When talking about Park Jihoon, we cannot omit the moment we saw him for the very first time. Two years have passed by, but until now there is no moment that can surpass the moment he filled up the screen with his wink in the falling confettis. Because the moment we saw the boy with his brown hair that can create prism like the manhwa, his sparkling eyes as if the stars have fallen inside and his red lips, we immediately knew he was born to be in an idol group. To Park Jihoon, the color pink, green, the bright fluorescent colors all fit him so well and he would hear comments like “he’s so pretty” more often than not. With the never ending new personal talents after ‘save you in my heart,’ we could be sure that among various charms of idols, he was aiming for the cute image. In the midst of people receiving attention and good response for their swaggy, cool image and the value of cuteness has been dropping down, his straightforward cuteness has made some impactful resistance. At the same time, Park Jihoon does not lack at any of the required ‘skills’ an idol should have, whether it is dancing, singing or rapping. But when I got to know the wink that was the result of dozens, of hundreds time of practice, I have to admit that I misunderstood Park Jihoon.
When I asked him on his thoughts about a good performance, his answer was like this. “I think that it should be a stage where I find the meaning of the song together with the audience while enjoying it. As long as I can match my style with the one that the public wants and enjoy the stage, it’ll be good.” To Park Jihoon, the audience that watch and listen to his music, his performance is a part of his own music. As long as he can share the moment he sings and dances together with them, he is prepared to accept and do anything. That is why him showing a powerful dance performance at his fan meeting or revealing his abs at Wanna One finale concert, rather than being a ‘reversal’ image, are all more of a different expression of his wink or aegyo. To be ‘prepared’ for whatever it takes to be able to deliver and share the delight from music and performance, Park Jihoon is an artist of an entirely new genre. Now that he is starting again as a solo singer and actor after one year six months of Wanna One’s promotions, he is not an idol-like idol. As he is not moving inside the typical formula, the number of people who feels happiness from Park Jihoon’s music, performance and activities are slowly rising. Should I say that the size of his fandom is getting bigger at the speed of cell proliferation. People who watched his stage even for only once would have a delightful smile on their face like they have gathered their happiness for several days. Since the 21st century, there has never been a boy that makes the world so much brighter like this.
How do you usually spend your day. I am putting more focus on practicing. When my schedule ends, half the day has passed by already, but I am still practicing till dawn and end my day quite late. As a singer, singing and dancing are the basic, I am receiving acting lessons as well.
You are planning to work as a solo singer after Wanna One’s activities. I am looking forward to it but also a bit nervous. It is because I have been working with ten members who have different charming points but now I am standing on my own. I am a bit scared and a bit curious. It is a mixed feeling for me.
Have you ever thought of solo activities. I have thought about it for a few times actually. I thought I wanted to try going solo after looking at the senior artists.
The fan meeting was the first time you stood on the stage all by yourself, am I right. I thought I would be somewhat tensed, but I was surprised I did not feel nervous at all. I felt like I enjoyed everything. It was good to meet people who like and support me.
What idea did you put into for the fan meeting. I chose ‘Shape Of You’ as the opening stage. I think it is captivating in its own way. It is a song that has an acoustic version but I thought it would be nice to start off with some emotions. Continuing those emotions with a dance break would make an explosive performance. All the song chosen for performance was my own choice. I looked for some reference as well.
Wanna One member Lee Daehwi congratulated you on your first fan meeting and gifted you the song ‘Young 20.’ You participated in rap making, what kind of thoughts did you try to convey through the lyrics. I wanted to write lyrics that will be meaningful to fans. ‘Love,’ ‘passion,’ ‘unchanging you and me,’ I wrote the lyrics around those keywords.
I want to know your thoughts on a good performance. I think a true artist should be someone who can make the audience feel and enjoy the stage together. Should I phrase it like musical communication? A good performance is a performance where the performer harmonizes himself with the style the public want, in my opinion.
How did you end Wanna One’s activities. We went to a restaurant and ate meat together after the finale concert. I wanted to eat some more, but since I tried to eat too much after eating less to work out, I could not get much food in (laughs).
Do Wanna One members have a group chat. We do, we are talking that we should gather together some time, but matching 11 people’s schedules is not easy. We even said that we should ask our companies to clear our schedules on August 7th, which is our debut date. Wanna One members are people that I could never forget. That is why I was afraid of parting with them, or even hated it. We sleep together, eat together and even went through hard times together. It was such a pity. Wanna One was the turning point of my life. The group made me enjoy the singer life much more and encouraged me to try more new things.
What do you grow to be more interested in through Wanna One’s activities. I was not that invested in composing before, but the members who compose are so cool. I did not know until I met the members, but I realized that there are many interesting fields as well. My sense of challenging grew stronger. I want to try doing everything.
If you were to compare your own image you dreamt of when you were little and your image right now. There is not much of a big difference I would say. I am quite happy about it. My parents supported me in my acting career and I gradually grew to like dancing and started to work as a singer. When I was in 8th grade, I watched a popping video and thought, “wow, I really want to try this.” I did not know the name of dance genres like popping or street dance, I just knew the dance itself. I looked up and watched videos one by one, attended a dance academy and felt that this is a fun job while looking at the seniors. I have been preparing since then.
If you were to describe your feelings when you dance. Should I say, ‘feel’? It is like something is coming. When many people are looking at me and I feel confident, I just fall deep into the performance and dance with all my energy while the sweats are running down. Since there is a rising joy in me when I dance, I can never stop dancing. I like Urban genre nowadays. The dance line is pretty and the feeling is unique. I am watching a lot of videos, practicing and making choreography these days.
Who is the artist that influenced your music the most. Of course it is the popping dancers! Ah, I also like Usher sunbaenim. Is calling him ‘sunbaenim’ even right? (laughs) I respect him for his beautiful and clean style. I normally listen to a variety of music. I have my own playlists, divided into categories like ‘when moving on the car,’ ‘when walking,’ or ‘when working out.’ Future bass, EDM, electronic house, it is a big help if you listen carefully to all of them.
When searching up your name, your abs pictures came out a lot. When I appeared on <Produce 101>, I promised that if I get to debut, I will make abs and show them to fans. To fulfill the promise, I gritted my teeth and worked out really diligently.
You seem to be the type to set up short term goals. I like setting up goals that can be reached within a short period of time and then completing them. My first long term goal was making abs (laughs). ‘Let’s complete choreographing this song today,’ ‘Let’s finish learning this song today,’ I keep setting up short term goals for myself like that. By doing that, my mind feels more at ease and every time I complete them, it becomes my motivation. I really have to set up plans like ‘let’s move up even only by a little.’ I am the type to keep my words. I have to do all the things I want to do.
They all seem to be plans to make your dreams come true. It is true. I have yet to think in details about the final goal, but I want to be active in the industry for a long time. Rather than excelling at only one thing, I hope I can be good at everything.
The wink moment in <Produce 101> was such a great opportunity for you. Back then, amongst a sea of people all trying to stand out, I thought of going with facial expression after thinking for a while. Of course I had to put my energy into dancing as well. I still cannot forget the moment when the ending came, the camera turned towards me and its red light turned on. I kept winking with the desperate heart wanting to come out on the screen for at least once. I was amazed since it was my first time appearing on broadcast.
Even after receiving attention through the wink, you continued to come out with trendy phrases. ‘Save you in my heart’ is the phrase I created but I am scared of it now (laughs). Since the higher ups at the Blue House even did it. There are people who like it but sometimes I get embarrassed too. I did it again… I accidentally did it again… (laughs) The reason for me to challenge myself was because many people like it. I am also surprised at myself. I am comfortable with my lively and refreshing image during activities. But when monitoring, there are times when I go ‘why am I like this?’ at myself too (laughs). To be honest, I do not know myself anymore. I am not originally a person with a lot of aegyo, but I just have that kind of image. I am not sure if I am really that kind of person, or if I am of different personality but just radiate off cute vibes! (laughs) I am just switching between images and working hard. Even that is interesting to me.
What do your parents say about it. At first they were like “Were you that kind of person before?” but now they just tell me “you’re a pro idol now.”
How do you feel when people say you are ‘pretty,’ ‘lovely.’ It is refreshing. To be honest, I am thankful enough at them paying attention to me. When I hear those words, I gain more confidence and want to try more new things. Maybe sometimes a bit reckless, sometimes cute, sometimes chic and sometimes sexy! (laughs)
Were you confused by the popularity and change that <Produce 101> brought you. I was, a lot. I worked hard on the show, but I never thought I would become such a big issue. I feel really blissed.
It was not easy for the sudden interest to come. There is no such thing [as sudden interest]. I thought of it as the recognition for my hard work all this time along. The chance came to me in a sudden and I worked my best not to miss it. I prepared to be an idol since 8th grade. Looking back now, rather than being the time when I poured my all into dancing and singing, it was hard because I did not know what my future would be. I was so scared of those time when I did not know when I could debut, when I might be cut from the company.
One thing you do everyday diligently. Working out. I was working out with a personal trainer but I am taking a break now. I still have exercising equipments at my house though. I set up my own goal to complete four sets of exercise a day but after finishing them, I thought ‘should I do one more?’ and ended up working out even more. I am afraid I might be addicted to working out but it is a lot of fun. Since I am getting healthier.
Your dancing feels a bit different too. That is right. I used to have a lot of fat so my moves were heavy, but they got lighter now. I got better at controlling my power in every movement.
Your recent hobby. Acting. I think it is interesting. I find the whole process of thinking of really becoming that character, analyzing, absorbing the character and getting in sync really amusing. I enjoy watching action, crime noir genre. I want to become an actor who can pull off any roles and act for a long time.
Do you have a motto that you swear by. I do have a life motto. Practice instead of using your time to worry. I felt that saying a lot while promoting. Firstly, your confidence when you go up to stage fully prepared is different comparing to when you do not. If you grow to fear the stage, you will make mistakes, and when those mistakes become your fear, it will dominate your whole body. You can even turn to hate performing if you are scared of it.
How far do you think you have come. I am still a child who has not even started yet. I am someone who want to, and have to spread my wings.