Sunmi Opens Up About Solo Debut, Leaving and Re-Joining the Wonder Girls and More
Sunmi has recently given a very in-depth and personal interview about her upcoming solo album as well as her thoughts on leaving the Wonder Girls and many others.
After sending shock waves across the K-Pop world by announcing her withdrawal from the Wonder Girls, Sunmi will be coming back after an absence of three years and seven months.
Sunmi will be coming back with a JYP produced single, “24 Hours” on August 26. This is the first time JYP Entertainment has supported a dance female soloist since Park Ji Yoon in 2000.
Sunmi first reminisced about her days as a Wonder Girl and said, “I’m still young right now but back then, at the age of 17, everything was so overwhelming,” and “I wasn’t able to understand or communicate well in the US and having so much interest put on us gave me so much pressure. Memories of the hardships of touring the country on a bus with the members and the overwhelming feelings of making it into the Billboard charts all came to me at once, which is why I burst into tears at a press conference.”
Sunmi also finally opened up about the reason for her withdrawal. “From some point, I felt my beginning intentions starting to get dull and my body going up on stage like a machine. At one time, I used to get up on stage with a thankful heart but my emotions started to get dull. I was sorry to all the fans who came to watch our concert and it was hard to see my humility going away,” she admitted.
After leaving the group, Sunmi was accepted to Dongguk University in 2011 and returned to the JYP training facilities in Cheongdamdong. Due to her short trainee period of one year, Sunmi felt that she couldn’t display her vocal or dancing skills to the fullest during her Wonder Girl days. So she said that it was like another chance to fill up those insufficiencies.
“I practiced my vocals a lot and learned a variety of dancing skills as well,” and “I also received lessons in acting, Japanese, English and more from morning to night,” she said.
Sunmi revealed that her practice results were continually posted along with the rest of the trainees and when Park Jin Young saw her improvements and growth, he decided debut her as a solo artist.
“Last December, Park Jin Young suggested that I go solo and the song was created this March. He told me, ‘Whenever you’re ready, let me know.’ After watching a clip of my practice session in July, he said that I was ready,” she said.
Park Jin Young will be heavily involved with Sunmi’s solo debut as he wrote and composed the song, created the choreography, participated in the music video filming as well as the styling.
“24 Hours” is a dance track about a woman’s feelings as she opens her eyes to a sensual love through a man she loves. Sunmi revealed that Park Jin Young scolded her a lot while recording the track but eventually received praise in the end.
Sunmi, who had to sing with feelings of a first love, commented, “While recording, I couldn’t get into it so Park Jin Young turned off the lights in the studio and told me to focus,” and “I still don’t really know what love is. Park Jin Young told me that I should think not only about the outer image but the inner-ness as well but I still don’t think I’m an adult. But actually, if I did know, I don’t think I would have been able to express the feelings as well.”
Sunmi’s “24 Hours” draws a lot of parallels to Park Ji Yoon’s “Coming Of Age” since it is about the process of a girl becoming a woman. Sunmi said that she looked up Park Ji Yoon’s music video and explained, “I think Park Ji Yoon’s choreography, outfits and makeup were flashier and more shocking at that time.”
“Park Ji Young asked for a 19 year old girl image. I didn’t put on fake eyelashes and barely had any makeup on for the music video. I couldn’t put on a sexy face either. I did wear a body suit but I didn’t wear heels since that would give a more mature feel so I went barefoot,” she explained.
Sunmi continued, “Ye Eun and Yoo Bin were very interested in my comeback and even called Park Jin Young to tell him that inserting a modern dance part into the choreography would be a good idea,” and “I go through three makeup changes in the music video and the concept of an innocent girl opening her eyes to love was all Yoo Bin unni’s idea.”
Sunmi says that she has gone back to being a rookie and has looked back at her days to when she dreamed of becoming a singer. “I was such a big BoA fan, I even bought her Japanese albums and memorized the lyrics. I thought that I was talented but when I came to Seoul and became a trainee, I realized that I knew nothing. I worked really hard back then. I still have a lot to overcome and learn right now.”
All preparations are made and are done but it seems like Sunmi still feels burdened. The K-Pop scene has changed a lot during her hiatus and after Wonder Girls’ “Tell Me,” a huge influx of idol groups have been created and debuted.
“I remember a lot of girl groups came out for the one year we were in the US. Now there’s even more and I think it’ll feel awkward when I’m called a senior. Because I not only have to show how I changed on the outside but also how I improved my skills.”
Sunmi also mentioned Sunye and her marriage and upcoming baby.
She said “I didn’t know I would become an aunt this quickly,” with a laugh and “It was hard for the members to accept but since Sunye had a dream of creating a family and doing missions, I am supporting her. When Sunye came to Korea from Canada a month ago, we had a meal together. I felt her stomach and it felt so cool. When we all gather together, we talk about the old days and the hardships of doing the US tour is definitely our greatest memory together.”
When asked what the Wonder Girls mean to her, Sunmi answered, “Being a Wonder Girl fulfilled all of my dreams. I also created an unimaginably tight bond with my members, not just about work but from person-to-person. Because I didn’t completely withdraw from the group, the possibility to re-join the group is always open too.”