It's not for nothing that Super Junior is called the "Kings of Hallyu Wave."
As their 17-year career continues to set the tone for many of today's K-pop bands, the group attributes their success, first and foremost, to their decision to stick together all these years.
Super Junior debuted on Nov. 6, 2005 under the South Korean talent agency SM Entertainment. At that time, the company's plan to launch an "all-around entertainment group" with as many as 12 members, was considered an unthinkable work by music critics.
17 years and a plethora of awards, concerts, and endorsements later, Super Junior has proven that they are, indeed, the last men standing.
The group's leader Leeteuk said that it's all thanks to their determination to work hard and remain united through and through.
"We never took breaks," Leeteuk said. "All of us went to the army, enlisted in the army, but even when some of us were in the army, the group didn't cease to work and have new albums so I think that's one of the powers we have."
"We weren't trying to let go of anything, but what we did was try our hardest. And I think those days led up to 17 years of time," he added.
This is, of course, in addition to grouping the members into five sub-units that allowed them to show the "different aspects" of their individualities and "venturing into genres that other idol groups wouldn't have" early in their careers.
Leeteuk revealed all these to PhilSTAR L!fe and other Asian media outlets present at the virtual press conference of Super Junior: The Last Man Standing last Feb. 1.
The docuseries premiered with two episodes on Disney+ last Jan. 18, with each one providing ELFs with never-before-seen footage and interviews about the success of Leeteuk, Heechul, Yesung, Shindong, Sungmin, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Siwon, Ryeowook and Kyuhyun across Asia and the entire world.
Super Junior: The Last Man Standing
During Wednesday's press conference, Leeteuk revealed that the docuseries' title is part of the lyrics of their 2011 track Superman. It is a line that, he said, inspires him up to this day.
"I felt this from ten years ago, that we would be the last man standing," the singer-songwriter said. "So I feel the responsibility and pressure to show our junior idol groups how to move forward, so I want to work really hard."
Ryeowook, the group's main vocalist and maknae, also noted how he refers to the docuseries' title as a mantra for the group's continued success.
"In 10 years' time, in 20 years' time, I still want to say that Super Junior is gonna be the last man standing," he said.
The show, meanwhile, will take ELFs on a trip down memory lane as it comprises "fun and enjoyable" clips that date back to the time that they, as Leeuteuk said, were still "babies" in the industry.
Episode 1 begins with each member recalling how they entered the group and transitions to the highs and lows they experienced while establishing Super Junior in the K-pop industry.
Although Leeteuk watched the series four times already, he admitted during the press con that he would still "tear up every time."
"The documentary [shows] our entire past, including crisis and quarrels. I didn't know that it would be part of it so I was quite surprised," he said.
These crises include Heechul's car accident in 2006 which left him with a broken leg and another road accident the following year that injured Leeteuk,
It wasn't just Leeteuk and the other members who watched the docuseries, though, but also his family and relatives who later told him, "Super Junior has come a long way."
Looking back over a decade later, Leeteuk and Ryeowook only have inspiring words to tell their younger selves.
"I would say that you are going to be the best so don't be afraid," Ryeowook said. "Because while I was watching the documentary, I [saw that] I was afraid when I was young... So I want to say that to my younger self."
Leeteuk added, "If I were to go back 17 years ago, I would tell myself, 'You're doing great,' because there are things that I couldn't fix but that was the best that I could give."
Super Junior: The Last Man Standing is now streaming on Disney+.