2014 was a special year for WINNER. Their first album that they dreamed of during their numerous trainee days and fierce competitions was released. Just like their concept in “2014 S/S”, their songs were pleasant and sweet as were their promotions. Unprecedented as rookies, they shook various music charts violently. They also lined up the music charts from #1 to #10 with all of their songs. WINNER’s music flowed out in all the streets. You could say they became the trend at the same time they appeared. On a cold day in November, we were able to meet them who were running around busily despite ending their formal promotions. It would seem like they would want to rest their lungs but WINNER said they wanted to continue running.
– You did a pictorial with a party concept today. Have you ever enjoyed an end of the year party like this before?
Seungyoon: Truthfully, we don’t hold too much meaning to end of the year parties. Two years ago when we were trainees, we did “Secret Santa” with the iKON members (the 11 of us). We spent the end of the year really well that time.
Hoon: I still remember it. We were to purchase any present with a budget of ₩30,000 (around $30). Then we gave and received presents after picking names out of a hat. Jinwoo-hyung said that he was buying a hat as a present so I went with him but it really wasn’t pretty. I thought to myself, “It’s so ugly. I feel bad for the person receiving it.” But in the end, I received that hat. I still have it. (Laughs)
– Then what about birthday parties?
Seungyoon: For birthdays, each of the members collect money and and buy presents that that member would want to receive. The members who don’t have the birthday make a separate chatroom and I collect money there. I buy the present with that money.
Mino: Recently, we spent Jinwoo-hyung’s birthday extravagantly. We enjoyed the birthday mood all week long.
Jinwoo: Every time it was my birthday, something unforgettable always happened. Last year, we won for the first time in WIN. This year, it overlapped with the Japanese concert tour so we celebrated with many fans.
– You spent the last half of 2014 busily. One thing that was unexpected was that many expected you to debut with a dance or hip hop genre but you came out with lyrical music so many were surprised.
Taehyun: Everyone says that. We only just finished our promotions for our first album. We still have a lot of time left to be onstage. We will be able to show a variety of genres. We are always working on music and we are making songs with strong beats. Mino-hyung is making traditional hip hop songs. The choice is up to CEO Yang Hyunsuk.
– “Empty” is still going strong on music charts. Does WINNER feel emptiness?
Hoon: After finishing schedules and going home in the car, I feel the most emptiness. Looking out the window while being tired and having no thoughts, I feel really empty.
Mino: There are times when we are really busy then suddenly we have days with no schedules. I feel really thoughtless on those days. After being thoughtless for awhile, I end up going to the company and working on music.
– Mix and Match has finished and iKON will debut soon. Do you feel nervous about this?
Taehyun: Since they are very skilled, we are really nervous. While doing the program, WIN, we were always nervous. We have to work harder.
Hoon: It stimulates us. I feel that the competition is not over even though <WIN> ended. Every time I watched Mix and Match, I thought that they are like a mirror that help us see our reflection. If you look at it one way, we were able to have the skills we have now because of them.
– In an interview, Yang Hyunsuk CEO said he feels the most affection for WINNER. Have you ever felt Yang Hyunsuk’s love for you?
Hoon: Really? I didn’t know. He’s the type of person to not show anything.
Seungyoon: I think acting rough towards us is his way of expressing love. He says a lot of bitter words to us. When we hear that he compliments us when we’re not there, we’re happy.
– Everyone has an important moment in their life, what was it for WINNER?
Hoon: I think for us, it was when we took the audition. People choose their life’s path through taking exams. For us, auditions are that important. It’s probably the same for all the members here.
Mino: I think we have a different path compared to those who study. Others study for years, we prepared more vigorously for auditions. For us, that moment was when we did WIN.
– Do you any desire to have nice bodies like other idol groups?
Mino: The members all like working out. Also, we have lots of interest in fashion. When wearing clothes, the figure is important so for style, we doing basic work outs.
Taehyun: Our company leaves body care up to the individual. They don’t interfere at all. If we gain weight, we appear on TV as is. The company doesn’t give us pressure, but that makes us more tense. It’s the end of the year so there are many volunteer activities. Recently, you were a part of a photoshoot to help adopt infants but is there a volunteer activity that you really want to do?
Hoon: We donate frequently to UNICEF. Sean-sunbaenim works hard in that area. We received a lot of inspiration from him. There hasn’t been a time when we’ve directly participated in a volunteer activity. If we have time, I want to participate in a volunteer activity directly.
– Early 20’s, you are all at the age of hot young bloodedness. You must have questions regarding dating, who is the dating coach among the members?
Hoon: Of course it’s Taehyun.
Taehyun: I have a lot of interest in fragrances and light. The music that females like matches my interest as well. I think that’s why the members picked me as the dating coach.
– Do you dream of any romantic dates?
Mino: I want to go on a trip to the Maldives. I want to swim in the sea that’s so clear that you’re able to see the ground and I want to experience that view with the person I love.
Taehyun: A spontaneous trip, going to the airport unexpectedly, getting a ticket to a country you can go to right away, and leaving. Or, a money-less trip. I want to try things like that.
Hoon: I want to go skiing in Sapporo. Because the snow is natural, the quality of the snow is really soft. The snowy view is really pretty, and I really liked it when we went there as a group.
Jinwoo: I just want to love. (Laughs)
– What kind of WINNER will we see in 2015?
Seungyoon: In 2015, we want to be a group that appeals to not only fans but a wider audience. Also, we want to win an award. If that award is a daesang, we will be rendered speechless. Anyhow, we want to be a group with good results that can receive that kind of award.
Hoon: To do that, we have to become an unforgettable group. We plan on releasing an album frequently. To do that, we’re working hard on producing songs. YG has many incredible artists. We plan on doing a variety of collaborations with those artists.
– What is WINNER’s interpretation of a “real WINNER”?
ALL: A person who lives a happy life. It’s not important to have lots of money or no money in life. WINNERs are those who do what they want to do and are happy in the moment. We are like that. We think we are living as winners because a group called “WINNER” exists now.
Translations by: chrissy96_, timthemolecule