GQ: How do you feel on days you have an interview?
Krystal: I don’t feel anything in particular. (laughs) But yeah, I do think I’m a little afraid of interviews.
GQ: You’re scared?
Krystal: I’m sure you’ll see when we start talking but I tend to be honest, so I find myself having to ‘stop’ myself. I think I tend to reveal a lot about myself once I start talking.
GQ: Do you have a lot of secrets?
Krystal: I wouldn’t say ‘secrets’, just things I’d rather not say. Like things I’d rather not tell my fans, or just things I’d rather keep private. I think everybody has those things. I tend to stay along by myself in my room. But I have a job where I have to always be out and always have people looking at me. So I like having something to keep to myself. I’ve filled my room with things that I love. Things that only I know. (laughs)
GQ: I have this preconception that because you have such distinct tastes and preferences, you really like sharing them. But what is something that you really want to keep to yourself?
Krystal: I don’t want to tell you. (laughs) It’s just that, really. (laughs)
GQ: There are times you want to share, and times you want to just enjoy for yourself.
Krystal: Exactly. There are things that heal me, and I’ve kept them hidden in my room.
GQ: If you were to describe that room, I feel like it’d make it seem more mysterious.
Krystal: I like opening my windows often, especially at night when the cold breeze comes in. That cold air gets mixed with the warmth of the room, and my body is warm but the air is refreshing. I always like letting air in no matter the season. But there are times when I just close the curtains and keep it dark in my room even during the day. I like calling them devil’s curtains. (laughs) And I turn on a very soft light. Then you can’t tell if it’s 2 in the afternoon or 10 o’clock in the night. My mom nags a lot saying I’m wasting electricity during the day. (laughs)
GQ: Between night and day, you prefer night?
Krystal: Yeah. I like the time after nighttime too, the dawn. I tend to sleep around 2 AM, but there are times I stay up until 4 or 5. And then I sleep a lot.
GQ: Are there times you feel really brave?
Krystal: When I’m in front of the cameras. Whether I’m on stage, or I’m acting, or at a photoshoot, I feel the most focused strength when I’m in front of the cameras. It’s a time when I come out the most.
GQ: Is it because a camera is not a human being?
Krystal: You’re right. You can see it that way. It creates a barrier between me and the people. It’s not direct contact, so I’m able to get more confidence.
GQ: That’s a problem with the generation of smart phones. People aren’t used to face-to-face contact so they don’t know what to do around another person. It’s not that they’re rude, just they don’t know how to say hello.
Krystal: I can’t do stuff like that either. It’s been 8 years since my debut, so it kind of feels like I’ve been working at a company? So I’m slowly learning things like how to act around other people or how to act when I’m meeting someone for the first time. I used to have a lot of inhibitions as a child, so people around me would tell me, “Laugh a bit.” “Talk. Why are you so still?” That caused a lot of stress for me. I’m just standing there, why are they pushing me so much? But as I got older (laughs), I understand it more. When I was young and someone was staring at me, all I thought was, “Why are they staring at me?” And that continued as I debuted. I couldn’t get used to it. They were staring at me because they recognized who I was, but I wasn’t used to it, so I would always wonder why they kept staring. I don’t think I’m that different now, to be honest. I am very shy still, and I still have a lot of inhibitions.
GQ: You didn’t get used to people looking at you because you were so pretty?
Krystal: No, I’m totally not used to that.
GQ: Do you like hearing compliments that you’re pretty?
Krystal: I do. (laughs) I’ll never get tired of compliments. (laughs)
GQ: Don’t you get annoyed if a compliment isn’t true?
Krystal: Ah, I think I get what you’re saying. There are compliments that I have to verify for myself. Like whether I really did a good job, or if I really looked good. But I do like hearing compliments. Ah, I don’t know. (laughs)
GQ: You’re 23, right? What differences did you feel at 21, 22, 23?
Krystal: Nothing in particular.
GQ: How was it turning 20?
Krystal: I thought I’d be a teenager all my life. (laughs) I didn’t recognize a huge change then, but how people would give me alcohol so nonchalantly changed.
GQ: Did you wait for that day to come?
Krystal: No. (laughs) I really can’t drink alcohol. My face becomes so red. I tend to just have sips of wine when I’m eating with family. I can’t go to parties and drink all that. But I have been drunk before.
GQ: I hope you’re not the type that falls asleep or becomes really immature when you’re drunk.
Krystal: Nope. (laughs) I don’t like being drunk, so I don’t drink. People say I tend to lean on people and start having a lot of aegyo. (laughs) But I don’t like that. I think it’s weird to lean on and do that to somebody I don’t even know.
GQ: You don’t like leaning on somebody?
Krystal: I tend to avoid it unless I’m really close with someone.
GQ: Do you like it when someone else leans on you?
Krystal: I like that. I like being there for other people. (laughs)
GQ: What if you were dating?
Krystal: Then there’d be a give and take of some kind. When I’m with my friends, I tend to be the one to just go, “I’ll buy.”
GQ: Yeah you seem like the type. You have a very independent image to you.
Krystal: I like hearing that. If there is a part of me that is like that, I think I get it from my mother. When she was my age, she was doing everything independently. And she still to this day does things very well by herself. Whether it’s my personality or the way that I talk, I take after my mom in many ways. We both like being alone. I like that I have an image of independence. It’s not like I tried to make one, it’s just that’s how I am.
GQ: Krystal, are you smart?
Krystal: I think I’m smart in some aspects (laughs). How can I say this with my own mouth? (laughs) I think more than smart, I’m clear-cut. This is kind of related to my independent image, but if I like something, I like it and if I don’t, I don’t. I make the line clear.
GQ: When do you feel like a fool?
Krystal: Whenever I see someone I find precious or someone I like – whether it’s a man or a family member – feeling weak. Something about that makes me feel like a fool. I just completely let myself go and try to take all their pain, and I feel like such a fool. I’m like that for people I care about.
GQ: What do you think about people saying you’re cold?
Krystal: I don’t know. There has to be a reason why people keep saying that. I don’t know if I can even say I’m sick of it (laughs), but honestly, I do get sick of it sometimes. But I shouldn’t say that, right? (laughs) To be honest, I didn’t know myself very well. When you’re young, you don’t know what you’re like, whether you’re cold or you’re warm. A part of me has become more timid just because I’ve heard that about me so much. I created more walls, and it’s made me not laugh to my heart’s content anymore.
GQ: Then does the stage become a place you can wear a mask and hide?
Krystal: Yeah. Because when I’m on stage, I’m jjang. Because I have to be. (laughs) But people don’t just say I’m cold, they say that I have a bad personality. (laughs) That actually makes me feel more at ease in some ways. It’s not that I agree that I have a bad personality. I just think if you’re not super close with me, you just see a part of my image. There are times when I am cold, times I am not. I just feel the way I feel. But every person has both good and evil in them, right? There’s no reason for me to hide that. I just try to be myself. There are times when that image is hard, and times I hate it, but I just try to accept it.
GQ: You don’t have to just accept everything. You should ignore things if they need to be ignored. It’s important that you’re able to know who you truly are. Others will just see what they want to see.
Krystal: You’re right. I think that’s true.
GQ: I’m trying to see you as the ‘independent’ image now. (laughs)
Krystal: Just see me the way that I am. I’d like that. But it’s hard.
GQ: There’s also this part of your image: a girl girls like.
Krystal: Yeah. (laughs) I know.
GQ: Why do you think men don’t like you as much?
Krystal: I don’t feel one way or another about that. (laughs) I like that I have a lot of female fans. I think it’s harder for girls to support and back other girls. I know myself, so I know that I don’t have a very feminine, cute face. I have a more androgynous face. I’m sure there are men who don’t like that about me. But that’s just personal taste, it’s not something I need to work to fix. I haven’t ever worried about that part of my image. Honestly, I like being called ‘pretty’, but I also like being called ‘cool’. In some ways, I like it more. I think it’s harder for girls to be called ‘cool’. Girls like being called cool.
GQ: That’s how respected women are, right? They’re cool.
Krystal: Yeah, that’s right. (laughs)
GQ: You’re also a popular name amongst LGBT communities. There’s also this image that you’re the most popular ‘unnie’ amongst high school girls.
Krystal: I know. There’s a lot of them on the internet. (laughs) I like that too. I’m sure there’s a very feminine side to me too, it’s just that I don’t try to act a specific way to appeal to people. I’m just always myself. I find it fun and I am always thankful that there are people who love different aspects of me. Everything’s OK to me! (laughs)
GQ: I suddenly thought about ‘Ahn Soojung’ from ‘High Kick!’ who overused ‘buing buing’.
Krystal: That’s right. For that role, I played a character who was tough and screamed at oppas, but she used aegyo whenever she needed something. When I first heard about that, I asked if I really needed to do all that. The producer told me I needed to think up a hand movement for the ‘buing buing’ as well. I tried it different ways, and what you saw is what stuck. (laughs) It became popular, so I don’t think it was that bad.
GQ: Have you done it after that?
Krystal: Never. I don’t even do it if someone asks me to.
GQ: There’s also this image that you know a lot.
Krystal: Do I? I feel like I’m getting smarter whenever anything like my tastes get more definite. ‘Smart’ is kind of a funny word though. Don’t you have to study a lot to be smart? (laughs)
GQ: This isn’t a school.
Krystal: Yeah, in the field that I am in, I think you can judge someone based on their tastes and sensibilities. But do I really seem like I know a lot and am smart?
GQ: It could be that I just expect you to be. I always have different expectations depending on who I interview. I expect them to be cooler than they I think they are.
Krystal: Is that a compliment? (laughs)
GQ: You’re the one hearing it. You judge for yourself.
Krystal: (laughs) What do I even say to that? I’ve never thought, ‘I like this thing, so I’m different.’ And I don’t go out of my way to seem different. I just follow the things that I like. I just follow my heart. So I’m always extra careful for when I talk about things that I like. I don’t want people to think I’m bragging.
GQ: I think that hesitation is inevitable. You’re in a position where a lot of people are curious and ask you questions and suspicious of you. Everyone has their own individual opinion of you. And misunderstandings are just misunderstandings.
Krystal: But sometimes I feel like misunderstandings define me in a way. (laughs)
GQ: Being famous isn’t anything new, so what are you going to do about it?
Krystal: I really think a lot about how important those who really know me, those who I’m really close to are. When I talked to them about these problems, they say, “Soojung, I know you very well. So I can’t look at you the way others do. I don’t know how to help you.” So I have to just ignore those misunderstandings. I have to just think past them. I think about that. It bothers me, yes, but I just hypnotize myself. “Forget about it, let it go.” I want to become cold-hearted.
GQ: To cold-hearted Krystal, what is f(x) as a team like?
Krystal: We have a unique color. I have a lot of pride in that. I like to believe we’ve always done something new. And that’s because each one of us is so different. The synergy that comes when everything from our different looks to personality to the country we’re from to our voices come together is what makes up f(x).
GQ: You can’t help but feel pride in that. But doesn’t it get lonely? f(x) is always different but always…
GQ: f(x) has always shown a brand new, cool side, and there needs to be other teams that are trying to show newer, cooler sides for the scene to be popping. But there isn’t a lot of movement on that side.
Krystal: You’re right. It does get lonely. f(x)’s genre is “f(x)”. It’s unique and refreshing, but without overly trying to be. But it’s not all that being over here by ourselves. We don’t have to worry about others.
GQ: There are a lot of people who regret not going to f(x) concerts this year.
Krystal: Ah, you didn’t go. Too bad, it was so much fun. (laughs) The two hours went by so fast. I honestly didn’t know performing could be that much fun. I have promoted for so many years, but it actually isn’t that long because we promote maybe once a year. We have to wait an entire day to go on broadcast shows to perform for 3 minutes, and it’s not like that entire time is fun and enjoyment. But the concert, all of it, the connection with the fans…
GQ: I can tell by your face. What it feels like.
Krystal: I become so high-spirited, and it feels tingly. It’s no joke. I love it so much. To be honest, I didn’t particularly dream about a concert. I thought concerts were only done by people who had a huge number of fans, so I didn’t even think about it. Could I even do something like that? But as I was preparing for it, I realized. This is why people do concerts! Singing and dancing is so exciting, and I really felt like I let a part of me go on that stage. If I was to look through the past, I’d pick our debut stage, our first performance of “4 Walls”, and the concert as my top three moments. Out of all the title tracks we’ve released so far, I like “4 Walls” the best.
GQ: I once read something about what you had said about the past and the future. What does the ‘past’ mean to you?
Krystal: Hmm.. I didn’t exist in the ‘past’. Like, I was born in 1994, so I don’t even know the 90s all that well. I was so young. I’m so curious as to what it would be like if I had lived during that time at my age now. I’m curious about eras even before that too. When I look at stuff that existed before I was even born, I think they’re so much more beautiful than the things today. So I keep exploring them. I want to see those eras, listen to those eras. The future will eventually come. I’m going to eventually experience them, so I’m not curious. (laughs) But the past is already passed. I can’t go back in time, so I’m so curious. Back to a time where so many of my favorite things still existed.
GQ: We have to talk about one last thing about your image now. That is your image as an ‘artist’. That word can mean different things depending on how you use it, but it’s also a very simple word.
Krystal: It’s a very important word to me. Whether it’s song or dance, or your expression of something, or the way you take pictures or the way pictures are taken of you. When we were taking photos for this shoot, they told me it’d look nice if I had some kind of expression in my eyes. And I then became the person who had to translate that through the photos. I think that’s what all artists have to do. I do think of myself as an artist. I am artist still in the process of becoming an artist. I don’t think it’s a title anyone can have, so I think about it a lot. I worry about it a lot. There are so many fakes.
GQ: There are fakes who don’t know they’re fakes.
Krystal: Yeah. In order to not become fake, I have to just keep doing things that are me.
GQ: It’s not knowing what more you can do…
Krystal: Exactly, it’s more important knowing what more you shouldn’t do.
GQ: If you’re an artist in your own right, what others say…
Krystal: Doesn’t matter.
GQ: You’re not scared, right?
Krystal: I have to do well. (laughs)
GQ: You said earlier that you were scared a bit for interviews. You have the look of a pioneer now.
Krystal: I don’t know if it’s because I have a lot of photos where everyone is smiling except me, but I think about just becoming a pioneer for a new brand of image. One that involves not blending in anywhere and just standing independent. I have to think more about it. I’m 23 now. There’s a lot I want to think about. There’s going to be a lot I want to show.
GQ: It’s a time you see the past as more beautiful, and it’s a time is wild and complicated. Soojung, please don’t get tired from it.
Krystal: Yes! I won’t. (laughs)