[Eng Trans] Nichkhun’s Interview in Elle Men Thailand - September 2015 Issue
THE NICH NATION
Two police cars led three vans to Ritz-Carlton Residences’ showroom in Thonglor. We were a little flabbergasted by JYPE staff’s meticulous preparation. Nichkhun wore a Hawaiian print shirt, well-fitting jeans, and sneakers. His hair was dyed and set in ‘baby curly’ style. His relaxed manner contrasted with his bodyguards’ serious demeanor. Nichkhun told us he was surrounded by many bodyguards only in Thailand.
Nichkhun was among those who boosted the Korean Wave in Thailand. After frequently relocating (to many countries) when he was young, he has integrated multicultural (Thai, American, Chinese, and Korean) identities and experiences. Thus, he was different from most singers and actors. Nichkhun became an ambassador of various brands but he has not done many works in Thai entertainment business. However, having Nichkhun as a member of 2PM, one of the leading boy bands in Asia, has made people realize 2PM have succeeded not only domestically but also internationally. Nichkhun was dearly loved by fans since he began his career as an entertainer in 2006 until now. He was ranked among Top 10 most desirable and hardest working stars in Korea.
Elle Men has spent one whole day with Nichkhun in July. We found out he possessed many positive attributes that garnered love from fans and we did not mean his handsomeness.
He had so much more than his physical appearance.
ELLE MEN: Have you come back to Thailand often?
Nichkhun: I come back when I have a schedule here. I haven’t stayed at my house for a long time. My house is located on Phutthamonthon Sai 3 Road which is very far away. The last time I stayed at my house is 3-4 years ago.
ELLE MEN: So you rarely come home.
Nichkhun: My room does not exist any longer. (Laugh) I gave my room to my brother and sisters.
ELLE MEN: How is your everyday life these days?
Nichkhun: Most of my works are in overseas now. My daily routine is different. It all depends on my work. I may have to wake up early if I stay in Korea and I have to appear on music shows. We will do a sound check, get our hair and makeup done, do a camera rehearsal, and wait for live recordings. We finish our work at 6PM. But nowadays, we rarely appear on TV programs. We spend most of our time performing concerts in Japan.
ELLE MEN: You work more frequently in China too.
Nichkhun: Yes. I have been filming for a drama or variety shows. For a drama, my daily activities depend on each day’s filming schedules, like how many scenes or which scenes I have to shoot. I am quite surprised with my activities in China. At first I had no idea I had that level of popularity in China. When we performed our concerts there, it seemed I had the most fans. I was astounded that I had so many fans. I have a large number of followers on Weibo too. So I think I should work more in China. The feedback from my fans is awesome. Thus, I have continued to work there. When I filmed for a drama, I would speak my lines in both English and Chinese. I tried to memorize my lines and act in Chinese. I would write my script in Pinyin, the official Mandarin romanization system. I don’t know the exact meaning of every word but I can understand them pretty well.
Nichkhun: The director told me I could speak my lines in English but I know they have to dub my dialogue in Chinese. I want my mouth to move in sync with the original Chinese dialogue. It will be easier for my co-actors to understand what I am saying. I have to say it is very arduous. There are 30 episodes for my drama. I had to spend several months preparing for the drama. Most of the final scripts would be ready close to the filming day. At times the scripts were changed while we were filming too.
ELLE MEN: Some people said Nichkhun had never filmed for a Korean drama because of the language.
Nichkhun: Yes. Language is certainly one of the reasons. I can’t play the roles that Daniel Henney (a Korean American actor) took because I am not a Westerner. But Koreans seem to think I am Korean now. (Laugh) Many people seem to forget I am Thai. So people may not believe in my acting if I take some roles. Conflicting work schedule is also a reason.
ELLE MEN: Korean entertainment business is fiercely competitive. You are in the Korean showbiz too. Have you ever been stressed out?
Nichkhun: Hmm… now and again, especially in the beginning. During the time I wanted to be well-known, to be popular, to win the first place, and to triumph over some groups. But after reaching a certain point of success, we have stopped aiming to do what people like. We prefer to do what we like, whether it’s music producing or acting. If we think this work is marvelous for us, we will do it. Previously, we were worried if people would like songs or dance routines that we chose. But these days, we have produced works that we enjoyed. We have chosen songs that the six of us liked. Then later on we would discuss if our fans or the public would like them. That’s the way we work now.
ELLE MEN: It has been many years since 2PM debuted. You guys have possibly passed the highest point in your career. The number of album sales has decreased. The demand for your appearances may be diminished. Will these factors affect your future works?
Nichkhun: They have made us anxious from time to time. But we don’t think we have to compete with certain groups. We prefer to compete with ourselves. And each member of 2PM has planned his future activities. Five of us have to fulfill the mandatory military service within the next 2-3 years. Jun. K, Taecyeon, and I are of the same age. Thus both of them will enlist in the army first. Then other members who are 1-2 years younger will follow suit. When the day arrives, we will consider what we should do next.
Nichkhun: It means we will be apart for a while. Therefore we are trying to make the most of the next 2-3 years. We have planned our albums and concert tours. Right now our schedules are all packed until next year. We are trying to do our best. And there is no point stressing out about it.
ELLE MEN: How do you manage conflicts within your group? You guys have maintained good relationships for over 7 years, since the day you released your first single ‘Hottest Time of the Day’ in 2008.
Nichkhun: In our group, seniority is not that important. We are friends. When problems arise, we will gather together to discuss them. We will frankly point out any wrongdoings or what we dislike. Each of us will talk for mutual understanding. This is the system we have used since the beginning. Working side by side, we can be frustrated or angry with one another on occasion. When it’s too much to handle, we will talk about the problems. We will talk so we can understand one another. And we will adapt ourselves to achieve harmony. We have never physically fought it out.
Nichkhun: A senior friend once asked if any punches were thrown within our group. When I said never, he was surprised. Korean men are quite hot-tempered. They punch each other in the face and later drink soju together. That’s it. They can be friends again. Older generation of Korean men are like that. 2PM is a family. We are very close. We can almost read one another’s mind. I think one day when we don’t work together anymore, we will still keep in touch. Like when we have not met for a while, we would find time to have a meal or play golf together.
ELLE MEN: Is it difficult being a superstar in Korea?
Nichkhun: You have to be careful about many things. If I am going to have a meal with a woman who is not my girlfriend, I have to ask someone to accompany me. People will misunderstand if someone takes a photo of me sharing a meal with her. I think it’s the same everywhere. I am fed up with this kind of things now and then. There are so many things I want to do but after repeatedly pondering about them, I just give up. I am tired of thinking about these issues.
ELLE MEN: Have you planned what you will do in the future? Will you have solo work? Will you set up your own business that has nothing to do with music industry?
Nichkhun: Hmmm… I have thought of them once in a while. But in fact, I honestly never thought I would make this much money. Even when I was a child, I didn’t think I wanted a lot of money. So I am quite surprised when I think about it. I never wanted to be a hectomillionaire. What I have today is more than enough. If I start my own business, I could lose a lot of money. When you run a business, stress and worry are to be expected. I may not be an artist in the future but I don’t think I will get involved with any huge projects. I will perhaps own a small business.
ELLE MEN: Have you ever thought you don’t want to work in the showbiz any longer?
Nichkhun: I have constantly thought about it. If I don’t work in the entertainment business, what should I do to earn consistent income? I don’t like to do anything too risky. And I don’ know how long I am going to work in this field.
ELLE MEN: I have heard Park Jin-young, the founder of JYP Entertainment, has plans for artists who want to work in other fields.
Nichkhun: He has tried to help. He wants us to learn about business too. Park Jin-young was born to be an artist so he continues to produce music. But he knows this kind of work style may not suit others. He has asked us what we want to do if we are not an artist any longer.
ELLE MEN: You said you didn’t like taking risks. But taking this career path during the time was a risky life choice.
Nichkhun: It was risky. (Laugh) But when I first started working in the showbiz, I didn’t have many risks. I might possibly waste my time but I could go back to continue my studies. However, now I have so many things to consider; fame, money, and my family. It would be regrettable if I lose them all, wouldn’t it? I have worked very hard to earn all that money.
Nichkhun: Today I have talked about money several times. (Laugh) But I don’t think I am obsessed with money. Some people don’t like it when stars talk about their income or when stars show off expensive things they purchase. I agree that showing off your new car seems over the top. But I don’t think it’s shameful to talk about our hard earned money.
ELLE MEN: You are approaching the big 3-0. In general, when men become older, they tend to think of ways to take care of their family. People in the entertainment world certainly realize that celebrity is transient. What will you do when you reach 35?
Nichkhun: I have talked with my mother about this. I will probably buy lands in the countryside and build a home there. I think of growing and selling my own fruits too. But I have to consider these plans carefully.
ELLE MEN: Do you think you will come back to live in Thailand? Will you stay in Korea or move to California?
Nichkhun: I am not sure. If one day I get married, I will have to think about it. It depends on many factors.
ELLE MEN: So you have thought of getting married.
Nichkhun: Not yet. I am afraid of getting married. Two people have to adjust themselves in order to live together. And sometimes it may not work out. It is especially difficult when you are a celebrity. It will be troublesome if you tie the knot and later you and your spouse decide to part ways. So before getting married, I have to seriously decide if I am sure.
ELLE MEN: But it will be difficult if you have a child very late in life. Don’t you want to have children?
Nichkhun: I haven’t decided yet. My father said scarcity of natural resources, especially water and oil, would become a serious global problem in the future. So I have to think carefully. Having children may not be the answer. My children may encounter difficulties more than me. But I have no intentions of having children anytime soon. Right now I will concentrate on my work.
ELLE MEN: When you were young, you moved to several countries and changed schools often. You grew up in diverse societies. How does it affect you?
Nichkhun: I don’t have many close friends. I was born in the USA and moved to Thailand when I was two years old. During the time, my parents didn’t own a house. They decided to rent my aunt’s townhouse. My parents said they wanted to have their own house and finally bought a house when I was 9. I lived in our house at Phutthamonthon for 3-4 years. Then I went to study in New Zealand for 2 years. I studied at high school in the USA and went to work in Korea. I relocated many times.
Nichkhun: One advantage is that I can easily adapt myself to new situations and people. I know how to behave when I meet new people. I tend to be neutral at first and don’t really reveal my true self to them. If I feel I want to be friends with this person, then I will gradually open up. I was lonely at first. But after moving many times, I have decided it gives me opportunities to learn new things.
ELLE MEN: South Korea has become your home too.
Nichkhun: It is another home of mine. Thailand, America, and South Korea are all my homes.
ELLE MEN: Have you been back to America often?
Nichkhun: Once a year. I still have my relatives there. My sisters and I travelled in America 3-4 months ago. We drove around the city in a rental car. It was fun. Sometimes it is nice to live in a world where people don’t know you.
ELLE MEN: I have heard you like to play golf.
Nichkhun: Yes. Nowadays, I have played golf with Chansung. Many Koreans come to Thailand to play golf. We have planned to come to work in Thailand one day and play golf on the next day. (Laugh)
ELLE MEN: Why do you like to play golf?
Nichkhun: I have played badminton since I was a child. One day my father said he wanted us to learn a new sport. Then he took all of us to a golf course. My father told us golfers didn’t get badly injured (as much as other athletes). If we played excellently, we could earn money and have a long career ahead of us. I liked golf after playing it just once. It’s a sport that you don’t have to compete with others. You compete against yourself. When you are on a golf course, you are surrounded by nature. Nobody asks for your photo.
ELLE MEN: You sister (‘Cherreen’ Nachjaree Horvejkul) has started to work more regularly in the entertainment business. Are you worried about this?
Nichkhun: In the beginning, I was opposed to the idea. I know it is tiring. I know how much her life will change. People want to be a star because they want to be famous, to be wealthy. I told her what it was like. But I have realized my sister is happy while doing her job. She likes to act, to be in front of the camera. She has diligently worked hard and dedicated to her work. My father told me Cherreen woke up late when she had to go school. But she would be very prompt for a filming. My father was pretty surprised with her. I think it’s great she has a chance to work when she is young. I started working very early too. If you can handle it well, this career will enrich your life experience.
Nichkhun: My father has always reminded me that, even though I didn’t study at any university, right now I have a doctorate degree from life experiences. I am the master of my own life. I am blessed to have such open-minded parents.
ELLE MEN: If today you had not been a celebrity, what would you like to do?
Nichkhun: I would have become a photographer. I liked to take photos since I was young. Or I would have pursued a career as a pianist.
ELLE MEN: How do you imagine yourself when you reach 50?
Nichkhun: Hmmm I should live happily. I should not have to work then. I will take a rest. As I told you, I don’t need a whole lot of money. I should have enough money and live comfortably. I may live in California. I am very relaxed while being there. I feel like I can cast aside all mental burdens. I won’t need anything much by that time.
ELLE MEN: When the day comes and your fame fades away, will you lose your self-confidence?
Nichkhun: I don’t think fame is everything. Of course, being loved is a blessing. But living freely is the ultimate happiness in life. My fans should understand me. If I am 50 years old and I still have to work as an entertainer, I will probably do it. But I think at that point I should be tired and want to take a break.
ELLE MEN: How long do you plan to keep on working very hard like this?
Nichkhun: Maybe 5 years, until I reach 32. Or I may keep on working vigorously until I reach 35. (Laugh) It’s just a thought. I don’t know if I will have any work schedule. Will my popularity decline? At the moment, I will continue to work until I reach a saturation point.
ELLE MEN: Today you are still happy.
Nichkhun: I am happy. I am still in a position where I can choose works that I want to do. I can refuse works I don’t want to do. I am trying to choose works or roles that will make me happy. I really don’t think of money all that much. *