Now, as a solo artist, he has returned to the emirate as his latest single, Hurdle, makes its debut at Dubai Festival City Mall's fountain show. The song, from his latest mini album, Grey Suit, will be played ongoing during the Imagine laser and light display.
“To have my song play at the fountain show as a solo artist makes me very happy," Suho tells The National. "The fact that not only people in Dubai, but tourists from worldwide, can come and hear my song makes me very excited."
Hurdle was also the singer’s favourite song to record, making the moment even more special for him. “It is a very exciting song and very different from the songs on the album. While I was recording it I sang it in different ways as well. I just had a lot of fun recording it.”
Grey Suit, which was released on April 4, has a rock-pop vibe and reflects on Suho's time away from fans because of mandatory military service for all South Korean male citizens. Suho, whose real name is Kim Jun-myeon, enlisted in May 2020 and says he prepared the album within six months while serving.
“I met with producers as well while I was at the military,” he says.
His love for rock is evident throughout Grey Suit and he says his infatuation with the genre began when he was in high school. “When I used to feel sad and lonely, I used to listen to a rock artist named Nell for comfort.
“Five years ago when Coldplay came to Korea — even with the language barrier, seeing they could communicate so well with fans — that is when I really fell for rock." He says he plans to incorporate more rock in future music.
This is his second mini album after Self Portrait, which was released in March 2020. He says his first album was more about Exo's Suho, while the second album has more of a focus on the last two years of his life, while serving conscription.
He isn't the only Exo member to fulfil mandatory military service. Back in May 2019, Xiumin became the first member to enlist, followed shortly by Do in July 2019 who surprised fans by doing so earlier than expected. Since then, other bandmates have worked on various solo projects and in sub-units, while members take turns completing the 18-month service.
Fans are eagerly awaiting Exo's follow-up to their last album and Suho says the band are equally ready to welcome back fans as the group recently celebrated a decade since their debut, which was on April 8, 2012. He says they plan to “repay the love we received from the 10 years that we have been active”.
He also has a special message for fans in the Middle East.
"My Exo members also want to come see the Arab fans as well," he says. "So we hope that we can bring some new music to the UAE and other Arab fans [can] enjoy.”
Suho was recently invited as part of Stanford University's Walter H Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Centre's Korea Programme to speak at its 20th anniversary on May 19.
“While I was preparing for the speech I was very nervous because it was my first time doing a fully English speech and I was very worried,” he says. “But the students who came to hear my speech were Exo fans so it was more comfortable and fun to give the speech as if it was a talk show.”
Looking back at lessons he gained from that he experience, he says: “I realised that the communication with K-pop fans is really important and that the responsibility that comes with being a K-pop idol is also very important.”