[TRANS] Sooyoung & Stella Kim Interview in MAPS, August 2016 

MAPS: How are you spending your time these days?

Stella: Right now, I’m in charge of global makeup marketing for the cosmetics brand ‘Clinique’ in New York. On the weekends, I’m doing beauty consulting or working as a freelance writer so I think I’m spending time working almost every day.

Sooyoung: I’m currently shooting ‘Police Squad 38’, a drama that is airing on OCN, and when I don’t have any schedules, I’m spending personal time.

MAPS: Sooyoung and Stella, how long has it been since you saw each other last?

Sooyoung: Last February, we saw each other when I participated in New York Fashion Week for the ‘Coach’ collection… We are meeting again in Seoul after almost 5 months. Every season, I’ve been participating in New York Fashion Week so I think we meet up at least once or twice a year.

Stella: Since we can’t meet up often, whenever unnie comes to New York, we always spend time together.

MAPS: Both of you seem to have a calm personality. We thought the photoshoot set would be filled with the laughter of girls but it’s unexpectedly quiet. (Laughs)

Sooyoung: Hahaha. That’s not true, it might seem that way because our personalities are shy at first. When we’re together, we laugh a lot and share a lot of fun stories.

MAPS: Then when the two of you meet, what do you typically do?

Stella: What we do when I meet unnie is almost predetermined. We chill at the dorm and share stories, or go shopping, or go out to eat delicious food? On rare occasions, we have a lot of fun to relieve stress. (Laughs)

MAPS: It’s your first time shooting an editorial together, right?

Stella: Yes, this is our first time. Before I came to Korea, I was talking to unnie on the phone and I said it would be nice for us to shoot ‘friendship photos’. So when you proposed the editorial to us, I was happy and very surprised.

MAPS: When we see you take care of each other at the photoshoot location, we feel like you’re closer than friends, closer to being sister-like. What kind of a friend are you to each other?

Stella: Honestly, unnie is more than a friend to me. When I think about it now, I think it’s very entertaining. We didn’t think we’d ever become such close friends. As you know, I was a SM trainee in the past. That’s when I first met unnie but at that time, we never met up or hung out together. I think we started becoming closer after I quit being a trainee and from then on, unnie became someone who is so precious and important in my life. I share everything with unnie. Every time, unnie gives me truly honest advice.

Sooyoung: Stella and my interests or the things we enjoy are similar so I think we are compatible in a lot of ways. Right now, we are far apart but we call each other often and we share a lot of stories about our concerns or daily lives.

MAPS: You said you both have similar interests, but the two of you seem to have special interest in welfare for people with disabilities and societal issues. Is there a special reason?

Sooyoung: My father is a chairman of an organization for visually impaired people and he’s working hard for retina disease research. So naturally, I’ve come to have a lot of interest in welfare for people with disabilities.

Stella: Like unnie, I also grew up experiencing welfare for people with disabilities closer than most people. With all of the various experiences we’ve learned and felt as the background, I hope the optimistic aspect is delivered to people who are experiencing similar situations as we’ve had.

MAPS: Every year on Sooyoung’s birthday, fans do volunteer work. Aren’t these movements all because of Sooyoung’s influence?

Sooyoung: Fans tell me that they do good work thanks to me but what I felt by doing charity bazaars or volunteer work with them is that everyone possesses such pretty hearts. So even if it wasn’t for me, I’m sure they would be doing good work sufficiently elsewhere. (Laughs)

MAPS: Stella, you spent a lot of time in Korea as well. When to compare Korea to the US, if there is a difference in the way that people with disabilities are viewed or their welfare, what would it be?

Stella: Mmm… I think it would be good to discuss government support programs for people with disabilities. First of all, I think that it’s very impressive when you look at Korea’s beautiful culture and the quick economic growth accomplished through leaders at all levels of society. On the other hand, there are times when I think that when it comes to helping people with disabilities, it’s a a bit backwards. For example, when it comes to medical care assistance, medical insurance and government support programs. So the reason why my family spent more time living in the US is because there are more open opportunities for my brother to learn various things or to work compared to Korea.

MAPS: Then what area do you think needs to be improved first?

Sooyoung: Every area is important but I think true welfare is ‘treatment’. Typically when you say ‘research for treatment’, I think many hesitate to help because it doesn’t help the people you can see immediately before your eyes. As a result, people who are suffering from rare diseases that are not well known experience a lot of hardship. Currently, the organization that my father is running has partnered with Seoul University to research treatment for retina disease and for a single round of research, an enormous amount of money is required and developing a cure is not easy. Despite that, compared to before Korea Retinitis Pigmentosa Society (KRPS) organization was formed, various treatment methods have been invented and even though it’s slow, we can see the hope for treatment. I’m running activities like the charity bazaar in order to raise research funds, and I hope it can be of help, even if it’s small.

MAPS: What is one thing you’re most focused on currently?

Stella: I think my current age is a transition period. So unnie and I sometimes joke that we are undergoing a second puberty right now (Laughs). But if I think about it in a positive way, I think this period is here for a good reason. I think it’s a period of change where I grow and walk with people I love and I’m trying to find myself.

Sooyoung: For me, myself. Before, I focused on family or people around me. But these days, I’m focusing on taking care of myself. If I’m not happy, people around me are not happy either. So I’m learning how to say ‘no’ and I’m trying hard to be a happy self-centered person who speaks up when I don’t like something. (Laughs)

MAPS: Then you’re happy right now, right?

Sooyoung: Of course. Now that I’m focusing on myself, I’m much happier than I was before. If something other than myself comes first, my heart was comfortable but weirdly, I was unhappy. But these days, I’m really happy.

Stella: I am very thankful for my life right now. But it’s hard for me to know on my own if I’m satisfied. Like I said before, I’m continuing to find myself and I’m still thinking over in what direction the lessons I’ve learned through various experiences will take me. So if I’m being really honest, there is a lot of uneasiness but at the same time, I’m looking forward to it and I’m living from a very hopeful position.

MAPS: More than half of this year has already passed. How do you want to spend the remainder of 2016?

Stella: I want to take time to re-examine the goals I had planned for 2016. Up to now, I spent most of my time working, but I’m thinking of traveling for the second half of the year. To me, traveling is very important. When I travel, it relieves anxiety and it helps me realize in various ways that I’m only a small person in a huge world filled with new things. It also feels like I’m receiving a gift of various experiences that I’m not able to have normally.

Sooyoung: I hope I can spend it doing things I want to do. As time passes, I’ve learned that being able to do the things you want to do is a huge blessing and not something that is easy to do. However, I think that the work that I do is not easy to do according to plan (Laughs).