adorable, and I love it. I like this type of T-shirt style. And I like fashion, but maybe I haven’t found what fits me the best yet, or maybe I’m still looking for it.
MN: When you’re looking for something that fits you, what is often your source of inspiration?
H: There are times when I see other members wearing something and think, “Ahh… that would probably look good on me, too.” I also get all kinds of hints from the outfits the stylists bring for us, which helps me on my search for new styles. Also, I feel like when I’m thinking about my body and what styles might look good on me, they are something that I will found naturally.
MN: When this article comes out, it will likely be in the middle of winter. Is there an item you look forward to wearing, HAECHAN-san?
H: I want to wear a coat! I like jackets with a military taste and I also like outerwear that I can easily throw on”
MN: How fashionable!
H: (Giggle) Thank you very much (LOL)
MN: To the question, “What is the most important thing, your policy, when you think about what you are going to wear?”, your response was,“To wear something that looks good on me”, and to, “And in fact, for the details you absolutely cannot give up?”, your response was,“The fit is the most important thing of all“. It seems that it’s important for you to feel comfortable with yourself.
H: These days, people tend to focus on one style of clothing that looks good on them, without trying on different styles. Rather than worrying about various things, I prefer to present my image in a clear and straightforward style.
Mn: It appears you know your stuff when it comes to fashion as a presentation, too…! Is there an outfit that you can recall up to now as “this looks the best on me”? It can be a stage outfit or plain clothes.
H: I have a slim figure, so I think I look more attractive in fitted clothes vs big, loose clothes. That’s why I think I look the best in the stage outfit for “Hero; Kick It”.
Mn: Do you mean the outfit you wore in the MV? The red blouson and black skinnies at the end… [Editorial staff note: after 2:37].
H: Yes, that’s the one! That’s it!
Mn: To the question, “What’s your favorite item right now?”, you answered,“A bucket hat”.
H: I’m often in a situation where I wear a hat, so I put one on as a favorite item and took a photo with it. I used to buy caps as well in past, but lately, I love to wear the bucket hat”
MN: Just one more question on fashion. To the question, “What kind of fashion would you like to try out in the future?”, you answered,“I’d like to try out a suit!” In what type of scene would you like to wear a suit? Is there someone among the members that is a reference for you?
H: The most common scene where we would wear suits is an award ceremony. However, I’ve been wanting to wear a suit as an everyday outfit. I think it’s very stylish and cool!
MN: Ahh, I get it! You mean a suit you can wear in your everyday life and not a suit to dress up for a special occasion.
H: Yes, exactly! In the group, I think that JAEHYUN-san wears a suit super stylishly. I mean, let’s face it, he has a great build!!
Entire group: (Laughter)
H: I think that when JAEHYUN-san wears a suit, his cool style comes to life. Seeing that makes me think, “Man, I should work out more, too~ (LOL)
MN: Oh, come on… I’m sure you would look great in one as well, HAECHAN-san. I hope you find the suit that will become your favorite item!
H: Yes, I’m looking forward to it!
How would you like us to enjoy “LOVEHOLIC”?
MN: Please tell us about the new mini album for Japan. It’s titled “LOVEHOLIC” and will be released on February 17th. When working on this one, what did you pay particular attention to, HAECHAN-san?
H: Whenever recording, regardless of what kind of album it may be, I always make sure to pay particular attention according to each situation. However, this time I had to put in special effort into singing in Japanese with the most natural pronunciation as possible.
MN: Did you, for example, receive advice from YUTA-san, who is a Japanese member of your group?
H: Yes, I did. YUTA-san helped me again this time! Also, there were many staff members nearby who were intuitive enough to catch on to my needs during recording. They were very supportive.
MN: Here again is the relationship of trust you have with the staff members. We are told the lead track is a love song. Was there something that you felt you needed to work hard at when you found out it was a love song?
H: When I found out the lead track was a love song and listened to it, I thought, “What an intense love song.” When you read the lyrics, you know for certain that it’s a love song, but the atmosphere it presents is very powerful. So, I strived to maintain the strength and vibe of the song.
MN: When creating an album, do you and the other members share advice with one another?
H: When I receive a song and listen to it, I immediately discuss the song with the other members. We listen to each song together and talk about how each of us interpret the songs and how each song comes across to us, which is very helpful.
MN: Aside from the lead track being a love song, is there anything else about this album that you feel is different from the other albums?
H: Above all, we are releasing a mini album in Japan for the first time in a long time, but even when it’s released, we won’t be able to meet the fans in person… since the album is being released under these circumstances, we thought about things like, “how will the songs touch the fans” and “how will the fans listen to the album”. We thought about these things more than ever.
MN: That’s true. The album itself, or rather, the circumstances under which it will be released is different from before. Undoubtedly, the fans are anxiously waiting for the release.
H: We’ve already recorded a bunch of songs [editorial staff note: at the time of the interview], and there really are a lot of wonderful songs. In contrary to the intensity of the lead track, some songs are bright and cheerful. The album is chock full of memorable songs and I promise it will be worth the wait”
MN: You mentioned earlier how difficult it is to perform directly in front of the fans. Please tell us what we can expect and look forward to at your next concert performance in Japan.
H: Since we finished our Japan tour at the beginning of this year, we have not been able to return to Japan. And yet, we’ve released a lot of songs since then. I’m really looking forward the most to performing the songs that we have yet to.
MN: Until then, let’s have the fans listen to “LOVEHOLIC” in anticipation. In what kind of a situation would you like the fans to enjoy this album?
H: I think there are many people who are frustrated and feel suffocated, because they are not able to go outside and enjoy it as much as they want. I would like them to listen to the album during those situations, when they are “frustrated or feeling suffocated”. I hope that they will push through the frustration of not being able to see each other and the desire for each other while listening to the songs, especially with the powerful and substantial lead track. I also think this album has the power to refresh the heart and that it is packed with different types of love”
MN: Expectations are rising!
H: (In Japanese) Thank you so much~!
What words describe you right now?
MN: Thank you for what you have told us thus far. Finally, could you kindly share with us, HAECHAN-san, what you think is “My own style” at this point in life?
H: I believe that I am currently “HAECHAN at 20 years old, still in the process of learning much and yet to grow”
MN: Ohhhh, wow! That’s almost like a slogan for yourself! This ends the interview portion, so please kindly provide some words for the readers. If there’s anything you’ve left out about the album or activities in the future, please take over.
H: First, I would like to express my gratitude towards this wonderful opportunity you have given us members of NCT 127 to introduce ourselves. Our team is really hard at work right now, and we are the type of group that will continue to grow. So, it would be wonderful if you could continue to watch over us and support us with all your warmth. Keep an eye out for our album as well. Please take care of yourselves and be happy.
MN: Thank you for that. We really look forward to the release of your album!
H: (In Japanese) Can’t wait to see you all again! Stay well~!
☆The next article will conclude this series, which started in the summer! It will include all the answers to MEN’S NONNO’s 127 questions, the current “My own style” from all the members, and their entire playlist catalog. We’re planning on an update for January 2021, so don’t miss out!
Q. What do you find wonderful about the group?
A. Of course the songs, but also the performances are cool
Q. What scent suits your style?
A. I like the smell of soap. I like scents that are not overly poignant
Q. What do you enjoy doing the most?
A. When I’m eating something delicious
Q. What is the best memory you have from your teens?
A. My debut stage
Q. What item do you find you can’t help but buy even though you may have the same thing already?
A. I often buy white and black T-shirts
MN: We have asked the members of NCT 127 to create a playlist for MEN’S NONNO and the playlist of songs is piling up! (By clicking the image above, you can actually jump to sites, such as Apple Music, Spotify, AWA, etc. All the songs listed by the members who have appeared in this series so far have also been added to the playlist. So, please check it out). Please share with us your favorite NCT 127 songs, as well as your favorites by other artists, HAECHAN-san.
H: From NCT 127, I personally like “Dreams Come True” and “Love Song”. Both are wonderful songs and they are my favorites”
MN: Thank you very much. JOHNNY-san brought up “Love Song”, too. He said he likes it “because it depicts rain as a very positive thing”. We’ll def add “Dreams Come True”
H: Gotcha! For other artists, I already brought up Michael Jackson, so I would like to recommend the song called “Human Nature”. It is a very lovely song.
MN: Is that all? Just one song? I thought your love for Michael Jackson was much stronger…!
H: Hahaha. Thank you so much. Well, then, why don’t I add one more song. A song from a Korean artist that I like. “그대 내 품에(You, In My Arms)” by Yoo Jae-ha. It’s an older song, but I would love for you to hear it”
*Streaming on Apple/Spotify
NCT 127 is a boy band with global reach, consisting of multi-national members and based in Seoul of South Korea. Their latest hit “NEO ZONE” has sold over 1.47 million copies and still rising. And now, Japan’s highly-anticipated 2nd Mini Album “LOVEHOLIC” will be released on February 17, 2021! Expectations are heightened as they try their hand at a love song for the first time as the lead track. nct-jp.net The last HP link is as follows (same as listed)
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