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YUGYEOM Is The Korean Artist Who Will Continuously Thrive In This Ever-Changing World

In an industry that churns out new artists from time to time, the 24-year-old will always be celebrated in the spotlight.

I remember the first time I wrote about YUGYEOM in 2020 when I was still a contributor. The article was a roundup of K-pop friendships where I mentioned his bond with the '97 liners, a.k.a the K-pop idols who were born in the same year as he was. Truth be told, I didn't know a lot about him at that moment. Two years after, I am writing a cover story on YUGYEOM and I got to appreciate him more—as a GOT7 member, a solo artist, and a person who loves dandelions.

All about you

YUGYEOM spent most of his childhood in South Korea, particularly in Yeosu, where he would play under the sun with his hyung (older brother). "I used to have fun catching praying mantis with my brother when I was six to 11 years old," he tells K-loka by Cosmopolitan Philippines. The Korean artist is the youngest in the family but now it's Dalgyeom, his dog whom he considers their sibling. YUGYEOM named him after the moon (which translates to dal in Korean) which he likes to look at. And since both he and his brother have the word "gyeom" in their names, it's just right to include their adorable Pomeranian in the Kim household. Knowing about this—plus how he would help out in their restaurant, Steak Box—made me realize just how family-oriented YUGYEOM is.

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For some reason, YUGYEOM wanted to become a firefighter when he was a child. "I can't remember why, but I thought it was pretty cool," he shares when asked about the careers he could have pursued. But this wasn't actually his first answer. If he wasn't a hip-hop artist, YUGYEOM says that he would have become a dancer. Dancing is the art where he found comfort and peace in the midst of chaos. Even when he was still young, he would sway to the beat every chance he got. And throughout the years, he worked his way to make the dream come to life. You could say that if YUGYEOM wants it, he will get it.

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Hitting the stage

On days when he wasn't playing with his brother, YUGYEOM would dance in front of the class during breaks in elementary school. Whatever song was played, you'd spot him sweeping the dance floor. At home, his eyes were glued to the computer screen as he watched tons of dance videos. The curiosity was already there and he wanted to learn more about the craft. YUGYEOM then enrolled in a dance school and competed in underground dance contests. For him, there is nothing more that puts him at ease than busting a move. "Dancing helps me forget all my anxieties. You need to focus when you dance, which helps to get rid of all my concerns," he conveys.

In 2016, YUGYEOM joined Mnet's dance survival show Hit The Stage where he went up against some of K-pop's best dancers. One of his performances was a production stitched with a story and he set the stage on fire with a professional dance team, showing his sharp yet smooth steps. The audience was amazed by him, including the TV program's producing director who applauded his creative dancing abilities. In the last episode of Hit The Stage, he won first place.

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Watch YUGYEOM's dance videos on YouTube and his impressive footwork will immediately reel you in. He's not called GOT7's dancing machine for nothing: Like what his fellow group member Jackson says, "It does not seem like YUGYEOM dances along to the beat. Instead, the beat keeps along with YUGYEOM's choreography."

His home

If there's a K-pop boy group that defines brotherhood, that would be GOT7. The members are more than just a hip-hop team with a martial arts tricking concept—behind the camera, JAY B, Mark, Jackson, Jinyoung, Youngjae, BamBam, and YUGYEOM have a genuine friendship and it counts as one of their strengths.

GOT7 made their debut in 2014 under JYP Entertainment. The group boasts of diverse nationalities and they're brought together by their love for music. During performances, they have an overflowing stage presence. In variety shows, there are no dull moments when they're the guest. GOT7 is an all-rounder group that received tremendous support while they were still managed by JYP, and they still get the same amount of love after parting ways with the agency. Similar to their close relationship, nothing has really changed: From 2013 until now, it's still seven or never.

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To be honest, I just recently started appreciating GOT7 after meeting some of the members in person. Sure, I've been listening to their songs for years but I wish I was already supporting them during the height of their smash hit "Just Right." Or when they held a concert in Manila in 2019. But according to a friend who's an Ahgase (GOT7's fandom name), it's never too late to stan the K-pop group. After all, they're pursuing their individual dreams but their bond remains strong. You know when they say that some friends are for a season while others are for a lifetime? GOT7 is undeniably the latter. On their social media accounts, you'll see the members promoting each other's comebacks, if not joining in and featuring in their solo projects. GOT7's group dynamics are definitely their core.

Promoting on your own is a different story than when you're with a group, and YUGYEOM felt the huge difference as he embarked on his solo career. "If it was dividing 100 into seven, now it is 100 alone. Now that I'm the only one performing on the stage, I feel more pressure that I need to take care of everything by myself. And using the green room alone makes me miss other GOT7 members," says the group's giant maknae (a term for the youngest in the bunch—who is ironically the tallest). "As a grownup, I do feel a lot of responsibility for my people, company, crew, and fans. As I am not working alone, I do feel the responsibility for a lot of things such as trying not to make mistakes and trying to be perfect at everything. I guess I need to take care of a lot of things," he continues.

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Although it's a taxing experience, he's grateful that he grew up with his hyungs. YUGYEOM describes GOT7 as his home and the members as his brothers—the ones who treasure and celebrate him for who he is, and remains to be there as he dips his toes in new and uncharted waters.

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Running through his veins

YUGYEOM is widely known as a dance machine, but let's not forget that he's also an incredible vocalist. After all, it's his original dream to be a singer and he wants to be remembered for his vocals. "Five years from now, I see myself becoming a distinctive artist. Like people will remember my voice and say, 'Oh this track would definitely suit YUGYEOM.' I hope to become an artist that can be recognizable with a unique voice and style," he mentions in our interview. YUGYEOM may be working towards this, but we can all agree that he's already there. When you listen to a Korean song, you can easily identify that YUGYEOM is holding the microphone even if you don't check the singer's name. His voice is equally as captivating as his dream-boy visuals, the type that you won't get tired of listening to for hours.

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In 2021, YUGYEOM signed with AOMG (Above Ordinary Music Group), the largest hip-hop label in South Korea that was founded by Jay Park. Before this announcement, fans have already speculated about his choice of agency mainly because he shares the same vibes with the label. YUGYEOM detailed this in an interview with ELLE Korea. "It was the first time that AOMG had recruited an artist who was currently active as an idol, so I was half-excited, half-worried. But they welcomed me with open arms and I felt like I could depend on them. [I chose AOMG] because we had the same musical direction. I want to work with the diverse musicians at AOMG and become an all-rounder who is skilled at both performance and music." Now, he's showcasing his vocals, collaborating with a slew of artists, and writing more of his own songs.

Bright lights

YUGYEOM recently wrapped up his solo tour around the world. He went to Paris, London, Munich, Oberhausen, and Berlin for its Europe leg. In Bangkok, he had a two-day sold-out show. On August 19, YUGYEOM went to Manila and the New Frontier Theater became a green ocean because of the fans and their lightsticks. "I was so excited to meet them and it's been a while since I've done an overseas tour. I was thrilled and hyped," he describes the feeling of performing in front of Filo Ahgases.

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The show marks YUGYEOM's first solo event here in the country and a friend told me that it was like a party. Everyone had the time of their life. His ments (speeches) were in English and he practiced hard for him to be able to communicate well with his fans. He also had a meet and greet where he made eye contact and thank every single Ahgase. This, apart from the unreleased track that he performed, made the day even more memorable.

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YUGYEOM's popularity isn't just enclosed in his well-attended shows: Years ago, he wore a blue scarf at the Incheon International Airport and it was quickly sold out online. For his 22nd birthday, he topped the worldwide trends on Twitter with the hashtag #FocusOnYugyeomDay. His influence is crystal clear, but YUGYEOM humbly shares that he never really thought of himself as an influential artist. This, everyone, is one of the main reasons why he will continuously succeed in this cut-throat industry.

Point of view

Dandelions are special for YUGYEOM. In fact, he has two tattoos of the flower—one on his arm, and another on his rib cage. He also released a jewelry line in 2021 with a dandelion drawn by him, a merch collection that includes a necklace, ring, and bracelet.

YUGYEOM's love for the flower started when he was five years old. While walking in the streets, he saw dandelions blooming between bricks and was easily attracted to them and their yellow color. He would then begin illustrating dandelions in class and after researching about them, he was even more amazed by how they grow. The seeds are flown and they can develop anywhere. They withstand harsh temperatures, too. The humble dandelion represents resilience and joy, much like YUGYEOM whose roots are deep. He is someone who can bloom wherever he is planted.

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I read in an article where JAY B said that YUGYEOM's strength lies in his mindset. Instead of worrying, he would try doing it first to see what happens next. He's willing to face challenges head-on, and it's being stagnant that scares him the most. The 24-year-old wants to continue growing and discovering parts of himself in between. "I feel very proud of myself when I tried really hard, and you can tell it through the outcomes. I guess that keeps me going as an artist. If I can say something to my 15-year-old self, I would rather encourage him than give advice. I'll say, 'Hang in there, you can do it, you'll be great!'". And he was right.

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YUGYEOM's down-to-earth personality is one thing, and his dedication is another. He once mentioned in a video that he enjoyed reading a book about dream makers, which is an example of himself. He visualizes his dreams and follows a routine. All we have to do is trust in him (Fun fact: He has a tattoo that says "Trust me") and what he can do. YUGYEOM is just like a dandelion—wherever he is put in the world, he will survive and thrive.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

PRODUCED BY: Hanna Tamondong

LAYOUT BY: Pauline Moyano

VIDEO BY: Patricia Geminiano

SPECIAL THANKS TO: AOMG and Maxperience

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