Interview originally sourced from Star News
“At first, being told “Hey Haha, Perk Up” hurt my pride and I hated it. However after a certain moment, no one would say to me “Hello”. This has now become a national project and everyone tells me “Mr Haha, Perk Up”. I’m really thankful”
That’s right. If I was to exaggerate a bit, there was a time when everyone in the country would scream out “Hey Haha, Perk Up”. Last year in March, when he finished his national public service work and returned, his shoulders appeared to be especially drooping. I don’t think anyone will scream out “Hey Haha, Perk Up” now. It means he doesn’t have to perk up anymore, instead he will be told that “He is doing well”
“Infinity Challenge”, which is like a homeland to him, is still cruising along without a hitch and “Running Man” is also in its prime. He has also recently released an album and has restarted his activities as a singer for the first time in 4 years. It’s jam packed with a fun “Haha Style” reggae rhythm.
In Autumn of 2011, when “Hey Haha, Perk Up” has changed to “I’m perking up thanks to Haha”, I met the Short Kiddie Haha (Real Name Ha Dong Hoon, 32 Years Old), born in 1979, that never wants to mature. Originally he was a rapper and is now a singer and entertainer; however people are still confused as to what he actually is. Is he a singer or entertainer? Before I even asked, he answered first
“I’ll tell you in advance but I’m not confused by it. On a variety show, I have to act like an entertainer and as a singer, I have to act like a singer.”
“The hip hop group Leessang, of which he met Gil on Infinity Challenge and Gary on Running Man, are also of the same mind”
“There is no way I could be associated on the same level as Leessang, We are really close friends but I’m their biggest fan and craziest fan. I call them my “Variety Show Students” and as a joke I tell them “It would be nice if you just did music” but in truth Gil and Gary both have an impressive mind. For music work, they act like musicians and for variety shows, they act like entertainers, I’m the same as well”
He has set his mind to it and has overcome his burden to restart his activities as a singer but it looks like the responses from people around him have been a bit different.
“I’m all aflutter and feeling good but the people around me are nervous. No really, even though I’m the one appearing on “Music Core”, Kim Tae Ho PD (Infinity Challenge’s PD) packs a whole bunch of stuff and brings it over to me, Jung Hyung Don tells me “I’m nervous” and Musician Jung Jae Hyung tells me “I’m going crazy”. Even though I am at MBC, why is a SBS PD calling me and asking me if I’m alright! Kim Jong Kook asks me “Why are you there?” so I told him “Do you think you wouldn’t act like this? If you come here then you are an ancestor!”
Haha first received the spot light as an entertainer and then extended his field of work as a singer but truth be told the stress he receives on variety shows is much more severe. Even now for “Infinity Challenge”, which he joined on 2005, he still can’t sleep the night before the recording. It’s a strange case of insomnia.
“How should I describe this, should I describe as my body already becoming adjusted to it on Wednesday nights (“Infinity Challenge” records on Thursdays), It’s also because I know that it’s going to be really difficult. There is always a sense of tension. I’m not the only one that can’t fall asleep, all the members can’t fall sleep. Everyone has a tired face on the morning of “Infinity Challenge”. However when we did it’s fun and exciting!”
This kind of energy from “Infinity Challenge” has appeared perfectly intact on “Running Man”. On “Infinity Challenge”, Haha is a charming guy that is a masters graduate with no knowledge and someone that can do the rubbing dance with his friends in Hongdae, who are also complete strangers. On “Running Man”, Haha is playing an active role as “Haroro” who grumbles around and receives all the love of the children to himself”
We can say this now but he joined “Infinity Challenge” when the ratings were hovering around 3% and for “Running Man”, “Family Outing” had just finished a bit disjointedly and he joined as an original member at a point where it was difficult to guarantee success. While Haha screamed at the top of his voice on both programs, at the same time he endured through it without complaints. You can say that trust and will power is what made Haha into what he is right now.
“I’m really good at picking programs.(Laughs) For “Infinity Challenge”, it was when the program was hovering around the 3% ratings, for some reason I thought that I need to join this program. For “Running Man” I really joined the program, not because of Yoo Jae Suk, but because of the staff. The “X-Man” staff team. Thankfully, joining the program by looking at people in it was the correct thing to do”
If he had reached “high notes” while screaming on variety shows, there was also a moment where the casually talking Haha had turned solemn. When we started talking about his best friend MC Mong and his dependable senior Kang Ho Dong, Haha’s face briefly became serious and then he just said “We all cry together”. The news that “Infinity Challenge” was in danger of receiving disciplinary action also depressed Haha.
“For me, I do music work while playing, I make adlibs while playing, I think “If I do this it’s going to be fun” while playing. I do everything while playing. I’m naturally a very cool headed guy. However while doing this field of work, I have become very sensitive. It’s because I have to be careful about everything. If I drink Soju (A cheap alcoholic drink), then people complain at me for not drinking expensive whiskeys when I earn money, and then when I drink expensive whiskeys, there are people that complain at me for drinking expensive whiskeys. Even when I’m being funny, I think about how to do this. How could I do this while adjusting to the needs of all sorts of situations? However…there is a person that can do all of this.”
The answer came out naturally. “God Yoo! (Yoo Jae Suk)” He began to clap and eventually started to laugh. He then pat his chest and said “Still I’m a lucky person”. “I’m thankful for the fact that I’m still doing this field of work”
If there is something that he is cautious about, it is becoming too serious and becoming mature. It looks like the song that the he sang for the first time “The Short Kiddie Story” is the song that he would want to sing forever as a representation of himself.
“I’m like that. Even if I die and get reborn, I won’t become mature. I know what it is but I just want to know about it and nothing more. Someone told me this; if I mature then I can’t do variety shows. (While hitting his chest), There needs to be a mischievous little boy in here. That’s why I wish I had a father like Myung Soo. I’m really jealous of Min Suh (Myung Soo’s Daughter)”