Can the idol life last forever?
Not if you ask Onew, leader of popular Korean boy band SHINee.
Which is why the 26-year-old is expanding his repertoire, to keep himself relevant.
The Korean star, whose real name is Lee Jin-ki, appears in Korean cable TV channel tvN’s Go Go with Mr Baek.
The cooking-travelogue programme has been airing on tvN (Singtel TV Ch 518 and 619, and StarHub TV Ch 824) since Sept 23.
It takes the hosts across several cities and towns in Asia, such as Kudat in Sabah and Krabi Town in Thailand, to cook dishes using local ingredients.
Onew, Chef Baek Jong-won,and Jung Chae-yeon of Korean girl group DIA and I.O.I were in town to promote the show previously.
The Singapore episode aired last December.
In an interview at the Chef’s Table at Capella Singapore, Onew, who has stayed at the top of the boy band game with SHINee for the last eight years, with hits like Ring Ding Dong, Lucifer, and View, said: “I would like to break the stereotype that the public has of idols by showing that idols can also do variety shows like this.
“It’s not that I dislike being titled as an idol or anything, so (being one) isn’t something bad.”
Unlike Onew, Jung, 18, rose to prominence this year through survival show Produce 101, which picked 11 trainees from 101 contestants from different idol agencies to become an idol group for a year.
She said: “I appreciate that many people recognise me compared to before, and the opportunity to meet many different people (through it).
“I am very new to all this so I try to work hard now, but I’d love to be an idol for (at least a few) more years.”
In the Singapore episode of Go Go with Mr Baek, the trio explore markets in Little India and Chinatown in search of ingredients to whip up some local delicacies.
Chef Baek was especially intrigued by belacan.
He said: “It’s not weird, but I just like it. It’s a very interesting ingredient and I think it will be (popular) with Koreans. It’s like gochujang (red pepper paste).”
The group also visited Universal Studios Singapore and S.E.A. Aquarium.
Asked for their impression of the local markets, Chef Baek said: “There were lots of different ingredients, various spices, and as a chef, I really enjoyed it. Onew and Jung Chae-yeon also enjoyed (looking at) the fish and fresh meat.”
Tekka Market, which they visited to buy meat, fish and spices, also made an impression.
Chef Baek said: “It is quite different from those in Korea so the memory is quite lasting. It is a pretty unique experience for Onew and Chae-yeon because of the whole market scene.
“I’ve visited Singapore more than 10 times already so everything is pretty familiar for me.”
When asked which food represents them best, Jung Chae-yeon chose to be sugar because she wants to be a person that everyone likes, whereas Chef Baek chose to be (beef) meat, noting that while not everyone likes it, those who do really love it.
As for Onew, he said: “I want to be like kimchi because it’s a dish that fits everyone. I think its spiciness has an impact, so I want to have a similar impact.”