Super Junior’s Leeteuk On Overcoming Hardships As Team Leader, Hopes For A 13-Member Performance, And More

Super Junior’s Leeteuk participated in an interview to talk about his life as Super Junior’s leader.

Leeteuk debuted in 2005 as a member of Super Junior. Being the leader of the nation’s first group with so many members hasn’t been easy, but he has firmly held onto the position for 15 years.

First off, Leeteuk gave an update on his life. He shared, “I’ve continuously been active on TV shows, and I recently started my own YouTube channel. I’m uploading radio-type content called ‘Leeteuk’s Kiss the YouTube.’ Under the concept of ‘The Resting Place of Tired Souls,’ I read stories received via e-mail, cook, and do mukbang (eating broadcast). The plan was to do a live broadcast once a week, but the response was better than expected, so I’m doing it daily. My daily routine is to wake up in the morning, walk my dog, exercise, and do ‘Leeteuk’s Kiss the YouTube.'”

When asked about how he became the leader of Super Junior, Leeteuk replied, “I was given the role of leader because I am the oldest in the team. Before Super Junior was formed, I was preparing for my debut with a five-member group called Smile, which I was also the leader of. The position was a bit pressuring at the time too, and I became worried when I had to lead even more members. At first, I said I couldn’t do it. The current CEO of SM Entertainment, Tak Young Joon, who was a manager at the time, encouraged me by telling me many stories, and I became the leader because I was desperate to make my debut. That was the beginning. After becoming a leader, I have been able to do my job well because there are many people around me who help me. The members also did a lot for me.”

He continued to talk about the leader position, saying, “Leading the team was pressuring. Once, Ryeowook had to learn the choreography two days after he joined the team as a new trainee, and when we were evaluated, he made mistakes in some parts. We were scolded a lot, being told things like, ‘If this stage was for a broadcast, it would’ve been a serious deal.’ The company was preparing us for the future because we would have to prepare for performances more quickly after our debut. I reflected on myself a lot after I got scolded. I could only debut if I became a ‘professional,’ so I felt the pressure and desire and to work hard.”

Leeteuk also talked about the differences between being a leader then and now. He said, “When I was a rookie, I was really full of energy. Whenever we went to the broadcasting station, I always took the members to say hello to our seniors and performed with great energy. I was a rookie with absolutely nothing, so I was full of positive energy. Then, I became more scared after achieving more and more things with Super Junior. I was worried that if something goes wrong, it will damage the team. It won’t be easy to make a comeback if you get hit. That’s why I’m more cautious now than when I had just debuted.”

The interviewer asked if the members now professionally take care of themselves rather than following the leader because they’ve been active for a long time now. With a chuckle, he answered, “I think the public knows a lot about us now. Not only did the Super Junior grow as a brand, but so did the content created by the individual members. Thanks to that, everyone is doing their own part, and now things go well even if I don’t take care of it. On the other hand, I feel sad. Parents say that they feel proud and sad when they raise their children and marry them off. It’s like that.”

Leeteuk talked about what he does as a leader now. He said, “Now, I can picture the future of the team. I think a lot about what to do to make Super Junior last long and what to do in the next five to ten years. I especially thought a lot about that in the military. I thought about creating Label SJ and participated in designing our light stick. I have more advanced concerns than before.”

He also reflected on the obstacles in the past, saying, “Unfortunate things happened when we were at our climax. I even cried endlessly at the dorm. Looking back, however, such big and small things brought the team closer together. Once at an award ceremony, I said, ‘Dangerous waves make strong boatmen.’ I think that story represents Super Junior. Later, when we get the chance, I would like to go on stage with all 13 members. Of course, that’s only if there aren’t any members who oppose it. As the leader, the current members are the most precious.”

Lastly, Leeteuk shared how Super Junior resolves disagreements. He explained, “Differences still exist because all the members have distinct personalities and strong opinions. Usually, we decide by majority vote, but when things are not resolved, we talk a lot to solve the problem.”

He added, “There is a story related to the lyrics of ‘Mamacita.’ Director Yoo Young Jin wrote the lyrics for the song, and the members expressed their wish to change some of the lyrics. So he accepted our request and changed them, but the members had another request. However, the absolute authority belongs to the creator of the music, so we agreed that it may be rude for us to give our opinions any further. After discussion, the song was completed half with the director’s lyrics and half with the lyrics we wanted. This is how we try to bring our opinions together.”

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