Of all the ways that Hallyu – the crazy wave of South Korean culture – has been taking over the world in the last decade or so, it's the realm of music in which its influence has been the most prominent. And of all the masterfully choreographed, highly polished K-pop groups that have risen to international fame over that time, Got7 are one of the biggest. Got7 are produced by JYP Entertainment, one of South Korea's 'big three' entertainment houses, and count the likes of 2pm and the Wonder Girls as label mates.
Of the seven young men who comprise Got7, three are from overseas: Mark is from Los Angeles, BamBam comes from Bangkok and there's even a Hongkonger in Jackson. The other four – JB, Junior, Youngjae and Yugyeom – are all originally from South Korea. Though they range in age from 18 to 22, the boys are truly mature for their age. It’s only been about three years since their debut on the K-pop stage, but each have years' of training behind them. When asked how they’ve changed since their initial debut, their ‘leader’ JB says: "We have a different colour to our songs now. We are also trying out new concepts with each album."
The group has also had a hand in producing and writing songs on their latest album, which they're excited to share. "We have eight songs on the album and out of those songs only two of them weren’t produced by us," Mark says, proudly. The boys obviously have chemistry, and over the course of our interview they go off on a tangent about who wrote each song, poking fun at Junior who bears the same name as Jinyoung Park, their big boss and famed music producer from his namesake label, JYP. When asked what their favourite song on their album was, Youngjae shouts out, “Fly! It’s our title song.”
This year, Got7 released their fifth mini album, Flight Log: Departure, and also embarked on their very first world tour performing concerts across Asia and North America. The boys are particularly excited to end their tour in Hong Kong. "This is our last stop, we’re really happy to be performing in Jackson’s hometown," Mark tells us. Jackson is visibly excited and full of energy when talking about Hong Kong. What does he miss most? "I miss my family. My dad, mom, brother, my house, my bed, my washroom, everything," he confesses. "And I miss fish balls and egg tarts!" He’s a smart guy with a big personality and holds the group together, clearly seen throughout our interview and during the group's live concert the following evening, switching interchangeably and with ease between Cantonese, Mandarin, English and Korean. When asked where he’d like to bring his group around Hong Kong he says: "Victoria Peak and the wax museum." Though on a tight schedule, Jackson also hopes to bring some of his members home with him this time around, surely a nice change from the hotel room scene. Jackson also gives a random shout out in our interview to his former principal at the American International School, his alma mater.
During our interview, we decide to have a little fun with the guys and ask them who takes the best and worst selfies. This seemingly innocuous question sparks some funny bickering between the crew, with Jackson naming BamBam and Youngjae as the best. "BamBam takes his selfie like this [motioning as he holds a phone straight up in the air way above his head]." A modest BamBam returns the compliment (sort of): "I think its Jackson. He takes three hours for one picture!" When asked who takes the worst, they all countdown from three and then point straight to Junior and JB. "It’s the opposite. These guys look good in real life but we look good in photos," BamBam laughs. The 'argument' ends with Jackson stating conclusively: "Got7 is handsome! No, JYP Entertainment is handsome!"
Selfies aside, the gents are here for a show. But they remain tight lipped about what can their fans expect when watching them live. "It’s a surprise," says Jackson. "You’ll have to come and find out for yourself." We're not surprised when we're well entertained the next evening at AsiaWorld-Expo, as the boys perform a high-energy set of live singing while dancing perfectly in sync without missing a beat. It's all the more impressive considering they're on stage for almost three hours.
As flashy and overproduced as K-pop may seem at times, there’s just something mesmerising about it that keeps people coming back for more. Perhaps it’s the music and dancing for the outsider, but if you’re a fan you’ll know that it's the personalities that keep you hooked – and this is definitely true of a group like Got7. got7.jyp.com