Jeongyeon “I discovered how fun it is to challenge myself.”


Boxing girl, TWICE’sJeongyeon

“Getting into sports helped me discover how fun it is to challenge myself … It made me feel alive, like every nerve was buzzing. I thought, ‘I have to keep going, I have to overcome this.’ Breaking through that barrier made me realize I could overcome anything.”

Coat, ear cuffs, all by Givenchy. Inner anorak romper, Maison Margiela. Shoes, Valentino Garavani.

GQ So, why boxing?
JY I’ve wanted to try it for a while now. I was a bit hesitant at first because I heard all you do is jump rope when you start. I also didn’t know how or where to begin. But a friend of a friend who boxes connected me to a gym, and that’s how I got started. I go with my older sister, (Gong) Seung-yeon, who sort of tags along. I mean, just look at her—she doesn’t look very strong, does she? (laughs)
GQ You’re left-handed, which you mentioned is an advantage in tennis. Have you found any advantages in boxing?
JY I’m strong. My coach said my punches are so powerful that I’m as good as some of the more advanced members at the gym. That’s motivated me to push myself further.
GQ Did you always know you were strong?
JY I did, to some extent. Growing up, I could never beat my sister, but eventually there came a point when I realized I could overpower her in a fight. That was the moment I knew boxing would be something I’d enjoy.
GQ Any first experiences with boxing?
JY Yes, definitely. Before, I couldn’t maintain eye contact for long, but boxing has changed that. When I first started, I used to look down all the time. My coach would say, “Look at me. Look into my eyes!” That taught me to look up and not avoid eye contact. If you want to predict the next punch or your opponent’s moves, you need to watch their eyes. That way, you’ll be able to anticipate what’s coming. It’s really improved my focus.

Jacket, Alexander McQueen. Professional bag gloves, Everlast.

GQ You’ve tried many sports like tennis, snowboarding, and surfing. How does boxing compare?
JY Moments that require quick reflexes give me such a thrill, and it’s not just about being strong. Flexibility is crucial. I do a lot of stretching and hip rotations to improve my flexibility. I’ve also picked up quite a few things I didn’t expect, like boxing jargon, which is fun to learn.
GQ I can tell you’re itching to go to the gym right now. When do you feel like boxing?
JY I limit myself to just once a week to keep it fresh. Once I’m there, I box non-stop for two hours. After sweating it out, I feel incredibly refreshed. It’s also a great stress reliever. Plus, the shower afterwards is the best feeling.
GQ On the reality TV competition Sixteen, you made your mark during the photoshoot. The way your gaze transformed in front of the camera was unforgettable. Do you have any strategies planned for our boxing-themed photoshoot?
JY J.Y. Park, our CEO, often tells me, “Jeongyeon, there’s something really intriguing about your gaze. It looks blank, but it’s captivating.” Honestly, I don’t know. I’m just zoning out. (laughs) During Sixteen, I was just a newbie who didn’t know anything. I still feel nervous at photoshoots, because it’s different from being made up for the stage and performing. I always worry about how the pictures will turn out and whether people will think I did well. I think about all sorts of things the night before. I spent a lot of time thinking about this shoot too, wondering whether I should throw some jabs and punches. But after seeing Jihyo’s golf photoshoot, I realized I don’t actually have to box. (smiles)

Jacket, Superfast.

GQ Do you often seek advice from the other TWICE members?
JY Yes, quite frequently. I tend to be indecisive, so I value their opinions. I’m not easily swayed, but I’m open to their views. They’ve known me for a long time and wouldn’t lie to me.
GQ It sounds like you really trust them.
JY I do. They’re honest with me and speak from the heart, so I try to listen with all my heart too.
GQ Just like the spirit of sportsmanship, there seems to be a distinct “TWICE spirit” as well, even if it hasn’t been formally established.
JY I think so. We’ve never formally outlined them, but we each have our roles. For example, Nayeon eonni is great at giving practical advice when we’re unsure, making things clear. Then Jihyo quickly takes action, and the others follow.
GQ What about you? What role do you play?
JY I kind of go back and forth. (laughs) If someone thinks a certain way, I’ll agree and say, “That’s true,” and if there’s a different opinion, I’ll also agree and say, “That’s true too.” I try to make sure no one feels overlooked or hurt.
GQ Were you always this accommodating and inclusive, or is it something you’ve learned from being part of the group?
JY It’s something I’ve learned by being part of TWICE. I tend to be opinionated, and in the beginning, I was quite strict with the members. But over time, I’ve grown to understand them better and recognize they each had valid reasons for their actions. This understanding has deepened my thinking.

Coat, YCH. Inner hood, Longchamp. Pants, Golden Goose. Shoes, Jimmy Choo. Earrings, Ferragamo. Socks are stylist’s own.

GQ Recently, there was an idea to have each member plan a day of the itinerary for your 10th-anniversary trip. What would a day planned by Jeongyeon look like?
JY I’d choose a place where we all need to focus on the same thing—somewhere with no distractions. (laughs) Maybe a boat trip. I once went surfing at sunrise in Goseong, swimming out into the sea before dawn to wait for the sunrise. All I could hear was the sound of the water, and it was so peaceful. I’d love to go sunrise surfing with the members, telling them, “Just feel it.” And if anyone gets distracted, I’d gently scold them. (laughs)
GQ In your life, who or what has been the most important guide?
JY That’s a tough one. (pauses) I don’t think I have one specific guide. I used to think my mom was my guide. I believed her choices were always right. There were times I wanted to be like her, but not anymore. I’ve come to realize that what she wants for me and what I want for myself are different. This has changed my thinking. Even though it’s hard, I want to make my own decisions and trust in them more. To trust myself and go for it. I’m not sure exactly when … but this shift started around the time I took a break from everything. Since then, my convictions have only grown stronger.
GQ When you suffered a leg injury in New Caledonia while filming “Law of the Jungle” and were told you had to return to Korea, I remember you crying and asking, “Isn’t there something I can do while sitting down?” Seeing that made me realize you always look for ways to contribute, even when you’re down and facing setbacks.
JY Maybe I acted that way, because I was still a rookie then and felt like I needed to prove myself, but I think that’s just who I am. I set those thoughts aside when I took a break, but getting into sports helped me discover how fun it is to challenge myself. When I started playing tennis, I went to the courts seven days a week. Even when I didn’t have a lesson, I’d go alone and practice, and if I learned a new technique, I’d find it so fun that I’d go try it out. Whenever I messaged my coach, saying I was stressed, he’d text back, “Come and play!” and I’d rush over and play without thinking about anything else. When you first learn tennis, your whole body is sore, but I kept at it. It made me feel alive, like every nerve was buzzing. I thought, “I have to keep going, I have to overcome this.” Breaking through that barrier made me realize I could overcome anything.

Coat, shirt, pants, socks, all by Dries Van Noten. Shoes, earrings, all by Burberry.

GQ If tennis helped clear your mind, how about boxing?
JY I’ve become mentally healthier since starting tennis, so I’d like to savor boxing a bit more. That’s why I try not to overdo it. I want to keep enjoying it for as long as possible without getting tired of it.
GQ Do you find it necessary to pace yourself to maintain that enjoyment?
JY While boxing, I often find myself thinking ahead about the future, which I just can’t seem to help. (laughs) I know that if I go every day, even if it’s fun, I’ll eventually get sick of it, so maintaining a steady pace is key.
GQ Do you think it’s more important to be consistent?
JY Yes, nothing beats being consistent.
GQ Why do you say that?
JY I started feeling this way after noticing an improvement in my health. Becoming steadily healthier not only cleared my mind but also allowed me to reflect deeply on myself. Slowly but surely, I can feel that I’m becoming a more positive person.
GQ Is there anything that scares you these days? In a broadcast, you mentioned that getting scared while walking at night with Jihyo would feel like a sign that you were aging. Last year in a GQ interview, you defined youth as having no fears. It seems you think about fear quite a bit.
JY I do think about it sometimes. For instance, what if a car suddenly races toward me while I’m waiting at a green light? Or what if the elevator breaks down when I don’t have my phone with me? What would I do in those situations? As a kid, I was much more carefree and never entertained those kinds of thoughts.
GQ They say anxiety is a natural instinct for self-protection.
JY My sister’s the same. She recently boasted about buying an emergency kit and suggested I get one too, but I didn’t. I have a dog, and pets aren’t allowed in shelters. No matter what happens, I want to stay with my dog. Lately, the only thing that scares me … is my dog getting upset and biting me. Maybe I’ve spoiled him too much? Other than that, not much else scares me.
GQ I guess that means you’re still young?
JY Well, I’m still young, aren’t I?

Shin Sunhye
Kim Mihyun
Hair & Make-up
Park Jeonghwan
Janet Hong

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