Closer.. I want to step closer. And I want to talk about my youth, my life, and show my gratitude to people who supported me during one part of my life.
Inadequate, yet I still gathered my stories from my childhood up to now.
I hope my intention of wanting to be shown as an ‘individual’ Kim Jae Duc gets delivered well.
Kim Jae Duc
Chapter 1: A Precious Son
‘What do I really want?’
I suddenly think of this since I was reflecting on my bygone times. I am a 100% Pusan guy. I had no time to get used to being in Seoul, I just lived as a Jekki member all this time… those times seem all dreamy to me now. I’m still busy since we are performing with our 4th album, but compared to the old days, I have some time now.
In interviews, I get asked about my dream a lot, about my future hopes and goals. Come to think of it, I don't think I dreamed of anything special after my dream of being a singer came true. Is it because I achieved something so great? Aren’t I forgetting to dream about something new because I am absorbed in the present happiness?
Though short, I reminisced the times that passed, and decided to find my lost dream. Back in the days when I had many dreams, I tried so hard to accomplish them—like those days, I want to find a dream I can give my all to achieve earnestly. And I want to be Jae Duc that’s ready for another dream at this point of my life, barely 20 years old.
On August 7th, 1979, I was born between Kim Tae Gi and Kim Suk Ja in Suh Myeon, Pusan. I was the first child and was adored by many adults. The reason for this was that my big grandfather had 9 daughters and my grandfather also had many daughters, then he gave birth to my father. My father was an only son so he was a precious existence to his parents. Thus, I was my father’s only son, so I was loved by everyone around me.
"She never let you out of her hands."
My grandmother passed away when I was 3. I have no memories of her, but my parents told me that she loved me very much. I can imagine how precious I was to her, since she never let my feet touch the ground.
So once in a while when I go to Pusan, the adults always hassle me. "Stop by once, I want to see you." But I can’t help it so I can only feel sorry. My dad feels bad too. But what can I do, being a singer means having to give up many portions of my life.
I expected it, but sometimes I really think ‘Do I have to live like this?’ The schedule is so jam packed so I cannot even stop by and say hi to my relatives and meet my friends either. ‘I should try to not do this,’ I tell that to myself but since I’m not a solo artist, there are many limitations.
Since I have to think of my team first, it is hard to make time for myself. What’s scary is that I get used to it. I am so adapted to being with my group that when I am by myself, I feel lonely. People who make me feel at home when I am with them- they are Jekki.
I received much love from my parents, especially from my mother when I was little. There once was an event where I realized how great my mom’s love for me was. One day, I was playing at my friend’s house and just fell asleep there. Since we lived in the same village, his mom didn’t wake me up and just let me stay there. After I woke up and was about to leave, I was startled by someone yelling "Jae Duc!." My mom was looking for me all night and had fainted! When she heard the news that I was sleeping over at my friend’s house, she ran over and just started crying.
I was little, but I still felt very bad. So I declared to myself that I will never make her shed tears, no matter what I do.
That must’ve been it, because I never made any trouble except to fight with my younger sister, Eun Ok (11th grade). Actually… there is. In elementary, I broke my arm while playing on a horizontal bar. The memory of my mom being very worried over this still remains vivid.
I think it was in second grade. Other kids hung on the bar with their arms but I could hang onto it with my legs. Not only that, I could also spin while my thighs hung. I must’ve been pretty athletic.
The world I saw like that was very funny. The school buildings, people, teachers, and kids all were seen upside down. It was like another world, they just looked really funny.
So I liked looking at the sky while I hung upside down on the bar. But one day, I was spinning and I just fell flat on the ground.
My legs were let go and because my hands didn’t touch the ground yet, my arm just broke. That was fortunate enough. I was punished for bragging about my athletic talents. Anyway, the origination of my fast dance moves comes from my good reflexes so I can’t ignore that.
My memories of the elementary days aren’t all too happy. I had to transfer 4 times because my dad’s work failed. I first went to Hae Woon Dae Elem., then I transferred to Hae Dong, then back to Hae Woon Dae, and in 6th grade, I graduated from Gam Chun Elementary School.
Thanks to my outgoing personality, I didn’t encounter too many difficulties. If I did go through something bad, I played soccer. I was able to play any sports but I was especially good in soccer, better than my peers.
The feeling I received from kicking the soccer ball was similar to the one I had when I was hanging from a bar upside down. I was disillusioned for flying far, far away when the ball ascended high in the air and seemed like it touched the sky. I felt like it was myself that was flying away, so I felt great in a queer way.
I really enjoyed it so I played soccer very well. When I look at my report cards that my mom kept all this time, all my teachers wrote ‘Has good motor nerves.’
I spent a lot of time playing sports. My position back then was centerforward. Even these days, right before I go to bed, I smile because I am reminded of those fancy (?) days. When there was a game, all my peers cheered for me, and I gained courage from that and made it into a goal… it’s all a beautiful memory now.
The fact that I was good in all sports besides soccer means that I was pretty popular. Back then, as well as now, peers liked athletic kids. But that doesn’t mean I lacked in my studies. I was a soccer player with good grades!
But my life as a soccer player ended as I transferred to another school. Gam Chun Elem. I attended in my 6th grade year didn’t have a soccer team.
I played soccer with my friends but I still felt somewhat empty. I yearned for the times I kicked my soccer ball with the teammates dynamically. Hae Woon Dae Elem. School was far away from Gam Chun so I couldn’t visit too often either. So my last year of the elementary school years was depressing for me.
My hobby still was playing soccer when I enrolled in Sam Sung Middle School. In addition to that was playing video games. Street Fighter was a trendy game back then. Right after school, I went to an arcade and played it, and felt better.
I first got acquainted with dancing in 9th grade. My friend from elementary, Jae Ju, was close to Jae Jin. At first, I just watched them dance. After observing for a while, I wanted to join. I had no confidence in the beginning but when I tried to dance at home, I thought I could learn if someone taught me.
Jae Duc as a 9th grader and dancing were inseparable. Right after school, I got together with my friends and practiced. If there was a small show the next day, we spent all night practicing hard. ‘Quicksilver’ was a dance team that Jae Ju and Tae Yong made, with Jae Jin as a leader. I joined later.
Our practice hall back then was a small room at the house of our friend named Park Hyun. We imitated other singers’ dance routines and later choreographed our own. We didn’t know this when we were just following others’ routines, but when we spent all night trying to figure out something ‘different,’ the time went by so fast. Come to think of it now, I remember feeling proud that we danced so diligently as young boys.
But my grades dropped everyday. I was always tardy to school because I spent all night practicing. I suffered during class because I couldn’t suppress my sleep. I always thought of what kind of routines we should practice that day, so it was no wonder that I didn’t hear anything my teachers said.
My grades that were high when I first entered middle school slowly dropped. But I built some kind of determination in the meanwhile.
‘If I can’t be no. 1 in my studies, I should probably do something that I can do well, and that I really have the passion for.’
I don’t know when I started thinking this way, but I decided not to care too much about my studies and fell deeper into dancing. Now that I think about it, if I kept on being no. 1 in my studies, I probably took that path as my life. But since I didn’t, I threw my dice on the path that had possibilities.
I was determined to become successful in this area. I dearly hoped to please my mother with my dancing, since I gave up my studies for it.
The results came faster than we expected. At first, we had to look for the places to perform but later, the places looked for us automatically. At the nearby school festivals, we were always the main guests. We were invited to many other events and showed our capabilities.
Our main stage was in Kwang An Li. If the Seoul dance teams showed off their dance skills in University Street, Kwang An Li was the place that served the same role in the city of Pusan. It was a free stage where the dancers with hidden talents came out and competed.
Roller-skating link in Shin Chun Ji, Nam Po Dong. When roller-skating was popular, there was a dance competition held every Sunday here. Individual or teams participated and showed off their skills and the prize was something like ‘2 free admissions.’ But we were the star of that stage. We never stopped claiming the 1st place. It wasn’t much about winning, but I felt really good about showing people something. Like how a magician feels the happiest when he plays his tricks in front of audience.
As I became known among my friends, I noticed how people were sometimes staring at me when I went to the school cafeteria. To be honest, I am not handsome but rather, cute. Plus, I’m short so I must’ve called for the girls’ motherly affection, no?!
My dark eyebrows and deep double eyelids resemble my mother. My mother is very quiet and pretty. She states that when she went to a market with me in a stroller, people were eager to hold my hand just once, I suppose they liked my pretty eyes.
After I became a singer, I rarely hear people commenting that my eyes are pretty. The eyes are reflective of my mind, only the ones who have seen them up close can feel their true validity. (Haha).
In 9th grade, I was playing video games in an arcade when some girl approached me from afar. Even though I was playing, I could somehow sense that her steps were towards me.
She then disappeared. It was a pretty envelope but I pretended to be indifferent and I just set it on the video game and continued playing. In reality, I was very nervous and curious. My heart was beating. When I felt no one was looking, I quickly walked out with the letter, then started reading it slowly.
"I’ve seen you before… I kind of like you… I wish we would be friends."
‘Ah, I see.’
I had no girlfriends up to that point so there was no way I knew how they felt. I was just goofing off all the time, I never actually worried about girls. I was perplexed by the letter I received for the first time.
(Picture insertion: With my sister Eun Ok. She is quiet and inactive just like my mother.)
Then one day, I received another letter and a tape as a present from the same girl. It was the Deux 2nd album which was popular back in the days. I listened to it so much that I almost had all the songs memorized. I don’t think any music beats it still. As she gave me that tape, she said she really liked it. (I really liked it too…. ) From Deux 2nd, I especially liked the song "Bit Sok Eh Suh (In the Rain)." It’s perfect when I listen to it on rainy days because my heart feels empty as rain drops.
Unfortunately, my fate with her ended there. We were the same age but I wasn’t too assertive so we just met a few more times in the arcade. We occasionally said ‘hi’ with our eyes. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her, it would be more correct that I didn’t know what to do. Using this opportunity, I would like to apologize to her, for not knowing her heart… But that was the result of a dull and an apathetic Pusan guy, I would hope she understands it.
I can only describe my meeting with Lee Juno (from Taiji Boys) as ‘fate.’ He contacted us after he watched the tape of Quicksilver performing. At the time, he was every dancer’s idol. We couldn’t believe he called us himself.
During our break, all of us came to Seoul. We showed off our cool dance moves. The trendy routines back in those days were wave and robotic moves, which are just legendary (?) now. We tried our best, doing wave dance and rhythmic robotic moves.
I think the best time to learn to dance is in middle-high school days. My body was flexible back then so I could learn any routine in short time. Same thing went for the Quicksilver members back then. They had great abilities as dancers, but I guess being a singer wasn’t the only way to go.
"Jae Duc can practice starting tomorrow!"
Unfortunately, only I got chosen. While we stayed at Juno’s office for 3 days, Mr. Lee Ho Yeon from DSP watched us and picked me as a member of Jekki that he was thinking of making.
I was very taken aback because I did not predict such situation… of just a certain member getting chosen and the others not…, it was rather unimaginable. I was troubled for a while. I was to become a singer that I desired ever so much, but to send back my friends back to Pusan…
I first joined the team. People around me advised that I had to be well off in order to be able to help my friends. And we also had this talk before- whoever gets chosen, we agreed on sending that person with a smile….
Fortunately, Jae Jin stayed. He got to be a backdancer while staying at Juno’s office. Then one of the Jekki members, while practicing, dropped out. It was a good spot for a dancer. Taking this opportunity, I begged our manager Ki Young, to consider Jae Jin once again.
"He is a great dancer and he also has deep thoughts."
Ji Won, who was with us, also supported me. He must’ve liked Jae Jin as he watched him all this time. Ki Young was unmoved at first but he gradually changed his mind. And he got a permission from Mr. Lee, thus Jae Jin was accepted as the 5th member of Jekki. It was very fortunate. Unfamiliar life in Seoul, unfamiliar life as an entertainer- the fact that I at least had Jae Jin that I could talk in my Pusan dialect to was relieving.
In the earlier days of Jekki, I practiced after practice, it was a march of practices. Not just me, but the other members as well. I needed to find time to sleep whenever I could. Even now, I have a habit of sleeping anywhere while recording or waiting for our turn for a performance. This habit is owned by mostly any entertainers.
I lived with Jae Jin at first. We shared a bunk bed. It wasn’t really a home but more like a motel room, since we just came in to sleep and went out again as soon as we woke up. But we realized, we really shouldn’t live like that, it seemed too impersonal.
So we wanted to change our surroundings first. After discussing with my father, we decided to move. We wanted a bit more settled life and Jae Jin was thinking the same. Dad took care of everything related to finding a place to live. He probably suffered a lot, thanks to me, since I had a bad sense of directions in Seoul. He was driving and because he got lost many times, he went across the Han River bridge multiple times. Once, he called a taxi and made it drive and followed it from behind, how difficult it must have been for him.
I owe it all to my dad, for living a fairly comfortable life in Seoul. Speaking of my dad, he was directly affected by the declination of the shoemakers in Pusan. When Pusan shoemaking companies gradually shut down, his job was in jeopardy. But because of his job, I got to wear many brand shoes since I was little, i.e. Prospecs and Nike. In order to develop something new, he needed samples and the remainder of those samples were all mine.
Nowadays, my dad still takes care of me more than my mom who works at a restaurant. One of the biggest tasks my dad has for me is to deliver my kim chi and all the side dishes my mom makes. I love kim chi so as long as I have that, I pretty much eat well. When I have my mom’s handmade kim chi, anchovies, and tuna, my one meal is all taken care of.
But when my dad comes to Seoul, he still asks me "Is there anything you want to eat?" I think he wants to feed me well since he can’t really cook. I don’t get to go out to eat with him very often but when we do, I enjoy hollow chicken soup (*Note: It was the best I could translate, what the heck is this food anyway?). Spicy yet sweet, when I think of the sweet and sour potato taste, my mouth waters.
The place I live now is where I moved a while ago, after my dad went around to get it. It’s in 5th floor and has 2 rooms. After my life kind of got settled, I almost never step out of the house. I listen to music, watch video, and choreograph and practice- then the day goes by so fast.
Honestly, I still don’t know much about Seoul and where places are. I just know the routes from my house to the office, to the TV stations or performance stages. But it was helped by my car somewhat these days. I try to not get much help from my manager and just use my car to get to places, so I can learn the directions in Seoul. I became a Seoul country boy after being a Pusan country boy.
These are really luxurious words when we are busy. To talk about being lonely, when there is not even enough time to eat? But a while ago, I had some free time to myself and I could honestly feel an empty spot in the bottom of my heart. I don’t express my thoughts usually so people don’t notice this.
At least my Quicksilver friends or other friends from Pusan came to play often when we first debuted. They came to tour Seoul and see me as well.
My closest friend, Jung Shik, has been my friend since 5th grade. He majors in engineering in Pusan and he comes to Seoul or calls me occasionally and still takes care of me.
Jung Shik, or other friends, usually meet at my house. It is impossible to comfortably drink tea elsewhere. Eventually, I just have to bring them to my home and they drink my handmade coffee.
Whenever I see my Pusan friends, I also have this feeling of seeing Pusan Hae Oon Dae (beach). This was the place my parents and my sister Eun Ok went together often when we were little. After we grew, my friends and I hung out there a lot…. I yearn for the bitter smell of sea water because I grew up there. I can smell that scent from my friends so I like it. When I go down to Pusan once in a while, I always visit Hae Oon Dae.
When I think of the word ‘loneliness,’ I reminisce a face of one girl who was my first love. When Quicksilver was really popular (?), we held a little performance at the roller-skating link. Right afterwards,
"Say hi. This is…."
My friend introduced me to some girl! She was smiling shyly. All the members of Quicksilver admitted that she looked very kind and pretty. Who would’ve known that I got to go out with her.
For the first time, I went on a ‘date’ with a girl. It wasn’t exactly a date, it was just taking her out to hang out with my friends or talking and laughing at a fast food restaurant. She was very quiet so when I just blabbed on, she replied with her bright smile. She was way too quiet. Once, we were together for 10 hours and almost didn’t talk at all. Maybe we ‘clicked (?)’ in our hearts, or rather, we both must have been too shy.
She is a nurse now. After we broke up, I really felt ‘Ah, this must be loneliness.’ No matter how many people surrounded me, i.e. my parents and friends, I still couldn’t erase the feeling that I was alone. ‘I must be getting mature this way.’ I consoled myself like this and overcame some difficult times.
I occasionally saw her when I went down to Pusan. That’s how I found out that she became a nurse. She still didn’t lose that bright smile of hers. I sometimes think about her. I can confidently confess that she was my first love. I am trying to let her out of my heart now. I believe I will find a better fate. Not just me, but her as well….
Normally, I don’t like women that have heavy makeup on their faces. (Typical of a Pusan guy!) I especially dislike fingernails and toenails painted with red manicure. If you take a close look at me on stage, you would notice that I don’t have that many accessories on, such as earrings or bracelets. Even watches bother me so I hardly ever wear them. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings are far from my liking. I sometimes hold small arguments with my coordinators who wish to express me as a ‘cool’ guy on stage.
"Jae Duc, just this once, hmm?"
My ears are still pierced despite all this. When we were shooting the movie Seventeen, I was required to wear earrings so I had no choice but to pierce them. I really tried my best to make that movie a success, which included piercing my ears which was something I detested, but the result was not very good. But it was fun, since I was exposed to the world of ‘acting’ for the first time. The role I had in that movie was a ‘player’ in one word, but I honestly didn’t like it. Did that suit me? When I think about it, it really didn’t seem to suit me well but I wonder how the fans would judge.
I am not sure if I would delve deeply into this, but if I am given an opportunity, I think I can do it. In the case of the Japanese group "SMAP," they are famous as singers but individually, they are great actors as well. And they also serve as MC’s. Seeing this makes me think that it is good for Koreans to purse that sort of ‘multi-entertainment.’
I can’t evade speaking about college if I were to talk about ‘acting.’ As you know, I was originally enrolled in Baek Je Univ. of Arts at first. I then took a break and re-submitted my applications to many other universities, aiming for a theatre major. But I failed miserably. It is a terrifying memory but oh well, what can I do now?
I hardly went to school in my senior year, but my cumulative grades were good and my scores on the college entrance exam were pretty high, so I held high expectations for my admission to college. Many schools were accepting early applications for their theatre major and I honestly thought I would get into at least one of them, so I applied to many places. But the result was… In some perspective, I failed because of my inflated ego so… I guess I tasted the bitter aspect of life.
I was even tutored in acting, with Ji Yong. It was a person from an entertainment company called NOM. He didn’t hesitate to come to us in early mornings to teach us. He said that we were ready and since both Ji Yong and I were confident about our test scores, we didn’t worry too much. Yet when I was rejected, I felt like the whole world was turning its back away from me, I was very distressed.
Currently, I was admitted early to Kyung Hee University as a theatre major, with Su Won, which I owe all to my father and many other relatives around me. I am very happy to be comforting my dad because he was so heartbroken over my failure- he had thought it was all his fault.
And nothing is set in details yet but Ji Won and I are contemplating about taking the same path. We want to expand our horizons and study music and dance, the ‘right’ way. Not necessarily entering a school, but rather, learning from many producers that are currently working in their career fields. Experience itself can be studying.
Ji Won has many different sides to him, apart from stage. I am not saying he is hypocritical; on stage, he is very charismatic but off stage, he is very mild and soft-hearted. He may be older than us but since he is so naïve, we tease him often. He doesn’t understand some words because he lived in Hawaii for a long time. Of course he wouldn’t know many slang words that were popular in Korea while he was not here. He is simple-minded, it’s just too cute. (Sorry hyung!)
However, when he’s discussing his musical perspective, he is more serious and intelligent than anyone I know. It makes me wonder where his passion comes from, because he spits out his opinions. First of all, he has critical views on Korean hiphop. Aside from doing it ‘well’ or ‘poor,’ he believes we should do it ‘right.’ After listening to what he says and hearing the kind of music he recommends me, I now see what he means. And my desire to learn more about hiphop blooms.
Hiphop is a new form of the African-American music, in 90’s style. It developed from blacks that were singing and dancing out in the streets, wearing the shabby clothes they inherited from their parents. They had no place to play so they only had music to express their situation, and since they had no money to buy instruments, they could only develop their ‘beatbox,’ which was the sound they made with their lips.
But adults always criticize that hiphop culture is low and dirty, and they even say that it is a worthless Harlem culture, describing as the culture of drugs and gangs. They only view it in a bad way. Truthfully at first, I really didn’t know what it meant so I thought the adults were right.
Then with Ji Won’s help, I was exposed to many albums that we weren’t allowed to listen to in Korea, and what I felt after listening to them was that they were simply amazing. To ignore it and label it simply as a ‘low’ culture is to ignore the excellent musicality, honest expressions, and even the sensation filled with humanism. If they had at least some concern about hip hop culture and were saying stuff about it, I can endure. But I seriously want to ask them if they really contemplated about it for even one second.
Hiphop consists of many things but since I am a choreographer within Jekki, I am very interested in its dance culture. ‘B’ from a term ‘B-boy’ refers to break dance. So B-boy is indicating a person that break dances professionally. It is also used as a nickname to someone who plays a lot. In Korea, we sometimes use it to refer to a backdancer but it is totally different.
Disco can be seen as the foundation of break dance. Then as the technicality improved in many dance routines, it reached its peak. In America, there are dance teams that only do breaks and there are festivals annually. I got to see various techniques because a festival was held in Korea a while ago. I didn’t get to participate but as a spectator, I could analyze and learn from it. (I will participate someday!)
If ‘Rock Steady Crew’ is representative of the American break dance groups, we have ‘People Crew.’ If you are interested in dancing, you would know that after you impromptu a dance move, the happiness felt from it cannot be compared to anything. It’s like a body flying ferociously and landing…
In the beginning days of Jekki, a so-called ‘human dance’ was known to our fans. I fell on my back without any preparation in the end of Hak Won Byul Gok, and as you can see, it is rather dangerous. (So please don’t imitate!) I first volunteered to do this dance. As I was choreographing with Jae Jin, we had many ideas but nothing really stood out. HOT’s popularity at that time was soaring and in comparison to them, we were only a backup group. We thought that if we were a backup, we had to have something ‘shocking’ ready.
‘Is there anything novel?’
After we discussed it for a long time, something dawned on me. ‘Ah, this is it!’ And I showed my spur of the moment move. I thought the sudden outbreak (?) of falling flat on my back would draw fans’ attention.
We were right- Hak Won Byul Gok was noticed in many ways but this ‘backdown dance’ was also part of its success.
I was unimaginably happy. The product of our endless efforts. My body was a bit tired and stiff from showing a difficult routine but I felt good for helping the team.
Even in these days, as I have a big portion of choreography, I try to come up with moves that have feelings. Feelings that are within my body that can be delivered to the audience. So the kind of music I like for choreographing is the one with slow tempo, rather than something that’s too fast. That way, it is easier to transport feelings.
Being on stage is a synthetic art. Singing is important too, but the totality that comes from choreography, the music that can be ‘whole’ because of it would be better. I must first emphasize on learning choreography, but I would like to vow in front of my fans that I will also not fall back on studying the music that can support good choreography.
The fans I love.
Too many fans give me their letters and presents but all of them remain in my memory. It comforts me so much to think that somebody cares for me with love in my Seoul life that I cannot get used to. What saddens me is that I can’t see all the fans up close and the names I know don’t match the faces. Come to think of it, I know quite a few names now but I can’t list them all…
I especially remember the present where my name was written over and over, filling up the whole cardboard. I believe it had taken months to make that, since she wrote ‘Kim Jae Duc’, ‘Kim Jae Duc’ in a very minute handwriting. When I opened it, my mouth hung open because I was just so surprised. Before I felt thankful, I felt sorry first. I haven’t even said thanks to her because I haven’t met her yet.
When I go back and forth from TV stations or my office, I meet many fans. Sometimes my heart aches because I wonder why I have to avoid them. In the beginning of Jekki days, I fought with my manager regarding this issue. ‘I don’t want to avoid them,’ ‘Why can’t I see them closer?’
But I found out the reason a while later. How should I put this… it’s the ‘limit’ of being an entertainer. I realized, from seeing many other celebrities, that the ‘mystique’ is the core of my life as an entertainer. So I must keep some distance from the fans in reality and follow that rule.
However, I also think this way. The beauty of waiting. The anxiousness that comes from the hope that you will someday meet… of course, the short encounter will leave some feeling of absence but ‘he will come out someday,’ the hopefulness of it, would make things happier. (Is it just my arbitrary analysis?)
When I think about my fans, I often compare them to my parents and the love that I receive. I know that the fans’ love emulates that of the parents’. So-called ‘unconditional love,’ the kind that only gives and the fans who could be happy from just ‘giving’ are the representation of the unconditional love. When would I ever repay that love. I hope the time comes someday.
There are many ways to repay my fans’ love. First of all, showing good music and good dances. That is the present role I hold. And the innocence that won’t change as time passes. Perhaps that’s something I want from myself. I dislike people who change gradually, or the environment that forces people to change.
I can’t resent anyone but if I’m forced to change, I always tell myself that ‘I will only change a bit.’ For this reason, I always heed my mother’s advice.
"If you want to do it, do it right. If you’re a guy, it’s okay to live differently."
My father told me this but my mom always opposed. She believes that "It’s best to be ordinary," and she worried about the side effects of me not leading an ordinary life.
I now understand what she meant, that being ordinary is the best thing. I don’t regret being a singer. I especially think that as long as I am a member of Jekki, such luxurious and enjoyable times will never come again in my life.
But, I just tell myself not to lose the original image Jae Duc once held, being pure. When I first wanted to be a singer, I promised myself that I would do many deeds and return every bit of love to those people who love me. I promise myself that I will never forget that mindset I once held.
When I think about Jae Duc, my heart aches for many reasons. The first thing is that he had to transfer schools when he was little. How big the scar must have been for such a little boy when he could no longer play soccer, as he transferred from Hae Woon Dae to Gam Chun Elementary?
Now that I think about it, the reason Jae Duc got so involved in a new realm of dancing was to comfort his empty heart when he couldn’t play soccer. So it’s a fortunate deed. He didn’t get off to a bad track and now he tries his best in something he truly loves and receives love from so many people.
Jae Duc especially received love from his grandparents because he was a precious son of the household. His grandma never let go of him, so much as to where she wouldn’t even set him on the ground.
His eyes were exceptionally round and pretty when he was little. Once, I dressed him up in a rabbit costume which was trendy at the time and took him to a market. We couldn’t even walk because so many people stopped us and told him that he was so pretty.
He seemed to be depressed when he couldn’t play soccer but he soon found his place. I scolded him a lot because he couldn’t wake up early since he was dancing all night. But he was a nice boy that never tempted to run away from the house or defy his parents.
I couldn’t dare to stop him when he decided to become a singer by going to Seoul. As parents, we were not particularly good to him so we had no just cause to stop him. Especially when Mr. Lee Ho Yeon came down to Pusan and said "Don’t worry, I’ll make him a good singer."
At times, I am surprised by the phone calls of his fans from all over the nation. "How is Jae Duc doing?" "I’m OO, please tell him I called," "Please tell him I love him"… etc etc.. I feel like they are my daughters, so sometimes I spend all day responding to them. But what could I do, there are so many of them who are even younger than my own daughter. If I think from their parents’ perspective, I should probably bring them home and feed them but I am regretful that I cannot do so.
Jae Duc’s mom always worries about him because she’s too busy to visit him in Seoul. Is he eating right, is he staying healthy? Jae Duc’s rather quiet so he doesn’t say anything special over the phone either. Even when I do see him, he eats so minimally and when he’s running out of time, he eats too fast. He never tells me outwardly but I am afraid that his stomach and kidney are not in a good condition.
"I envy you, Mr. Kim!"
I heard this so many times after Jae Duc became a singer. I answer "Yes~" but I worry. Would he do well as he had been so far? Would he eventually do things that he wants to do afterwards? Beyond people’s envy comes worries only parents would hold.
I especially am saddened by his skinny features. He was never fat but kind of chubby, but now he has no fat at all and retains just the strength to maintain his stance so it hurts me.
When he failed to get into college last year, I regretted not caring. Other students take care of things on their own but the way Jae Duc was doing his activities as a singer, I felt that somebody needed to take care of him in his place. I really tried hard, submitting applications here and there but the result was poor. He seemed to have lost his confidence a while ago so I was really sad.
All of Jekki members are now over 20 years old, including Jae Duc. They all looked so young in the beginning but now they have all grown up.
"This must be the beginning. Hope all goes well--."
This is something Jae Duc’s mom and I say each time a new album is released. Same thing went for the first TV performance from their fourth album. We also have good premonition this time. I wish that all of them eat well and stay healthy.