Billboard sat down with the most-followed Korean on Twitter before walking the Met Gala red carpet with Madonna, Beyonce, PSY and more. Meet Siwon of Super Junior.
While PSY snagged headlines at last week's Met Gala for taking photos with Chris Martin, Gwenyth Paltrow and "finally talking to Beyonce about 'Single Ladies,'" there was another K-pop star on hand. A star who has more Twitter followers than PSY, despite never actively promoting outside of Asia.
Siwon Choi is a major Korean star as a singer in Super Junior, an actor, model and the most-followed Korean on Twitter, beating @psy_oppa by a cool 700,000. In a few words: Siwon is a big deal.
Managed by SM Entertainment (home to Girls’ Generation, SHINee, BoA, f(x) and more), Super Junior the group are not just superstars in native South Korea. They have some of the most-viewed K-pop videos on YouTube with singles "Mr. Simple" (with 62.6 million views), "BONAMANA" (48.3 million) and "Sorry Sorry" (44.3 million). They promote as a whole and in different sub-units packaged for different parts of Asia; like Super Junior-M -- the unit that Siwon is a member of -- created with the Chinese pop (or Mandopop) market in mind. Currently, the group is in the midst of their Super Show 5 tour that has already hit Asia and South America.
Siwon has used the platform to transition into acting (he's appeared in Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese drama TV shows and a collaboration between Korea, China and Japan film teams for "Battle of Wits," for example) and modeling (he promotes brands like Audi in Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines) to become a celebrity recognized in all of Asia.
Billboard met up with Siwon -- still in casual duds of leather sneakers, blue jeans, a white t-shirt and leather bracelets—before he whisked off to one of fashion’s biggest night.
In his room at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with its entrance populated by a group of fans who somehow found out where he was staying, Siwon’s room looks hardly lived in. Except for a few Fiji water bottles, everything looks like it’s been packed in a large, metallic suitcase (with a "Fragile" sticker on it). He had just wrapped Super Show 5's Latin American leg of the tour nine days prior, and he’s leaving on a plane back to Asia that night, but he’s still cheerful, excited and more than willing to chat (in impressive English) about topics for Billboard.
"I can't believe it," Siwon says of attending the Gala. “Last year, I attended the gala at LACMA. I saw Tom Hanks and Jack Nicholson. I felt like I was watching a movie. I just can’t believe it. I’m very honored and very proud.”
Despite the night’s theme of "PUNK: Chaos to Couture," Siwon opted for the classic suit and tie look, as seen in a photo shared with his 3.4 million followers. But the Super Junior star told us that no matter what he’s wearing two things are always present: confidence and his self-expression. "The most important parts of fashion to me are confidence and expressing who I am," the star who mentions he loves casual wear and leather items. "If I have those things in anything I'm wearing, then I can be more comfortable. Fashion is confidence from me. If I’m comfortable in everything I'm wearing, then I can do better."