Having started off as teenage heart-throbs before blossoming into artists of international fame, the duo of U-Know Yunho and Max Changmin appeared before the public as TVXQ on Monday, the first time since being discharged from the military.
“We’ve been introduced as ‘K-pop kings, and I’m really starting to feel the weight of such an expression. I’m happy to be back and to be able to greet you all as TVXQ,” U-Know Yunho said at a press conference held at Hotel Shilla in Seoul on Monday.
Max Changmin (left) and U-Know Yunho of TVXQ pose before a press conference in Seoul on Monday. (S.M. Entertainment)
The press conference marked the start of a press tour that will make a stop in Tokyo at 7 p.m., Monday before addressing reporters at Hong Kong at 7 p.m., Tuesday.
This will be followed by what S.M. Entertainment has named “TVXQ Week” next month, which will see Yunho dropping his solo song “Drop” on Sept. 25 and Changmin releasing a solo song on Sept. 29.
TVXQ will then stage “TVXQ! Special Comeback Live -- YouR PresenT” at Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul on Sept. 30-Oct. 1, before commencing a Japan tour that will kick off with a Sapporo Dome concert on Nov. 11.
“(The Seoul concert) will be a chance for us to perform songs that fans have loved, and to really have a conversation (with the fans),” said Changmin.
He added that performing in front of the fans was what he missed the most during his mandatory military service. Changmin completed his military duties -- required of all able-bodied Korean men -- in August and Yunho finished his in April.
“It may be bit of an obvious answer, but that’s what was the most painful... Not having as many opportunities as before to perform in front of the people who love us, and making them smile,” Changmin said.
But the two years spent in the barracks gave Yunho an opportunity to reflect on himself.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations with myself, my regrets and other thoughts. I also wrote down ideas on a notepad about what to do when I return as TVXQ, and it’s probably time to take it out,” he said.
U-Know Yunho (right) of TVXQ speaks during a press conference in Seoul on Monday. (S.M. Entertainment)
Solo songs aside, when will the next TVXQ album be out? Changmin said they are taking their time.
“Our goal is to release one early next year. I think it will be a slow process, because we don’t want to disappoint the fans who’ve waited for it for so long,” he said.
The next stage
In February, Yunho celebrated his 31st birthday and Changmin, his 29th birthday. But in Korean way of counting ages -- by which you become 1-year-old upon birth and age one more year at the beginning of each year -- Changmin had turned 30 on Jan.1.
By K-pop standards, that is borderline ancient, and the members feel the pressure of heightened expectations. “We still have a lot to expect, and a lot that we want to do, but we feel more responsibility with each action we take, each word we say, and each performance we do. And these moments feel more precious than before,” said Changmin. “I think you will be able to see us living each moment to the fullest. I tell myself not to let (the fans) down, and not to let myself down.”
“We still have our passion and want to strive for new things. That is still there, but TVXQ in its 30s is a little different,” said Yunho. “I want people to say ‘TVXQ concerts are really worth paying a visit to.’ I want to keep that passion.”
TVXQ debuted in 2004 as a five-member group with its single “Hug,” becoming an instant sensation in the K-pop scene and soon expanding its influence and popularity across Asia. It regrouped as a duo after members Jaejoong, Yoochun, and Junsu left the team in 2010.
It remains one of the most popular and influential K-pop acts today.
By Yoon Min-sik