Idology: Heejun Han on Asian Clichés, Cowboy Drama, Hilfiger-Gate and His One Idol Regret

Heejun Han is funny, and he knows it. But just because American Idol‘s Season 11 ninth-place finisher knows how to deliver a punch line doesn’t mean he takes his singing any less seriously.

Heejun sat down for a freewheeling Idology interview to discuss what informed his musical decisions over the last few months, whether or not he was “disrespecting the process” during Billy Joel week, how he survived his Hollywood Week clash with cowboy Richie Law, and what he meant when he told Ryan Seacrest he was just “doing it for the kids.”

So press play below to get a better understanding of Season 11’s funnyman, and for all my Idol news, interviews, and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. LauraHolt says:

    Although not my favorite voice this season (I loved him, I just loved a few others more) he is my favorite Idol Contestant (in terms of personality) of ALL eleven seasons.

    Can’t wait to hear what Heejun has to say. Thanks for the upload.

    Michael I’m still mad that you never got around to re-interviewing Casey Abrams. You said you would since the initial interview file got corrupted and was never uploaded. I really wanted to hear you ask him about some of the nutty choices that he made. I wanted to know if he agreed that some of his antics overshadowed his insane vocal abilities and genius musicianship. I also wanted to know what he would have sang if he had made it to the finale.

    • Johnny says:

      Dude, that was last year. Move on.

    • sam says:

      Casey’s got a record deal, so i’m happy about that, so it is so not last year…..

    • Tusk says:

      Don’t forget Michael found out about Casey playing “Moanin’ ” on his melodica without knowing the words to the song, in that lost Casey interview…. later revealed in the epic Haleyloonies :D

      Would have been fun to hear about “Moanin'” from Casey’s end. It’s funny in their duets, Haley’s the one with the song choice..Casey just goes along:

      -Ray Chew and Haley fought to perform “Moanin'”, which Haley had performed multiple times in jazz band.
      -It was Haley’s idea for them to perform “Baby it’s Cold Outside”. Casey didn’t know the song and Haley had performed it with her Dad on a family Christmas album years ago.
      -“All My Lovin'” which they performed while promoting “Baby it’s Cold Outside”, was from Haley’s favorite band, the Beatles, and Casey didn’t even know the words to the song (on at least two performances), even though he played marvelously on his guitar.

      I wonder if Casey had HIS choice for a duet with Haley, what would it have been? (Or maybe he was the one that chose “I Feel The Earth Move Under My Feet”)

    • Brigette says:

      Ditto. I would love to see a re-done Casey interview. I don’t even care that it’s “last year.” He could also talk a little about what his album is going to be like and how he feels about this season so far, since those of us to stalk his Twitter know that he watches Idol and keeps up with it. ;)

    • Patrick says:

      Heejun was by far my favorite contestant as well. I love how he shook up the show a lul bit! His humor is dry as a desert! Lurv him.

  2. shelbybb says:

    Won’t miss him in the competition but enjoyed saying hi to him along the way.

  3. noa says:

    once again, Slezak, yours is the only post Idol interview I can count on to really give me a sense of who this person is and how he sees his (i’m sorry for this) “journey”. great questions, great comments! Heejun seems really smart and interesting. I do hope we hear from him again (but not necessarily his singing…).

  4. Rxlcrab says:

    Fantastic interviewer with in-depth questions, and some revealing and sincere answers. Heejun seems like the kind of person who really knows what he’s about, and tries hard to hang on to his values. I just find it fascinating that as a guy whose first language is not Rnglish, Heejun can wield and play with his words like few native English speakers can, I guess funny guys are just funny in any language. I’ve come out of listening to this interview appreciating the person that is Heejun, for being the honest, funny and humble guy that he is. Also I’ve gained respect for you Michael as an interviewer, a job well done sir.

  5. Ash Q says:

    Heejun seems really genuine and honest. He’s absolutely adorable. I admit his singing was just not as good as the rest of the contestants at this stage in the competition, but I’m going to miss him so so much. His packages were what I looked forward to the most. Such a humble guy.

  6. Wendy says:

    Great interview, and Heejun needs to be cast on a comedy show! He’d be a fantastic sitcom comedian. So I hope I’ll see him on my TV screen again soon….

  7. teatime says:

    Nice interview, Michael, as usual. You have an interest in what your interviewees (yeah, that’s a word, I looked it up) have to say and you ask them interesting questions.

    I liked what Heejun says at the end. Something like, “People actually start this competition believing in themself and at the end of the day when they get kicked off they start doubting themself. But I started off this competition doubting myself and now I’m believing in myself.”

    I think Heejun is a good role model.

    • Ghost of Kelly Clarkson says:

      I completely agree — more kids should be like Heejun. He seems like a nice, funny guy who is also very grounded. I hope he has a blast on the tour this summer and that the visibility he’s been able to bring to his “kids” continues to pay off.

    • Meghan says:

      I really liked that quote by Heejun and it was a great way to end the interview. Another good one, Slezak!

  8. Just Saying says:

    Heejun for Glee!

  9. Kona Ana says:

    W.o.w. This is the best post-interview about Heejun Han that I’ve seen so far. Thank you for letting us get a glimpse of the real person Heejun is and not what everyone is judging him to be. I really enjoyed watching this and didn’t want it to end!

  10. Danny says:

    I’m glad he didn’t take Tommy Hillinger’s advice. That week, the guy (TH) was 9 for 10 in making the idol look worse or at best, the same. He was ok last week, because they gave him 1 shot before any of the contestants sang. I hope he never comes back where he gives his 2 cents before anyone sings.

    For me the performance is from when their preamble begins to when they’re done singing, and then any additional comments to Ryan if they make any. Tommy Hillinger made every one of those performances a little bit worse. Good on Heejun for telling the guy to take a hike.

  11. soomp says:

    I agree with the other commenters – I saw most of the other post-Idol interviews, and yours was by far the best. I’ve been following you for years on EW and now here – thanks for adding so much to the Idol experience!

  12. TM2Bee says:

    I have said all season that HeeJun should be in movies and television. It would be a shame to waste that comedic talent. That said, I loved his voice and am sad to see him gone. I will definitely miss him and everything he brought to the show. Hearing him say that he was trying to make a funny segment with Hilfiger just shows that he is destined for a comedy career. That boy is going to be a star! A big star! Good luck HeeJun, I’ll be watching for you!

  13. sam says:

    Michael — great great interview — i not only gained even more respect for heejun but more for you as well. thanks!

  14. 123 says:

    Great interview. Good questions and great honest answers by Heejun. Kid has a good head on his shoulders. I wish him success in everything he does. He really is blessed with such an interesting personality. One of a kind, for sure.

  15. Lily says:

    Great interview ! Thank you Michael Slezak ! I also felt that Heejun did not quite understand the wordings of Steve T. Oh well, I still think that “My life” was actually a great song choice of Heejun and I hope he will perform it on the Idol tour..

    And I think the comment of “Just saying” is hilarious but I have to agree with this person, Heejun would be great on Glee…

  16. dan says:

    Someone should put Heejun on a sitcom.

  17. Liz says:

    “I just find it fascinating that as a guy whose first language is not English, Heejun can wield and play with his words like few native English speakers can, I guess funny guys are just funny in any language.”

    So true. Heejun doesn’t have a strong command of English in terms of grammar, but he always has a way of expressing himself in such a meaningful and witty way. That’s why I love reading his tweets. They are so NOT generic. In an interview, when the contestants were asked to describe their life in one word, while every other person said things like “chaos”, “insane”, “crazy”, “blessed”, Heejun picked “Dictionary” ‘cos there are not one word to describe it all.

    His outlook on life is interesting and refreshing.

    Thanks for the great interview, Michael. Helps us get to know him more.

    • aiden says:

      Liz, this is Aiden, Heejun’s brother.
      It’s fascinating. I also read this about that somewhere on the AI website, but can’t find it.
      do you mind if I post your thread on Heejun’s fanpage?

  18. Don-Paul says:

    Great insight into Heejun. I wanted the interview to on way past the 10 minute mark. It looked like you were having a great time with him. Please post (or send me) the unedited version. thanks for what you do and Melinda was one of my favorites of all time, a great addition to your site. Wise choices.

  19. ck says:

    If only Heejun could have stayed long enough for this week’s show with Gwen Stefani. I have no doubt seeing him receive advice from the creator of the LAMB fashion collection would have been an “Idol Moment”.

  20. Jessica says:

    Never was interested in Heejun. Still not. I don’t like or get that personality. He’s a joke-not even a great joke. Well happy he did it for the kids now he can go back with some extra money for them and we can have people on the show that actually want this besides ratings. He won’t get hired out there. If he does I’ll be shocked. Onto good stuff-Michael you did an awesome job in the interview!

    • Joe says:

      The sad thing is the only way Heejun is going to get hired for anything is to play the stereotypical clueless Asian guy. What he did on the show was play to that stereotype and by playing to it, it got him on the show. All any casting director will ever look to him for is playing a deadpan clueless space cadet who occasionally says something witty. He’s not a leading man and won’t be treated as such. The other thing I could pick up from his interview is he has a very inflated opinion of himself. He walks the humble line but there’s almost an angry arrogance behind it. He does think he knows better. A real Producer and Director will not put up with that. He may get stunt casted in a few things or do a web series. He’s not going to become a star and his comment about how he’s not going to work with the kids he did this for everyday but will do things for them when he can says to me homeboy thinks he’s going to blow up as an actor and won’t have time for the kids. After the tour and when the next crop of contestants are cast on these shows, the silence will deafening. Good luck in your first round of comedy auditions Heejun when you go up against really talented comedic actors with range. You’re gonna need it. And for the record? He wasn’t taking this singing competition seriously. Watch his interview. The joke was on all of you.

      • Jays says:

        lol, are you 12?

        • Joe says:

          From the waist down, yes.

          • Beth P. says:

            You have a penis the size of a 12 year old? Sucks to be you, but apparently your maturity matches. Anyone who didn’t understand Heejun is an idiot. He’s hilarious, humble and completely grounded. You and Jessica have sticks up your asses.

      • Rosa says:

        If you look at his last few comments in particular, I think it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t want to be a leading man. As much as I agree with you on the sad stereotyping that goes on, I’m pretty sure Heejun knows who he is, and trying to be Brad Pitt isn’t it.

      • Sarah says:

        I agree with what you have written. Sadly I do not think many people noticed. He did take it all like a joke. And I think it has continued since… But who knows maybe he would be lucky and actually land a comedic job though. :/ (I cannot tell the future.)

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Well, playing a clueless, deadpan, funny Asian pays the bills better than what he’s doing now, which is working with special needs children at a not-for-profit, I believe. Most money is the same shade of green. ;-)

      • wendeeloo says:

        Wow – It’s amazing how you went on and on with such irritation for the guy. “The joke was on all of you”?! You have over thought this guy. He has a dry sense of humor. That can come off as arrogant so apparently that’s all you saw. For me, and many viewers – he was very entertaining. It’s fine that you don’t think so. But that you want me to think I was “duped”! —- ah, no.

      • donie says:

        I think some of the comments here about Asian stereotypes perhaps show a generational divide. I get the sense from Heejun that he, like many young urban Asian kids, is very secure in his identity and has both the self confidence and cultural facility to subvert tired clueless / not-hip / not-sexy Asian male stereotypes. To the extent he enacts them, they’re in quotes, if you will. You can’t listen to him for 10 minutes and miss that he’s smart, funny, and more hip than most of us posting here. He may well be burning bridges in the music industry (and not necessarily cut out to be a comic actor or tv star just because he’s a funny personality), but there’s no shame in that, and I wish him well whatever he does next.

  21. Yo' says:

    Interesting guy – and I really like his voice. Heejun made his lack of command of English work for him comedically in this competition, but if he wants to stay in show business, he needs to work intensively on his language skills. I struggle sometimes to understand him, when he is otherwise so expressive.

  22. This is great. It has good content, humor and depth all in one package. Hee Jun is humble and yet not afraid to stick to his principles. A true artist is not afraid to show what’s real. I hope he becomes a huge success. Beautiful job Michael and Hee Jun both.

    Heejun for GLEE

  23. Laura says:

    Great interview! I really do like his voice. If he really wanted to pursue singing as a career, I don’t think it would take much practice and coaching to make it a reality. However, I really believe that he would be good as either a host or on a sitcom; he has great comedic timing and is very witty and quick on his feet. He can relate well to others and seems highly intelligent. Good job bringing out the best parts of his personality and giving him a platform to better explain some of the editing, Michael!!

  24. blingedup says:

    I’m missing Heejun already. He has a dry wit and I always looked forward to his appearance on the show. People who think The Three Stooges is the funniest movie ever probably aren’t going to get his humor.
    I could’ve watched another 10 minutes of that. Great interview (as usual.)

  25. ana says:

    This interview was really great.

  26. Jays says:

    Thanks for the interview

  27. DFT says:

    The stripes and argyle combo make my eyes hurt.

  28. Brigette says:

    I think Heejun’s comment about Tommy Hilfiger not changing anyone’s life in 20 minutes and about how was Heejun’s job to “make a good scene” is one of the smartest, most-self aware things I’ve ever heard an Idol contestant say. Heejun has a great voice, but so do a lot of people, and the reason he made it so far was because he knew he was on a gimmicky REALITY show and that if he wanted to stick around, he had to create funny moments that people would remember. I love how genuine and honest Heejun is– he’s able to say “I know I’m funny” and still come off as humble. I hope good things are in his future!

    • DFT says:

      Brigette- your comment times a million. I’ve always wanted to see what a truly self-aware but still semi-talented contestant could do to really mess with and subvert the show. Heejun came pretty close.

      • jasper says:

        come on! this guy just knew the physiology of THE SHOW. and cleverly used it! How clever he is. obviously he was not the one of the best singers. but i admit he has a nice voice anyway.

    • jiji33 says:

      totally agree!

  29. Karen says:

    Enjoyed the interview. But ‘Angels’ is not by Billy Joel, but the incredible Robbie Williams… probably just a mix-up by Heejun, but wanted to put that out there :)

  30. gcem says:

    I heard this Heejun guy sing on The Tonight Show the other night and all I can say is he has to be the worst singer, outside of William Hung, to have come out of American Idol. How’d this guy even get past the auditions?

    And what in the holy heck was that chick wearing. Talk about ill-fitting and ugly. She better fire her stylist ASAP!

    • Sandi says:


      • gcem says:

        No…it’s called an “opinion.” Just because my opinion doesn’t mesh with your opinion doesn’t mean I’m trolling. You don’t like my opinion, fine. You don’t have to resort to name calling.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      LOL. You aren’t allowed to have an opinion here, gcem.
      I saw Heejun and Erika on Jay Leno as well. Never cared for Heejun’s vocals and I’m pretty much in agreement with you. How did he get past auditions? Beats me, but there are plenty of people here that think he’s the bee’s knees. I was listening to him the last night he sang on Idol. One friend was calling me on the phone, ecstatic about his performance, while another was texting me with WHY IS HEEJUN STILL ON MY TV???????
      I love Erika’s voice (she was on as well as Heejun) but she is more style challenged than I am, and that’s bad!

  31. MamaLis says:

    Ya! Great interview Michael! I agree with earlier post. You know the interview is great when you don’t want it to end!!!! I’m MUCH more interested in Heejun now, than when he was singing on Idol. He WOULD be great on a sitcom!! Best of luck, Heejun!

  32. Sandi says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a career in TV ahead of him – sitcoms or talk shows or something. He’s definitely built a fan base on his comedic skills.

    Good interview Michael. I’m glad you gave him a forum for discussing his charity. It definitely makes me think highly of him that he’s using his 15 minutes of fame to promote it.

    I definitely think the voters got it right last week but he’s still a talented singer and I wish him the best.

  33. Laura says:

    Love Love Heejun! What a boring season this would have been without him. I think he is one of the only contestants this year who actually has a personality. He is very bright with a quick wit and a nice voice.
    Heejun is absolutely right–idol is a tv show and has to be entertaining. It’s not only a singing competition. There are many other factors involved. What if everyone got up there and sang well but there was nothing else particularly interesting or charismatic about them? Folks would tune out. I am not talking about a bunch a fake drama–just talking about having some humor and not acting like they are doing brain surgery. Idol should not be perceived as the most serious thing in the world. It’s a tv show where hopefully some kids can get a start on a career,
    I think the show is going to be somewhat boring about him. I guess I can listen to Colton talk about his faith again

  34. Chrissy says:

    Stupid phone, did more buffering than the interview. Computer does same thing. What I did hear was great. Been watching HeeJun since very beginning, auditions and all. Love his personality and humor, not so much his voice. Not good for Idol, but maybe somewhere else? Maybe X Factor in a group? Or a sitcom like others have commented.

  35. Ms. O'Ginny says:

    Get him on Big Bang Theory, stat! They need an Asian to round out that ensemble.MIT 2.0

  36. jasper says:

    Wanna see him on Big Bang Theory. I remembered Dr. Leonard Leakey Hofstadter’s first love was north-Korean KIM. He mentioned it in the show. Let’s imagine KIM’s younger brother Heejun stopping by. Hmmmm. Isn’t it interesting at all?

  37. Namira says:

    I’ve been waiting for this from the moment he got eliminated and it was worth the wait. singing or not, this guy needs to be on TV. Heejun, wow, he actually understood the show more than any contestant seemed to ever have! Heejun’s view of things and how he approaches them is very refreshing, I liked how he still brought out the funny but also shared some more reflective notes about his run on idol. and Michael always asks the best questions. definitely one of my favourite idoloonie/idolatry/idology interview ever — first place on my list still goes to Anoop Desai, I loved his interview! i’d put Heejun neck and neck for a close second with Haley Reinhart’s charming interview from last season.
    thanks, Michael, very fun to watch!

  38. abindenver says:

    Great interview Michael! I love it: “The only thing I’d change is that I’d not only take off the tuxedo but I’d also take off my pants.” He has some pretty intelligent observations about the show and is a funny guy…I’d love to see him with his own variety show.

  39. Patrick says:

    “Uummmm… Michael Bolton?” – LOVE HEEJUN!

  40. Shana says:

    I agree with all of the comments about how self-aware Heejun is. Some idol fans take this show WAY too seriously.. it’s TV show and a reality show at that, lighten up. Even Simon has said many times, that casting the show comes first over anything else. Heejun’s comments about those ridiculous tommy hilfiger sessions are spot on.
    I agree with whoever said that guest-starring on BBT would be good for him! I know they had a couple of contestants from antm guest-star once. Heejun would be great

  41. Maria Angela says:

    This, so far, is Heejun’s best interview. He has a lot to offer in the entertainment business. He, most of all, has personality, which is lacking in some of the contestants in the show. He has a winning voice but it’s too bad he was eliminated not for his voice but for his personality. I would have wanted to hear him sing Michael Mcdonald’s “Yah Mo Be There” during the 80’s week because that would really showcase the quality of his voice. Maybe he can sing that during their tour. Heejun can do anything. With his soulful voice and his wit, he’ll go places. Most of all, he has a big heart and is very genuine.

  42. I really do hope Heejun finds his niche in the entertainment industry. Love his dry humor. Really loved his voice too, flaws and all. Its a shame he didn’t get to stay a little longer.