Kim Heechul Discusses His Time Away and Desire to Remain Who He Is (Interview Part 1)

“Warming up to be a universal star… I’ve become more cunning”

After being discharged from military service, Kim Heechul is back with broadcast appearances and has even taken on the mantle of webtoon cartoonist. He’s also going to be rejoining his Super Junior band mates in their ongoing world tour “Super Show 5” this month.

“I don’t want to get rid of my individual color. I think I’ve become more of a sly fox than before. Haha.”

Heechul (30 years old) finished two years of civil service duties and was discharged in August, and seems to have retained his frankness and glib tongue.

Prior to entering active service, Heechul was all over the place, appearing on stage, dramas and variety programs, and now that he’s back, he’s been receiving endless love calls from broadcasting companies, and yet he’s rejected most of them. Instead of joining a terrestrial broadcasting channel program, Heechul surprised everyone with his choice of returning to the variety world via general cable network JTBC’s talk show “Ssulzun.”

“Even now my mood changes a lot, but I used to be in a darker place and be ‘fanged’ in the past. But I met many people who aren’t celebrities while taking the train to and from work, and I’m meeting old friends from before now. I think I was too hard-hearted in the past.”

Kim Heechul

Kim Heechul wanted to “be discharged quietly from service,” choosing not to specially greet the horde of reporters who had gathered there. Nevertheless, he smiled brightly while leaving his previous workplace.

“The first three months and the last three months were the hardest. The first three months was like a period of ‘mental breakdown,’ and in the last three months, it seems like time passed really slowly.” Kim Heechul continued, “As the date of my discharge grew closer, I began to worry… ‘What if I become mature…’ Previously, people liked me because of my unique character as ‘Kim Heechul,’ not because of my knowledgeable and mature image.”

“The letter of commendation that I received on the day of my release was the first award I’ve received since birth, outside of my celebrity activities. That’s why I wanted to show it off as soon as I walked out the door.”

As befitting his nickname “Universal Star,” Heechul was standing at the forefront of the Hallyu wave. The sudden change of environment was enough to make him feel like he was on the verge of a ‘mental breakdown.’

“I boasted before that I could live on the salary serving in the civil service, but soon I ended up asking for help from my family. (Laughs) From there on, I started to spend money more frugally, even wearing the same clothes for the whole week. I think I learned how to enjoy life more.”

However, he said the essence of “Kim Heechul” who doesn’t want any interference, has not changed. He continues to show off the same charms on the programs he currently appears in.

“In the past, I was criticized a lot because of my personality. Of course I have to do my best for all my activities, but I don’t want to be forced to change my usual self, nor my personality because of this.”


Part 2 coming up!

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