Shim Chang-min (Hangul: 심창민; Hanja: 沈昌珉; born February 18, 1988), also known by his stage name Max Changmin (최강창민; Choegang Changmin) or simply MAX, is a South Korean singer, actor, and a member of the pop duo TVXQ. Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Changmin was scouted by an SM Entertainment talent agent when he was fourteen years old. He made his debut as TVXQ’s youngest member in December 2003.
Fluent in both Korean and Japanese, Changmin has achieved commercial success throughout Asia as a member of TVXQ. He has also starred in several dramas.
Changmin was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea to a Buddhist family. He has two younger sisters, and both of his parents are teachers. When he was fourteen years old, a talent scout from S.M. Entertainment spotted Changmin while he was singing and playing badminton at the same time during gym class. The scout suggested him to audition for S.M., but Changmin had no interest in becoming a singer. His mother, wanting for a chance to meet BoA, urged Changmin to attend the casting auditions anyway. Three days after auditioning, S.M. called in Changmin for a second audition, which he passed successfully. After winning the Best Singer and Best Artist award at S.M.’s 6th Annual Youth Best Contest, Changmin signed with the company.
The final line-up of TVXQ consisted of Changmin, U-Know Yunho, Kim Jae-joong, Park Yoo-chun, and Kim Jun-su. The group officially debuted on December 26, 2003 during a BoA and Britney Spears showcase. They performed their debut single “Hug”, which became a hit in South Korea. TVXQ have been releasing number one albums in Korea since their second studio album Rising Sun (2005), which was also the album that gave the group their first Daesang (대상), or Grand Award, at the Mnet KM Music Festival. Their fourth Korean album Mirotic (2008) was the Album of the Year at the 2008 Mnet KM Music Festival and the 2008 Golden Disc Awards. The album features the group’s most well-known and best-selling single, “Mirotic.”
In 2005, TVXQ made their Japanese debut with the single “Stay with Me Tonight,” debuting at number 37 on the Oricon Singles Chart. They grabbed their first number one single in Japan with “Purple Line” (2008). Their fourth Japanese album The Secret Code spawned two platinum-selling singles “Dōshite Kimi o Suki ni Natte Shimattandarō?” and Share the World” (2009), a theme song for the anime One Piece.
TVXQ was plunged into legal turmoil when members Jaejoong, Yoochun, and Junsu filed an injunction against their agency in July 2009. This led to their much-publicized departure from the group in 2010. A year later, Changmin and Yunho returned as a duo, releasing albums in both Korean and Japanese. As a duo, TVXQ set sales records and concert attendance records in Japan, becoming the country’s best-selling and highest-grossing foreign music act.
In 2014, Changmin joined the ballad group S.M. the Ballad, initially formed by S.M. Entertainment in 2010. On the group’s 2nd album Breath, he sang the Japanese version of the title track “Breath” with f(x)’s Krystal Jung.
Changmin released his first Japanese solo mini album Close to You on 18 November 2015, one day before his enlistment. The lead single is a ballad titled “Into the Water”, among six other tracks. Bundled with a DVD that includes a music video and behind-the-scenes footage, Close to You was a limited release and was only made available for purchase to members of TVXQ’s Japanese fanclub, Bigeast.
Changmin made his acting debut alongside TVXQ in the miniseries Vacation, which had a special premiere and screening at the main auditorium of Yonsei University. He also participated in a number of episodes of Banjun Drama, a popular mini series that aired on SBS network.
In 2010, Changmin had a guest role in the action thriller series Athena: Goddess of War, playing a NIS explosives specialist.
In 2011, Changmin took on his first lead role in the romantic comedy drama Paradise Ranch opposite Lee Yeon-hee. He also dubbed his own voice for the Japanese release of Paradise Ranch.
In 2012, Changmin made his big-screen debut in the Japanese film Fly With the Gold based on the novel by Takamura Kaoru. He plays Momo, a North Korean spy disguised as an engineering student. He has been praised for his fluent Osaka dialect in the film by director Izutsu Kazuyuki. Changmin was nominated for the Newcomer Award at the prestigious 37th annual Hochi Film Awards in Japan, becoming the first Korean artist to be nominated. On 21 January 2013, it was announced that Changmin had won the for Newcomer of the Year award at the 36th Japanese Academy Award.
In 2013, Changmin became a co-host alongside Kang Ho-dong for the KBS variety show Moonlight Prince. This is Changmin’s first stint as a regular host. Following the end of the show in March, Changmin joined the cast of sports variety show Cool Kiz On The Block as a cast member and left in 2014.
In 2014, Changmin starred in Mnet’s four-episode miniseries Mimi. He next starred in the historical fantasy drama Scholar Who Walks The Night as Crown Prince Lee Yoon.
Changmin is known for his high tenor register, particularly his screams and high notes. He is also active as a lyricist, and has written for several of the band’s music, including 2007’s “Evergreen” (Only Love), the Korean version of “Love in the Ice” (Mirotic), “Confession” (Keep Your Head Down), and “I Swear” (Catch Me).
Changmin has also written for other groups and artists; such as “Sleepless Night”, a track in SHINee’s third album Chapter 2. Why So Serious? – The Misconceptions of Me; and “Ace”, the title track of Taemin’s album Ace; as well as “My Thoughts, Your Memories”, a track on Kyuhyun’s album At Gwanghwamun.
Besides his native Korean, Changmin is fluent in Japanese. Changmin graduated from Gaepo High School in 2006 and was accepted into Kyung Hee University in 2009, majoring in postmodern music. In 2011, he pursued a second degree in Film and Arts at Konkuk University. He went on to pursue a master’s degree at Inha University. He also has an interest in becoming a professional photographer, and is a student of photographer Kim Young-joon.
In January 2008, Changmin volunteered with his father in the cleanup of the beaches in Taean, South Korea following the nation’s worst oil spill in history. His trip to Taean was intended to be done in secrecy during a short break from his activities with TVXQ during the new year and was only made known to the media and public when another volunteer posted his sighting on a fan site. The incident was later confirmed by TVXQ’s agent.
On July 7, 2015, Changmin applied for the Military Police to fulfill his compulsory national service. He was inducted into the Republic of Korea Armed Forces as a conscripted policeman on November 19, 2015. Changmin received five weeks of basic training at the Chungnam Nonsan Military Training Camp, and was the leader of his squad. He was honorably discharged from service on August 18, 2017.