In a recent interview with Allure magazine, SHINee‘s Key reflected on his journey to becoming the charismatic performer we all know and love despite growing up in a traditional family.

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| Marie Claire

Ahead of SHINee’s first comeback in three years, he spoke about the impact his upbringing had on his dream to be an idol.

He explained that his parents wanted him to follow a more traditional career path.

They always wanted me to study a lot and become a doctor, but hell, no. I secretly studied dance in school, and, of course, loved to sing.

— SHINee’s Key

After Key secretly auditioned for SM Entertainment at the age of 15, he sat his parents down and told them that he wanted to be an idol.

Luckily, despite their initial protests, they soon realised that Key would not give up on his dream.

Key eventually debuted in SHINee in 2008. It was a massive shock going into an industry with huge characters, styles and personalities.

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Although he was shy growing up, there had always been a personality and fire inside his heart that had wanted to show.

By watching groups like 2NE1, he realised that he also wanted to express his music, personality and identity through fashion and beauty.

From here, fans started to notice Key’s ability to blur the boundaries between femininity and masculinity

A lot of this inspiration came from their fans (Shawols). Key noticed that they were influenced by whatever the band was wearing despite them being a boy group.

That was a symbolic moment for me, seeing no need for boundaries.

— SHINee’s Key

Even now, he continues to use fashion to make a statement and has modelled for several different designers and concepts, many that are traditionally reserved for women.

With his flamboyant style and daring trends, Key has become a fashion icon in the K-Pop industry. He hopes that, by embracing all forms of fashion, these expectations will start to fade away.

I’m wishing for a day when seeing women only wearing men’s clothing, just this person doing this and this person doing that, is completely natural and no one will bat an eye.

— SHINee’s Key