The Japanese boy band KAT-TUN held a press conference on July 1 for their first Korean concert, which will be in a month. The boys spoke about the Korean dramas that they watched, the Korean bands they know, their upcoming concert, and a little about themselves. Jin Akanishi was not there, as he was also not going to participate in the concert.
The members present were Kazuya Kamenashi (who’s like the unofficial leader and spokesperson for the group, not to mention one of the more famous group member), Junnosuke Taguchi, Koki Tanaka, Tatsuya Ueda, and Yuichi Nakamaru. And for those who don’t know, “KAT-TUN” is comprised of the first initial of each member’s last name.
10: I’m curious to know how you decided to hold a concert in Korea. You probably wouldn’t have felt the need to expand your career overseas because you’re so popular in Japan.
Koki Tanaka: We wanted to meet with the fans in Korea who root for us, rather than wanting to expand our realm of activities.
Kazuya Kamenashi: And we work as a group but we received a lot of support when we were pursuing individual careers such as in dramas. We wanted to respond to that so we prepared a concert in Korea and we thought we would be able to show a different side to us through a live concert where everyone becomes one.
Yuichi Nakamaru: Many of our singles have been sold in Korea till now and we had been hearing we have many fans here so we had been thinking from years ago that we want to have fun with our Korean fans through a live concert. That has finally come true.
10: I heard your tickets sold out in 20 minutes of going on sale.
KAT-TUN: Oh really!
Tanaka: I have nothing else to say except that I’m very happy.
Kamenashi: I think we made the right choice in deciding to come to Korea. (laugh)
Nakamaru: But on the other hand, we have to meet their expectations so we’re going to have to work hard.
10: How did you learn Korean? It seems you can do basic conversation.
Nakamaru: I studied with a book that Kusanagi [member of SMAP] wrote. I almost memorized the entire book.
Kamenashi: I asked the staff and have watched Korean movies and dramas. That’s how I learned the words ‘promise’ and ‘oppa [Korean term females use to refer to males a few years older than them].’ It had left an impression on me because I heard it a lot in movies and dramas but it was only later on that I found out that it’s used when females call men a few years older than them.
10: Is there a particular movie or drama that you remember?
Kamenashi: Dramas such as “IRIS” and “Couple and Trouble.”
Tanaka: I had more opportunities to watch movies. “A Moment to Remember” left an impression on me. I’ve also watched “Stairway to Heaven” and “Shining Inheritance.”
Tatsuya Ueda: I fell in love with Han Hyo-joo after watching “Shining Inheritance” so I really want to meet her. (laugh)
10: Korean actors sometimes appear in Japanese dramas. Is there a particular role you would like to try playing if you got to appear in a drama or movie made in Korea?
Ueda: I would be happy with just even getting a role but I guess it would be better doing a drama where I have a female actress to work with rather than one with just men.
10: Do you know any of the Korean singers who are pursuing singing careers in Japan?
Tanaka: There are a huge number of Korean singers in Japan but Big Bang, TVXQ and Rain are popular.
Nakamaru: I know 4minute well.
Kamenashi: We recorded on Mnet’s “M! CountDown” today and I told myself, ‘Oh I know them!’ when I saw 4minute waiting to go on stage after us. (laugh)
10: What can your Korean fans expect to see at your concert? Most of them have probably only seen your performances on video.
Kamenashi: This is our first time performing on a stage in Korea so we don’t know how much we’ll be able to move yet. We have a lot of things planned but we’re going to try to get as close to our fans as possible — from the first row to the last row. And the atmosphere will also change depending on how enthusiastically our fans cheer for us so we ask for your help in that respect.
Junnosuke Taguchi: I think we’d be getting a lot of help from them because our Korean fans study Japanese very hard. I too will prepare so that I’ll be able to say simple phrases or hello in Korean.
Kamenashi: More than anything, we believe we’ll be able to become one with the fans through our music. I think we’ll be able to communicate through expressions or motions so even if we can’t speak your language, I think we’ll do this [forms the shape of a heart with arms].
10: For fans who are just finding out about your group with news of your concert in Korea, what kind of band would you introduce yourself as to them? And is there a song or performance of yours that you would like to recommend to them?
Koki Tanaka: I think fans who are just getting to know KAT-TUN would relate more to our latest album “NO MORE PAIN” which contains various styles and genres of music.
Kazuya Kamenashi: The album not only has songs that we released as singles but each member’s solo songs and those with fast tempos as well as quiet ones. That’s why I think you’ll get to see both the original and new KAT-TUN. We’ve been wearing a lot of black and have tried to look cool up till now but I think we’re a group that has various sides to us.
Tanaka: As you can probably tell from our name KAT-TUN, we are a group with a variety of sides to us.
Yuichi Nakamaru: We’re confident at doing live singing so I think it would be good if you watched our live DVD too.
10: I hear that you go through extremely tough training before you get to debut at your agency Johnny’s Entertainment because it has a long history and you have many trainees. Your group in particular prepared for five years to debut. How did you bear through those times?
Kamenashi: Back then, I don’t think I felt like I was having a hard time in particular or that it was taking long because my sole goal was to be able to sing and dance on stage as well as appear in dramas.
Tanaka: I think I worked hard because I think no matter what you do, you need to undergo a training period.
Nakamaru: I had thought I had a hard time physically back when I didn’t know anything but when I look back on it now, it was time I spent to study various things.
10: I think you’re all usually quite stylish too.
Kamenashi: [In Korean] Thank you.
Tanaka: The stylists know what we want and what we look good in so they bring it to us.
Kamenashi: Depending on the time and location, I’ll sometimes wear what the stylist has brought or wear the clothes in different variations but we tend to put forth our opinions when we discuss the theme for the wardrobe for our concerts.
10: Then who’s the best dresser in the team?
Nakamaru: We all have very different styles so I think we wear what suits each of us best. I wouldn’t look good in what Ueda wears. (laugh)
Takana: I think that’s why you can really tell what each person’s personality is like by looking at how they wear their everyday clothes. (laugh)
10: I’m curious to know whether you yourself tend to your trademark eyebrows, Kamenashi.
Kamenashi: I sometimes ask for them to be trimmed when I go to the hairdressers or to the make-up artist but I rarely pay attention to them when I don’t have work or when I’m resting at home. I shaved them thin once when I was young and then I couldn’t go outside after that with it in an awkward state so I think I kept it thin from then on.
10: Did you watch the 2010 World Cup South Africa? I think you would have been particularly interested Nakamaru since your dream was to become a soccer player when you were young.
Nakamaru: Of course I watched all the games. The World Cup isn’t over yet but just ten years ago, it was impossible to even imagine that Korea and Japan would make it to the Round of 16 so I think Asia did its best this year. I had a lot of fun, being a huge fan of soccer.
10: It’s already been ten years since KAT-TUN has been working as a group. What dreams do you have now?
Kamenashi: We’re stimulated in new ways every year so it’s hard for us to believe that it’s been that long. For now, we want to put in a lot of effort into our tour, whether it be in Japan or Korea, and we hope to become a group that will get to stand on even bigger stages.
Nakamaru: I hope KAT-TUN becomes a group that is loved everywhere and that’s why I hope the number of fans who look forward to our live concerts increases.
Junnosuke Taguchi: [Seriously] We want to become an existence that everyone looks up to.
10: It seems that you are all very mature, probably because you all started working when you were teenagers. In what ways would you say you have matured over the past ten years?
Tanaka: Rather than saying how I’ve changed, I think I’ve definitely become an adult. Both in the way I treat my work and deal with my group members. I used to fight a lot with them before but now I tend to solve problems through dialogue. And I think we’ve become much closer through that process.
Tatsuya Ueda: I’ve come to accept the differences each member has. I think we fought because we weren’t able to accept each other but now we know the strengths each member has.
Tanaka: We have much more affection toward each other now.
Nakamaru: I’ve come to realize a lot about the state I’m in and who I am. In the past, I was consumed with doing what I’ve been given but now, I think I’ve learned to talk with my members and materialize our thoughts when we’re given something.
Taguchi: KAT-TUN is a huge part of my life because I haven’t done anything for as long as this. (laugh) I myself haven’t changed that much but I think seeing how everyone else has changed drives me to change too so I hope they continue to pull me in that direction.
Kamenashi: We’ve come to respect each other and think of everyone’s characteristics seriously. That’s why I think it’s also a good time for us to go on tour right now.