ENHYPEN members all in black and white suits
Courtesy of BELIFT LAB

ENHYPEN Members Talk Sacrifices, Songwriting, and Favorite Karaoke Songs

“I said this on stage while I was doing the world tour: this is the reason why I became an artist, this is the reason why I became a K-pop star,” Jake tells Teen Vogue.

ENHYPEN is back, fangs bared, with their mini-album Dark Blood. And while this may be the ENHYPEN members's sixth release in less than three years, they’re coming to it a little more worldly. In February, the Gen-Z favorites and Prada darlings wrapped up their first international tour since debuting at the height of the pandemic. Dancer Ni-Ki, who helped choreograph Dark Blood’s lead single “Bite Me,” says meeting fans — many of whom voted to secure his place in the group on reality competition I-LAND — made something within him click. “We met Engenes from all over the world in person and we've realized — and I’ve realized — that they are so precious to us. I think this album will be an album that reflects that gratitude towards our fans.” 

On Dark Blood, that gratitude is channeled through a complex allegory of one boy’s choice to become immortal as a means of protecting someone bound to him by fate, as referenced on “Bite Me.” But while drama may run high in ENHYPEN’s music, it’s not commonplace amongst the septet itself. Teen Vogue caught up with members Heeseung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, Sunoo, Jungwon, and Ni-ki over Zoom, where they were as affable as ever.

Teen Vogue: Hi guys! I’ll start with a question I've been wanting to ask since your last comeback with “Future Perfect (Pass the Mic),” which is: what's your go-to karaoke song?

Jungwon: We love to sing some of the older Korean songs.

Sunghoon: I have a feeling people from abroad won’t be very familiar with them.

Jay: “응급실(Emergency Room)” by izi is one.

Jake: For me, I'll sing a bit of Backstreet Boys, “I Want It That Way.”

Jungwon: Backstreet Boys?

Heeseung: Can you hum it?

Jake: [hums “I Want It That Way”]

Heeseung: Ah!

Jay [imitating Heeseung]: Ah!

Jungwon: One Direction?

Jake: Backstreet Boys. They were before One Direction.

Sunghoon: Jay has one. Rock star Jay!

Jay: I don’t go to karaoke very often. 

Jungwon: Then how about a song that you listen to often? A song that you listen to in the shower and sing along to. 

Jay: Maybe Oasis.

TV: “Wonderwall?”

Jay: Yeah, or “Don’t Look Back in Anger.”

TV: Classic. 

Jake: Yeah, classic.

TV: Sunghoon, why did you just call him “rock star Jay?”

Jake: He’s into a lot of rock music.

TV: Oh right! When Teen Vogue interviewed you in 2020, you said you were listening to ONE OK ROCK. Anyone else?

Ni-Ki: I’ve been listening to the fifth track (“Bills”) from this album on a regular basis. 

Sunoo: I listen to ballads a lot, but I can’t really put a finger on one specific song that I sing a lot. [It would be] something more calm and mellow.


TV: On the track “Sacrifice [Eat Me Up],” the lyrics go “I dedicate to you my life, you can devour me whole.” When I read that I thought about how much all of you had sacrificed to become an idol, and so there is a sort of sacrifice you've made for the fans in that way. Can you talk about the sacrifice of being an idol?

Jake: I believe that there's a lot of ups and downs when you become an idol. And there's a lot of things you have to sacrifice, but there's a lot of things you gain in being an artist, being a K-pop star. So I feel like all the sacrifices that we made through the years have all paid off with our fans’ support and all the love we get whenever we perform and do stuff like that. So it's like… I feel like we all forget about all the sacrifices we made.

TV: In a 2022 interview with Rolling Stone Australia you said, as an artist, “you’re grounded in your own personal life, as well as just showing the fans what they like” and that balancing the two is important but “really hard.” What have you learned about balancing your respect for yourself with respect for your fans?

Jake: It's a pretty hard question. But I feel like balancing your own sort of self and also [your sense of self] as an artist is something that I feel like I'm going to have to work on through the years. But we went on a world tour at the end of last year and I just learned so much as a person, as well as as an artist. I feel like you always have to be true to yourself. And just believe in yourself as well as all your fans. Yeah, I'm still working on it, though. I can't say [I’m there] 100%. But definitely now that we went on our world tour, I think I’ve learned so much more about myself.

TV: What's an example of something you’ve learned?

Jake: I said this on stage while I was doing the world tour: this is the reason why I became an artist, this is the reason why I became a K-pop star. Being up on stage performing in front of all the fans just really helped me realize why I did all that, why I moved to Korea.

Sunghoon: Could you please repeat the question?

Jake: So you know how there’s human Park Sunghoon and ENHYPEN Park Sunghoon? I personally found that there’s a divide between those two sides and it’s a little bit difficult to find a balance between the two up until last year, but how about you?

Sunghoon: Hmm… I don’t know, it’s a bit like I am ENHYPEN Sunghoon on stage but for the content that we produce ourselves [on YouTube or on live streams], where we engage with our fans, our Engenes, in a very friendly way, [that] features a lot of [the] natural self of Park Sunghoon. And in our everyday lives, I tend to do the things that I need to do or I want to do during our days off so I think that's how I strike a balance between the artist Park Sunghoon and human Park Sunghoon.

TV: Jake said earlier that you have to “believe in yourself as well as all your fans.” Is it a little bit like you have to trust them to respect your boundaries, to believe that Engenes will be aware of what you need?

Jake: I feel like just in general, like person-to-person, you sort of give each other respect in certain ways and like to trust each other. So I believe that if I'm giving my respect and my trust to someone else, and that could be our fans, that they're gonna do the same thing for us. I just believe in like… because we have so much trust in our fans, I feel like they have the same for us.

TV: It’s like the golden rule like “treat others as you want to be treated.”

Jake: Yeah.

TV: Why are you laughing?

Jake: I just have a laughing face. I’m always laughing.

TV: Jay was laughing, too. 

Sunghoon: Jjongssaeng! [Jjongssaeng is a nickname for Jay based on his Korean name Park Jong Seong.]

TV: Jungwon, I haven't heard from you yet, you've been so quiet!

Jay: Silent Jungwon.

Sunghoon: Baby cat.


TV: In that same Rolling Stone Australia interview you said “our members aren't very outgoing except for maybe Jay… we try really hard to improve our confidence.” How is that going? Are you feeling confident?

Heeseung: Is Jungwon answering on how our confidence has improved?

Sunghoon: I think it’s about Jungwon’s own confidence.

Jake: Jungwon apparently said that we all have “I” [an “Introverted” Meyers-Briggs/ MBTI personality type] personalities besides Jay, but are we all still introverted?

Jay: I think I might have become “I” lately. 

Jungwon: I think this connects to what we said earlier, but I think [earlier in our careers] we couldn’t actually differentiate between our idol identity and our personal identity. For example, we would be introverted in our daily lives and we would still be introverted on camera. But nowadays I think we have changed into people that are maybe introverted in real life but can be  extroverted on camera. So I think everybody has changed and grown and matured in terms of confidence for sure.

Sunghoon: We’re pretty extroverted even in our daily life. I don't think MBTI really matters.

TV: Oh, really? I feel like I'm very much my MBTI, INFJ.

Sunghoon: Oh really!

Sunoo: That’s a great personality. Good! [Gives thumbs up] 

TV: [Laughs] Oh, thank you!

Sunghoon: I am ISTP.

Jungwon: I am ISTJ.

Jake: And same for me, I am ISTJ.

TV: Sunghoon and Jay, you guys used to be called “black and white” as trainees. I love the idea of that, I think it’s so fun. Have there been any nicknames that any of you have made up for each other since you've debuted or have staff made up any?

Jay: I think we’re still using that nickname. I actually remember the exact story: our dance teacher was saying that [our individual images of] me and Sunghoon were like “black” and “white,” so he still can't understand, like, “Why are you guys so close?”

TV: You’re opposites.

Jay: Yeah.

Sunghoon: [What about] Sunki? How did Sunki come to be?

Ni-Ki: There’s also Wonki.

Jungwon: We’re Wonki [gestures to Ni-Ki]. Our fans call me and Ni-ki “WonKi” and Sunoo and Ni-Ki “SunKi.”

Jungwon: There’s also SunKi day, isn’t there?

Jay: Who came up with it?

Sunoo: Right, we even have a Sunki day which is the 24th of every month. Fans made up our own day.

TV: Heeseung told Teen Vogue in an interview in 2020, “I'd love to write a song for one of our future albums that acts like a pickle that adds flavor to the main dish, [which is] ENHYPEN's music.” So I want to know how songwriting is going for Heeseung but also for all the other members. “Shout Out” [co-written by Jake] was my favorite song of last year.

Jake, Sunghoon: Thank you!

TV: I just love that song so much. How are you guys doing with songwriting?

Heeseung: I didn't remember that I used such a fresh and novel expression back then [laughs] but I am certainly investing a lot of effort. They were only plans at first but I am trying to put them more into practice lately. I also participated in [music] directing on Dark Blood, so in that way our opinions and our insights were kind of more incorporated in this album. We will keep on trying to make sure that our songs will be contained in our next album and we will keep on investing our efforts in those creative attempts. I can't tell Engene to look forward to our future works but I can certainly say that you can expect good things will come.


TV: Going off of that, if you each were an ingredient in the meal that is “Enhypen” what would it be?

Jake: It'll be easier to [pick an ingredient for] the person next to us. I will do Jay. For Jay, because he loves potatoes [he’s the] Potato Man!

Sunghoon: He loves corn.

Jungwon: He likes both of them.

Jake: Why is he potato?

Sunghoon: [In Korean] Fans say he looks like a potato.

Jungwon[In English] He looks like a potato! [All laugh]

Sunghoon: Corn and potato.

Jungwon: Corn Jay.

Jay and Heeseung, at the same time: CJay.

Heeseung: How about me?

Jay: I can’t think of anything.

Jake: You can take into consideration his “image…”

Heeseung: I don’t think there’s a certain food that gives off a similar vibe to me. 

Jake: Ramen.

Sunghoon: Ramen! 

Jungwon: MSG? [All laugh] It adds umami.

Jay: I think ramen, because he always eats ramen. Simple.

Heeseung: For Sunghoon…

Jay: Bingsu?

Heeseung: Ice water [all laugh].

TV: Why?

Sunghoon: Ice water is essential.

Heeseung: He is just cool. The first impression of him as a figure skater was very impressive for me. I know it's not an ingredient but…

TV: That’s ok, we need a drink with the food.

Sunghoon: For Ni-Ki… A live fish. Because he's really good at dancing, he dances like… he flaps like a live fish [Jay and Jake flap around to imitate Ni-ki’s lithe dancing]. You know what I’m saying? Sunki, let’s go.

Ni-Ki: For Sunoo, I’d pick cheese, like the cheese inside a burger. Everything tastes better with cheese. 

Sunghoon: Sunoo’s cheeks can stretch like mozzarella cheese.

Jungwon: Cheeeeese.

Heeseung: [Really hitting the hard “r”s] Cheeseburger.

Jay: Jungwon, last but not least.

Jungwon: I still have to go for Jake!

Sunoo: I would choose lamb for Jungwon. His last name is Yang [“Yang” means sheep in Korean] and lamb is very tasty.

Jungwon: I don’t think I’ve ever had it.

Sunghoon: You chose it because of his last name?

Sunoo: [And because] it gives off a healthy feel.

Jay: Sure, why not.

Jungwon: For Jake…am I choosing an ingredient?

Sunghoon: Yes, ingredient.

Jake: It can be food.

Jay: Anything really, anything that you can eat.

Jungwon: [In English] Vegetable. 

Jake[Laughs] Your pronunciation was adorable.

Jungwon: Any vegetable that’s good for your health. Kohlrabi! It’s a purplish vegetable. I recently saw on Youtube that it’s good for your health, so it just came to mind.

Sunghoon: How about a carrot?

Jungwon: [Wrinkles nose] No thank you, I’m not the biggest fan of carrots.