First pictorial shoot in a while, right? How was today?
It’s been quite a while since I’ve stood in front of a camera. I’ve been wanting to do a pictorial. It’s so much fun to shoot for different concepts. Today there were a lot of outfits that felt unfamiliar, and vibes that were difficult to express, but the staff helped me a lot and the photographer especially took care and pointed everything out down to the poses, so I was able to have fun and do well. It was such a joy. New challenges are always exciting and fun.
From a classic image to modern appearance, we wanted to properly convey the beauty that Ms. Heejin possesses.
Thanks to the compliments, I filmed with even more confidence. I think I’ve heard several years’ worth of the word “pretty” today. (Laughs)
Before we met today, I’ve been thinking about what kind of person Ms. Heejin is. Today we’re meeting outside the context of a group or promotion, so what word would be best to put in front of your name. In your own opinion, what’s the most appropriate word to describe you?
Mm, it’s a hard question to answer with one clear word. Rather than an appropriate word, I do have a word I’d like to hear. Someone who has a broad spectrum, or a ‘hexagonal’ Heejin. It’s nice to have one image that represents me, but I want to be someone who’s not limited to something, but could instead become anything, someone who can try many different things.
Not just your position on stage, but as a person, right?
Yes, I enjoy trying out new challenges and work hard not to put any limits on myself. On thinking, work, relationships with others, tastes, anything. When someone describes me, I’d love it if they say “This girl has great breadth.” If I could ask for more, it would be even better if they say “she’s someone who suits everything, and is good at everything.”
But position-wise, aren’t you already that hexagonal all-rounder?
Wow, I’m so grateful that you see me that way, but I personally know too well where I’m lacking. More for me to work on. In particular I have the desire to improve my singing ability. I think what remains for a long time is the voice more than anything else. I want to let my voice be known a bit more throughout the world, and impress it upon more people, so I’ve been hard at work on vocal practice.
You have a lot of nicknames and descriptors that fans have given you. What’s your favorite?
The ‘Nonsan Juliet’. (Laughs) I think it’s really witty. There’s a bit of a twist in putting the words ‘Nonsan’ and ‘Juliet’ next to each other, and honestly Olivia Hussey, the ‘Juliet’ there, is such a beautiful person. It’s an honor that they gave me a role played by someone like that as my nickname. If I could pick one more, ‘Jeon Hwihyeol’. It’s from an internet novel ‘Ban Hwihyeol’ and apparently it’s because my actions and words feel like they could be out of such a ‘net novel’. Like a tsundere male protagonist? It’s a fun nickname so I enjoy it.
Is there anything that people might be getting wrong about Ms. Heejin, or misunderstanding?
To be honest, while it might be a bit upsetting, I don’t tend to worry much about that. No matter how people think of me or judge me, it might be unpleasant at that moment, but I quickly forget and don’t dwell on it. And I don’t really try to correct them forcefully. I think I just need to stick to my center, and act rightly and truthfully.
Then how about something that you haven’t shown much of, a charm that you’d like to show more of to fans?
I want to show more performances, for one. Recently I’ve also started acting lessons. To be honest I thought I didn’t have much to do with acting, but now that I’ve begun, it’s such an interesting and new world. I haven’t gotten deep yet, but as I act out different characters, I’ve been experiencing diverse emotions and different lives. It gave me more interest in the people around me, and made me think deeply about people and the world. So I’m learning a lot. Oh, speaking of which, let me change my answer to that other question! The one about what people have wrong about me. A long time ago I filmed this web drama. People who watched that are getting the wrong idea about me. Please forget that. (Laughs) Thinking back, I think I did poorly then because I was too young. Please look forward to a more improved and grown Heejin.
Could you pick one positive and negative trait about yourself?
My personality is seeing something through to the end, once I’ve said I’ll do it. I’m strong-willed and persistent, and even if I’m just doing one thing, I try to make it perfect. That’s a positive that I like about myself. And I have so many negatives, but first of all, I’m too hard on myself. I often bind myself in a suffocating way. I’m pretty lenient to other people, but I can’t do that for myself. I overthink and get cautious, and have high standards. The more promotions I do, I realize I need to break out of myself more, so I’m working on that these days.
Other than the acting lessons, what else are you up to lately?
I’ve been doing schedules here and there, filming content, taking lessons. I’m also exercising a lot and studying English.
I saw the videos where you traveled to Busan with the ARTMS Project members. You seemed very excited?
It was so much fun! It was my first time traveling to Busan for fun. It wasn’t even really a filming - we just hung out on our own. The staff filming also told us to not mind the cameras and do whatever we wanted, so I really had fun without any pressure. The wide open Haeundae sea was so pretty and nice. And one of my bucket list items was to eat multteok. Busan multteok, so delicious.
It’s been a long time since you’ve traveled with friends around your age, right?
It might even be the first time, almost. That I’ve enjoyed a full trip that wasn’t for schedule or work. Even trying to go somewhere with friends, it’s hard to make schedules work, isn’t it. So I think I was able to make a meaningful time out of that.
Any other exciting things you’re planning?
I think this will have happened by the time this interview is published, but I bought tickets to the Bruno Mars concert! I’m so looking forward to it. Way up front! I made a playlist to listen to all day, I’ve been watching concert videos, and I've been so happy every day waiting with excitement. I think it’s an opportunity I’ll never get again in my life.
Seeing the path you’ve walked, you seem like a really enterprising, go-getter kind of person. With a lot of drive, too. Where does that energy come from?
Mm, my personality has always been bright and positive. I have high standards for myself, but also crave challenges. I try to think of everything simply. With relationships with other people, or attitudes towards work, or views on the world, I don’t hate or worry or fear. Even if someone wrongs me, after some time it all goes away. When I run into difficulties, I try to resolve it as best as I can. Whether it’s people or the world, I try to be as genial as possible in how I look at and treat them.
Before you were able to announce a new beginning, a lot of different things happened for a while. How did you feel going through that time?
I always think: ‘This isn’t the end’. If I may carefully say this, I had a strong wish to show people that this wasn’t the end for me, and I never wanted to give up. I have a great desire for the stage, and to show even more things to the fans, so I think I went through that well while looking forward to ‘what’s next’, not ‘the end’.
What helps Heejin endure tough times? The stage. There are a lot of hard things that happen before you get on stage, right. Get up early at dawn to prepare, practice, and standby. But the moment I get on stage, all of that just washes away. I really felt the euphoria of the stage during our tour. It was a really tight and punishing schedule, but even though I felt like dying up until performance time, I would forget all of it when I actually got on the stage. The shouts and cheers of the fans, our music filling the venue. The stage is truly my motivation, and a precious space that I’ll never give up for anything.
You must really miss the fans who enjoy that stage with you.
Yes. I could practice a hundred times in the studio, but it’s completely different than performing once on the stage. That’s because the fans are there. It’s been quite a while since I’ve met them, so I really miss them. The fans are - and honestly no matter what words I use, I could never express it fully - people I am so grateful for. Frankly, the path we’ve walked hasn’t exactly been the most peaceful one, right? And yet they never went anywhere, always kept our side, these dependable people. So I’m thankful for them, but even more than that, I feel apologetic. So we have to repay them with even greater things. I talk about this with the members often. “Our fans are really incredible. Let’s do well.”
Starting from your 2016 solo debut, you’re now in your eighth year. A word of praise for yourself, having run all this way?
You’ve started working at quite a young age, and now you’re all the way here. I’m glad that you didn’t collapse and endured well. I know you won’t falter easily in the future, either. I hope you’ll trust in yourself and do well moving forward. Heejin of the past, thanks so much. (Laughs)
And a word for people who are watching you?
I believe that I am a strong person. I’m going to make sure I show you good things going forward. Please trust me and continue to watch me.
For Heejin who believes in herself, what’s a saying that you believe in?
Mm, the saying that “humans are dust in the universe”. I used to be really into science and space and stuff and watched all these videos. The universe is vast, and expanding infinitely. Thinking about Earth, and humans, and myself in the midst of that, suddenly whatever I was going through didn’t seem so important anymore. Of course it’s tough and difficult in the moment, but taking a long perspective, I felt like I could overcome it. I think that I should not make rigid rules, not box myself in, not be anxious, but live as a speck in the universe, focusing on the ‘now’, and doing my best. Being faithful to each day. Diligently, joyfully, as a speck of dust today!