Fiercely and toughly,
Chuu speaks, having grown tougher today than yesterday. That she’s not afraid no matter what happens. So bring it all on.
Q. Today, we wanted to capture a Chuu that is different from the usual lovely and adorable appearance. How did you like the concept of this pictorial?
A. I like trying out different concepts, but with concepts like what we shot today, somehow looking tough and cold, they have felt foreign to me for some reason. But I guess I wanted to try out something like this too as I turned 25 this year. (Laughs) I like it.
Q. How come a tough-concept Chuu felt foreign?
A. Everyone has an appearance that fits them the best, right? I guess I would put limits on myself, believing that tough makeup or styling does not fit me. Looking back, I have had trouble whenever I did jacket shoots with powerful and tough concepts or performed on stage with those. Each time I received help from people around me and tried to overcome it little by little. I did have thoughts of wanting to try it again someday, and that turned out to be today!
Q. Apart from concept, when do you feel the strongest?
A. I’m a person who forgets difficult things quickly. Even when something unjust happens to me, I feel like they don’t injure me. Of course, I do feel pain in that moment, but rather than getting trapped in that, I find ways to overcome it. Like going out to exercise consistently so that I can shake off negative thoughts, or finding new hobbies. When I seek out what I want to learn and experience them, I think I become less sensitive to things that stress me out.
Q. Maybe that is why you have shown yourself attempting many different hobbies through <Chuu Can Do It> on YouTube.
A. I think too much, so I tend to go out of my way to worry. And what that also means is that the moment I start worrying in advance, I am going to have more painful moments, right? Rather than staying anguished for a long time, I seek out what I can do right now. That is the reason why, even though I am a homebody, I go outside to meet unnies around me, and learn new hobbies like I do in <Chuu Can Do It>. When I concentrate on learning, a day passes by in a flash. Then I get to shake off negative thoughts, and my own abilities improve. And I also get to deliver vibrant and positive energy to <Chuu Can Do It> viewers, as they watch me learn.
Q. Is there a hobby you are really into lately?
A. I want to learn about wine properly. Ah, and I have been into makeup. These days I have been trying my own makeup and making modeling packs, and finding fun in that. I do it for my mom and brothers too.
Q. Looking back on Chuu’s footsteps, I felt that you are someone who takes initiative. You prepared for applied music admissions and got accepted to Hanlim Arts High School and Korean Arts High School, and you built your skills step by step, going through applied music programs and academies. That is something you can only do if you have conviction and willpower for your dreams.
A. I think I was able to keep doing it just because it was something I liked. The thing that people have been telling me most lately is, “After all that, you might have given up from the hurt, so how can you not give up and still enjoy working?” But work is enjoyable for me. Even when I feel tired, singing gets me into a good mood right away. I never gave up, worked consistently, and came all this way all because this is what I enjoy.
Q. There is a certain dissociation that comes when a hobby you like becomes your job. What do you do in times like that?
A. I sing alone at home, with a single amp and a mic, but there are moments when I do not even have the energy to do that. When that happens, I set it down, whether for a few days or a few months. After a while, I find that a time comes when I want to do it again. I put down singing for a while and started singing again recently. I realized once again that the courage to stop boldly sometimes is so important.
Q. How did you feel when you picked up the mic again?
A. That I am the most happy when I sing, after all! The moment I sang, I was touched by the vibration I felt in my vocal cords. Thanks to that, I made my own tracklist and sang for almost five hours.
Q. Five hours, was that not tiring?
A. I’ll say. But these days, for some reason, I have been thinking about the end. When I have the thought - what if a moment comes when I cannot sing anymore, and I have to put all this down? It makes me sad. I think singing is the most important thing in my life.
Q. I wonder why you started thinking about the end?
A. Maybe my vocal condition might deteriorate, or, even though I cannot imagine it right now, maybe a moment will come when I do not want to sing anymore. When I have those thoughts, it always concludes with the thought that I want to give my all into singing in each moment.
Q. Did the image of always-bright-and-energetic Chuu ever feel burdensome?
A. Sometimes I feel burdened when someone asks me to just be even brighter, no matter what. It means forcing something on top of the emotions I’m feeling, so to be honest, that is hard. But these days, I feel like I have overcome that. Like I have learned how to enjoy even that. As I have been a panelist on the variety show <Mr. Trot 2>, I have felt that too. This was my first exposure to the trot genre. If someone demanded that I force myself to like trot, I would have felt averse to that, but listening to it and enjoying it live on set, I have learned that it is a charming genre. These days, I seek it out to listen to.
Q. Chuu is so open to everything. I can feel that you want to learn and experience everything.
A. Right. It’s that I did not know before, not that I did not like it.
Q. How did you ring in this year? It’s the Year of the Rabbit, Chuu’s sign, and it also marked the start of solo activities.
A. I’m looking forward to it, even though it is scary. Of course, the excitement and anticipation are greater, but I do not know yet. I have never promoted on my own before, so this is a season of pondering over a lot of things, from what kind of musical direction would be the best to set, to what I could pull off the best, and to what the public wants to see from me.
Q. A series of events have taken place as you went from group to solo. This is sensitive, but I was curious how you are feeling as you go through this time.
A. I do not try to avoid exhausting and difficult situations. I just accept difficult emotions. Without avoiding them, I seek out the things I can do and shake them off. In that way, I think I have been overcoming it well. The fans tell me that it’s okay to show when I am having a hard time, to tell them honestly. But I only want to give good things to them. All I want to think about is how I can return the energy and the care that I am grateful for, which I receive from the fans.
Q. On one hand there are people who give infinite strength to Chuu, and on the other hand there were people who created mountains out of molehills through provocative words that have no basis in reality.
A. Of course I feel wronged about some things, and there are wounds I have received in that process, but I do not particularly want to show those things, and I do not have the energy to engage in an unnecessary fight. Everyone will find out someday. Maybe when I have gained a huge number of years of experience, I will be able to tell all? (Laughs) That is how I feel. Right now, everything is fine.
Q. You have a special love for your fans, to the point you planned a birthday party yourself. Fans mean something special to Chuu, yes?
A. One time I performed in front of some other fans, and then I met with my fans. I felt such a sense of relief at the time. I made a mistake on the stage because of some mic issues, and I was so angry at myself. But the moment I saw my fans, the negative feelings disappeared like they were never there. How could I say this - they are like the warmest blanket in the world. (Laughs)
Q. One side of Chuu that I cannot forget is what I saw on the variety show <Running Girls>. To overcome what you yourself thought of as a limitation, you ran a lengthy course without stopping. After finishing the course, you cried while saying you were happy, and I could feel that emotion viscerally.
A. It is such a truly happy memory to me too, when I met good people and we exchanged good influence with each other. That was also a time when I could not freely go outside, other than 30 minutes to go to the convenience store. So going running somewhere was something I could not even imagine. I think I was just overcome at the thought that I was running freely in a place I had never been to before. I even forgot that it was for a show, and the tears came. I felt an overwhelming emotion like I had become the main character of a movie, running in search of happiness.
Q. Have you been running consistently ever since?
A. Yes, just the other day I ran for about an hour at Banpo Bridge. Even if I do not get to go often, when I have a moment, I go running at a nearby park or Banpo Bridge or Seokchon Lake.
Q. There are rumors of you being a ‘dakku’ (diary decorating) master.
A. I have my own diary safe, which is full of diaries in which I have written down my daily routine and how I felt each day, since 2017. I started keeping a diary because I thought it would be a shame if my daily memories fade over time. Recently, I took out my diary from when I debuted, and it felt new, realising that I was feeling this way at that time. If I had not recorded it then, these would have become moments that I certainly would not remember now.
Q. Do you have any unique ways of keeping a diary?
A. There will be stories that I write as Kim Jiwoo. It has become my routine to end my day by writing my diary before going to bed. Rather than consciously separating Chuu and Kim Jiwoo, what I write depends on how I feel that day. On days when Chuu writes my diary, I put on colourful stickers and write in a bright tone, while on days when it’s Kim Jiwoo, I write in a plainer way, about what happened today, how I felt, and what I should do in the future.
Q. What is currently on Chuu’s bucket list?
A. I recently got my driver’s license. I want to train hard and go on a drive on my own. I also want to travel somewhere far away. I will also write down “wine lessons” [on my bucket list].
Q. Okay. In the distant future, looking back on your diary from today, what kind of Chuu do you hope to become?
A. Right now, I get anxious, and there are moments when I get impatient from anxiety when I am not able to resolve things perfectly, but I hope I become a person who is much more relaxed than the me now.
Q. There will come a day when you release your solo album. What would you like to show through that?
A. There are so many things I want to do, but I would like to show what I can do best. A bright song where I can share my unique energy with a bright and cheerful appearance on stage would be nice.
Q. At this moment, what would you like to say to those who are watching Chuu?
A. I believe that a great person is one who has something they are pursuing firmly and perseveres with it. I am also confident that what I am doing right now is what I want to do the most. With this confidence, I am going to work hard consistently. Everyone has their own difficulties, but I hope that you will move forward with me. With an attitude of “I won’t be afraid no matter what happens. Bring it all on!”