101130 Behind the Scenes of JYJ’s The Beginning tour: an interview with Shane Yoon
APA talks with Shane Yoon and Arden Cho about their experiences as MCs of JYJ’s US showcase tour.
by Mai Nguyen
Date Published: 11/30/2010
Shane Yoon and Arden Cho. Photos courtesy of Shane Yoon and ArdenCho.com
There was still a few hours to go before the concert would start, but at USC’s Galen Center, the LA venue for JYJ’s The Beginning Tour, there was already a seemingly never-ending line of fans, all excitedly chatting amongst themselves while waiting in the cold for the doors to open. I was immediately reminded of the intense fanaticism of every other Korean music event I’ve attended, and I thought to myself, “Ah, this is the power of K-pop.”
Before the highly anticipated showcase, Shane Yoon and Arden Cho took some time to chat about their role in the madness. As MCs of the LA show, their tasks included introducing the performers, conducting a Q&A with the musical trio onstage, and to keep the show running smoothly.
Known for his role in the comical web series KTown Cowboys, Yoon is an “actor, MC, producer, thinker of funny thoughts and mentally unique,” according to his Twitter. Model/actress Cho has recently modeled for Clinique and was recently the female lead in Ryan Higa’s medium film Agents of Secret Stuff.
Asia Pacific Arts: How did you both become MCs for JYJ?
Shane Yoon: I’m a good friend of Rich Nam, the head of Entitled Entertainment and he just called me asking if I would be interested in MC-ing for JYJ. I said, “Yeah, sure that’d be cool.”
Arden Cho: And then they found me on the street.
SY: Actually, we put an ad on Craigslist [laughs]. No, he asked me if I knew a female MC who was fluent in Korean ’cause mine isn’t 100% there, and well, [I thought] it’d be nice to have a guy and a girl on stage. For New York, they found Julie Chang. She’s a Fox News reporter, so that was taken care of, and for Las Vegas and Los Angeles, I recommended Arden…[jokes] to my regret.
APA: Were you familiar with JYJ before the tour?
SY: No, when Rich called me, I had no idea. So, I looked them up online and found out they were from a bigger group who I’d heard of before called Dong Bang Shin Ki (동방신기).
AC: Now, he’s a huge fan!
SY: I didn’t know who they were, so I started listening to some of their songs and thought, “Uhh, they’re okay.” They seemed like a flash in the pan boy band that broke off from another boy band. It wasn’t until I arrived in New York and saw 4,000 people waiting in line that I realized something was different. I was amazed by the diversity of their fan base. It wasn’t just all Asian kids like I thought it would be. There were people from 12 years old to older ladies in their 40s. [laughs] I was amazed at how much support they have from an international fan base. There were people who flew in from Canada, Japan and South America. It was nuts!
AC: I think it’s really interesting to see the diversity. I was really impressed. Actually, I think I saw less Asian people at the Vegas show. People assume that since it’s a K-pop concert, everybody would be Korean, but that’s not the case at all.
SY: Even my mom’s a JYJ fan.
APA: Was she overjoyed when you got the job?
SY: She’s been calling me nonstop, like four times a day. Nothing about me though. She’d ask, “What’s going on with JYJ?” And I’m like “Umm… I’m in the bathroom right now.” [laughs]
APA: Can you describe JYJ as performers and what they’re like in regular life?
SY: I grew up with K-pop artists, and I hear of all these crazy contracts for entertainers, where you can’t do anything you want. So, I was expecting them to be a little bit snobby and spoiled, but they have great personalities and are very humble. They work so hard, and each of them has been sick on this tour, but they still try to go sightseeing, get up early for all their interviews and put on great concerts. You can tell already they’ve had great shows. They really feed off the energy of the crowd. They’re real performers — the real deal.
AC: I think they are definitely so much more down to earth than people think. They’re all very funny and quirky in their own different ways. They’re boys and regular people who want to have fun and want others to have fun too.
SY: Did you watch Micky Christmas? That shows you what type of people they are [laughs].
APA: Do you have any stories to share about them?
AC & SY: Hmm… what can we tell you…
APA: There are that many secret stories?
SY: One thing about Junsu that I find really endearing is that he’s so curious about learning the English language.
AC: OH MY GOD SUN! [signature Junsu Engrish phrase]
SY: He’s been asking me a lot of questions about English and how to correctly use certain things, and he’s really serious about it. He really wants to speak the English language well. Maybe it’s ’cause of years and years of people laughing at him for it [laughs].
AC: It’s so cute! I’ll say things like “Oh, never mind,” and he’ll ask “What does that mean?” And I’ll be like “Oh no no, the word directly translated in Korean means something different, so it’s hard to explain.” He eventually got it and was like “Oh, so it’s like this!” and he got really excited about it.
APA: How has interacting with the JYJ fans been?
[Will from Entitled Entertainment walks in]
Will: Fan clubs are so nice. They call us and say they want to help out the staff, not just JYJ. In New York, they offered to cook for the staff. Even though we had everything taken care of, they still want to do it. Normally, fans clubs want to have stuff signed, but it was surprising to see them offering to help us, the staff.
AC: They really want to support anybody who helps JYJ. After the first show, JYJ had a few anti-fans, but the fans comforted them saying, “Don’t be sad. Don’t worry about that one crazy who hates you.” Their number one concern is JYJ’s health and well-being and them having fun in the U.S. A lot of fans are obsessed with getting photos and signatures, but these fans are very caring, intimate and loving.
SY: Lots of fans kept talking about a flying squirrel on my Twitter, and I was like “What?” In JYJ’s main picture on iTunes, Micky is wearing this big sweater thing, and it makes him look like a flying squirrel. [laughs] They’re smart and witty, not dumb fans that scream at everything. Well, they do scream a lot. [laughs] I try to read every single response I get. I think without the fans we wouldn’t have the entertainment industry at all.
APA: I’ve noticed that you’ve created a mini-internet explosion on Twitter with your tweets.
SY: Kind of shocked me too. Just started with Allkpop writing an article about how Arden and I will MC for the show, and they posted our twitter accounts. My phone updates me every time I get a follower, and although I charged it, my phone was almost dead because I got 600 followers overnight. Before, I only had 100 just to test and see what Twitter was all about. Now, I have over 5,000.
AC: I think [JYJ] got excited too when the fans were following us.
SY: We became unofficial correspondents, and we were able to take the fans behind the scenes. I don’t think many of the fans have gotten to meet them, except the select few who ran into them in the hotel lobby.
AC: We do tell JYJ what the fans say, and they love hearing it. They have so many followers that if they respond to one, then the others might want a response too. It’s not easy, but they do love hearing what the fans have to say.
APA: Will you still continue with Twitter after the tour is over?
SY: When I got so many followers overnight, I thought they were just following me because of JYJ, but if I introduce my style of comedy and who I am as a person, they might stick with me after the concert. I thought once the concert is done, maybe they’ll leave, but I’ve gotten really good reactions. I’m trying to hijack their fan base to MY fan base. [laughs] It’s been a good meshing of two worlds. I think I’m attracting a lot of fans that are primarily English speakers, since the boys tweet in Japanese and Korean and rarely in English. I think the fans appreciate that we update in English in a humorous way. I’ve tried to push the envelope and see what I can get away with, since Korea is really sensitive about certain things. For example, I tweeted “I’m gonna head out to rehearsals after I shower with JYJ.” Obviously, I’m not going to shower with JYJ, [AC interjects: Actually he did.] but fans love that, the fact that I’m saying nonsensical things.
APA: From what I gather, Elbowyeish (John) is a Twitter user who hides behind the guise of an egg and also tweets updates on JYJ. Can you tell me more about the mystery man?
AC: It’s not anybody who anybody thinks it is. He’s not a part of the production or entertainment industry at all
SY: He’s a good friend of the boys, and he wants to see their career grow. He’s also another unofficial correspondent, but he has a lot more access to the boys and stuff. We wanted to send them off with a bang, so we thought, “Let’s make the LA show crazy!” The questions were more generic in New York, but now that we know JYJ better and how playful they are, we want those questions that’ll make them stand out. We started all this Tweeting as a joke, but then it created a lot of buzz. Oh, and he’s an egg — because when fans were asking who he was, I said, “Well, he’s obviously an egg” since the Twitter default picture is an egg. Fans just loved the idea of it, and things spiraled out of control.
APA: What do you think of the hallyu wave and its impact on America today?
SY: I think it’s amazing. I used to listen to Korean music shows, and I learned a lot of my Korean from noraebang (karaoke). After I finished high school, I dropped out of the scene, and I didn’t follow anything, but going to this concert and seeing all the fans in New York surprised me, how impactful it is. Regardless of race, every fan knew how to say hello and three phrases in Korean. I pulled a few aside and asked them how they learned it, and they’d say, “Oh, we have a friend who introduced us to K-pop and JYJ’s awesome. We love them.” It gives kids something to believe in, and it goes beyond JYJ and their music — it gives them a sense of belonging. Just like guys have their sports teams, girls have their boy bands. [laughs] I think it really unifies them, and I think any form of entertainment that brings people from all races together is a great thing. That’s amazing, you know?
AC: I think it’s really cool to see the growth of Asian and Asian American entertainment. Here we have shows like the KoreAm talent show, Kollaboration, and ISA where people are trying to bring support for Asian arts. For example at ISA, they invited Jay Park to bring the Korean aspect into the American scene. I think it’s important to combine Asian American with Asian talent. We really need to support each other, and now that I’ve learned about their history and talent, I hope for the best for JYJ. It starts with one, two, three artists at a time and I hope everybody continues to support them.
For more information, check out Shane Yoon’s Facebook page and Arden Cho’s official website.
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