They want to be a man band

Shinee members (from left) O New, Lee Tae Min, Kim Jong Hyun, Choi Min Ho and Key.
Shinee members (from left) O New, Lee Tae Min, Kim Jong Hyun, Choi Min Ho and Key.PHOTO: THE ESPLANADE CO LTD

Hundreds of screaming fans turned up to greet Korean boyband Shinee on their arrival at Changi Airport on Friday night, bearing flowers and handmade signs and frenziedly clicking cameras.

Stunned and encouraged by the number of fans they have in Singapore, the quintet say they hope to stay the course in the music industry and evolve into a "man band".

Lee "O New" Jin Ki, 20, the oldest member of the group, told Life! via a translator on Saturday at the Esplanade: "We were really excited when we saw so many people welcoming us at the airport. We will do our best to keep meeting your expectations."

Shinee are in Singapore to perform at a concert of music from Korean TV dramas at the Esplanade today and tomorrow.

Korean-American soul guru Bobby Kim, 37, who will perform with them at the concert, said he was stunned at the number of fans they have here. "They're like Michael Jackson or something," he said at a press conference.

O New and his mates, Lee Tae Min, 16, Kim Jong Hyun, 19, Choi Min Ho, 19, and Kim "Key" Kibum, 18, debuted in Korea in May 2008 with their first album, Replay.

They have since released three other albums, set off fashion trends among Korean youth with their regularly changing hairstyles and lent their voices to soundtracks of top Korean dramas such as Boys Over Flowers, which aired in Singapore on Channel U last year.

Speaking via a translator, Kim said: "The definition of our style, the Shinee style, is 'variety'. There is not only music, there is fashion, other trends. Everything we have is presented in different ways."

Such ready-made answers came out fine, but slightly more controversial questions, including which artiste they would like to collaborate with, had the group stumped.

All five conferred in whispers, daring one another to speak up, until one brave soul finally did.

"Definitely Bobby Kim," said Choi.

Never mind their punk hairstyles, the members of Shinee came off as young and very eager to please.

Asked to say a line in Mandarin for a radio spot, they first rehearsed it seriously three times. With some reporters, they tried out their limited English, peeking through lowered lashes to see if they got the words right.

Asked what they most wanted to do on their first trip to Singapore, O New, the otherwise quiet "leader" of the group, immediately blurted out: "Visit Sentosa!", sparking an animated discussion of the island's attractions among the others.

However, with relentless fan presence wherever they go, it is uncertain whether the visit will happen.

For yesterday's fan meet and album signing session organised by Warner Music at Lot One mall in Choa Chu Kang, dozens of fans queued up overnight to get in.

Many others who arrived in the early morning caused mild chaos as they tried to rush the doors to enter the mall before it opened. In all, more than 1,000 fans turned up, said the organisers.

Do the members of Shinee long for a normal life, away from such relentless attention? Choi replied for them all: "We go to school and in addition, we do what we want to do, so we’re happy."

O New added: "We will try our best to become a man band."


Book it

OH JOONSUNG DRAMA CONCERT – MUSIC FROM KOREAN DRAMA FAVOURITES

Where: Esplanade Concert Hall

When: Today & tomorrow, 7.30pm

Admission: $90, $110, $130 and $150. Limited concessions for NSF, senior citizens and students at $75 and $95. Tickets from Esplanade box office and Sistic outlets (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)