Former MONSTA X member Wonho held an exclusive interview with Dispatch to share his thoughts and feelings about his past, his relationship with Jung Da Eun, and his feeling of love towards MONSTA X and MONBEBE.
Dispatch was able to sit down with Wonho for an interview in February. At the time, Wonho was under investigation for marijuana usage in 2013. Since then, Starship Entertainment released an official statement saying Wonho was cleared of all drug charges, and offered him their support.
Wonho stated that he wished for the interview to be released only if he was found not guilty.
It’s true, I do acknowledge that I acted in foolish ways in the past. I tried not to live like that again. I only thought of the members, the group, the fans.
I didn’t do marijuana. The police are investigating the case. When I am proven innocent, please release my story. I want to apologize and clear up any misunderstandings. I want to ask for everyone’s forgiveness.
Wonho’s youth, the unhappy days.
The setting is a rented apartment in Sanbon-dong, Gunpo, Gyeonggi. In the apartment, which consisted of only a small living room and a bedroom lived Wonho, his grandmother, father, mother, and younger brother. It was a time of poverty for them.
Up until I was 20, I lived in a small apartment that my family rented. My grandmother used the bedroom, and my father, mother, brother, and I all ate and slept in the living room. I didn’t realize I was in poverty at the time.
During his elementary school days, he didn’t get along well with others. He was bullied. And continuously bullied. But Wonho was also timid and scared as a child.
One day, I was being teased for being dirty, another day I was teased cause the bullies were bored. My classmates hated me. I have more memories that I don’t want to remember. In simple terms, I was an outcast.
Of course, times were not good at home either. His parents fought every day because of money. Because of this, Wonho spent a lot of time outside the house. It was at that time Wonho met a strange older male in his neighborhood.
I didn’t feel comfortable at home either. My parents fought a lot. I was outside every day. I happened to get to know this older guy, and I started to follow him around.
The bad things are better
After getting to know the older male, there was no more bullying towards him. It was as if they were avoiding him. But Wonho preferred this, his classmates feeling uncomfortable around him.
One day, I ran into a classmate at the stairs who used to bully me. Subconsciously, I flinched when seeing him. But he suddenly apologized to me. I felt proud all of a sudden. I shouldn’t have felt like that…
Wonho wasn’t being bullied anymore. But he still wasn’t happy. The situation didn’t get better at home. At last, he became more pessimistic. The turn happened in high school.
One day, my parents were fighting. I suddenly felt suffocated there. There was no hope at home anymore. I recklessly decided to leave the house. I didn’t realized back then how precious family is.
Outside the house, it was more dangerous. He hung out with new friends he met. He got caught up in something he shouldn’t have been doing. Some of those new friends were sent to juvenile detention on suspicions of theft. Wonho received probation.
I don’t want to blame them. It was also my choice. It sounds like an excuse, but I was not mature back then. It was my fault. It was my mistake. I’m sorry.
Meeting Jung Da Eun, and the birth of a dream
Wonho’s teenage years were tough. There were twists and turns at every point of his life. Then he met Jung Da Eun. It happened when he was in 11th grade.
We quickly became friendly with each other. We were both fitting models. She helped me a lot. She supported me in my dream to become a singer.
Wonho before his 20’s was not the same at Wonho after he turned 20. He began to change. He made his way through reality, and it was an eye-opening experience.
I saw the others practicing like crazy. Everyone was dreaming of something called a ‘dream’. I was embarrassed. I was only living my life holding grudges. I promised at that point, I wouldn’t waste my life anymore.
Wonho would practice all day and all night. Whenever he had time, he would run to the hallway stairs. It was a place he could practice alone. At the stairs, he would continue to practice.
I sang and danced all night with my fellow trainees. It wasn’t hard. I finally thought that I had a future. I was happy then. I really liked the life with the group. I learned a lot during the 4 years.
The past is blocking the road
In 2015, Wonho debuted with MONSTA X. They have released 12 albums in Korea. They have tackled on the United States, Europe, and Asia. The fruits of their labor started to pay off. At the time, their song ranked #39 on Billboard. They were only the 3rd K-Pop artist in history to rank.
But in 2019, Wonho’s future was halted. In the moment, his past history was dragged out. From unpaid debts to his history of probation, everything was revealed. Police even conducted an internal investigation on marijuana usage charges from 2013.
It was my fault, but there were also misunderstandings. Of course, I know I can’t go back in time to fix it. Not everyone who grows up in my situation ends up on the wrong path. I self-reflected a lot while I was on probation.
Wonho didn’t give any excuses. He acknowledged his past and continuously apologized. However, he also strongly denied any marijuana charges.
I do acknowledge my past issues. But this time, it isn’t it. I have never done marijuana. I clearly explained this to the police.
After more than 5 months of investigation, police found no evidence of Wonho using marijuana, and cleared him of the charges. Police also investigated if he took any other drugs, but no drugs of any kind were detected.
Wonho didn’t want to hurt anyone
Wonho decided to withdraw from MONSTA X in October 2019. He stated that the members were being hurt because of his actions, and how the members were not involved in anything he did.
We worked really hard on the new album. I really hated thinking that the group would fall apart because of me. I thought the only way for the group to continue on was for me to leave as soon as I could. I wanted to prevent as much damage as possible from reaching the group.
And of course, he spoke about the group’s fanclub, MONBEBE.
I can confidently say that I completely changed [as a person] after meeting MONBEBE. I learned what it felt like to feel loved. I wanted to live a better life every day.
Wonho wouldn’t turn a single blind eye in his time with MONSTA X. Most of his day consisted of work, exercise, and communicating with fans. In fact, during an overseas tour, he spent 3-4 hours just chatting with fans on live broadcasts.
In fact, I had never felt such warm emotions before, so I didn’t want to disappoint the fans. I only wanted to do what the fans like. I wanted to repay them for their love, but…
Wonho’s past surfaced in the media. There was nothing he could do. The only conclusion that could be made was his withdrawal. He thought it was the only way to reduce the pains the fans would feel.
I made a lot of promises to the fans. I said I would always be by their side. I’m sorry I had to leave this way. I’ve only been thinking of them.
But still, he had no choice.
In the past, I lived as Lee Ho Seok, and now, I live as Wonho. Does Wonho have no responsibility for what Lee Ho Seok did? I have to carry the weight of what I did. I hurt people with what I did in the past. I wanted to reduce the pain of that.
Following his withdrawal, Wonho didn’t leave his house for a while. He kept a low profile, avoiding others to prevent more damage. In the meantime, he was cleared of his charges. He left one last apology for his fans.
I still haven’t forgotten the fans. I am just full of regret. I feel like I should have done better for them. I just wanted to say I am sorry, which is why I participated in this interview.