Entire magazine spread of WINNER on Instyle here *

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We met with WINNER. After the warm sunshine left and when a cool breeze started blowing, WINNER arrived at the studio. “Hello.” With energetic voices and bows, Mino and Seungyoon led the other members into the set. Then, they scattered for a break as some of them filled their bellies with packed meals while others joked with staff members. Truthfully, before we met with WINNER, we had unconsciously bred preconceived notions about them. This was because they were the second boy group after BIGBANG under one of the largest agencies, YG Entertainment, rapper Song Mino left such a strong impression on “Show Me The Money”, Kang Seungyoon and Lee Seunghoon became survival program heroes when they beat incredible competition rates, all of these factors made us feel that they were strict. Above everything, they have such freewheeling and unique artistic expression, different from the cookie cutter-like common idol groups.

However, these preconceived notions disappeared within 5 minutes after we started talking. Haughtiness and coldness that is usually found in popular idol groups and good looking idol groups couldn’t be found within WINNER. Rather, they approached us first and joked with us and made fun conversations with light topics. Coincidentally, the day of the photoshoot was the youngest member, Taehyun’s birthday. Before the start of the photoshoot, the other members pretended to have an interview when they were actually having an emergency meeting to prepare for a surprise party, deceiving Taehyun. Watching the members keeping Taehyun in check while exchanging ideas for the surprise party reminded us of their high spirited selves on “Half Moon Friends”. But they were not always mischievous. When talking about music, all five of them were serious and their hot passion and greed for their upcoming album were apparent. Meeting each and every member made us realize how unnecessary preconceived notions are and we were relieved about how quickly the preconceived notions were broken. This helped in getting close to their true selves and in conveying them truthfully…

The most impressionable point during the interview was how the members countlessly mentioned the word, “winner”. The dictionary definition of “winner” is “An individual who achieves great success in a difficult world or an individual who seizes dignified victory after proper process and competition!” The five men we met today attained their title of “WINNER” with dignity through their passion and youth. They are not WINNERs just by name. While numerous eyes watched them, they experienced tear-inducing competition against their friends and they have reached this high with difficulty after endless survivals. And in this moment, with their great strengths, they now have the tremendous responsibility of having to protect their name. They laugh while joking around like young children but they already know that it is more difficult to stay at the peak than climbing up to this position. So this is another beginning. “He who wears the crown must bear its weight.”

Q. Today is Mr. Taehyun’s birthday. I’m sorry to have the photoshoot on a day like this.

Taehyun: It’s ok. I didn’t have anything to do anyways. (Laughs) I rarely have parties or do special things because it’s my birthday. It was like this last year as well and all the members do the same. Thank you for holding a surprise party for me with my hyungs.

Q. You’re currently resting but you seem busy. How do you all spend your time?

Taehyun: When we rest, I usually play my guitar. Honestly, I don’t have anything to do other than make music.
Mino: I rarely have days that doesn’t have any schedules but when I do rest, I sleep in and then get myself together with coffee. And then I go to the company to work on music.
Seungyoon: It’s the same for me. It’s my day-to-day life to go to the company and work on music.
Hoon: Also, whether we’re asleep or awake, sitting or standing, we think about working on music and our fans. (Laughs) I also go to the company. I work on music as well but as a YG employee, I take part in creating ideas and contents for WINNER’s direction and performances.

Q. Creating ideas and contents for WINNER’s direction… Seeing your tattoo that holds the meaning of WINNER and your fans, Seunghoon’s love for fans is quite special, just as I have heard.

Hoon: As an idol group member who lives off of love from fans, I think it is something that is greatly natural. My tattoo contains the “W” from WINNER and the “Inner Circle”, the name of our fanclub. And because we are not often on TV broadcasts, I think about how we can show our various sides to our fans. This is just my personal greed.

Q. We can’t not talk about “Half Moon Friends”. How did it feel to take care of children?

Taehyun: It was so tiring when we were taking care of them but watching the show on TV makes me miss them.
Seungyoon: That’s right. Watching them on broadcasts makes me miss them more and it’s really fun to see scenes and situations that we didn’t know during the time of the filming.

Q. Who is the best at taking care of children? Which member was most like a dad?

Hoon: Jinwoo-hyung? One glance from hyung is enough. As expected from a handsome person!
(But all the other members pointed out Seunghoon!)
Jinwoo: Seunghoon is the best at taking care of kids. He plays with them well as if he’s their real dad and above everything, I think he communicates with them well.

Q. Since you took care of children for 2 weeks, there must be a child rearing tip you found for yourself.

Jinwoo: You need to have the hearts of the children. If you do, they do everything you ask them to do. Because you need to be able to control them. Once this happens, you will feel that the children have deeply fallen for you.
Mino: Quickly grabbing the attention of children? You can raise your voice slightly or with some kind of action, make the children focus on something else and then take care of the situation during that time.

Q. Is there a member you have good chemistry with when exchanging music?

Mino: I think I am most comfortable when I exchange music with Seungyoon. Because we each have different musical taste, we can look at each other’s works objectively.

Q. The concept of the photoshoot is “faces”, which member has facial parts that you are most envious of?

Jinwoo: Seunghoon’s clean and chic eyes.
Mino: Seungyoon’s sexy bottom lip!
Hoon: Jinwoo-hyung’s sideburns that Wolverine would cry to have.
Seungyoon: Taehyun’s sleep V-lined chin!
Taehyun: Mino-hyung’s dark skin? (Laughs)

Q. Is there a difference between what WINNER is and the WINNER that is shown to the public?

Mino: All of us had hard times preparing to become singers and we all debuted through a survival program. However, the public only remembers our current situation. Above it all, the fact that we are singers under “YG” causes the most influence. We still have such a long way to go but because our company seniors are so greatly talented, people rate us higher than our actual skills.

Q. Wouldn’t that mean that the public’s expectations of WINNER are that much high?

Jinwoo: That’s right. However, satisfying those expectations may lead to burden so we are doing our best to be cool about it. Freedom is our strength and our weakness so we try to make music without letting it affect us as much as possible.

Q. When is WINNER’s next album being released?

Seungyoon: Actually, there are so many songs that are completed already. However, due to our greed of wanting to make good songs constantly, all of us are absorbed in our respective work. It feels very difficult to produce a result that satisfies the musical preferences of each member, WINNER’s color, our fans’ anticipation, among other factors. We are also very curious about which songs will be included in the album.

Q. We don’t know what it will be like but if you were to share a spoiler?

Hoon: Every time we hold a concert, we talk amongst ourselves how we want exciting music that we can enjoy with our fans… But I guess we don’t know, this might change if a good song that has a slow tempo gets released. We really don’t know either. (Laughs)

Translations by: @chrissy96_