K-Pop Kings Monsta X On Their Global Appeal, Famous Abs & Beauty Secrets: Interview
With the current media frenzy around BTS, it would be easy to think that they are the only Korean boy band making waves internationally. While their unprecedented success is unlikely to be replicated any time soon, there’s still a growing number of K-Pop acts selling out concerts and building sizable fanbases in the US. Monsta X, who are about to embark on their second world tour, are one of the biggest.
Beginning in July, the seven-member group will play a string of shows across America. (Buy tickets here). Their fiercely loyal fans, known as Monbebe, will be treated to the group’s aggressive choreography and electro-charged, hip-hop hits like “Beautiful” and the smoldering “Jealousy.”
We caught up with the boys ahead of the tour to talk about their growing international profile, as well as their best Korean beauty tips, favorite K-Pop songs, and the secret to their famous abs.
You’re about to tour America for the second time. What do you think it is about Monsta X that appeals so much to American fans compared to other idol groups?
Shownu: Our energy on all the different stages and communication with our fans.
Wonho: I respect all the other idol groups, however, to speak more about us to our fans, Monsta X, we are cooler.
Minhyuk: The strength inside of us and outside on stages.
Kihyun: Our energy!
Hyungwon: I think we have such strong performances on stage. Also the communication with our fans.
Jooheon: Our energy and performance on stages.
I.M: The energy, the main energy is different.
You previously admitted that you’re not as popular in Korea as you would like to be, which is surprising because you’re one of the most popular K-Pop groups outside of Korea. Do you feel pressure to increase your popularity at home?
Shownu: First of all, I want to thank the fans outside of Korea for all their support, and naturally we would like to increase our popularity if possible. However, we aren’t focused on increasing our popularity specifically in Korea, as all fans are equally appreciated anywhere they are.
Wonho: Rather than feeling pressured, I think popularity naturally come along once we keep trying to satisfy our fans.
Minhyuk: I think it’s so hard to establish standards for popularity.
Kihyun: We don’t feel pressured at all. I think the popularity will come naturally if we try harder to show better performances.
Hyungwon: I don’t really care where we are popular, but would rather focus on being loved anywhere.
Jooheon: I don’t feel pressured, because we don’t focus on that. We just try harder to repay our fans back for their love by showing great music.
I.M: We might be successful internationally, but I don’t feel content yet. Getting more popular in Korea is not a big pressure either. I believe if we keep hustling, the popularity will follow naturally.
Are you planning to do any collaborations with Western artists? American R&B artist R.LUM.R recently said on Twitter that he’d like to work with Kihyun.
Shownu: It would be really nice for Kihyun, or our members who write songs, to collaborate with great Western artists.
Wonho: If possible, I would love to work with The Chainsmokers.
Minhyuk: Anytime! Rookie or established artist, I would love to collaborate with anyone.
Kihyun: I would really love to make it happen.
Hyungwon: I like Charlie Puth.
Jooheon: We don’t have any plans for a collaboration at the moment, but we would love to. It would be nice if Monsta X could collaborate with someone we admire.
I.M: I’m working a bit with ELHAE right now.
Speaking of collaborations, what about #Gun from No Mercy [Korean reality show]? A lot of fans still remember him from the show and have been asking if Monsta X or Jooheon could work with him again?
Shownu: He’s doing well and still working on his music.
Wonho: Yes, maybe someday.
Minhyuk: I am always waiting for his new releases.
Kihyun: I am still in touch with him and we hang out!
Hyungwon: #Gun has such a unique style.
Jooheon: I tried to work with him a few times, but we couldn’t as we didn’t have much time.
I.M: I’m not really close with him.
Between touring the world and constantly releasing new music, your schedules must be really busy. How do you manage to look after yourselves physically and mentally with such a heavy workload?
Shownu: I workout and take vitamins as often as I can.
Wonho: Working out, our members, and Monbebe give me mental strength.
Minhyuk: I think this is the hardest part to manage. I still don’t know how to look after myself and am always trying to get better at it.
Kihyun: I only think about our fans.
Hyungwon: I go for a walk when I have time, and sleep whenever I can.
Jooheon: I workout and also I get so much energy from our members’ jokes.
I.M: I try to keep inspiring myself that I am a strong person inside.
On that topic, we had a lot of questions from Monbebe asking for advice on how they can deal with things like anxiety and depression. Is there anything you would like to tell them?
Shownu: As we go through hard times, we think about our families and Monbebe. I hope Monbebe also overcome sadness by thinking about their precious ones.
Wonho: It is really tough, but I overcome by thinking about what I want to achieve and the feeling of being loved.
Minhyuk: Let’s find some ways to overcome those things together. I actually fear depression the most.
Kihyun: I put on music that I like to clear my head before I go to sleep.
Hyungwon: I let myself reach the bottom, and then I bounce back.
Jooheon: You continuously need to give yourself confidence. Everyone can be confident. Always try to challenge yourselves and be confident. Your loved ones are also important.
I.M: Life cannot be always sunny. It sometimes rains, snows, and more. That’s why life is beautiful.
What K-pop songs are you enjoying lately? We heard that PENTAGON’s “Shine” is popular among idols at the moment.
Shownu: Yes, I listen to PENTAGON’s “Shine” a lot, as well as our songs and Crush’s.
Wonho: “Honestly” by Eric Nam.
Minhyuk: “Die Alone” by HYUKOH.
Kihyun: I like “Shine” too!
Hyungwon: I like “Jealousy” by Monsta X.
Jooheon: I liked “Shine” a lot, and I also listen to lots of different K-Pop songs! It’s hard to choose just one.
I.M: “Bittersweet” by Crush and my brother E’dawn.
Monsta X are known for having great bodies, especially Shownu and Wonho. What kind of diet and exercise do you do to stay in such good shape?
Shownu: I workout sometimes with Wonho.
Wonho: The diet is the hardest part. I take vitamins, health supplements, and eat red ginseng and never stop working out.
Kihyun: I only workout my abs when I have time.
Hyungwon: It seems like they work out whenever they have time.
Korean beauty products and skincare are becoming really popular in America now, and we know that Shownu worked on a beauty show before [Lipstick Prince]. Do you have any Korean beauty tips or secrets that you can share with American fans?
Shownu: I think it’s better to wash your hair before going to bed, and make sure to put on toner and lotion after washing your face.
Wonho: I need to learn it.
Minhyuk: 3 toner method is good: putting toner only for 3 times.
Kihyun: There are lots of Korean beauty Youtubers! You should look up!
Hyungwon: I don’t know much about beauty products. I think it’s so hard as there are so many different products.
I.M: In the morning wash your face only with water without using any products.
Out of everything you’ve achieved as a group since debuting, what is Monsta X the most proud of so far?
Shownu: Our tour in Japan, tour in overseas countries etc. I feel proud about every moment as we try new different things.
Wonho: Love from Monbebe, friendship between our members.
Minhyuk: I am proud about our debut itself.
Kihyun: Being an artist supported by Monbebe.
Hyungwon: Every moment when I’m on stages with our members.
Jooheon: I’m proud of every moment that we went through, but I was probably the most proud of us when we won the award at the music broadcast.
I.M: Meeting our fans MONBEBE!