Their team name is EXO. In total, there are 12 people. 6 people work under the name EXO-K (Korea), meaning their activities are in Korea, and the other 6 work under the name EXO-M (Mandarin), meaning their activities are in China. They still have yet to debut, but since the end of last year they’ve been releasing teasers through their official YouTube channel, which have amassed more than 10 million views. “EXO” is name meaning an “exoplanet” from the outer rim of the solar system. It’s a name that implies they’re unknown stars from a new world. We were able to meet with leader Su Ho (22), along with members Baekyun (21), D.O. (20), Kai (19), and Se Hun (19). It’s their first media interview. Though they were a little awkward, on the other hand we definitely understood their feelings of innocence and having many dreams at this first meeting.
(EXO is) the first group SM Entertainment has made since they debuted f(x) in 2009. It seems like your anticipation would be high and your burden greater, in preparation for your upcoming debut.
SUHO: Up until now I think we’ve been working hard to prepare music and performances that will inform Korea, Asia and the world about us.
Meanwhile, because you’re preparing for debut at SM, it’s the most rewarding time for making fond memories.
KAI: That’s our motto. It’s training to give rather than to receive. Usually singers don’t give a lot back to the fans they receive from. So we decided that instead of sitting around and talking about things at a table, we would go out and volunteer together. That’s a fond memory, of going to places like RCY (Youth Red Cross) or to centers for children with disabilities and doing cleaning or just spending time with the kids.
I heard that you all live together in one dorm, with everyone together. How do you divide up the roommates?
CHANYEOL: We have two people living in a room. Me and Baekhyun room together. Se Hun and Su Ho, Kai and D.O. are also roommates.
You must be familiar with each others’ sleep, then. Does anybody snore?
BAEKHYUN: Chanyeolie breathes really loudly. He sniffs a lot before going to sleep, but it’s so loud that I can’t go to sleep.
CHANYEOL: (Retribution) Baekhyunnie also makes me suffer from the sounds he makes. He’s like a dog.
If it’s so difficult, why don’t you change into different rooms?
(The remaining members all shake their heads) No way. We’re all sleeping happily.
BAEKYUN: (Looking at Chanyeol) We must just be stubborn.
CHANYEOL: That, and we love each other. (Laughs)
What about cooking and washing?
SEHUN: Almost everybody does their own. Whoever does the laundry is determined by a weekly duty rotation. Everyone cleans the dishes and bowls they used to eat with. You wash your own underthings like socks. But we do the “bokbulbok game” (“lucky/unlucky game”) a lot. It’s kind of like rock-paper-scissors and the game from “1 Night 2 Days.” Whoever hits the bottle cap closer to the line is free.
Who’s best at the game?
(Everyone) Kai’s the best. He’s on the level of a sniper. He’s definitely the master of this game.
Who’s the member who’s best at housekeeping in the dorm?
(Without hesitation) D.O.
SEHUN: In his drawers, all of his t-shirts are nicely folded. All of his white t-shirts are arranged with white t-shirts, and his v-necks are arranged with v-necks. Ah, but the rest of the members aren’t exactly dirty. Everyone keeps their things tidy, just that D.O. is the best at keeping his space organized.
At SM Entertainment, is there anyone who’s thought “oh, I’d really like to become friends with this sunbae”?
CHANYEOL: When I was growing up I didn’t know anything about idol singers, and then my first encounter was with boy group Dong Bang Shin Ki. That time, I found myself really admiring the charisma that their leader U-Know Yunho carried with himself.
SUHO: Yunho sunbae gave us a lot of advice. He treated us like a leader talking to his dongsaengs and gave a lot of advice about music and choreography. Super Junior’s Leeteuk sunbae also gave us a lot of advice about the responsibilities of a leader and about things like teamwork.
When was the first time your heart wanted to become a singer? It’s not easy to pass the audition for SM.
D.O: Since the time I was a child, I really enjoyed singing. Before I joined SM, I even attended a music hagwon. In 2010 I saw an audition for SM. This was when I was a second year in high school. My parents didn’t oppose it, and told me that I should pursue my dream and work hard and gave me a pep talk. I want to be a singer who’s respected for my vocals.
CHANYEOL: Ever since I was in elementary school I liked playing instruments. In high school I took part in band activities and performances, and the moment we received applause I thought my chest would explode. Yet gradually I began to dream about being a singer. Then in 2008 I was admitted after an audition for SM.
SEHUN: By chance I took part in a casting. I was passing by in front of my school and a member of SM’s casting team asked me if I wanted to participate in a casting. Yet because I was still young, I told my mother and my mother went to talk directly to the staff of SM. At that time I was a sixth year in elementary school. Two years later I passed on my second audition. Honestly, in the meantime I didn’t even know of any celebrities. But when I came to SM to learn to sing and dance I think I really became greedy about becoming a singer.
BAEKHYUN: I’ve really wanted to become a singer ever since I was in my fourth year of elementary school. I would tell my friends that it wasn’t enough to just be an entertainer. Then I started going to auditions, but honestly I ran away from other agencies. I went back to school to start preparing for entrance exams for a conservatory, but then strangely a chance really came. It was on the day of entrance exams. I was in front of the school pretending to fix the music on the score I was carrying and suddenly a casting agent started talking to me. I thought that these things can only happen by heavenly fortune, and that’s how I was by chance cast into SM.
KAI: Since I was a third-year in elementary school I’ve been learning jazz and ballet. I just liked dancing, and wanted to learn this and that type of dance. One day I saw Shinhwa sunbaenim on television and I asked my dad, “What kind of dance is that?” He said, “It’s the kind of dance that singers do.” So I decided, “I want to learn that kind of dancing.” My dad also wanted to see me learn, so he pushed me aggressively. Two years after that I thought I was ready to audition. At that time I was in my sixth year of elementary school, but a company who thought I was too young told me, “If you still want to be a singer in two years, come back again,” so after two more years I came back to SM Entertainment.
SUHO: I wanted to be a singer since I was in middle school, but I always felt like the dream was very far away. Ever since middle school and puberty I’ve been very tall, and incidentally I received many casting offers in the street. There were a lot of people doing casting especially in Samsung-dong, Seoul Trading Center. My house was really close to there, maybe that’s why. Then I received an offer from SM Entertainment and talked to my parents for suggestions, and my parents said that I should give it a try and abandon it if it didn’t work. Fortunately, luck was on my side and I got this opportunity to debut.
How are things with EXO-M? Do you feel like you’re one team, or do you feel competitive with each other?
SEHUN: Our activities are divided, but we’re really one planet. We’re one group. We like to practice and eat together. It’s burdensome to call it a “competition,” it’s really that all we have is friendly competition. For instance, when we’re doing the same choreography, we monitor each other while watching the video and bring up mistakes to each other. Then in the course of that, sometimes we have some friendly competition. No, it’s not a competition. It’s always in good humor.
How would you describe EXO’s musical genre?
SUHO: I want to see EXO make its own genre. When people sing the song, uh… I want it to seem like “EXO’s genre”. I want it to give the feeling of “this is a song from outside the solar system”. An unknown feeling.
By any chance, is there a member in this line of work you consider like a family member?
(Everyone sits and looks around, but Chanyeol) Actually, my noona is an announcer…
(Everyone stares at him with surprise) She’s preparing (!) to be an announcer!
Someone said that Chanyeol has a reputation as the “school ulzzang”.
CHANEYOL: I’m not an ulzzang. People knew I was a trainee when I was in high school, but I’ve definitely never done anything like that. I’ve never even received anything from a girl. I just wanted to be quiet and unobtrusive in school.
When you dream of your reflections in the future, what is the appearance of EXO-K?
BAEKHYUN: I want to be a musically memorable group that will appear in history books even 100 years from now. I want to remain a great singer like the Beatles or Michael Jackson. Personally, I want to try a variety of activities in the entertainment arts, like acting.
CHANYEOL: I would be happy if the twelve of us could stay the same like this even into the future. Personally I also want to try acting and playing musical instruments like guitar and drums. I hope that many people will listen to and enjoy the songs I make.
SUHO: Furthermore, I want us as singers and as EXO to become universally-recognized singers.
KAI: I want to do everything I can to fulfill my role in EXO. I want everyone to be recognized, for dancing or for whatever. I want us to tell the whole world about our music.
D.O: I want the whole team to receive the love of everyone in the world. Also, in addition to being a singer one of my dreams from childhood was to try cooking, so I’d love to challenge hat if I have the chance.
KAI: D.O. is really totally responsible for cooking in the dorm.
D.O: I also want to challenge being a hair or fashion designer.
If you get the chance, D.O., which members’ hair would you want to do?
(All members) I don’t want to trust him with it!
SOURCE: High Cut magazine
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