“The only place that took me in when no one else would was the musical industry. It gave me the opportunity to perform for the first time in a musical during troubled times.”
JYJ’s Kim Junsu(24) is the symbol of ‘musicaldols’ (musical+idols). He stands in the midst of the musical industry breaking through its slump by bringing out the idol card.
Last January, when he and fellow JYJ members Kim Jaejoong(25) and Park Yoochun(25) were a hot topic in the media and the public for their exclusive contract dispute against TVXQ’s agency SM Entertainment, Junsu transformed into a musical actor through ‘Mozart!’(EMK Musical Company), the musical that reinterpreted the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756~1791). And in an instant, he became a blue chip in the musical industry.
“Musicals gave me a great amount of courage. hahaha.” Last year, Junsu shied away from the media, even when he was appearing in the musical. In Q&A sessions, he did not allow any ‘personal’ questions and only answered questions that dealt with his musical.
But Junsu has gotten much brighter since the end of his second musical ‘Tears of Heaven’(Seol&Company) last month. TVXQ’s Xiah Junsu became JYJ’s Junsu, who in turn became a stronger and more confident Kim Junsu, the musical actor. On the 2nd and 3rd of this month, Junsu even boasted his power as a singer when JYJ’s World Tour leg in Bangkok, Thailand was sold out.
Junsu looked back on the past year and said, “Musicals were the only things that allowed me to perform during troubled times,” and “When I first started out, I told myself that I could be lacking, but I couldn’t make a fool out of the musical or myself.”
Last year, Junsu was able to sell out all fifteen of his ‘Mozart!’ performances in a mere three hours. Through this musical, he received the Best Male Newcomer Award at ‘The 4th Musical Awards’ and ‘The 16th Korean Musical Awards’.
“I heard that Mozart is the only musician who was given the title of ‘genius’ in the history of music,” and “He was a person who was lacking in no way possible, but he himself saw himself as a unfortunate soul.” He also added, “Though I’m not a genius, Mozart’s situation seemed to match so well with mine that I could relate to him.“
Receiving two Best Newcomer Awards, Kim Junsu said, “The gratitude and joy I felt when I received those awards is indescribable in words,” and“They gave me strength and urged me to appear in another production.”
In ‘Tears of Heaven’, Junsu was able to work alongside world renowned musical actor Brad Little(47), who is famous for his roles in ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. For this musical, Kim Junsu set yet another record by selling out 17 performances of 27,500 seats in 10 minutes.
“There was a lot of pressure on my shoulder because I was set to appear in a brand new musical, although I was just a rookie,” and “There was a lot of pressure on me and my fellow actors because we were creating the basis and foundation of the musical.” However, his eyes shone as he said, “I was really thankful to ‘Tears of Heaven’ because I was able to learn so much from it,” and “It was a great honor to have been given the opportunity to perform with an actor like Brad Little.”
The recently released ‘Kim Junsu Musical Concert – Levay With Friends’ DVD sold over 40,000 copies in its first two weeks. Though he is a newcomer to the musical industry with just two productions under his belt, he is already being compared to the musical industry’s top star Jo Seung Woo(31). According to a survey done by Interpark last year, Kim Junsu came out on top as the star with the greatest ticket power in the musical industry, even beating Jo Seung Woo and his return to the industry with the musical ‘Jekyll and Hyde’.
Regarding the comparisons drawn between him and Jo Seung Woo, Junsu scratched his head and said, “It’s a great honor but also a great amount of pressure.” He took a humble approach and said, “It doesn’t make sense for Senior Jo Seung Woo to be compared to a rookie like me,” and “I see Senior Jo Seung Woo as my role model but we keep getting compared, so I sometimes wonder what his fans think about me… I feel the need to be careful when talking about the situation.”
Junsu’s vocal talents were recognized since his ‘TVXQ’ days. Recently, ten vocal trainers were asked to rank idol groups and members based on their vocal skills and Junsu came out on top. Regarding this, Junsu said, “I need to work harder to become a person who is deserving of that number one spot.” He also said, “I feel like I am stil lacking in so many ways,” and “I try to sing with as much sincerity as possible.”
‘Mozart!’ was composed by Grammy Award winning Sylvester Levay(66) while ‘Tears of Heaven’ was composed by Frank Wildhorn(52). Junsu smiled as he said, “It was a great honor to be able to work with two of the best composers in the world,” and “I tend to be drawn towards musicals with great songs.”
However, Junsu was also swept up in controversies surrounding idols and their high paychecks when it was found that he was being paid 35 million Won for each ‘Mozart!’ performance. He said, “I am thankful that people think of me so highly regardless of the fact that I’ve only been in two productions,” and “I believe it is my job to showcase a performance that is worthy of the production without being a burden on it.”
Junsu is currently a senior at Myeongji University with a musical major and his passion for musicals seems unbeatable. He has watched all the recent musicals such as ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, ‘GwangHwaMun Sonata’ and ‘AIDA’. He even said, ” I want to give back to the musical industry as much as I’ve been loved by people for my roles in musicals,” and “If I was asked to be a spokesperson for musicals, I would accept the position without hesitation.”
He was also able to fully experience the troubles the people in the musical industry currently face. “Mr. Levay said that Korean musical actors are so talented that they would be able to succeed wherever they went. But he also said that in Korea, they weren’t getting the treatment that they deserved.”
“As Kim Junsu the musical actor, nothing would make me happier than to see the musical industry grow and evolve due to an increased interest in musicals because of me.”
Other than ‘Mozart!’, a countless number of musical production companies are dying to have Junsu appear in their shows.