Whatever people’s opinion about 2PM’s current popularity in their home country is, it is undeniable that they are one of the K-pop groups that have matured gracefully, music-wise. Due to the group’s inactivity in Korea, the members have branched out to other fields, such as acting and variety shows, as well as concentrating on their solo careers. After Jang Wooyoung and Lee Junho, it’s time for the eldest of the leaderless group, Kim Minjun a.k.a. Jun.K, to show the world what he is capable of as a solo artist. Of course what Jun.K is now capable of doing is also the result of his experience with 2PM – just like the rest of the members, he too has released solo songs, either digitally like ALIVE or as a part of 2PM’s albums. JYPE now decided to launch Jun.K’s solo career in full power, and the best place to do it was Japan, home of probably the biggest and the strongest 2PM fanbase.
And so May 2014 witnessed Jun.K’s solo tour, LOVE &HATE (often stylized as L♥VE & HXTE), in several cities in Japan. Thanks to some of our very good friends, we were able to attend two days of the Chiba leg of his tour on May 26 & May 28 (the final). The concerts were held in the Event Hall of the giant Makuhari Messe convention center complex in Chiba, approximately half an hour’s train ride away from Tokyo Station. When we arrived there for the first day, after the doors were opened, the line of Japanese HOTTEST official members queuing for their official presents was still long, but the line for general goods was already short. Many, if not most, fans came dressed in pink, Jun.K’s colour. And although 2PM’s official lightstick emitted white light, fans could buy a special cover that would make the light turn pink. There were also some special goods for the Makuhari Messe concerts on sale, and the LOVE & HATE muffler towels being sold now had the colour pink on them. (The muffler towels sold in the previous legs of the tour sported the colours of the other 2PM members.)
Before the concert started, rules were read by two MCs, one speaking in Japanese while the other in Korean. They reminded people that they might not take pictures or video recordings during the show. They also asked the audience to be considerate to other attendees, such as not lifting their uchiwa (round fans) too high because they might block others’ view. After wishing the audience an enjoyable concert, they left the stage.
The stage was empty for several more minutes, with one giant Pan.K’s head floating on each side of the stage, which was dominated by the colour white. The heads could do more than just silently decorating the stage, though. At the beginning of the concert, they lit up and blinked to the sound of piano keys being struck one by one. A montage that had previously been shown during GENESIS OF 2PM tour was shown on the screens, but the music that accompanied it was a remixed part of LOVE & HATE, with the word ‘hate’ repeated many times. At this time, the four band members had taken their positions on the stage, but Jun.K was nowhere to be seen, although we could hear his voice singing the first lines of NO LOVE.
The middle part of the platform on the stage lifted up like a trapdoor, and Jun.K was standing behind. The sight of him made the audience really excited now. With broad and confident steps, Jun.K walked to the mic stand at the center of the stage, showing off his rich and thick singing voice. Thus he launched the first song, NO LOVE. Makuhari Messe had now turned into a massive pink ocean, with audience moving the lightsticks energetically.
Next song was ALIVE, the song with which Jun.K began planting the image of the Jun.K we now know. We bet every HOTTEST still remembers his trademark long red coat and the crossed heart symbol that he used during the promotion period of this song. For this song, a group of choir singers wearing white capes appeared on the center screen, and Jun.K acted as if he was their conductor. Four dancers wearing white masks accompanied Jun.K, who sang the song in Korean with Japanese translation displayed aesthetically on screen, instead of just a plain subtitle.
The third song was taken from his new album, originally a collaboration with Ai, NO MUSIC NO LIFE. Jun.K climbed the steps to the top of the platform and sang from there. The four dancers followed his steps up the stairs, carrying giant NO LOVE black flags. We really loved it when Jun.K sang the ‘itsudemo bokura no soba ni iru wa music’ – lines like this just showed what strong lungs Jun.K had. The song was closed with very loud firecrackers that still surprised those who had watched the previous concerts of the tour!
Jun.K greeted the audience after the song, saying thank you for coming and that he’s glad to see so many people. Next he performed to playback music the Japanese version of TRUE SWAG – which Jun.K started with ‘Hello’ instead of ‘Annyeong’. As Jun.K walked to the front extension stage, the four dancers hurried to the backstage to change their costume, while a staff threw him a puppy plushie from below. After playing with it for a while, Jun.K throw the plushie to the audience – to be caught by a lucky fan. And of course there was the part when Jun.K wore the wolf mask, brought to him by the dancers who ran quickly to join him, before as swiftly returning to the backstage when their role in the song was over. Jun.K was now alone on the extension stage and the music died down. He fast-rapped some additional lines before getting to the ‘No love, no music’ part.
While Jun.K was up front, staff quickly prepared the main stage, so when he returned to the main stage, on the left side there was already a doctor’s desk with a dancer dressed up as a doctor – complete with a mask and a wig. Audience knew straight away that it’s time for Mr. Doctor! At the start of the song, another dancer appeared, wearing Jun.K’s long red coat and a mask showing Jun.K’s face. He then disappeared to the back of the desk, changing to a doctor’s costume too, and at the same time another dancer wearing the same mask and laboratory coat crawled out from below the desk. Actually with the creepy masks and giant syringes, Mr. Doctor was a stuff of nightmare, but it was arguably one of the most interestingly choreographed songs in this tour.
Jun.K then excused himself and went back to the backstage, giving enough time for the staff to bring a white grand piano to the stage, while a VTR of Jun.K showing his studio was displayed on the screen. When the VTR ended, Jun.K still had not re-appeared. But then fans saw something at the left side of the stage… and screamed. Jun.K was peeking from behind the loudspeakers, grinning. He quickly drew his head back so he’s hidden again, but he stuck his hand out in a V sign. The he peeked again, drawing more screams from the fans.
Band members returned to the stage, and Jun.K now did too, wearing thick-rimmed glasses and white LOVE AND HATE suit. He sat in front of the grand piano then began singing the song he wrote for One Day, No Goodbyes, rearranged to give it a more swing feel. The sound of his piano now dominated the song, which sounded simpler yet in a different way as beautiful as the version that One Day recorded. He then explained how the song was actually a sad song, before began singing Tegami o kaku (Writing a Letter) while still playing the piano, continued with Always that he penned for Baek Ah Yeon. Although we know anyway that Jun.K wrote his songs himself, this part reinforced the image of Jun.K the composer.
During the jazzy With You, he stood up and went to extension stage. His voice when singing ‘and then one day, you, out of the blue, akirameta toki ni you found me baby’ was just so deep and emotional. We just didn’t know how Jun.K could embody ‘jazz’ and ‘swag’ combined! He and his dancers led the audience to clap their hands to the music.
He then teased the audience, because now a lucky fan would be chosen to join him on stage. Fans jumped and lifted up their hands, trying to catch his attention. Fellow 2PM member, Taecyeon, who was watching from the guest box, also tried to catch his attention to get chosen! But it was not Jun.K who did the choosing (Taecyeon, you’re not counted anyway!) – he walked back to the main stage, while two of his dancers went down to the crowd and picked a girl randomly. One of the dancers tripped as he climbed the steps back to the stage with the girl – careful there! Jun.K then sang So Wonderful to the lucky fan, sitting beside her, putting his arm around her, putting his head on her lap, shook his hip in front of her… all the things that made his fans wish they had been the lucky girl – whose face was now really red but beaming happily.
Jun.K asked the girl to stand up, hugged her while the stage flap lifted up to bring them up to the top of the platform. The music stopped, and the 180-cm-tall singer asked the girl her name, then praised her that her hair beautiful. “You are so wonderful,” he brushed her undyed black hair and began singing again. Then he hugged her again as the hydraulic plate descended to bring them out of audience’s sight, and fans could see him give the rest of the fans a smug face (Japanese called it a ‘doyagao’). Loud screams were heard, a mix of jealousy and enjoyment of having watched a fellow fan living their dream!
The next part of the concert saw Jun.K in a red snapback and a black/white costume, performing his latest single LOVE & HATE. Fans joined the tips of their fingers, forming the heart sign, when Jun.K said ‘love’ and they separated their fingers as if breaking the ‘heart’ each time Jun.K chanted ‘hate’. If in Mr. Doctor he sat on the doctor’s chair, now in LOVE & HATE there’s a special armchair with a red telephone on its side. Just One Night was next, again proving the wide range of Jun.K’s musical taste. Too bad after that he had to say that the night was almost over. He said that during his solo tour, he felt a bit lonely and missing his band members. But thanks to fans who came to his concert(s), he did not feel lonely anymore. Anyway, he still had some more songs – including Real Love, during which he sat on the steps, still with his black/white hip-hop styled costume.
He then performed 2PM’s Falling in Love—another song that he composed—alone. He even tackled down the rap part – but of course we know that as well as a superb singer, he was also an able rapper. At first the song was slow, with acoustic guitar. But then the rhythm paced up as Jun.K went to the extension stage again with his dancers, and love-shaped paper ‘aeroplanes’ started to rain from above! The song slowed down again, as Jun.K walked back to the mainstage. Now at the top of the platform there’s a DJ spintable. Time for DJ Jun.K! “Welcome to Jun.K World!” He shouted, before spinning the remixed versions of Jang Wooyoung’s DJ Got Me Goin’ Crazy (which he also penned!) and 2PM’s HOT. As he DJ-ed, his dancers kept pumping up the crowd’s spirit to jump and dance with them. Several times Jun.K told crowd to sing parts of HOT outloud. Confetti rain made it more even like a party!
The main set was done and Jun.K left the stage; before long fans started to shout vehemently asking for encore. They went quiet as another behind-the-scene VTR was shown, and they were ready when Jun.K went back to stage on the hydraulic platform, sporting his black tour shirt and a NO LOVE scarf. Before he could really sing Hanarete itemo, the audience turned into a hair-rising massive choir. Jun.K listened to them, looking very touched, letting them sing for a long time before he joined in. Love was truly in the air!
After Hanarete itemo, he told audience about the surprise that day, which was Taecyeon coming. Taecyeon laughed embarrassedly each time his face was shown on the screen. Jun.K added his embarrassment by making him shout “OLD BOYS!” from the guest box where he sat.
Jun.K then thanked those who had come and given them their ‘ai no enerugi’ (love energy), so now he’s giving them his. Jun.K formed a giant love shape with his arms, spun around several times, then pretended to radiate his love energy to fans. Fans were busy too, pretending to catch Jun.K’s energy! “Everyone, you’ve got my love energy, right!” Jun.K wanted to make sure.
For the last song, Jun.K performed LOVE & HATE once again. Each dancer now wore a different costume from each set they had worn previously in the concert – so we had one dancer wearing the white mask and checkered costume, one dancer wearing Jun.K’s mask and red coat, another wearing the doctor’s mask and coat, and another wearing the hip-hop styled costume. The concert now had really ended, and Jun.K took some time to introduce his band members and dancers one by one, putting his arms around them, asking fans to applause for them also. “There are also staff in places that you can’t see, but please give them applause too.” He said before mentioning the names of some of his staff to thank them.
Jun.K, the dancers, and the band members lined up, held hands, and bowed deeply together. Everyone left the stage except for Jun.K, who then threw his scarf, muffler towel, and some white towels to crowd after wiping his sweat with them. It was the end for Day 1 in Chiba.
Day 3 that we also attended basically followed the same scenario as Day 1 – and most likely the other days including those in other legs of the tour also. But the MCs said that today’s concert was going to be filmed for the live DVD, so everyone must show their best!
In Day 3, before No Goodbyes, Jun.K didn’t peek from behind the loudspeakers. He just extended his arms with hand forming a love sign. And now for this part he wore a bright pink suit. When his dancers were going to pick a girl to go on stage for So Wonderful, he joked while pointing at no-one in particular in the crowd, “Is that a wedding ring? I can’t take you!” Chansung and Wooyoung who were present that day tried to get his attention too to be the chosen one. Wooyoung pretended to be really angry and annoyed when the dancers picked somebody else! Wooyoung and Chansung seemed to be very excited that day – Wooyoung so often danced energetically in the guest box, as if he’s just another fan of Jun.K. He was especially eager during DJ Got Me Goin’ Crazy!
Today Jun.K said something that was a bit difficult to understand at first. He looked around the stage. “Everything is white,” he said, and of course everyone could see that the stage properties were predominantly white. “Band members too (wear) all white. Everyone,” he looked at the crowd, “is also white.” Fans were silent in confusion. “White is angel. Everyone is an angel…” Most probably he was referring to the fans only when he said ‘everyone’. Anyway, it was a sweet thing to say, and caught us rather off guard!
When he had to say that the final concert was going to end, audience let out a protesting sound. “I’m sorry, this is my first tour, I don’t have any more songs.” He apologized.
This time, during Hanarete itemo, fans lifted up the white banner saying ‘WE LOVE JUN.K’ handed out to them before the concert & turned off their lightsticks. Staff said it was a present for Jun.K – we were not sure whether Jun.K knew about this or not. And as fans kept the banner lifted while singing Hanarete itemo,pink lights shone on the audience in the arena section, forming a gigantic ‘JUN K ♥’. Jun.K then took pics with audience and the pink words on them as the background. “It’s pretty,” he said. He asked whether everyone had fixed their make-up and got ready for the pictures! He took pics several times, and you could see some in his social media accounts.
Jun.K then introduced Park Jinyoung (aka JYP – who cheerfully lifted up his Jun.K’s muffler towel, but it was upside down and he didn’t know it!), his producer Super Changgdai–hyung, and the three other 2PM members (Chansung, Wooyoung, Junho) who were present. They were wearing Jun.K tour tees: Wooyoung sporting the black one, Chansung pink, Junho white. Junho had been a bit quiet that day, keeping his face hidden by a Jun.K muffler towel. He had to open his mouth anyway, because Jun.K asked audience to be quiet to let Wooyoung, Chansung, and Junho shout “YOUNG BOYS!” without a mic.
The Daegu-born singer again shared his love energy, but this time fans shouted “Mou ikkai! Mou ikkai! (Once more!)”, asking for more. Jun.K laughed and pretended that he almost ran out of energy, but still he ran across the extension stage to spread his energy to audience anyway. After thanking many people in Japanese, the 26-year old asked permission for fans first before speaking in Korean, thanking his Korean staff. It was very thoughtful of him!
What’s more, at the end, when the special guests were already gone, Jun.K reminded the audience about Junho’s upcoming solo tour in Japan. Junho, who had already left with the other guests, suddenly ran out to the guest box again and gave a giant love sign with his arms to his hyung!
And what’s not to love about this young man, who has worked hard and proved that he excels in the things he chooses to have his hands on – singing, rapping, composing, designing his own concept and stage performance?
It’s time for more heads to turn towards Jun.K and acknowledge one of the most talented people in K-pop.
Love, or hate?
For us it’s clear which we have to pick when it comes to Jun.K:
Jun.K LOVE & HATE setlist
1. NO LOVE
3. NO MUSIC NO LIFE
4. True Swag
5. Mr. Doctor
6. No Goodbyes
7. Tegami o kaku (Writing a Letter)
9. With You
10. So Wonderful
11. LOVE & HATE
12. Just One Night
13. Real Love
14. Falling in Love
15. DJ Got Me Goin’ Crazy
17. Hanarete itemo
18. LOVE & HATE