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Photograph: Catharina Cheung

Arts in Focus: ZEROBASEONE is gearing up for greater heights

The nine-piece K-pop group have just announced a brand-new album coming soon

Catharina Cheung
Written by
Catharina Cheung

The nine members of ZEROBASEONE file into the room with loud, cheerful greetings that bounce off the walls. There’s a good bit of shuffling, head-dipping, and butt-slapping before they settle down into their seats, but their vivacity is already infectious. In other words, the band mostly radiates golden retriever energy – with the exception of Ricky and Jiwoong, who both give black cat vibes – but the liveliness of these boys belies how thoughtful they become when they talk carefully about their goals and the future.

For the uninitiated, ZEROBASEONE (often shortened to ZB1) is a South Korean boy band born of the reality TV competition Boys Planet. Out of 98 contestants on the show, the top nine winners – Sung Han Bin, Kim Ji Woong, Zhang Hao, Matthew Seok, Kim Tae Rae, Ricky, Kim Gyu Vin, Park Gun Wook, Han Yu Jin – got to debut as a new boy group in mid-2023. Since then, ZEROBASEONE has set record sales with their debut album, won Korean music show accolades, made their Japanese debut, and just recently announced the drop of their new Korean album coming in May. 

We sit down with ZB1 for a chat during Hong Kong’s first-ever KCON, where the boys found time between hosting events and putting on a special stage performance to talk to us about their music, their dreams, and performing to their fandom Zerose in a Hong Kong crowd.


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Time Out speaks to ZEROBASEONE

Could you briefly talk about your musical concept for the ‘Melting Point’ EP?

Zhang Hao: This is a work that carries the meaning of melting our listeners’ hearts. Within the album, the track Crush represents our wish to protect everyone who is a Zerose.

So far, ZB1’s music has mostly been fresh, youthful, and pop-heavy. What different sounds and concepts are you looking forward to doing next?

Gyu Vin: I’ll answer this! [He continues in English] We’re looking forward to entering the music charts with [an] easy listening [sound]. [Switching back to Korean] But aside from our Zerose fans, we’re also working on attracting a larger audience through our music. [The rest of the members good-naturedly rib Gyu Vin for attempting to answer in English, but he is unphased.]


If you didn’t join the ‘Boys Planet’ competition, what would each of you be doing right now?

Gyu Vin: Maybe… I’ll be in the US to study in university.

Matthew: Personally, I think I would’ve started university again, or I probably would’ve just started working somewhere in the entertainment industry. Maybe dance?

Ji Woong: I’d probably be an actor.

Yu Jin: Maybe a soccer player. [The members all chime in with sounds of agreement.]


Zhang Hao: I think I may be teaching students, or in postgraduate school, doing my master’s degree.

Han Bin: I’ll probably be a dance performance director or a dancer.

Ricky: I think I might be enjoying my university freshman year and driving myself to South Coast Plaza for shopping after school. [The band lets out a collective ‘Oohhh’ of appreciation.]

Tae Rae: I’m probably in university, working hard and enjoying life in a band.

Gun Wook: I suppose I’ll still be a trainee while going to university.


ZB1 has already performed at KCON in Los Angeles. Does the LA version feel different to the Hong Kong version?

Han Bin: Yeah, we were at the LA KCON, and we got fantastic responses. This is our first time in Hong Kong as a group, but we’ve already had very warm welcomes so we’re fired up for the performance tonight. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone’s reaction to our performance on tonight’s stage.

What is the band’s goal for 2024? What do you want to accomplish this year?

Zhang Hao: Like Gyu Vin mentioned a bit earlier, we want to do more popular music that fits in with what’s charting now, and we want more people to know us and listen to our music.

Ji Woong: We want to show the world our identity as ZEROBASEONE, and I also hope we can be a group that becomes more influential and respected. 

Han Bin: Lastly, I want us to achieve even more through this journey together. Building on last year’s foundation, I want us to receive even more accolades this year.


Is this the members’ first time in Hong Kong? Did you all get time to explore the city a little bit?

Matthew: I think the people who’ve come to Hong Kong for the first time [are] Tae Rae, Gun Wook, me – Yu Jin, is it your first time? – and Yu Jin. [Gyu Vin pipes up, ‘There’s also me.’] And Gyu Vin! We did have a bit of free time yesterday and there’s gonna be a bit of content later, so there’s that. I think we all really love food, and the thing I know about Hong Kong is the street food, so I really want to try a bunch of those.

Please leave a message for your fans.

Zhang Hao: It’s so lovely to see everyone in Hong Kong, and we’re really looking forward to having many, many more opportunities to meet you guys again outside of KCON. We love you all and hope you’ll continue to stay by our side. Thank you, everyone! [In Cantonese] I love you all! I love you guys!

Han Bin: We’re so happy to see so many Zerose in Hong Kong! ZEROBASEONE is going to show you even more exciting performances and stages, so please look forward to that. For the rest of this year, we’re going to continue performing energetically for you all. Love you!

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