When Lee Junho debuted as a member of 2PM in 2008, one of the qualities that made him stood out in the group was his "eye smile"-we're talking about the kind of smile that made his eyes turn into the shape of crescent moon.
Ten years on, he has exchanged the boyish vibes for an air of maturity, but the 28-year-old hasn't lost his signature smile, evident during our meeting when he was in Singapore for the Korea Brand & Entertainment EXPO 2018 (KBEE 2018) earlier this month.
In fact, we were treated to a full display of the smile as he greeted us and cracked jokes during the interview-and even tried to help the translator translate the questions and answers.
Despite branching out into acting five years ago and steadily receiving offers for drama roles, the singer-actor hasn't forgotten his roots and reckoned that being a part of 2PM was the best thing that happened to him. When asked to choose between singing and acting, he said, "I cannot choose. But if I really had to choose, I would choose 2PM. But… (pauses) the question is so hard! Both are important to me, and both are fun but the reason I chose 2PM is because I am a part of 2PM."
He added, "Being a part of 2PM is the best thing I've done in my life. It's very hard to pinpoint one memory but the best thing I've done is being a part of 2PM and joining the group."
ON A PLACE IN SOUTH KOREA HE WOULD RECOMMEND TO SINGAPOREANS
"Although I'm an honorary for KBEE, I'm also an honorary ambassador for Jeju Island. I would recommend for people to go there. The weather there now is really nice."
ON PLACES HE WANT TO VISIT IN SINGAPORE
"The other times when I was here, I really enjoyed myself. 2PM came here to film the music video for 'Hands Up' and we also had a concert here. I also came here for the movie promotions. This is my fourth or fifth time here. I personally want to go to Formula One.
Last night, I met Nichkhun briefly here. We were at Universal Studios but I couldn't go in, so I want to go there. I didn't have time to go because of my schedules today, so I just went there to eat with Nichkhun. … I just want to have a chill day in Singapore.
Previously, when we were filming the music video for 'Hands Up', we rode the Singapore Flyer. I want to visit all the places we could see from the Flyer because we didn't have time to explore then."
ON HIS MOST MEMORABLE ROLE THUS FAR
"I like all of them. I've done seven dramas and movies. Every moment was memorable to me, but there was a movie that I acted in called Cold Eyes. I came to Singapore to promote that movie. The character didn't appear a lot in the movie, but it was a significant character that created a lot of tension in the movie. It was my first time acting, and I think it was a piece that brought me a lot of luck."
ON ACTORS HE WANTS TO WORK WITH IN FUTURE
"Since I first started acting, I've worked with a lot of wonderful senior actors. I'm very lucky to have learn a lot of things from them. While acting, I learn a lot of things from people in different situations. So, as long as I meet someone I can learn from, it would mean a lot to me. Different characters have different personalities, and through acting those roles, I learn a lot. Filming dramas and movies are very different, so adapting to the different environments is also something I've learnt. [But] whether you're filming for movies or dramas, you film with different people and every experience you have with them is different."
ON WHAT HE HAS LEARNT DURING HIS DECADE-LONG CAREER
"I'm still learning as I go. Minjun-hyung (Jun.K) wrote a song (2PM's 'Hot') with these lyrics, 'a passionate, a rational head'. I think it's very important be led by your heart with passion, but at the same time, think rationally with your mind when it comes to making hard decisions."
ON PREPARING FOR HIS ROLE IN WOK OF LOVE
"I prepared for a month. I learnt how to cut vegetables, how to use the wok. I put in a lot of effort for the drama. The hardest thing was taking the lobster apart. One minute before filming started, I was told that I had to take a lobster apart. So within one minute, I watched the teacher do it and I had to follow whatever he did."
"When it comes to cooking with the wok, fire control is very important to create the wok hei, but I don't have the equipment to do it at home. I want to cook for other people, but I can't do it. I think the food I made with the wok was good and I want to cook for my family members, but I haven't done it. I've just been thinking about it."
ON HIS FAVOURITE FOOD
"Kimchi fried rice. I like fried rice, and I like the fact that there's kimchi inside. I also like spicy food, so it's one of my favourite dishes."
ON THE BEST COOK IN 2PM
"Taecyeon tries very hard and he likes to do it. Minjun-hyung likes to make ddeokbokki, while Taecyeon likes to cook. That's all. I honestly think I'm good at cooking, but I just don't want to cook. I like to eat."
ON HIS NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION
"Being healthy. I want to meet my fans and people who like 2PM. I don't know when I'll be able to meet them, but I want it to be as soon as possible."
ON HIS MESSAGES FOR HIS MEMBERS
"Taecyeon, come back safely and do well in your future activities. Jun.K and Wooyoung, fighting! Don't be sick. Chansung, let's be strong. Nichkhun, since you'll be promoting alone, pursue your passion and promote 2PM."
This article was first published on CLEO Singapore