The One and Only Nichkhun Horvejkul
I always used a certain way to measure someone’s charisma: looking at the light in one’s eyes. I did not mean that person’s eyes expressions but those of people who stood in front of him.
As soon as we knew Nichkhun Horvejkul would be on the cover of SUDSAPDA Magazine No.777 “Lucky Issue,” our female staff in every age group simultaneously screamed as if he was going to get down on his knees and propose to them. As if he was giving them a sparkling ten-carat diamond ring and telling them the one-of-a-kind custom made pair of shoes were being sent. The 10 million Baht wedding gown with a long heavy train was waiting for them to try it on.
In actuality, our thrilled female staff could only be his fans. Not everyone would have an opportunity to meet Nichkhun. Only some of them were assigned to work with this fashion photo shoot. They tried to be discreet but their bright shining eyes when they stood in front of Nichkhun made me realize the powerful effects of the Thai idol who has become globally famous. Besides his perfect physical appearance, this 26-year-old Thai guy was humble (which was not a character trait in every star). He talked charmingly and answered our questions intelligently.
“I want to marry him.” I heard someone said. Did you have the same thought when you looked at photos from this photo shoot?
SUDSAPDA: How is your life these days?
Nichkhun: I have spent most of my time in Korea. But I have worked outside Korea more than half of a year. Lately I have worked in Japan and China.
SUDSAPDA: Are you accustomed to frequent travels?
Nichkhun: I am. And I have to adapt myself to several languages. When I am working in Japan, I have to listen to and communicate in Japanese. When I am in China, I have to do so in Chinese. It’s not stressful but it can be rather exhausting. At times I just want to stay home or work without having to travel very frequently. But that’s how my career is so I have to do it. I am glad I have fans in many countries.
SUDSAPDA: If you look backwards from the first day you worked in Korea until now, what do you see?
Nichkhun: I feel that I am fortunate to have this opportunity. I am blessed to meet good people. Every one of my friends in 2PM is a nice guy. We are close. We love one another. We are brothers in the same family. I feel like luck has brought me here. Of course I have endeavor and determination but luck is also on my side.
SUDSAPDA: The topic goes well with this “Lucky Issue” of SUDSAPDA.
Nichkhun: Really? (Smile) I think a million people wanted to be where I am. But they were not lucky like me. Even though you are talented and determined, it is difficult to achieve your dreams when luck is against you.
SUDSAPDA: But we should give credit to your efforts too. What do you see if you recall the day you sat in the Starbucks coffee shop and met JYPE’s casting team in L.A.?
Nichkhun: I have never thought one day I would have a chance to do a photo shoot like today or to be on stage in front of ten thousand people. Not once had I ever thought these things would happen in my life. Today they have become my daily work routine and I am used to them.
SUDSAPDA: On that day, what was on your mind?
Nichkhun: Confusion. I had no idea which direction my life should go. What was going to happen to my life? I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was in the final year of high school and prepared to go to university. I didn’t know which faculty I should be in. Should I apply for piano or photography studies? I was interested in many fields.
SUDSAPDA: So you were interested in the field of art.
Nichkhun: Yes. Because I was not academically smart. (Laugh) Let’s say it was a period I was searching for my true self. What did I want to do or to be? When I received such a great opportunity from JYPE, it was at the perfect period of time.
SUDSAPDA: If you refused their offer on that day, what would you do today? Pursue your studies in university?
Nichkhun: Now and then I wondered what I would do if I didn’t choose to take this path of life. But doubt is unproductive. I should do my best at what I am doing now.
SUDSAPDA: What’s your impression as a member of 2PM?
Nichkhun: I am glad for having a chance to work with them. This band takes me to several countries. I have met my fans in several places and experienced different cultures. I have lived overseas since I was young. Meeting more people has broadened my perspectives. If I met someone and puzzled by his behavior, I would tell myself people were different. Environments influenced our behaviors. That was why we handled certain situations in different ways.
Nichkhun: All of my friends in 2PM are talented. We love and understand one another. If a member filmed his movie till late into the night and had to wake up to work early in the morning, we would tell him “It’s alright. You should take some more rest.” Then the rest would prepare for work first. When I was busy with schedules, they would tell me “It’s ok. You can sleep one more hour.” When I filmed a drama in China, they sent me messages like “What’s up? How are you?” We have our private chat room and we send funny photos to cheer one another up. We are friends. We are family.
SUDSAPDA: Some people merely saw your success today despite the fact that it must be difficult to reach this level of achievement.
Nichkhun: Certainly. Stars and celebrities are granted fame and fortune. They seem to have such a beautiful, luxurious life that people want to be like them. In reality, this kind of life requires many sacrifices. If you are not willing to control yourself, deny yourself certain things, or to make a sacrifice, it’s hard to be here. Wealth and fame can be fleeting. Anyone who rises to fame so fast is destined to fall fast too.
Nichkhun: To be in this position, you have to control yourself. Sometimes I want to do many things but I have to consider whether they are appropriate. I have to think of my fans and how they are going to feel with what I do. I have to take many aspects into account. There are many rules in this field of work. You have to prepare yourself constantly. You have to be prepared when you are going to be in front of the camera or to perform in a concert. It’s a result of careful, detailed thoughts. You need to remember the photos in these photo shoots will last forever. Thus, you have to prepare yourselves as much as possible to make the best photos. I have to work out and control my diet regularly. I won’t look good with pot belly, right? (Smile) Fans are currently teasing me about my cheeks.
SUDSAPDA: A good appetite.
Nichkhun: I think it’s also associated with my age. I’m not quite young any longer. (Laugh)
SUDSAPDA: But you have to dance on stage all the time.
Nichkhun: Yes. But I need to exercise more. If I have time, I usually play badminton. But sometimes I am too tired or busy with performing our concerts overseas so I don’t have much time to go to the gym.
SUDSAPDA: Actually, it’s not easy to deny yourself the food you really want.
Nichkhun: That’s true. It’s difficult.
SUDSAPDA: Which favorite food you can’t deny when it’s in front of you?
Nichkhun: Pork belly. (Laugh) I don’t gain weight easily and I tend to be skinny. But when I gain weight, it’s very obvious on my face and my chin. My fans looked at my photos and said they could see my double chin when I smiled. They teasingly called me “chubby brother.” It’s a look that people seldom see because I am generally skinny. Previously my fans liked to tell me “Khun. Please eat more. You are too skinny.” But when I gained weight, they would say “Khun. You are too fat. Please lose your weight. I can see your double chin now.” (Laugh) My fans are lovely. They always care about me. When I worked too hard or so busy that I didn’t have time to eat or rest, they would tell me to take a rest and eat a lot. But of course, they would remind me too if I was fat. (Laugh) Right now my weight is 66 kilograms. Not really fat but it’s quite obvious on my face.
SUDSAPDA: You have mentioned making sacrifices in order to be an artist. If you would like to go out but you can’t, how do you control your desires?
Nichkhun: I think of what will happen if I go out and someone asks if she can take a photo with me. Then another person sees me and wants to take my photo too. The crowd becomes larger and it’s getting more difficult to manage. If I refuse their requests, they might be upset. In turns, I will be sad for having to do so. A large crowd means people might be injured. When I go outside, I have to think and plan carefully. Is it safe to go out alone? Should I bring my managers or bodyguards with me? If a large crowd of people swarm me, how am I going to get out of this situation? Both fans and I might be injured in the chaos. If I sustain injuries, how am I going to deal with my work? When I think forward to this scenario, I will decide to stay home. (Laugh)
SUDSAPDA: What do you like to do when you stay home?
Nichkhun: Usually I watch movies and listen to music. I study the movies I watch. How the actors portray their characters or react in those scenes. I hope it will be useful if I become an actor one day. I often watch them two or three times. For the first time, I will watch the whole story and the script. For the second time, I will pay attention to how they play and film those scenes.
SUDSAPDA: What’s the latest movie you have seen?
Nichkhun: ‘American Sniper’ which was based on a true story. The actors delivered excellent performances. It gave me an insight into the perspective of a married man who wanted to protect his country while he also had to take care of his wife and his children. It was a heart-wrenching story. I sympathized with both the marksman who needed to do his duty and his wife who couldn’t ask him to stay home. She had to raise their children by herself.
SUDSAPDA: It made me think of the time you came back to report for the draft for compulsory military service. How excited you were when it was your turn to draw the black/red card?
Nichkhun: I was pretty excited. It was funny that I met one of my old friends there. We used to be in the same school. I went to the place held for military conscription in Thawi Watthana District which was near my house. If I picked the red card, I would certainly serve the army. I never thought of avoiding my duty. A Thai man must fulfill his military obligation. I had previously told my company if I was enlisted, we had to say goodbye for two years. People in my company fully understood me. (In the end, Nichkhun was exempted from enlistment because the district where he resided had enough voluntary draftees.)
SUDSAPDA: You must have many touching moments during your concert tours. Which events leave you a long lasting impression?
Nichkhun: When we held our concerts “2PM Live in Tokyo Dome” in Japan. It’s a renowned baseball stadium. Many famous artists have held concerts there. 2PM held our concerts there for two days and attracted more than 100,000 audiences. Normally when we performed a concert, we could clearly see people who sat or stood at the front section only. However, at Tokyo Dome, I could see 180 degree area in front of me was full with our fans on three floors. It was an image that nearly moved me to tears. Over a hundred thousand people came to see us. During those two days, I did my best. I sang and danced until I was exhausted. Many singers would love to have these moments. I was fortunate to have such a great chance.
SUDSAPDA: You know the phrase “nearly moved me to tears” too.
Nichkhun: I do. Why?
SUDSAPDA: It’s a very popular phrase and hashtag in Thailand.
Nichkhun: Really? (Laugh)
SUDSAPDA: What are your impressions of Thai fans?
Nichkhun: Many groups of Thai fans have followed me all along. I remember them and know their names. Some fans have supported me even before I become a member of 2PM. Some fans are close and talked to my mother via LINE. I don’t think of them as my fans. They are more like sisters who continue to take care of me and support me. Now and again they sent my mom a message “Khun looked stressed-out lately. Is he alright?” Then my mom would ask if there was anything troubling me.
SUDSAPDA: We have often seen fans following artists in a rented van.
Nichkhun: Yes. Occasionally they waited for me in front of the restaurants. I would playfully tease them “You should find something to eat. You don’t have to follow me. Aren’t you hungry?” (Nichkhun said it sternly but cutely at the same time.)
SUDSAPDA: How do you prepare before you stand on stage in front of the audience in big concerts?
Nichkhun: There are many preparation processes. Firstly we have to hold a meeting to decide which songs we would like to sing or which themes would work for the concert. We will choose the name of the concert and discuss how we will start and finish the concert. We will have three to four meetings before we start practicing. Then we will have a meeting regarding our outfits, makeup, and hairstyles. We will discuss the places we want to hold our concerts. Then we start practicing the songs we have chosen. We have a rehearsal where we fully dress for the concert. Then we go to the real revenue for our concerts. There are long and complicated processes. And while we do all these preparations, we have to do our routine work too. We don’t have one full month specifically dedicated to concert rehearsals. After finishing our work during the day, we will practice or have a meeting for our concerts at midnight. A concert is a result of our hard work.
SUDSAPDA: You must have a long discussion for surprise events for fans.
Nichkhun: One of the gimmicks is singing songs in the countries where we hold our concerts. Like when we held a concert here, I sang a Thai song. We sang Indonesian songs when we performed in Indonesia. We sang Chinese songs in China. It took some time to practice for these songs.
SUDSAPDA: How many languages can you speak?
Nichkhun: I can speak some Chinese and Japanese. I am not fluent yet. I can speak Thai, English, and Korean. … Ah of course I must be able to speak Thai. (Laugh)
SUDSAPDA: How do you feel when you know you are going to have a concert in Thailand?
Nichkhun: I am glad. I know Thai fans are delighted to see me so I always do my best. I also try to speak more on stage. Normally when I am in the group, I don’t talk much. But in Thailand, as a host, I will speak more. I feel like I am taking my friends to my home so I have to become a bit like a leader.
SUDSAPDA: Do you have time to visit your parents at home?
Nichkhun: My parents tend to visit me at my workplace. When I did a photo shoot, sometimes my mother brought my grandmother to see me. My house is located at Phutthamonthon district which is very far. It takes almost two hours to get from my house to the city. I miss my family but I am used to living alone. I studied overseas since I was 12 years old. I am used to living away from home.
SUDSAPDA: Can you still remember your bedroom in your house?
Nichkhun: No. (He replied quickly.) Just two days ago, I was thinking about my old bedroom. My house is recently refurbished too. I don’t have a bedroom there anymore. (Laugh)
SUDSAPDA: Can you tell us about your friends in 2PM?
Nichkhun: It is almost 9 years since I went to Korea in 2006. Each member has a different characteristic trait. Jun. K is passionate about composing music. He has a great part in our upcoming album. He composed our title song. Jun. K is cheerful and likes to party. He wants to make people around him happy and have a great time with him. But he can be stressed-out once in a while and wants to be alone. Usually he’s a funny guy. He looks very cool when he composes his music or sings.
Nichkhun: Taec (Taecyeon) is carefree and lighthearted. He is very intelligent and resolute. When we have our meetings, he will be the one who tell us how to manage certain issues.
Nichkhun: Wooyoung is funny and polite. He has a mind of his own. He is thoughtful but thinks too much sometimes.
Nichkhun: Junho is like an innocent little boy. He can be self-willed on occasion. Junho looks very cool and sexy when he is on stage.
Nichkhun: Chansung is the youngest member but his face says otherwise. (Laugh) We often tease him about his mature look. He reads a ton of books so he is very mature in his thinking. Chansung is a really nice and polite guy.
SUDSAPDA: If other members talk about you, what do you think they will say?
Nichkhun: (Laugh) I try to be their older brother because I am the second oldest member of the band. I have to be mature. I have two younger sisters while only Jun. K has a younger brother. So I look like the older brother in the group. I take care of them and buy them meals. I think of them as my brothers.
SUDSAPDA: So what will they say about you?
Nichkhun: I have no idea. I don’t want to listen to them describing my bad points. (Laugh)
SUDSAPDA: You mentioned your younger sister. Cherreen is now also in the entertainment business.
Nichkhun: Yes. At first, I didn’t want her to work in this field. I know how tiring and demanding it is. You will be perturbed by so many things. But she wanted to do it. Cherreen is single-minded. When she has asked for my advice, I have told her to work hard. To be yourself. Don’t be fake. When you are upset, you can express your displeasure but not too much. You need to be kind and friendly to your teams, managers, and staff because you can’t work without them. If I didn’t have my hair stylists and makeup artists, I could not do a photo shoot with you today. If I didn’t have my managers, I wouldn’t have a chance to accept this job. I have taught Cherreen to be nice to people around her. I have no chance to work with her so I don’t really know how she works. But from what I heard, my parents said they were proud of her.
SUDSAPDA: When you are in Korea, what do you do to relax on your holiday?
Nichkhun: Actually, I rarely have a holiday and I also work on weekends. When I don’t have a schedule, I will get some skin care treatments, exercise, play badminton, go to the gym, or eat delicious foods.
SUDSAPDA: Do you have to disguise yourself to go outside?
Nichkhun: Not really. When people see me in Thailand, they tend to be surprised “Hey! That’s Nichkhun” and walk up to me. However, in Korea, people normally don’t gather around and swarm me. It happens at times when I am in markets. I don’t have such problem when I am walking around near my home. I often have lunchboxes, hamburgers, or some quick and easy meals when I work. Therefore, I hardly have a chance to meet people in public. If I have some spare time, I will go to restaurants that I like.
SUDSAPDA: Other than your family and fans, what do you think of in Thailand?
Nichkhun: Thai cuisine and the sea. I want to go to the sea. I came back to Thailand during Songkran Festival but had no time to play water fights.
SUDSAPDA: I don’t think you will survive if you join the water fights.
Nichkhun: (Laugh) I guess so. But it should be fun. I have no chance to play during Songkran Festival for 15 years already.
SUDSAPDA: Nowadays, many new idol groups have made their debut. Are you worried about high levels of competition in the business?
Nichkhun: I am not concerned about new idols. They also have to practice vigorously to improve and prepare themselves to work in this business. They must have things they worried about. I also have many things of my own to think of. I am not afraid they will talk my place. I know one day I have to change my position, to walk on another pathway. Younger generation will step up to work here. But I believe nobody can be replaced by another. I am who I am. My fans like that I stay true to myself. It’s much better when people like you for who you are. You should not try to pretend to be someone else. If you lead a fabricated life and one day you can’t keep lying anymore, people will feel like you have changed. When I am tired or annoyed, my fans certainly know I am being ‘dark’ Khun.
SUDSAPDA: How can people see you are in a dark, moody mode?
Nichkhun: I tend to be still and smile less than usual. I don’t shout or bellow. When I have a lot of things to ponder, I want to be by myself. I can be upset with works, for example, when I have to deal with problems that should not have occurred in the first place. I will have questions. I certainly don’t get angry without reasons. I am a reasonable person. But I can be furious with issues I really don’t understand or when problems happen without reasons.
SUDSAPDA: My Thai friend visited South Korea. When she went shopping, vendors asked her where she was from. When she replied “Thailand,” Korean people would respond with “Nichkhun.” It seems Koreans have known more about Thais because of Nichkhun.
Nichkhun: Although Koreans know I am Thai, I believe they like to think I have become a Korean. It’s natural that I have to behave like Koreans to pay respect to their country and culture. For instance, I don’t think Thai people will like foreigners who have lived in Thailand but continued to stubbornly behave like foreigners. I think Koreans are cordial towards me and Thais because I have tried to behave like a Korean. I am glad and proud for having an opportunity to be a representative of Thailand.
SUDSAPDA: How do you feel that you were once chosen by Korean women as the second most desirable male artist to marry?
Nichkhun: (Laugh) Korea has a lot of rankings and surveys. However, there must be several reasons for a person to want to marry someone. These rankings are a result of stars’ images in public perception. You like them because you see these smooth-talking, charming stars on TV and they look like good guys. But you have to take into account many factors and aspects if you want to marry someone. You can’t make a decision based on their images on TV. I have tried to be myself as much as I can. Thus, I am glad to be ranked in this poll.
SUDSAPDA: Do you want to get married soon?
Nichkhun: Oh I don’t think it will happen in any time soon. Right now I have dedicated my life to my work. My fans are looking forward to seeing my new work. It’s too complicated for me to think of a marriage at the moment.
SUDSAPDA: Bugs website did a poll in Korea and it said Nichkhun ranked second on “Which star is the most easily fooled” survey.
Nichkhun: (Laugh) The most easily fooled? (He emphasized the words.) It’s difficult to deceive me. I don’t trust people easily. In my position and with this kind of work, if I had believed in every single person I have met, I would have bankrupted. I might look naïve, childlike, or guileless, but in actuality, I am the opposite. I won’t deceive people but I am cautious and don’t trust people easily. I have lived overseas and taken care of myself since I was 12. At first my parents were worried because I seemed to be credulous. They were concerned whether I would be able to take care of myself. They were afraid I would be too thrusting. Wicked friends would lead me to commit mistakes. But I have grown up by myself. I have been through a lot and I have to make a decision by myself about everything. I won’t say I have become distrustful or suspicious of people. Let’s say I am wary. I always think and consider things with my own reasons.
SUDSAPDA: And do you feel about Monkey 3 website’s poll “Which celebrity had the most kissable lips?” You ranked second in this one.
Nichkhun: (Laugh) Thank you. I don’t really know what to say.
SUDSAPDA: Let’s talk about ‘Chalui – Touch the Sky’ which you have made an appearance.
Nichkhun: In the movie, I was an artist whom Nicky (Nachat Juntapan) and Jessie (Mek Mekwattana) looked up to as their idol. The main characters, Tong and Pong, wanted to become an artist like me. They flew to Korea to follow their dreams. I accepted this role because the movie teaches us it is not easy to achieve your dreams. Success doesn’t come without effort and determination whether you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or an actor. I believe this film will tell new teens a great lesson. You can dream but you won’t succeed without efforts. I think it will be a good movie for young generation.
SUDSAPDA: Our last question can be related to the film. What do you want to say to people who think of Nichkhun as their idol and want to follow your footsteps?
Nichkhun: I think the most important thing in our life is not about who you are or what you can be. Rather, it’s about what has brought you to your goal. My life is not important because I am a star. It’s important because I have improved myself. From a kid who had no talent whatsoever, I have worked diligently until one day I can perform on stage. I believe the journey is more important than the destination. How did we choose to take this life path? During the journey, what great things have we made? What have we done before we reach here?
Nichkhun: I have said this many times. Having someone as your idol is a fine idea. But you should not follow everything your idol does. Everyone has a different life and way of thinking. You should use your idol’s success as your inspiration. Don’t just imitate how he dresses. Having the same clothes or imitating his behavior doesn’t mean you will automatically be like him. Being yourself is the greatest thing.
Trans THAI-ENG by: Daffodil0624