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U-know Yunho Is Mr. Passion Amid Pain

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

U-know Yunho (Jung Yunho) is the leader of TVXQ (DBSK) who is known for his passion and dedication. He has inspired and mentored many of the 3rd and 4th generation artists who have been impressed by his complete commitment to his role as leader and artist.

Sometimes his desire for perfection can backfire though like in doing chores at a strange house.

He truly wants to do his best at whatever comes his way.

U-know Yunho has not had it easy though and his numerous scars tell a story of overcoming much adversity.

He got his first scar at 2 when he fell off the roof terrace after his mum went to answer the phone. This left him with the scar near his nose.

The scar near his eye is from falling from the 4th floor of a building while playing hide and seek. He had been hiding on the ledge and his friend yelled when he found him causing Yunho to let go and fall.

His forehead scar was from a bookshelf collapsed on him.

The scar on his throat was from surgery he had when he was young to remove growths on his vocal chords which also changed his voice. Later more growths were discovered through his throat and nasal cavities. Rather than postpone or sit out from the performance he got some spray to minimize the pain and only went to the hospital after their schedule was finished.

His passion for singing and performance kept him going through all of this. He sang in his church choir and despite his family not really wanting him to go into music he tried out for a local competition. After he won his father said that if he was going to represent his home town he better be the best. His win meant training 2-3 hours (depending on traffic) from home at the SM training center. Sometimes he would be too exhausted to return home (or lacked the fare the ‘97 market crash had affected his family a lot) so would sleep in the subway. He would then do early morning and evening jobs to have money to live on.

Later when he was in the dorm with Super Junior members (he shared a room with Donghae and Heechul) he was known for saving every coin in a bucket in the room. The others got in a habit of adding to his collection. His first big purchase with his savings was a leather jacket which met a surprising end.

To this day he still empties all his change into multiple piggy banks for the different denominations (seen on episode 237 of Home Alone).

He had further hardship when, in 2004, not long after debut, a vehicle collided with the team van resulting in injuries for all the members. In 2005 so focused on the busy schedule he fainted due to dehydration after two straight days of working. His members started to leave him reminders to eat and drink.

It was an especially busy and challenging time for Yunho as leader of TVXQ in 2006. Each week they flew back and forth between Korea and Japan with comeback schedules in both countries. Not ever wanting his weakness to slow down the group he often did not disclose illness or injury. He performed with a bleeding arm having not wanted to leave the bandage on and cause worry. In May, he was in such pain from his teeth he was taken to hospital (again not until he had put on a show where no one knew the pain he was in). The next month after more pain, to the point he couldn’t eat, his face even swelled so much he had to wear a mask he finally took time off for treatment.

That July, at a concert in Malaysia, he had dislocated his ankles but performed the show before being carried to the hospital. Once again no one noticed him struggling with the difficult choreography as he stated he wanted to put on a good show for the fans who had been waiting. It did result in a month off to heal.

If that wasn’t enough real tragedy stuck at the hands of an anti-fan. He had been given a bottle of orange juice which had been spiked with super glue. Not one to waste time in mundane tasks he quickly downed the drink only to realize too late that it had been tampered with. He passed out but his members recall he coughed up blood on his way to the hospital. His former roommate, Super Junior’s Heechul, called out for people to turn her in and make her take responsibility.

After he took Changmin's phone call, Kibum said:

"Hyung.. Yunho hyung.. he's in the hospital after drinking something an anti fan gave him.."

What is this..

I was worried.. he spit up blood.. a drink poisoned with Super Glue..

I asked Changmin and he said they were so shocked.. and that Yunho was still asleep..

From that point, I started having a different thought..

This might make me unworthy of being a 'hyung'.. ('hyung' is 'an older brother')

'I hope this person gets caught.. please get caught..'

But I didn't just curse..

I even prayed..

Until now, I thought 'I could do other things in the time it takes to pray'..

But I prayed feverously..

That this garbage would be caught..

They said it was an 'injury'..

Not 'attempted murder'..?

He continued to express his shock and anger.

The assailant turned herself in to police the next day but later Yunho chose not to press charges as she was the same age as his sister and he did not want her to be saddled with this for her whole life. Although physically he recovered it took him a long time to realize how much it had affect him mentally. For a long time his members would open and drink from the containers before he would.

Not one to accept weakness in himself in any form he explained he set himself a challenge to overcome it.

Although he thought it was behind him the incident still affects him when he least expects it; as was seen on Analog Trip (episode 7) which he took with Changmin and Super Junior members. There, once again, his method of healing was to help other people.

His helpfulness and commitment to caring was also evident in his mission to Ghana. He and his fan club raised money for an education center in one of Ghana’s northernmost regions and regularly send gifts of food, stationary, and money to the community. He also went with Road to Hope in 2013.

He said of his time there, “Although I went on this journey to do something for the children, I came back with so many dreams that they gave me.”

During his time in the military, an article came out on Naver (here) recounting his desire to worship and praise. An official said “U-know Yunho attends the service every week and comes to choir to praise him. He is meeting the Lord more faithfully than ever.” It is clear that despite much adversity he still presses on to do his best.

Amongst the people at SM he has a reputation for passion and determination as he touched on in this interview.

His motto is that “today never comes back” so even when tired he still pushes himself.

in their latest concert series Circle they relived some of their past hair and clothing styles (including references to their Home Alone episode).

Yunho needs to remember his achievements. He has survived numerous accidents and injuries. He persisted even when 3 of the members left TVXQ leaving their future as a group in peril. He has been the inspiration for many and made a real difference in the lives of people who never even knew what he went through. Hopefully in his 17th year performing as TVXQ’s leader, as a soloist and as an actor, he realizes his hard work has paid off and will allow himself to rest instead of always critically viewing his work. After all as they sang in 2014, it’s “alright”.

Photo/video credit to the owners

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