An Interview With ATEEZ San’s Father Gives Insight To The Idol’s Humble Roots

He truly is the pride of his hometown, Namhae.

Back on May 7 for Parents’ Day in South Korea, Namhae TV, a major news station in ATEEZ member San‘s hometown of Namhae, had an interview with the idol’s father about San’s childhood and family life.

San as a child

Choi Jongcheol, father of San and his older sister, Haneul, is the Director of Namhae Sports Association for the Disabled. Both he and his son share an immense love for their hometown, and San’s recent appointment as the promotional ambassador for Namhae was a huge source of pride for him and his family.

It’s the same for me and San, we became people that love Namhae, and that love comes naturally by itself.

— Choi Jongcheol

San being appointed as Namhae’s promotional ambassador.

San’s journey to becoming a K-Pop idol began in middle school, when he told his father seriously that he felt that the money spent on him attending a hagwon (private academy) was wasted, because he didn’t want to study — instead, he wanted to be a singer.

I felt very surprised, and I told him, ‘Think carefully, then, about what really makes your heart pound.’ And so San said, ‘I want to be a singer before it’s too late. Since I’ve started late, I want to learn properly in Seoul.

— Choi Jongcheol

Young San

Jongcheol was able to use personal connections to get San to Seoul and set him up with vocal lessons. It was difficult and lonely for the young future idol for some time, but fortunately, he was able to stay with the family of a man named Lee Jiyoung who took care of him like their own son, and who San’s father is incredibly grateful for.

He still attended the first half of his first year of high school at Namhae High School, but when he was accepted to Seoul’s prestigious Korean Arts High School, he moved to the capital city entirely. His mother, Kim Namji, spent about two and a half years traveling back and forth between Seoul and Namhae each week, with four days in Seoul and three in Namhae. She has said that even though the commute was tiring, that time in her life was precious to her, as she was able to look after San.

San and his mother

San was encouraged by the words of his teacher, composer and songwriter Kim Hyuna, who told him that as long as he himself doesn’t give up, then he has potential. She became a huge driving force for him to pursue his passion.

He and his family are also grateful to the people of Namhae, KQ Entertainment‘s CEO Kim Kyuwook (who they said took care of him just like a father would), the other company staff, and ATINY who always cheer him on and have given him love and praises.


San’s grandfather and Jongcheol’s father, Choi Changhoon, was also an incredibly precious person in the idol’s life. Though he sadly recently passed, it seems that he was a huge source of familial love and support for both San and his father as well.

San’s grandfather can’t see. And though he is visually impaired, he delivers coal briquettes and does restaurant work without any reservations. He raised me well without anything lacking with all of his might. He made me never give up on what I wanted to do. He always supported me and [raised me] to live a kind and generous life, and practiced this himself as a person.

— Choi Jongcheol

Pre-debut San

Since San’s father was often busy running the Taekwondo studio he was in charge of in Namhae, the idol’s grandparents played a huge role in raising him, and he loves them deeply and preciously.

San was very attached to [his grandfather] in particular… Because San loves to sing, [his grandparents] even gave him a karaoke machine. Every day before coming home, San would stop by his grandparents’ house and sing to them.

— Choi Jongcheol

Pre-debut San

San’s father has always supported his son, and had confidence that he would grow up well because he is a good person with good human qualities. He also gave words of wisdom to San, which he shared in the interview.

I told San, ‘What kind of celebrity would you be? Having some popularity but going around being [arrogant], I couldn’t stand seeing you do that. If you want to be a true [earnest] singer, you must always be humble. Even if you only have just one fan and you only dance and sing for that one person, you should have a proper heart for that. Think of that one fan as me, and do your best.

— Choi Jongcheol

Though San has difficulty leaning on others when he’s going through a hard time, and tends to keep things to himself to prevent being a “burden” on others, his father said that he would have liked to tell him that he can lean on him. However, he said that he instead told San:

There’s nothing certain in life. Be deeply grateful for your fans’ love. Hardship is temporary, and popularity is fleeting, so don’t lose your original intention, as the life of an idol doesn’t last forever.

— Choi Jongcheol

It’s easy to see where San learned his kind, humble, and hard-working nature. We appreciate Choi Jongcheol taking the time to share this insight into the idol’s childhood and family life, and let’s continue to cheer on this talented and passionate performer!

Source: and Image (1) and (2)


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