Superstar Max Ventures into Variety

By Lilla Sheil

KBS variety program “Cool Kidz” is a fascinating program, with it straddling many arenas. This variety program on public broadcast networks has famous celebrities appearing behind Kang Ho Dong and as its name suggests, its aim is “neighborhood-ization”. While going around this neighborhood and that neighborhood, they held competitions with the surrounding neighbors in table tennis, badminton, bowling and basketball. Looking at just the concept and the scale, it seemed like a production on some cable channel. Although of course they also organized large-scale events such as one visit to Taereung or filming overseas etc, but..

The amazing thing about this program is the teamwork and the roles each of them play. A hobbies club for lifestyle sports is originally a place for one to realize his passion for sports and a community where people become closer through their hobbies, without any regard for their actual professions. Although the “Cool Kidz” members came together because of their appearances on the program which were brought about by their contractual relationships, they showed us a community with the philosophy of a hobbies club. Instead of comparing their popularity or recognition levels, they divided themselves according to a comparison of whether they were able to do well or not able to do so at a particular sport. In front of those “ball games”, whether one is doing well in his career or not, whether one is the CEO of an agency, whether one is a celebrity within a company, whether one is a superstar standing at the peak of the Hallyu wave, whether one is a actor playing minor roles, whether one is a model whom the public is not familiar with, whether one is a rookie, everybody is treated equally within the “Cool Kidz” team and given the same opportunities. Although the members come and go at any time, the “Cool Kidz” team is always warmly receiving the new members and also warmly greeting each other and promising to meet one another again. Just like a hobbies club where no one is forced to take part in anything.

Max Changmin, who has resumed his music activities with “Something”, will be taking off his uniform for the “Cool Kidz” team with the last basketball match next week. He is one of the team’s pioneer members. From “Moonlight Prince”, the predecessor to “Cool Kidz”, he stood by Kang Ho Dong’s ups and downs together with the latter, and he was the member who spent the longest time with Kang Ho Dong. Although Max Changmin’s full-fledged foray into variety coincided with Kang Ho Dong’s return, not everything turned out smooth-sailing as he wished. Perhaps it was because he wasn’t even the type who emits natural talent for variety, or maybe it was because he wasn’t able to grab hold of a place as the ace player or a regular player, when compared to his activities as TVXQ, he is now leaving the show with a report card which isn’t exactly spectacular.

In the basketball series which has continued for a good long 4 months, with Seo Ji Suk, Julien Kang, JYP etc appearing together all at once, and prominent figures such as Kim Hyuk dominating the spotlight, Max Changmin wasn’t even able to grab the attention even once. Max Changmin of TVXQ, the group who stood at the staggering zenith of the Hallyu fever, was mainly a substitute player on the bench in this program. However, Max Changmin never once showed any dissatisfaction at all. In other words, he does not have any sense of identity / ego that he is a star (he even said that even if one combs through 8 degrees of kinship in his own family, they wouldn’t be able to find people who step out like this in front of people to work), and just knew that he was thankful for the opportunities given to him in line with his own capabilities (at the sport). In order not to be a burden to the other members or his team, he devoted himself not to practices for his dance choreography, but to sports. Such hard work on his part was captured on the passing screen images and one could read such hard work from his appearance. Even if the production crew didn’t highlight his story, one could feel his genuine hard work.

In particular, during the Japanese special where a friendly match was held, Max Changmin’s attitude was touching. Even before the match, there was a lot of attention given to this match, more so than a real match between the 2 countries’ national representative teams, and a full-house of spectators came forth to watch the match, and to the extent that many people who could not enter the stadium had to return home with feelings of regret, Max Changmin’s popularity was staggering. This fever was not due to Kang Ho Dong or Kim Hyuk, but solely and 100% for Max Changmin. But the attention on Max Changmin was only limited to the moment when he entered the court.

As the match tilted in favor of the Japanese team, the Korean team was engaged in a match where they were on thin ice, so Woo Ji Won and the coach etc. had the game as the paramount consideration on their minds and did not have the luxury of showing Max Changmin off to the Japanese spectators. In the same way, the production crew also made a brave choice to focus only on the progress of the game. In front of the fans who had come to see him, Max Changmin had to sit on the bench for most of the time, and even if he went out onto the court, he was not the ace but merely played the part of a role player, but one never ever felt any form of awkwardness or discomfort from Max Changmin.

Max Changmin never confused his roles for TVXQ and within the Cool Kidz team. While living a life where he receives attention more than anyone else, and the surprising self-objectification by the superstar himself who had come this far based on the love from other people, this was the part which allowed one to feel the humane side of this superstar. In the same context, JYP, who was leading the charge, was also a surprising revelation. [details about JYP omitted]. Let alone the laughs brought by JYP or Max Changmin, such appearances where they are comfortable and relaxed in a reverse set-up where no statuses matter, are things which one is never able to see in other places.

There is no preferential treatment, and no superiority. At this week’s broadcast where the team left for winter training, Max Changmin went “Again? This is too much” when JYP informed them that he would be late in meeting up with him due to scheduling conflicts, showing off his joking appeal. Following that, Kang Ho Dong told him off, “JYP comes even if he is late, but there have also been times when you have suddenly disappeared because you say you have other schedules”, creating much laugher. This is the amazing point about variety. Max Changmin consolidates the attention of a few thousand, a few hundred thousand audience members on huge stages onto himself, and Japanese fans even come to Korea just to see him, but in a reality variety program, he was just a youth who likes a proposal for a schedule where he can meet with the beautiful ladies of Gochang in a speed-dating scenario. Even if this is not played up or highlighted, this type of appearance which he gives off naturally, when combined together with his experience on the stage, is bound to enlarge his charm.

Max Changmin said that although he is sorry towards U-Know Yunho, he was not shaking even once when they were preparing for their music comeback this time around, but he was shaking and worrying that he wouldn’t be able to do well when he was involved in the basketball games. In particular, he said that he had gotten caught up in basketball just like a fever sweeping across him. In reality, from his standpoint, it was possible for that (being nervous) to happen. To compound matters, it was not even his primary profession but in the world of variety programs. However, for the few moments which collectively make up only a few minutes, Max Changmin did not have any complaints but silently practiced and practiced. Whether it is for money, for honor, or for image purposes, if one were to quibble over the time spent on practice, that would be the worst thing to do. In any case, activities in a hobbies club for lifestyle sports have no connection to one’s occupation or assets. Max Changmin therefore also entered the Cool Kidz team with this mindset and enjoyed himself very much and worked hard at practicing.

Just like what Lee Byung Jin, who worked together with Max Changmin in the bowling series, said, instead of being known as Choikang (strongest) Changmin, Changmin is someone who suits the name “Choiseon (best) Changmin”. Now, there is only one last opportunity left to see Max Changmin in his uniform. Although it is probable that there will be a special for him leaving the show (in the final broadcast), he will most likely not be able to be given much role / airtime during the match. However, even if we cannot always see the side of him which is different from his status as a star or from his commanding and confident performances on stage, it seems like he will leave good memories of the moments when we saw how he earnestly broke out in perspiration, or when he always got nervous when doing his best at every match. This is also the charm of variety, which closes the distance between a star and the viewers.

Source: entermedia korea
Translation: Mug_Ping

 Category: News

Related articles

Leave a Reply