"What is this?" many adults said upon hearing f(x)'s new song "NU ABO." Strange words such as 'ggong-di ggong-di' appeared in the lyrics while the melody sounded as if it was heading toward an anti-climax of a drama with the increasingly languid vibe it gave off. But the group, who positioned themselves as an undefinable girl group by kicking off their singing career with peculiarly named songs like "Chu~♡" and "LA chA TA" last year, went on to grow and place "NU ABO" first place on real-time charts upon its release early this month.
10Asia met with Victoria, Amber, Sulli, Krystal and Luna, who like their song "NU ABO," have quite oddly started to draw people's attention.
10: Do you feel that you're a bit popular? Your song "NU ABO" topped real-time music charts as soon as it was released.
Sulli: I was very surprised because it was the first time we placed atop real-time charts.
Luna: I'm happy that we were No. 1 but I'm glad that a lot of people are saying the song is very unique and addictive yet is easy to sing along to. People around us say 'Nananana'. (laugh)
10: How did you feel when you first received the song? Some people were saying it's difficult for a title track.
Amber: I thought the song might be a bit hard when I first heard it but I was surprised at how it was received so well.
Luna: We didn't understand it that well either when we first heard it. And our foreign members had an even harder time understanding it. (laugh) So we had been trying to figure out how we would interpret the song when we came up with a story for the music video. We would ask Victoria about love and she would tell us what love is about.
10: It seems like you took it for how you felt about it rather than understanding it.
Luna: That's right. And we worked hard at interpreting the lyrics too. We put a lot of thought into the individual performances each member would put on according to their appeal because since the lyrics could be difficult, we wanted to help our fans understand through our performance.
10: Isn't it hard to perform your song live? Not just because of the song but you constantly change positions and have to halt in between too for the dance moves so I think you guys would be extremely exhausted when you dance it once.
Luna: If we just do the dancing, it's so tough that we can't even breathe properly.
Kyrstal: Since we're singing live, if giving it our best means we'll put in 100 percent effort, we're probably putting in about 80 percent effort. But if we weren't singing live and performed the choreography properly, we might die. (laugh)
Luna: That's how hard we practiced. (laugh)
10: How hard?
f(x): Until we got it!
10: Wasn't it difficult to memorize the choreography? It's very complex.
Krystal: Since we worked so hard (laugh) and because all five of us like to dance, we learn very quickly. Our dance teachers are like, "Hey, you guys are going air on Friday but let's just rehearse once. (laugh)
Luna: Everyone is so eager to do well that if our teachers point out a single thing about us, we fix it the very next day, no matter how small it is. And it'll turn out that member had worked all night to fix it. We surprise each other by such actions.
10: You practiced that hard but Sulli, you made a mistake once, right? (laugh)
Amber: I made a mistake this time too. (laugh)
10: Don't try and laugh it off (laugh) -- what was going on in your head when you made the mistake?
Krystal: I'm curious. (laugh)
Sulli: It was the part where I sing "Fight exactly three times." [Opens up three fingers] I do this while singing it. But I ended up saying 'creatively.' So it became 'Fight creatively.' (laugh) And I was saying 'fight' but had three fingers up. All I thought was, "Huh? What am I doing right now?" (laugh)
10: I saw Amber looking flustered in the back.
Sulli: Her eyes all big. (laugh)
Amber: I was monitoring us through my earphone since I'm good at understanding Korean now, when I noticed that Sulli stopped singing. I asked why she wasn't singing and that's when I realized she got the lyrics wrong.
10: Victoria, how is it learning the various styles of dance with f(x) after having been an actual dancer?
Victoria: It's difficult. The force I have to use is different. When dancing before, I had to elongate my arms but now I have to put force here [shoulders] and my knees. I had to forget everything I had learned... I had to learn everything all over again as if I was in elementary school. I asked and learned a lot from my members.
Krystal: We learn a variety of dances. Sexy, cute, powerful -- all sorts of dances.
10: How did you come up with the move where Victoria lifts up her leg in the middle of the song?
Victoria: When we were playing while taking a break, I just kicked my foot up [at that part]. But the choreographer said it looked good and that we should add it in. I too thought it would be good to emphasize that part.
10: Victoria, you can lift up your leg as others would lift up their arms. (laugh) And you did a high kick when you threw the first ball for a baseball game. (laugh) How did you learn to pitch a ball? The game isn't popular in China.
Victoria: My manager just told me that person who catches the ball. Pitcher? Catcher? Oh, catcher. He said I just need to throw while looking at him. So I said, "Oh really?" and threw it and I said it surprisingly feels good. (laugh)
Krystal: They say that girls usually can't throw all the way to the catcher but her ball did.
Victoria: I was worried in the beginning so I asked if I could go closer but they said I couldn't. (laugh) So I just threw but it somehow went the whole way.
10: How did it feel performing at the Dream Concert? It's Korean culture for fans to cheer for their favorite singer by waving balloons.
Amber: Uh, there are many fan clubs. I thought a lot about whether other fan clubs would like us too but I'm really happy because they've received us warmly. (laugh)
Krystal: They all rooted for us a lot. I was very nervous.
10: Someone shot a video of you and your sister Jessica of Girls' Generation holding hands at the Dream Concert. What did she say to you?
Kyrstal: Oh her? Nothing. She just held my hand and kept waving to people. So I was like, "Ah, what?", "Oh okay okay," and kept waving my hand. (laugh)
10: You've also appeared on KBS sports show "Let's Go! Dream Team Season 2" and SBS' "Star King." What did you talk about then?
Krystal: "Star King" was my first variety show appearance and I got to go on it with my sister. I was relieved to have her next to me because I didn't know what variety shows were about. She had had a lot of experience on them. And she would cover for me if I made a mistake. And I really did make a lot of mistakes, fumbling with my words, but she spoke for me so people said, "You must feel reassured. We saw her [Jessica] just as a young person but look at how she takes care of her younger sister." It felt great.
10: I think you've established yourself as a character that makes mistakes on "Star King." You're funny when you copy workout motions.
Krystal: Oh, that. (laugh) I actually thought I was doing great. But people looked at me weird. So I wondered why but I realized later on that I had acted funny.
10: I noticed earlier on that you mind too much about your looks -- you don't try too hard to look pretty in photographs and you didn't care about where you sit.
Amber: She's really easy-going.
Krystal: I'm just like that. It was actually the first time I tried high jumping. But Minho [of SHINee] told me what I should do, I did, and it worked. And I like to run. I don't think about anything else other than the fact that I should run fast. (laugh)
10: Krystal, you look very different from how you look now when you tie your hair back and remove your make-up. Actress Kim Na-woon said on KBS quiz show "Star Golden Bell" that you look "pure."
Krystal: I like both because I want to show a variety of sides to me. But I think I prefer more of the natural look. Even with my hair, I like to go out while leaving it more natural instead of having my stylist have every piece of hair in place.
10: There are many segments in "Star Golden Bell" which involve using the Korean language. Isn't it difficult for Victoria and Amber?
Amber: Everytime she [Krystal] gives the right answer, a question is tossed to me and Victoria so I kept mumbling "Please don't ask me, don't ask me." (laugh)
Krystal: How would they answer questions that even we can't answer?(laugh)
Victoria: When Krystal gives a wrong answer, she says she's sorry to me but I tell her it's no problem at all since I don't know the answer either. (laugh)
Krystal: The writer for the show told me that the other members of my group would not be caught on camera if I keep giving the wrong answers but I wasn't able to get any of them right.
Victoria: I can't answer them properly either. (laugh) But I learned a lot on "Star Golden Bell." Like words I didn't know and things about the culture.
10: Luna, your reaction was great on "Star Golden Bell." You laugh out very loud.
Luna: No. (laugh) I really don't pay much attention to the camera. I just get so immersed into what's going on around me. But I noticed that I'm always the only one that's laughing. Laughing out loud used to be my complex. But I guess my reaction is so large that I seem like a member of the audience.
10: You appeared on SBS variety show "Game of Truth" in the past.
Luna:Ah... [slumps over]
10: Oh, don't worry, I won't talk about the wave moves you showed back then. (laugh) I don't talk about what I already have in the past. You had appeared on "Game of Truth" as a regular person in the past so how is it seeing young children like you on "Star King" these days?
Luna: It reminds me a lot about my past. I had gone on that show with the dream that I want to become a singer. So it leads me to think that those people who go on the stage of "Star King" must have the same thoughts that I had in the past and that they are probably working extremely hard to achieve their dream. It has even more significance for me because both shows are recorded on the same set. I remind myself a lot that I should not forget about the determination I had when I first started out in this business.
10: I was shocked seeing you sing Koreana's "Victory" on "Star King." You belted out the high-pitched song from start to finish.
Luna: I had actually heard that song for the first time for that show. (laugh) There weren't supposed to be any high pitches but the flutist gave me the idea so I sang it like that.
10: Have you considered doing musicals? Your singing technique gave off the vibe of a musical singer.
Luna: Yes, I've been doing musicals since I was young. My parents did opera singing so me and my sister both did musicals so I'd be more than interested in doing it.
10: Luna, you and Amber both use hand mics. It's meant to emphasize your vocal skills but weren't you pressured by it? You have to belt out in the latter half of the song too.
Luna: I did feel a lot of pressure but it's also an opportunity. The vibe of the song changes drastically depending on whether that part is there or not. There's a difference between a song being addictive and it being a song which is both addictive and you need good vocal skills to sing. I felt a lot of pressure but I think it's also why I wanted to an even better job with it.
Amber: She always says, "Hey hey hey, what am I going to do, what do I do, my voice is hoarse," before she goes on stage.
Krystal: But when she goes on stage she just completely. (laugh)
Amber: She's good. She puts on a real freak-out performance.
10: And while you've been so active on the stage, you also showed your daily life through Y-STAR's program called "Hello f(x)." Weren't you nervous?
Sulli: We were in a bit because every single move we make or word we say would be going on air. And before, there was an image that fans had of us so we were a bit worried that some of them may become disappointed after seeing what we are really like. But we ended up forgetting that the camera was even there and had fun amongst ourselves.
10: I heard that Sulli is the funny one?
Sulli: Me? (laugh) I kind of am. I'm not good at making others laugh when I'm asked to but I'm kind of funny when I'm with my group.
Luna: In a weird way too. For example, when she's drinking water, she'll make a joke about the water. And she doesn't mean to be funny, she just says it, but we laugh because it sounds funny. I don't know how to explain it... She's the type who just talks in a funny way.
Sulli: I'm... a bit.. slow. My actions and words, hm... how do I say it?
Luna: She's a bit of a slow thinker too. (laugh)
Sulli: I don't like complicated things so I just blurt out what I think but people find it funny.
10: So that's why Heechul [of Super Junior] said he'd make you into a variety show character. (laugh)
Sulli: (laugh) Heechul. But he never really tells me how I should act on variety shows. (laugh) He just roots for me and tells me on radio shows. (laugh)
10: I saw that Heechul put his sunglasses on you on "Music Bank" last week. And you went on their encore stage too.
Sulli: First of all, I really wanted his sunglasses. I would like to wear sunglasses too but it's unlikely to happen because I'm in a female idol group. (laugh) So I stood next to him and told him I want to try it on, and that's why he gave them to me. That moment I pretended to have become possessed with him and imitated him. (laugh)
10: Victoria, aren't you in charge of being the cute one in the team?
Luna: She's all about the cuteness.
Sulli: She wasn't like that in the beginning but after hanging out with us, uh... I guess we should say that it's her way of adjusting to us? I think she's become more cute while hanging out with us.
10: So she's being considerate towards all of you by acting cute.
Sulli: She has actually put in a lot of effort. I didn't know it in the beginning but now I do. She's the leader so she had always tried to make us feel comfortable, help us out and make sure we have fun. Now she's the one who acts the most coquettish on our team. (laugh)
10: Well you have that charm about you but you also shot a spread for wedding dresses, right? I was reminded that you are someone who can pull off such photos. (laugh)
Victoria: It was great. I think it suits me the best. In terms of the age too. (laugh) It's something that all women wear when they get married. So it felt really nice wearing one.
Sulli: I wore one once too. (laugh) It really felt like I was getting married. The concept was that I would be marrying Siwon [of Super Junior] and he said, "You should feel honored that the first guy you get to marry is me. (laugh) But it felt so good because it really felt like I was getting married. And I became curious whether I would feel like this when I actually do get married.
10: Sulli, you seem to become immersed with the situation you are in quite easily -- it was like that with the photo shoot and your expression keeps changing when you're singing "NU ABO" too. On the other hand, Krystal, you manage to maintain your haughty expression.
Sulli: Yes, I'm definitely temperamental. (laugh) That's why my mood changes depending on what I'm wearing, my make-up, my hair or the atmosphere I'm in. And when I'm singing, the song is about love and love is different for everyone so that's why we all have different expressions.
10: So you must have accumulated certain know-hows for when you go on stage. You seem different from when you first debuted.
Krystal: I do still feel nervous everytime I have to go on stage. But once I'm actually standing on the stage, I give everything I have, as if I had never been nervous. And when we're performing at events or concerts, I tell myself that I should have fun with the audience so I ask them to join in [spreads out hands] instead of dancing every single move. I have fun at events now. (laugh)
Sulli: I make eye contact with people (laugh) and there are certain people who come to all of our performances so I wave to them whenever I see them.
Amber: We try and show them the best time. (laugh) Rather than trying to put on an amazing performance, I think it's better to have a good time with the audience.
10: Victoria and Amber, you've been in the Korean entertainment business for several months now. What's your impression of Korea?
Amber: I think of what I should say when I have to go on TV.
Victoria: I'm doing much better than I first did. I used to think, "Oh, am I allowed to say these things here?" because I was scared I'd make a mistake while talking but I think I've become much more natural and talk more like I do when I'm with my group.
Amber: When I was in the U.S., I would just say "What's up?" [waves hand] but here I say, "Hello" [bows head]. But when I hadn't been aware of it, I used to say "What's up?" to people and they would instantly be able to tell I'm from overseas. Then I would say hello back to them in the formal way and that's how I became close with them.
10: Krystal, you became talk of the town when you were young by refuting a negative comment someone made about your sister on the Internet.
Krystal: Oh, that wasn't me.
10: Well here's your chance to explain yourself. (laugh)
Krystal: It wasn't me but some people said I must've had a hard time because I was mistaken to be that person while others said I shouldn't be butting in when I haven't even debuted. But I didn't do it. It was someone who pretended to be me. I talk about this when I'm asked about it [by reporters] but I don't make an effort to explain myself when I don't need to. I just say, "Heck, it's not me." (laugh)
10: You're broad-minded. (laugh)
Luna: Such things happen to celebrities so often. So we try and look at things in a positive light. If people point out things about us that are meaningful, we really look into them. We really try and heed to opinions that are really worth listening to.
10: Well everybody has been wondering how you felt when you got the lyrics for "NU ABO"
Krystal: I just didn't understand it.
Sulli: What does 'ggoong-di ggoong-di' mean? (laugh)
10: So did you ask what it means?
Krystal: Well the word 'mysteric' is actually a new word too. There's 'mystery' but no 'mysteric.' And the song was supposed to be about blood types but the word 'older sister' was in it so I said this is just to complex. (laugh) But I understood it better after shooting the music video.
Luna: We came up with the story ourselves and thought about how we should interpret it.
10: Did you guys come up with your own ideas for the song too?
Luna: Yes. While we were practicing the dance for the song, we asked our choreographer if certain moves would work with certain parts of the lyrics or melody. And like Victoria said, it was her idea to raise her leg.
10: Do you believe in how magazines say people's personalities and dating styles are said to be different depending on their blood type?
Luna: Nobody really does except for me and Sulli because they don't care about it much in the U.S. or China. I don't believe in it either. I've just felt several times that it may be right. That's why I try psychological tests too.
Sulli: I really like those things. Like psychology tests or reading my luck for the day.
Luna: Thanks to Sulli, I'm always looking up my horoscope in magazines.
10: What are your blood types?
Luna: Amber is B. [Pointing to Victoria and Sulli] O, and Krystal and I are As. So we have every blood type except for AB. (laugh)
10: Victoria and Amber, do you find yourselves adjusting to such Korean culture? You have both become much better at speaking Korean.
Sulli: They're fully Korean now.
Luna: We can't say everything that we want now because they know how to respond.
10: How do you study Korean? Do your group members help out too?
Victoria: When there are words I don't know, I ask my group members. And when I'm alone, I really like Korean dramas so I'll write down expressions that I think I could use later on, practice saying it a few times, and then go on to the next one.
Sulli: There's a ton of post-its stuck in front of her desk.
Luna: She even knows more Korean dramas than we do.
10: What was your favorite drama?
Victoria: "Full House." No matter how I see it, I still think it's the most fun. When I first came to Korea, I seriously watched it like ten times. A lot of the dialogue or words that they say in the drama are things we usually say in everyday life. So I watched it a lot.
10: You're a group which is composed of members who can speak various languages. Would you want to pursue a singing career overseas or is there anywhere that you want to go to in particular?
Sulli: Our goal is to become an Asian pop dance group so of course we want to go overseas.
Luna: We went overseas a lot while taking a four-month break. I learned a lot about other cultures and I hope to get to learn more about their music too so that we will come to establish a more distinct personality. So I want to go overseas whenever I get the chance.
10: Then who is the best at math, like the name of your group?
Krystal: Amber is good at math.
10: Math too? But you're good at basketball too. You're good at everything, aren't you?
Krystal: She good only at math. Just math. (laugh)
Amber: I had helped out Krystal.
Sulli: We actually don't know whether she's actually good. But she says so herself. (laugh)
Amber: Honestly, if I hadn't become a singer, I would have studied hard. (laugh) But since I'm a singer now.
10: I heard your father is in Korea right now. When did he arrive?
Amber: Um... two days ago? Two days ago.
10: Have you gotten to talk a lot with him?
Amber: He came because of work. But he's leaving today so he just made a bit of time.
Sulli: They didn't get to spend much time together because we were busy with our own schedules too.
10: Your dad was talked about a few days ago, right? Because of a photograph you took with movie star Aaron Kwok when you were young and it turned out it was because of his connection to him.
Amber: Oh, yes. That Taiwanese article... All I actually remember about that moment was that I was in someone's arms. I was scared (laugh) so I was thinking, 'Who is this person, why am I in your arms?' and did this [puts on awkward expression like in photo]. But a few years later, I found out that he was a very famous person. My dad has this friend and he helped out for his concert.
Sulli: How old were you?
Krystal: Five years old. In Las Vegas. Is the person you took the photo with a singer?
10: Oh, you might not know him but he was the hottest star during my time.
Amber: In Korea too? I honestly had no idea.
Victoria: There were four of them who were very famous in Hong Kong.
10: Amber, I heard you make friends with other celebrities very quickly.
Amber: I actually didn't know I did but it seemed like there were a lot of people from overseas and when I get to know them we all introduce each other so...
Sulli: And they give the impression that they're more open-minded so they're more approachable.
10: Sulli, you're close with Ji-young from girl group Kara, right?
Sulli: I meet with her often, even when we don't have anything to do. We first met while using the same waiting room together back stage and it turned out we were both born in 1994. So we said we should be friends. We clicked somehow.
10: Sulli, I heard you grew a lot over the past two years.
Sulli: Yes, 25 centimeters.
10: What is your secret? Are your parents tall?
Sulli: Yes. I myself don't know how I got to grow so much (laugh) but I used to be small. So I got my bone plates examined and the doctor told me I will not grow unless I eat a lot. I really didn't eat much back then so my mother made me take oriental medicine which is supposed to stir up my appetite and I really started eating a lot after that. I also used to eat dried anchovies dipped into hot pepper paste. I think that helped me grow.
Luna: I eat a lot of anchovies too.
Luna: What am I doing differently? I like milk and anchovies. Oh, is it because I didn't dip it in red pepper paste? (laugh)
10: Krystal, you live at home with your family but if you got to live with your group, who would you want to be roommates with?
Krystal: (laugh) Uh...
Amber: She'd want to be by herself.
Krystal: Can't I have a room to myself?
Amber: Sleep on the sofa.
Victoria: We'll give you the living room.
Sulli: Way to go!
Amber:That... what do you call it... clothes...
rest: The room with the clothes!
10: f(x), you have a lot of female fans. Why do you think this is the case? And do you feel a difference between older male and older female fans?
Krystal: Well with older female fans, how should I put it. I think they want to take care of us as if they're our actual older sisters. I think that's why they like us. When we have autograph sessions, they ask what we like and say they'd get it for us. (laugh)
Sulli: With older female fans, there's that reassuring feeling. And with older male fans, a sense of satisfaction. (laugh)
10: Sounds like a golden saying. (laugh) But your fans have yet to decide on a name for your fanclub. If you could come up with one yourselves, what would you call it?
Krystal: We're the function. (laugh)
Victoria: I wish there could be something really good.
Sulli: I wish there was something that is so brilliant that I would be astonished to hear about. (laugh)
10: Last question. How do you think Amber would react if you guys won first place on a televised show?
Sulli: I think she'd just cry frantically.
All: [Imitates Amber making sobbing sounds and saying] 'Oh my god, oh my god?!'