So what’s it like for EXO to promote in China? The boys discuss what it’s like learning a whole new language, living in a foreign country, and what kind of barriers they encountered.
Prior to EXO debuting, SM Entertainment asked what Chen thought about EXO splitting into a Korean team and a Chinese team. Chen told the company without hesitation that he wanted to be part of the Chinese team.
He said that it worried his parents because he didn’t discuss it with them beforehand.
He says that after debuting and living in China, he has no regrets. He is able to let Chinese fans hear his songs and he is still able to connect with his Korean fans when EXO promotes as one.
Xiumin said that learning Mandarin was the hardest aspect of promoting as EXO-M. He would walk around and he wouldn’t be able to understand street signs or even what the natives were saying.
He said that he didn’t learn enough Mandarin before debuting, so it was hard to adjust, but now that he is more proficient in Mandarin, he can understand people better and he can read signs more easier.
Xiumin is also grateful for the Chinese members of EXO-M. They helped him out a lot and because they could speak Korean as well, it made being in EXO-M much easier. He said the downside of having Chinese members who could speak Korean is that they would always communicate in Korean and his Mandarin wouldn’t improve.
Tao stated that while promoting in China, they would speak to each other mostly in Korean so that they wouldn’t forget the language.
Xiumin said that the dynamic of EXO-M helped each member grow immensely because everyone could help each other.
The EXO-K members got to experience what the EXO-M members experience when they first debuted. Because of their “Wolf” promotions, EXO had to travel/live in China for a little bit. Baekhyun said that it was very hard learning Mandarin because the intonation is different and there were so many words and letters to remember. He said that it’d be very difficult for anyone to learn the language unless they actually lived in the country for a while.
He complimented Xiumin and Chen for being able to learn Mandarin and promote in EXO-M.
Chen says that EXO-K’s proficiency in Mandarin right now is equal to his proficiency when he first debuted *laughter*.
Check out the full interview below!
Promoting in China
Even then, I think the fact that you guys were able to appear on a program like that, EXO-K and EXO-M promoting together, was something meaningful. Originally Chen and Xiumin debuted in EXO-M but isn’t it hard promoting in an unfamiliar place.
Chen: When the company asked me, “we’re going to have a Chinese and Korean team, what do you think?’ I first answered without any hesitance that I wanted to go into the Chinese team. Of course my parents worried a lot. Because I didn’t even discuss with them and I just said it because I wanted to. But, after debuting and going to China for the first time till now, I think that I made a really good choice. Although there is a language wall between the Chinese fans and I, with just the fact that I can let them hear my song, I am happy. Sometimes fans ask me why I didn’t promote in Korea but either way, EXO is one team. Just because I debuted with EXO-M doesn’t mean I can’t meet with Korean fans and because I can go around with the other members like this, I don’t have anything I feel lacking.
Even then, was there not something that was hard to adjust to.
Xiumin: It was the language aspect. Even if walking the street and I look at the signs, it’s in Chinese and because even the people talk in Chinese, I can’t understand. Because I didn’t go after I learned Chinese perfectly. However now because I adjusted well, the ear that listens and the eyes that see have been pierced through a lot. If I see a sign in Chinese, I end up going, “Uh, I know that!” Should I say that instead, when I go to China I feel a sense of closeness.
When you were tired, the other EXO-M members must have been of support.
Xiumin: It was a relief that the Chinese friends can speak Korean well. Ah, but there were pros and cons. Because they are good at Korean, even when we went to China we communicated smoothly and my Chinese skills didn’t not improve. (laughter)
Tao: To be honest, even during our promotions in China, so we don’t forget, we talked to the hyungs in Korean.
Xiumin: In the end, we received and gave help to one another.
EXO-K members also officially started Chinese promotions starting this year but did you come to agree to these two people’s problems.
Baekhyun: Chinese is especially hard. The intonation is all different and for most people, if they don’t live in China for a long time or study for a long time, it’s hard but the fact that these two promoted until now is really tremendous. When recording the album, because we had to record in Chinese without knowing anything, it was hard.
Chen: These friends are good as well. Although I don’t think it’s better than my skills from debut. (laughter)