SNSD’s 10 Year Friendship According to Sooyoung
Sunday morning of August 5, 2007. Inside of the 45-person bus en route to the Seoul Deungchon-dong SBS public hall. Two days ago, debut single ‘Into the New World’ had come out and it was the road to their first stage for SBS ‘Inkigayo’. Inside of the silent bus, members could not look at each other. It was because if their gazes had met, tears would pour out of their eyes. To avoid gazes, they looked out the window endlessly, but they were not able to see anything properly. At the time, the outside of the bus was wrapped with a photo of SNSD. Members looked out at a landscape that they couldn’t see properly and held in their tears. And they went on their first stage. The girls held their tears back and finished the stage. On the way back to the waiting room, the members teared up one by one. Parents who came to congratulate them on their first stage cried together with them. These tears were warmer than the tears shed countlessly during their time was trainees, 3 and a half years if it was short, 7 years if it was long. The girls came back to their dorm and cried again. Sooyoung who we met on the 21st at the Seoul Cheongdam-dong SM Entertainment office building recalled that time and smiled, saying “I remember looking out at the scenery out the window and sniffling, not really seeing anything. It was a stage we went on after practicing the leg kick for 1 year”. The leg kick Sooyoung references is a point choreography in the ‘Into the New World’ performance.
Even now when we go overseas for concerts, we gather in the same room to chat. Most of the members have spent 1/3 of their lives together.
“Secret to 10 Years is Friendship, Concern and Respect Among Members”
– What is the secret to maintaining the team for 10 years?
“It’s the high degree of intimacy among members. It’s not a relationship connected simply by work, but we meet each other as friends, so we are able to go for a long time. There are no incidents of a member having total control of another because they’re older or anything like that. We know what each person likes and dislikes, so we respect one another, we consider one another, and we concede for one another and have been able to come all this way.”
– Now that it has been 10 years, do you see each other less often?
“There are still a lot of stories we have to share. It’s a huge thing to have been together for 10 years. Most of the members have spent 1/3 of their lives together. I’ve spent 1/2 of my life so far at my current agency (SM Entertainment). I almost don’t have friends my age aside from my members. We speak to each other about everything, from each others’ concerns, to work, to family. Members are friends like that.”
– We heard you set time aside to share stories daily during early days of debut.
“For a while we had ‘5 Minute Talks’. We made it mandatory to share stories every day with each other. As we wrapped up each day, we talked about things that disappointed us that day, things we have to be cautious about, and areas of improvement. (After we left the dorms) We each had our own space, and as we spent time with family, we haven’t been able to continue doing it but we did it for a while. Even now, when we go overseas for concerts, we gather in one room and share many stories with one another, as we had back then.”
– Do you also talk about dating and discuss work (individual projects)?
“We talk about trivial things like ‘What should I wear tomorrow’ to giving advice on projects, saying ‘going forward, do more of this’. Since it’s listening to a different female celebrity’s story who you’ve been with for 10 years, so it impacts me and gives me a challenge.”
– If one member does something, is it the duty of other members to go and cheer them on?
“More than money, the most important thing for the members is time. Recently, I did a charity concert and I felt bad asking the members to come. Because I would need to use up their precious time. But Tiffany said ‘You won’t ask because you’d feel sorry about asking’ and she made time on her own to come. And performed with me. When members release a solo album or film a drama, I go to cheer them on. To one another, that is the biggest and most precious gift.”
After their 5th album “Lion Heart” released in August 2015, SNSD have been promoting individual activities. Especially this year, Yuri has had her first starring role in a public broadcast drama through SBS ‘Defendant’, and Seohyun will star in MBC weekend drama ‘Thief, Mr. Thief’ starting in May. Yoona enjoyed joy of box office success with her first Korean movie ‘Confidential Assignment’ which opened in January. Sooyoung started acting in the KBS 2TV sitcom ‘Unstoppable Marriage’ that aired starting in November 2007.
– Yuri and Seohyun have hit their strides as actresses.
“Yuri extensively studied the occupation of a lawyer for ‘Defendant’. She worried a lot about her image as SNSD overlapping (with the character). But as each episode went on, she became assimilated into the character. As a friend, I think she did well so I am proud. Seohyun’s emotional sensibility is good. She always surprises me. I wondered if she would be able to do it, and she did it well. She’s a maknae dongsaeng who will do well so I don’t need to worry.”
– In the 20 year history of South Korean girl groups, SNSD has taken up 10 years of it. There must be a huge sense of pride.
“(During group promotions) Even just 2 years ago, I didn’t fully understand the huge meaning behind everything I’ve done so far. I didn’t know how difficult and big it was that we received daesangs as a girl group and toured internationally. We were too busy working hard to prepare the tasks right in front of our eyes and stand on stage. As we did our individual activities, I understand that the work that I do as SNSD is the most valuable work that I can do. I received generous love beyond my abilities. Because the 8 of us were together, we were able to ride the boat of SNSD.”
– You must have felt more empty than anyone else at the disbandment of debut mates, Wonder Girls.
“As I watched Wonder Girls band transformation, I really respected them. As we have been doing performances for 10 years, if someone had recommended to us to transform like that and to attempt it, would we have been able to do it. I was curious about their transformation so I searched and read all of the Wonder Girls interviews. Wonder Girls were a good influence, and we were a good driving force for one another. As a fan, I was disappointed (at their disbandment), but as a colleague, I am still cheering them on. As I can still listen to their music.”
– We heard the 10th anniversary album is coming out in the summer.
“(10th anniversary album) is the right and obvious thing to do, and since last year, all of the members have been showing their desire. It’s the biggest event that the members have been looking forward to.”
“Hope to be Remembered Forever as Representative of Girl Groups”
‘Into the New World’ as a song became a rally cry for students at the Ehwa Women’s University last year. It also sounded out at a candlelit vigil demanding the impeachment of former President Park Geunhye. Among people in their 20s who have participated in idol culture, SNSD became a language. A language of the heart that makes you feel a sense of unity in song.
– What does ‘Into the New World’ mean to SNSD?
“Isn’t it a masterpiece among girl group debut songs? Haha. It’s a point of pride for idols to have caught the attention of the mass public. It’s a happy thing to have a song that can be sung together with people of various generations.”
– TWICE has been named as the ‘K-Pop Girl Group Who Will Continue SNSD’s Legacy’ by Yomiuri Newspaper in Japan.
“I’m proud that they are being introduced as ‘continuing SNSD’s legacy’. During our time, whenever a rookie came out, they were called ‘The 2nd BoA’. Now ‘The 2nd Soshi’ are coming out.”
– How do you feel watching girl group hoobaes these days?
“They are so pretty, and doing well. Our girl groups do not show individual emotions. It’s because we always have to smile. It’s impossible to be happy and joyful every day, but I want to applaud them for always maintaining their smiling appearances.”
– What is a strong suit unique to SNSD?
“We try to emulate the positive qualities of one another. If one person works hard, a different member does as well. Whoever sets the precedence, we all give and receive positive influence. The fact that we greet others well is also a strong suit. More than anything, we were not successful at first try, so we’ve never forgotten the ‘hungry mindset’. We know the preciousness of popularity.”
– How would you like SNSD to be remembered?
“I hope we will be forever ‘representatives’ of girl groups.”
If you were to choose the most critical moment in SNSD’s 10 years, it would be Jessica’s withdrawal. We wonder if that incident made SNSD even stronger. Like a riddle, Sooyoung recited a famous dialogue from a popular drama.
“I liked all of the days we were together. Because the days were good, and because the days were not good, and because the days were just enough….”