‘More than just idols’: Behind the scenes with K-pop boyband Treasure

  • Treasure — YG Entertainment’s newest boy band — may be relatively new to the K-pop scene, but its members already have big dreams.
  • “I like [us] to be more than idols. I want each member of the group to be their own artist,” said co-leader Choi Hyun Suk, who shared his views on The CNBC Conversation.

Boy band Treasure attends a red carpet event at the 2022 Mama Awards in Osaka on November 30, 2022.

Yuichi Yamazaki | Afp | Getty Images

Treasure — YG Entertainment’s newest boy band — may be relatively new to the K-pop scene, but its members already have big dreams.

“I like [us] to be more than idols. I want each member of the group to be their own artist,” said co-leader Choi Hyun Suk, who shared his views on The CNBC Conversation.

His dream has always been to perform at the US Superbowl halftime show, said the 24-year-old artist, the oldest member of the band.

“I know it’s really hard, but that kind of dream, even if I just reach the brink of that dream, I really want us to hold to that dream and not let it fade away — just like how I envision our group, Treasure.”

Treasure debuted in 2020 as Covid-19 spread across the world. It started as a 12-member band but two of them left in November of last year, leaving the boy band with only 10 members.

Three of its members — Choi and his co-leader Park Jihoon (who goes by the stage name Jihoon), as well as rapper Yoshinori Kanemoto, better known as Yoshi — spoke to CNBC about the group’s humble beginnings.

Treasure is trained and groomed by YG Entertainment, a South Korean entertainment company that also operates as a record and music production company.

The boy band was formed through a reality-survival program called YG Treasure Box, where trainees competed for a spot in what would become the boy band now called Treasure.

Each of the contestants trained with YG for a different number of years — with the longest being 6 years, before they competed in YG’s Treasure Box.

Other entertainment companies in South Korea, such as SM Entertainment and Hybe, also conduct K-pop training programs.

YG’s performance review for trainees “tests our personal ability to perform,” Jihoon said, adding that they usually look for people who match the company’s vision for an artist.

“It looks simple but the process is also quite difficult,” the 23-year-old said.

The show ended in January 2019 and Treasure debuted a year later, releasing their first debut single album in August 2020.

The debut happened while the Covid pandemic was still going on around the world and live concerts were not allowed. This forced the group to rely on promoting their music online — an experience that was new for the band.

“I think as artists, it’s a ‘human-to-human’ job, that is why broadcasts and stage performances are different when there are no fans standing in front of us, and instead we have to upload videos,” Jihoon said.

“There were a few moments where it felt a little lacking in engagement.”

Asked about some of the biggest lessons learned so far, they said spending more time practicing was most important.

“In the past, we really regretted not taking our time [wisely.] But as time went on, we became [learning] how to better spend our time and use our time more wisely,” said Jihoon, adding that they realized how important skills like rapping, dancing and singing are for performing artists.

“The senior artists [told] to us that when we debut, we’ll regret not practicing more,” Hyun Suk added. “I think we directly felt that. And that pushed us to practice more.”

Every time I go through that failure, I feel like I’ve learned to get back up and keep going, and that’s why I’m where I am today.

Jihoon

co-leader, Wealth

What would they say to aspiring artists who want to be like them? Overcome your failures.

“Just because you failed, don’t beat yourself up over it. I’ve really failed a lot, I think,” said Jihoon. “Every time I go through that failure, I feel like I’ve learned how to get back up and keep going, and that’s why I’m where I am today.”

Yoshi, the group’s 23-year-old Japanese-Korean rapper, added that time spent with loved ones will be sacrificed during the trip.

“If you started this journey because you want to achieve this dream, you have to enjoy it to make it worth it – no matter how hard it is.”

Earlier this month, YG announced that Treasure’s second full album will be released on July 28. Their last full album will be in 2021.

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