Since 2005, DONGHAE and EUNHYUK have dominated the K-pop scene as members of SUPER JUNIOR, and then later the sub-unit duo SUPER JUNIOR-D&E, which debuted in 2011. For the uninitiated, sub-units are common in the music industry and give members within larger groups a chance to create more magic together. Since the duo’s debut, DONGHAE and EUNHYUK have proven to be great friends and business partners, releasing hits such as “Oppa, Oppa” and “Growing Pains,” as well as a number of EPs and Japanese albums. Despite their success, they hadn’t released a joint full-length Korean album — until now. On Nov. 2, they dropped COUNTDOWN to celebrate their upcoming 10-year anniversary (Dec. 16) as a group.
EUNHYUK tells Elite Daily the project represents a turning point for his and DONGHAE’s careers. “It’s truly a meaningful moment and is really exciting as it feels like we’re starting a new chapter,” EUNHYUK says, explaining the idea behind the album title is all about a fresh start. “When people do a countdown, they usually start from 10 to 0. Likewise, we decided to call this album COUNTDOWN in time for our 10th anniversary as it’s our take on going from 10 to 0 and starting up again.”
In the weeks leading up to COUNTDOWN, DONGHAE and EUNHYUK surprised their fans (called E.L.F) by dropping independent, solo EPs and corresponding singles, “California Love” and “be.” “We worked hard to show new sides of ourselves through our first album and took a new approach by releasing solo tracks,” EUNHYUK says. “We thought it’d be a meaningful present for our fans.”
DONGHAE says he was excited to experiment with a new sound through “California Love,” his R&B single that features JENO from the K-pop group NCT. “Personally, I really like medium hip-hop or groovy tracks that make you dance to the beat, but this type of music is a bit difficult to fully show as SUPER JUNIOR or SUPER JUNIOR-D&E,” DONGHAE says. “I decided on ‘California Love’ for my solo track because I wanted to show that version of myself.”
Meanwhile, EUNHYUK gave fans insight into his innermost thoughts with his pop track “be.” In the song, he reminisces about the dreams he used to have as a child. “The door that was closed around 12/ A dream that a six-year-old child had,” EUNHYUK sings on the track. “My silent breathing for you who are soft-hearted/ The child who lost words while looking up the sky.”
DONGHAE and EUNHYUK’s dreams of becoming performers came true in 2005 when they debuted in SUPER JUNIOR, the boy group that went on to become one of the longest-running K-pop acts around today. Dubbed the “Kings of the Hallyu Wave,” SUPER JUNIOR helped popularize K-pop around the world with singles like “Sorry, Sorry” and “Mr. Simple.” “I don’t think any of us expected we’d still be together for this long,” DONGHAE says. “Now, we’re really family. We don’t need to say anything because we know everything about each other.”
After spending six years together as part of SUPER JUNIOR, DONGHAE and EUNHYUK eventually debuted as SUPER JUNIOR-D&E in 2011, showcasing their undeniable chemistry. EUNHYUK says their genuine friendship is what helped them achieve longevity in the music industry. “We were able to come this far as D&E because DONGHAE and I were friends before we became a team,” he says. “I think our secret is that we enjoy what we do and don’t view it as work. When we’re working, we also help each other out and really understand and care for each other.”
EUNHYUK says SUPER JUNIOR-D&E also wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the support of their fans. He adds, “Without our E.L.F., this album would have no meaning and we would not be here. We are here because of the constant love you have shown us, the support towards our albums, and all the fans that have shown up at our concerts.” As a result, DONGHAE and EUNHYUK dedicated their lead single off COUNTDOWN, “ZERO,” to E.L.F. “Without you I’m, without you I’m zero,” the duo sing on the track.
DONGHAE and EUNHYUK hope to perform live soon. “During the [lockdown], we’ve released an album as SUPER JUNIOR-D&E and two as SUPER JUNIOR,” DONGHAE says. “Usually, after a release, we’ll go on tour to meet our E.L.F., and I feel like the time is near when we’ll be able to see each other again.”
EUNKYUK says, “We plan to challenge ourselves to continue showing new sides of us, so I hope you’re excited and will stay with us so we can continue making great memories together.” Fingers crossed E.L.F. get to see them IRL soon.
Listen to SUPER JUNIOR-D&E’s COUNTDOWN below.