ENTERTAINMENT

Super Junior returns stronger -- despite Choi’s absence

By Hong Dam-young
  • Published : Nov 6, 2017 - 16:05
  • Updated : Nov 6, 2017 - 16:05
After weathering countless hardships and heartaches together over the last 12 years, Super Junior came out stronger and more united than ever despite the absence of Choi Si-won.

Six men of Super Junior, one of a handful of K-pop acts to have surpassed the 10-year mark, returned with the group’s eighth full-length album “Play” on Monday, celebrating the group’s 12th anniversary as well. The album came two years after Super Junior‘s last release as a group, the 10th anniversary album “Devil” and its reissue “Magic.”

Originally, the act had planned to return as a seven-piece unit: Leetuk, Heechul, Yesung, Shindong, Eunhyuk, Donghae and Siwon. But Siwon, surnamed Choi, decided to sit out the group’s promotions for “Play” after coming under fire over the death of a local businesswoman who died upon being attacked by his family’s dog. 

Six members of K-pop act Super Junior pose during a press conference for the group’s new album “Play,” in Seoul on Monday. Choi Si-won has not been participating in the group’s recent promotions. (Yonhap)

“Honestly speaking, we’ve contemplated a lot on whether we should hold this press conference or not. After finishing their military service, Siwon, Donghae and Eunhyuk worked real hard on our new album, and we all feel deeply sorry for Siwon not being able to join us,” band leader Leetuk said about Choi’s absence during a press conference for the group’s new album in Seoul on Monday. Choi’s vocals and image were not removed from the album and accompanying music videos.

“Through thick and thin for the last 12 years, we’ve always managed to stand strong together not to fall apart. And we realized that after overcoming hardships came other good opportunities. We will try not to lose cheerfulness and a sense of humor, and try to fill Choi’s space,” Lee said. Despite the sudden downsizing, the six bandmates were cheerful and perky as always, proof of their solidarity and the toughness developed in the turbulent K-pop industry. 

(Yonhap)

The 10-track album is led by “Black Suit,” a high-energy dance pop number highlighted by a propulsive swing rhythm. In the song’s accompanying music video, six men, all clad in fashionable black suits, dance to the upbeat melody that recalls the group’s previous dance-driven hits such as 2009 breakthrough hit “Sorry Sorry.” The album also includes tracks such as dance number “Scene Stealer,” modern pop piece “One More Chance,” “Good Day for a Good Day,” “Too Late” and “I Do,” all of which feature the bandmates as either lyricist or composer.

Asked whether the bandmates, having entered their 30s, found dancing more physically challenging than before, Eunhyuk confidently said, “People worry that we won’t be able to perform as well as before due to our age, but we tried our best in developing choreographies just like before.”

Eunhyuk went on to reveal that he hopes to sell over 300,000 physical copies of “Play,” making an impromptu promise that he and the band would sell black suits on a home shopping channel if they reached the sales goal. 

(SJ Label)

Monday‘s press event also saw honest remarks from Heechul, who had previously written via his Instagram account that he wouldn’t be able to participate in “Play” promotions due to a leg injury. In 2006, he was in a car accident that resulted in several pins being inserted into his fractured leg.

The group’s label SJ, however, confirmed he would fully participate in the upcoming group activities, saying, “He was just concerned about his leg pain ahead of the comeback.” During earlier activities after the accident, he performed on the stage, but avoided high-intensity movements.

“I’ve already apologized to fans about my earlier emotional rant on social media, but I’ve always wanted to give a full explanation of my health even though I knew that writing such a letter wouldn’t brush off the detractors,” Heechul said.

“Some rumors even said the accident was intentional so as to avoid my mandatory military duty. I’ve always been attacked by so many malicious comments about my participation in group activities, especially at times when I performed in the back line onstage.” 

(Yonhap)

Heechul revealed that the choreography for “Black Suit” was also crafted taking into consideration his condition, as he couldn’t properly move his left leg.

The K-pop act, which consisted of as many as 15 performers at its height, rose to prominence in 2009 with massive hit “Sorry Sorry.” The multitalented band has also explored a variety of sounds through subunit activities, with some group members such as Heechul gaining fame across entertainment fields. Other bandmates Ryeowook and Kyuhyun are serving in the military, while Kangin and Sungmin are on a break due to negative public opinion.

(SJ Label)

“I still remember our days in 2005 when we rode a big bus and got ready for our ‘Inkigayo’ performance as early as 3 a.m.,” Leetuk said.

“I’ve been thinking about the definition of success lately, and came to the conclusion that for us, success means sticking together as Super Junior as long as we can,” he added. 

Super Junior will kick-start promotions for “Play” with an appearance on Mnet’s “M Countdown” on Friday, and plans to hold its “Super Show 7” signature concerts on Dec. 16 and 17 at Jamsil Gymnasium in Seoul.

By Hong Dam-young (lotus@heraldcorp.com)