This week’s Sungsungjanggu, emceed by Kim Seung-woo, Tak Jae-hoon, Lee Su-geun and Lee Ki-gwang, invited Shinhwa. The episode opened with a dance break featuring some old-school comic makchoom. It was the first time in 4.5 years that all six guys had gathered in one place.

When MC Tak asked whether Shinhwa members had ever sat side by side in a row (as they were sitting at the moment), the guys recalled that they had done it in the subway when they were still trainees. MC Ki-gwang then joined in, saying how Beast looks up to Shinhwa and how he is sometimes likened to Min-woo for being a short dancer haha.

The emcees asked: were you surprised by the fact that you were regrouping after a long hiatus? Dong-wan replied that all six members had the heart to put Shinhwa before other priorities at the end of the day. Having known each other for a long time, they can tell each other’s feeling by the look of their eyes. Jun Jin apparently is especially good at mind reading people and showed off his ridiculous psychic prowess that made everyone laugh.

In order to re-group, Shinhwa had to found a new company called the Shinhwa Company, with Eric and Min-woo as co-chiefs. The guys teased that Eric often gets so exhausted of his managerial duties. MC Tak added that he had seen the tired and lonesome Eric several times, at restaurants, slurping kalbi stew all by himself. Apparently, Eric likes to make solo trips to theaters and restaurants. One time, he even went to a spa (chimjilbang) by himself and fell asleep there. When he woke up, he was so embarrassed to find that he had been blocking a crew of people from filming a scene for a drama.

The show segued into the corner in which the guest selects two words or phrases to describe his or her life and career. Shinhwa chose “Nude book” and “rumors of discord.”

According to Sungsungjanggu’s definition, a nude book, often liked by adult men, consists of images of bare bodies. Shinhwa shot for a nude book when no other boy band would even have thought about doing something like that. Lee Su-man of SM Entertainment, where Shinhwa began its career, suggested the idea after Shinhwa’s success with “Only one” which showed off the group’s masculinity. Shinhwa at first thought it was all a joke, and even vowed to dabble with the idea, until it began to happen in front of their eyes. Hye-sung was strongly opposed but could not stop it. The resulting photo album that was published as a limited edition with 15,000 copies completely sold out. Suddenly, a lady from the audience pulled out her copy of the book and held it up in the air! Faking anger, Jun Jin got up immediately and snapped at her: Close it! Jun Jin’s hilarious.

Then, MC Tak stealthily pulled out something from under his chair and pretended to read what turned out to be another copy of the same book. At that moment, blown-up images of the book pages began to show up on the screen. Andy is not in the book (luckily or unfortunately) because he was not part of or was taking a break from Shinhwa at the time of the photo shoot. MC Tak directed Andy to stand and pose so that Tak could take Andy’s pictures and paste them into the book. According to the guys, they were completely naked at the time of the photo shoot. To make the event less uncomfortable, no female staff was present when the guys were nude. Eric said that even when they were all running around naked, shy Hye-sung would hide behind a tree. A series of hilarious pictures of scantily-clad, bestial Shinhwa followed, causing uproar and embarrassment. Peach illustrations covered the important parts that were deemed too revealing for the national television. The slideshow concluded with a picture of Jun Jin who asked, “Can we really show these images on television?”

The show moved on to a new topic. Apparently, Shinhwa was the first idol band to power greet: “Hello, we’re Shinhwa!” The emcees asked the guys to reenact their greeting. Shinhwa took a couple of seconds to put things in order and reenacted the dorky introduction.

Hye-sung: Hello, I’m Hye-sung, Shin-hwa’s vocal and little prince!
Dong-wan: Shinhwa’s wit guy who sings and raps!
Eric: I can rap in English!
Min-woo: Vocal and choreographer, I am Min-woo, the cool guy!
Andy: Shy guy Andy, I also rap in English!
Jun Jin: Rap and choreography, I am Jun Jin, the sci-fi manga-esq charismatic guy!

These silly modifiers were devised by the SM management. At the time of Shinhwa’s debut, Lee Su-man who was hooked on the Versace logo with the lion head forced the unusual hairstyle on Jun Jin who carried a head like a lion’s for a while. Shinhwa was also recognized for their versatile activities including running and bungee jumping in variety shows. The guys revealed that they were always desperate to get face time on television and tried to do their best every time. Footage of Shinhwa’s taking bungee jumps combined with back tumbles was shown. Among the various accidents that resulted from dancing and tumbling, Jun Jin’s accident had been most serious. While tumbling intensely, he slammed down his head against the cement floor and had to be taken to the emergency room. The doctor told the boys that Jun Jin was in critical condition and that that night would be a critical moment for him. Spending the night in the hospital, they all sobbed. Luckily, Jun Jin recovered, and being the energetic and optimistic guy that he was, Jin even managed to finish off his gig in the Dream Team, a program that requires much athleticism.

Next comes the talk about Shinhwa’s living experience. They dormed for 6-7 years. When they all shared one room, they would often talk for 2-3 hours before falling asleep. So what came out of this living arrangement was an attempt to avoid becoming the last person to fall asleep who would have to swim in the sea of boredom. In order to prevent each other from falling asleep, they grew the habit of touching or tickling each other; Hye-sung was at the forefront of this bromance.

Shinhwa’s musical career is highlighted next. Shinhwa gained incomparable popularity with “T.O.P.” in 1999. “T.O.P.” contained so many inscrutable acronyms that emcees did not forget to ask about. SM’s love affair with acronyms has been so consistent. Shinhwa’s hits include “T.O.P.”, “Yo!”, “Only One”, “Wild Eyes”, “Hey, Come On” and “Perfect Man.” At the request of the emcees’ Shinhwa showed off the dances to “T.O.P.”, “Perfect man” and “Usha Usha” (으쌰 으쌰).

Moving on, the guys play a little game in which the emcees say a statement, and those who agree who agree have to press the buzzer.

Question 1: Eric’s cheesy acting was embarrassing in truth (4 votes).

Question 2: Jun Jin tries too hard to make laughs (6 votes).

Question 3: I am a born hottie (3 votes: Jun Jin, Dong-wan and Hye-sung had undergone minor plastic surgery)

Question 4: I dated while I was in Shinhwa (6 votes).

Tony and Hee-joon showed up as secret guests, and they talked for a bit about their SM boy band days. The episode ended with a preview of the dance off between Hee-joon and Min-woo and the more serious conversation about Shinhwa’s second dictionary word “rumors of discord.” 

Although I had liked Shinhwa (and have several anecdotes that attest to my preoccupation with the boy band), I was not sure about the prospect of their re-grouping, which some media had relegated to a sales gimmick to salvage Shinhwa’s solo careers. I wonder if I am an ignorant consumer for having enjoyed Shinhwa’s TV appearance and for being open to their decision to come back. While the next episode is going to be the highlight of the show, this episode, crackled with amusing, dorky stories, was thoroughly enjoyable. Jun Jin cracks me up. 

Image sources:

1. 신화 성형고백! ‘성형 선물 받았다’
2. XPorts News
3. Naver Blogs (ID: hyerimelove)