Rising stars of K-pop: Lightsum talk about their debut single Vanilla, training to become K-pop stars, and ice cream

Taeyeon [of Girls’ Generation, Gfriend, BTS, The Chainsmokers, Twice

Since 2009, South Korean media company Cube Entertainment has made its name launching K-pop girl groups 4Minute, CLC, and (G)I-dle. This week, the eight-member Lightsum debuted with the single Vanilla, continuing Cube’s girl group lineage. The music video of the song saw a lot of interest, receiving over 2 million views in less than 24 hours. 

Ahead of its launch, the members of the group – Juhyeon, Jian, Chowon, Yujeong, Sangah, Hina, Nayoung and Huiyeon – spoke with the Post over a video call from Seoul to share their thoughts on their debut, the sense of anticipation after training for this for so long, and their love of ice cream. 

What does Vanilla represent to you as your debut song?

Juhyeon: We think it’ll be the perfect song to introduce Lightsum to the world because if you add anything to vanilla ice cream, it would change its flavour very evidently. The song represents how we’re able to get the topping [that brings an exciting new taste]. The aim of the song is for it to be a gift that can bring something special to our listeners’ ordinary, everyday life. It’ll be the specialness, or the topping on top, of their daily lives. And although we’re just releasing one single, we think that listeners will be able to hear each of our own individual colours and strengths. 

Taeyeon [of Girls’ Generation, Gfriend, BTS, The Chainsmokers, Twice

Lightsum come from the same label as 4Minute, CLC, and (G)I-dle. Photo: Cube Entertainment

Cube has produced many girl groups over the years. How do you feel Lightsum differentiates itself from previous teams?

Juhyeon: Previous groups produced by Cube were a little bit more conceptual and intense, with strong images. We aim to be a friendlier kind of act, more approachable, more relatable, and a little bit more intimate than previous girl groups. Past groups were formed kind of more based around storytelling and specific ideas, but for us we hope to be more like our listeners’ friends. 

Beyond your performance roles, what does each member bring together to make the “sum” of Lightsum’s whole?

Juhyeon: I’m responsible for bringing the members’ thoughts together and leading our team. 

Sangah: I’m the eldest member of the group, but I’m the most energetic one so I try to help make the atmosphere more comfortable and enjoyable among us all. I think my energy can help the group’s energy. 

Taeyeon [of Girls’ Generation, Gfriend, BTS, The Chainsmokers, Twice

Lightsum’s Chowon is the calmer member. Photo: Cube Entertainment

Chowon: Whereas Sangah is more energetic, I’m a bit calmer. I think I’m the one who has my teammates’ backs. I quietly observe and take care of the members.

Yujeong: I’m the cute member, I have a lot of aegyo [a Korean term for behaving cutely]. I also think I’m like the fan attractor within the group. I think a lot of fans are drawn to me. 

Nayoung: I’m like the vitamin within the group. I’m very bright and positive. 

Taeyeon [of Girls’ Generation, Gfriend, BTS, The Chainsmokers, Twice

Lightsum’s Hina is the only non-Korean member. Photo: Cube Entertainment

Hina: I’m the only non-Korean member in the group. I’ve also heard from a lot of people that I’m a very bright person and that I have a very pure image. 

Huiyeon: I’m the bubbly one within the group. My charm is that the more you see me, the more you’ll fall for me. I’m also the only one with dimples in the group.

Jian: I’m the youngest member, and because of that I think I’m going to be able to interact with younger fans and audiences better.

Being a K-pop star isn’t necessarily an easy path. How did you decide to pursue this career?

Juhyeon: I’ve been training for seven years and four months. I joined Cube when I was [10]. I had tried cheerleading and being on dance teams before, because I liked dancing. I didn’t necessarily dream of becoming an idol or performing artist. But I auditioned for a few companies along with my friends, and somehow I made it and luckily was given the opportunity. Once I started training, I was inspired by the people I trained with. It made me realise I wanted to achieve this goal. 

Chowon: I trained about six years in total, since I was [14] years old. I tried modelling and musical theatre, and also played instruments. But honestly, I wanted to be an actress rather than an idol. I auditioned to join Cube as an aspiring actress. But once I joined, I took dancing and singing lessons and the people here at Cube saw my potential to be a vocalist as great as the likes of Taeyeon [of Girls’ Generation] and Yuju [of Gfriend]. Once I started hearing those compliments, I thought maybe I could pursue this path.

Taeyeon [of Girls’ Generation, Gfriend, BTS, The Chainsmokers, Twice

Huiyeon started auditioning for K-pop companies when she was young. Photo: Cube Entertainment

Huiyeon: When I was young, I was a figure skater and also danced. I started taking vocal lessons at an academy, and an instructor suggested I audition for a K-pop company. At first I didn’t even know auditions like this went on, but as I began auditioning I began to feel competitive. I began to think that I wanted to make it. During this time, I went to several concerts and saw BTS, Troye Sivan, The Chainsmokers, and everyone who performed at the Melon Music Awards. I was really inspired by how they could make the audience happy and how their performances had so much charisma. It really inspired me to keep pursuing this. 

Hina: When I was in Japan, I didn’t necessarily think of becoming an idol but when I was in the start of junior high, Twice got very popular in Japan and that’s how I first got to know K-pop and Twice. I thought they appeared really charismatic and amazing. Shining. I liked to sing and dance already, so that inspired me to begin auditioning. 

Jian: Huiyeon and I trained for the shortest amount of time, about five to six months.

Taeyeon [of Girls’ Generation, Gfriend, BTS, The Chainsmokers, Twice

Juhyeon was inspired by the people she trained with. Photo: Cube Entertainment

You’ve obviously all worked really hard to debut, so how are you dealing with anxiety and anticipation as you approach the start of this career you’ve been working towards?

Chowon: Honestly, it’s been a while since I competed [on 2018 television show Produce 48], and since then there were many things that I had to go through. People would always ask me many questions about my debut and future, but there was nothing I could answer or share. That was a bit of a struggle for me, but now that I’m finally about to debut, I feel relieved by the fact that I can answer those questions. Because it’s been quite a while, because I’ve been training for quite a long time, my debut doesn’t really feel real to me. Although there were some struggles and tough moments in the process, because that process was there I’ve been able to meet the rest of Lightsum and I’m very happy about that. 

Yujeong: I thought I’d be able to debut shortly after I also appeared on Produce 48, but it took a while. I was anxious that people would forget me, but now that I’m finally debuting as Lightsum I’m really glad and happy that this opportunity has come to me. And recently, I was able to talk to some fans during a video call event, and I found out there were fans supporting me since that show, so I was very happy and surprised to learn that they’ve supported me for so long. 

Vanilla is inspired by ice cream, so I’m curious. What flavour of ice cream represents each member and why?

Chowon: plain chocolate. Because I think I’m class and have a deep aura, which is why I’m plain chocolate not milk chocolate. 

Hina: Strawberries and cream, because I’m sweet, soft, and lovely. 

Taeyeon [of Girls’ Generation, Gfriend, BTS, The Chainsmokers, Twice

Jian only trained for five or six months. Photo: Cube Entertainment

Jian: I’m like rainbow sherbet, because I have many different charms. 

Yujeong: candyfloss, because it reminds me of a joyful, vibrant atmosphere and has the taste of youth. 

Sangah: [Baskin Robbins’] shooting star, because it has popping candies and I think my personality is very vibrant and excitable, like that flavour.

Taeyeon [of Girls’ Generation, Gfriend, BTS, The Chainsmokers, Twice

Nayoung is the bright and energetic member. Photo: Cube Entertainment

Nayoung: I know I said it before, but I’m like a vitamin of the group so I think the citrusy flavour of lemon goes well with me.

Juhyeon: Yogurt flavour, because I really like that flavour. It doesn’t have a very vivid colour but has a distinct taste to it. 

Huiyeon: I think green tea. It’s my favourite, and also I like the colour. I think it’s a flavour that people who like it don‘t just like it, they love it. 

Taeyeon [of Girls’ Generation, Gfriend, BTS, The Chainsmokers, Twice

Sangah is the vibrant and excitable member of the group. Photo: Cube Entertainment

What do you hope to achieve as Lightsum?

Sangah: I hope that we’re perceived as a group that always learns and becomes better and grows with our fans. 

Chowon: I personally think it’s best to have big dreams. I used to hope that people know me by my name, Han Chowon. Everyone would be like, “Oh, I know her.” But now that I’m debuting as Lightsum, my hope has changed to expand to the name Lightsum and those of all our members.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Pakistan's Dastgyr raises USD 3.5 million seed for its B2B e-commerce marketplace

In addition to launching its fintech offerings, Dastgyr plans to use the investment to enhance its technology and scale operations. Read more »

China steel export tariffs considered as Beijing seeks to cool booming sector amid price surge

China is considering imposing more tariffs on steel exports as it seeks to achieve twin goals of capping domestic production and taming the surging prices that have fanned concerns about ... Read more »

Lee Man-tat, head of Lee Kum Kee sauce empire, dies at 91

Oyster sauce tycoon Lee Man-tat, chairman of Lee Kum Kee Group, has died. He was 91. The company said in a statement that Lee died on Monday, surrounded by family ... Read more »

Tencent super app WeChat suspends new user registrations until early August for ‘security upgrade'

WeChat, the multipurpose super app operated by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, has suspended new user registrations until August so it can conduct a “security upgrade” to comply with “relevant ... Read more »

[Today's K-pop] EXO's D.O. tops iTunes charts in 59 regions with solo debut album

(Credit: SM Entertainment)The first solo album of EXO’s D.O. hit No. 1 on iTunes top albums chart in 59 regions.  The album came out Monday and swept all major music ... Read more »

K-pop singer D.O. from Exo debuts first EP ‘Empathy', the latest in the group's stellar line-up of solo releases

On Monday, K-pop singer D.O. released his debut solo EP, Empathy. Known as one of K-pop group Exo’s primary vocalists and as a popular actor, D.O.’s eight-track Empathy is an ... Read more »

Cryptocurrency exchange operators Huobi, OKCoin to close Beijing subsidiaries amid China's crackdown

The operators of cryptocurrency exchanges Huobi and OKCoin are closing their respective subsidiaries in Beijing, dealing another blow to investors in bitcoin and other digital tokens in mainland China amid ... Read more »

China's carbon neutral goal: Non-fossil fuel capacity will soon surpass coal power's, though much of it remains unused

China’s capacity for generating power from non-fossil energy is poised to exceed that of coal power plants by the end of the year, according to the China Electricity Council. However, ... Read more »

Alvin Ea, CEO of container haulage platform Haulio, on the challenges for a second-generation founder in a traditional industry

Ea shares why he ‘disrupted’ himself to start a new company after growing up in his family’s haulage business. Read more »

SM Entertainment founder gives luxury apartment to journalist

Lee Soo-man / Courtesy of SM Entertainment By Ko Dong-hwan Lee Soo-man, the founder of international entertainment company, SM Entertainment, has reportedly given his luxury apartment to a journalist who ... Read more »

Christie's Asia to hold year-round sales at new headquarters in Hong Kong from 2024

Auctioneer Christie’s has signed a 10-year lease on a new Asia Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong that will allow it to hold year-round auctions and private sales from 2024. The ... Read more »

Evergrande reneges on special dividend two weeks after pledging it, in a surprise U-turn that sends shares, bonds crashing

China Evergrande Group, the country’s biggest home builder and the world’s most indebted developer, unexpectedly scrapped a special dividend two weeks after announcing it, in a corporate U-turn that spooked ... Read more »

Ghost Mansion movie review: Korean horror anthology sees webtoon artist visit haunted apartment to turn deadly curse into bestseller

2.5/5 stars Digital comics known as webtoons are proving a fertile source of material for South Korea’s booming media industry. Many recent K-drama hits, including Sweet Home and Itaewon Class, ... Read more »

Henan floods to trigger record insurance claims of US$1.7 billion as thousands of cars, property damaged

The Henan floods are likely to see total insurance claims of as much as 11 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion), Goldman Sachs said, with one expert saying this could possibly be ... Read more »

Myanmar rights groups file complaint to OECD against Telenor over ‘irresponsible' sale of business

With 18.2 million subscribers, Telenor’s sale of its Myanmar business leaves some users worried about the transfer of their data to a new telco. Read more »

Tesla banks on Shanghai Gigafactory 3, its ‘primary vehicle export hub', to meet global demand

Tesla is relying on its Shanghai factory to meet global demand for its vehicles, as its other plants grapple with shortages of automotive chips and other car components. The US ... Read more »

Speculation over whether Alibaba will re-enter music streaming gains traction after Tencent loses exclusive rights

A subsidiary of Alibaba Group Holding has applied for a slew of trademarks for its now-defunct music streaming service, fanning speculation about whether the e-commerce giant will re-enter music streaming ... Read more »

China's state media moves to reassure rattled investors after rout wiped US$574 billion off stock market

China’s state media are on a mission to talk up the battered stock market and reassure rattled investors after a rout on Monday that erased more than US$570 billion from ... Read more »

BTS song 'MIC Drop' breaks 1 billion views on YouTube

BTS / Courtesy of Big Hit Music The music video for a remix of the 2017 BTS hit “MIC Drop” has earned more than 1 billion views on YouTube, the ... Read more »

American chef on culture shock in Europe – he foraged for ants and smoked reindeer – and doing his own thing in Hong Kong at Haku

How did you become interested in food? “When I was a kid, my mom wasn’t that great a cook, she was a very busy single mother for a while. But ... Read more »

Hong Kong's co-living operators and hotels join forces to give vacant rooms a new lease of life as coronavirus poses existential threat

The Covid-19 pandemic could sound the death knell for the co-living sector, as the concept of communal living, which involves sharing, interacting and building a community, seems to conflict with ... Read more »

Intel to build chips for Qualcomm and Amazon as it aims to catch foundry rivals by 2025

Intel Corp said its factories will start building Qualcomm chips and laid out a road map to expand its new foundry business to catch rivals such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing ... Read more »

Hong Kong stocks weaken as tech slump continues while traders seek safety in banks, developers

Hong Kong stocks wavered in early trading as traders turned to old-economy stocks like banks and property developers to shelter from another bout of sell-off in technology stocks. The Hang ... Read more »

US-listed Chinese companies must disclose to investors any risk of government interference

Chinese companies listed on US stock exchanges must disclose the risks of the Chinese government interfering in their businesses as part of their regular reporting obligations, a top US Securities ... Read more »

Fabric simulator Heartdub nabs investment to develop AI physics engine

The company can simulate the interaction between different materials in real-time, enhancing the collaborative design process. Read more »

Shein's digital supply chain supplier Singbada nets investment for fast fashion expansion

Singbada expects more clothing companies to follow Shein’s example and demand flexible supply chains. Read more »

Offshore investors dump Chinese stocks by most in a year amid US$557 billion market meltdown

Offshore investors, stunned by the extent of China‘s punitive regulatory onslaught, are fleeing from the mainland markets at the fastest clip in a year. There’s no song and dance for ... Read more »

BTS song 'MIC Drop' breaks 1 bln views on YouTube

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) — The music video for a remix of the 2017 BTS hit “MIC Drop” has earned more than 1 billion views on YouTube, the group’s agency ... Read more »

Hong Kong developers put their faith in technology to cut human error after New World's Pavilia Farm fiasco

Major Hong Kong developers plan to replace some manual operations with technology in a bid to eliminate human error and ensure safety and build quality in the wake of the ... Read more »

How Covid-19 has boosted Asia's luxury residential sector

South Korea last week reported its highest number of daily new Covid-19 cases since the pandemic erupted, as the nation struggles to contain a surge in infections that has forced ... Read more »

Will Chinese tourists give Australia a miss post-Covid, putting a dent in its booming hotel property sector?

Investment in Australian hotels more than quadrupled in the first half of the year, according to property consultancy JLL, a reflection of confidence in robust local demand for travel that ... Read more »

BTS vs BTS: 'Butter' returns to top of Billboard after giving way to 'Permission to Dance'

This photo provided by Big Hit Music shows K-pop superstar BTS. (Big HIt Music)South Korean supergroup BTS sat atop the Billboard’s main singles chart for the ninth consecutive week as ... Read more »

(LEAD) BTS vs BTS: 'Butter' returns to top of Billboard after giving way to 'Permission to Dance'

(ATTN: RECASTS headline; ADDS details, photo; RESTRUCTURES) SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) — South Korean supergroup BTS sat atop the Billboard’s main singles chart for the ninth consecutive week as its ... Read more »

Stripped of exclusive music rights, TME's star fades as ByteDance and NetEase eye center stage

Tencent’s music arm has problems beyond antitrust matters, and other platforms are keen to take advantage in a promising market. Read more »

Xiaomi founder Lei Jun's endorsement, nationalistic fervour lift sales of Chinese sportswear firm Hongxing

Chinese consumers emptied the inventory of China Hongxing Sports after it donated cash and goods to victims of floods in central Henan province, earning goodwill and an unexpected endorsement from ... Read more »

‘Naked' soap, refillable lipstick: to use less plastic, the beauty industry pivots to recycling and refill options

As plastics horror stories pile up, consumers across the world are turning away from the modern convenience of plastic packaging – or at least trying to avoid single-use plastic as ... Read more »

Tech companies are changing perceptions of the Indonesia Stock Exchange

Analysts believe that tech stocks such as Bukalapak will lure young retail investors and inspire other internet companies to hit the local capital market. Read more »

Why food porn on Instagram and TikTok makes us happy: it triggers the same pleasure receptors in our brains as food on our plates

When Winny Hayes joined TikTok, she thought the social video app was mostly for lip-synching and dance trends. She wasn’t yet privy to its world of food content: creamy vodka ... Read more »

BTS song 'Butter' returns to top of Billboard Hot 100 after giving way to new BTS song

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) — South Korean supergroup BTS sat atop the Billboard’s main singles chart for a ninth consecutive week as its hit single “Butter” returned to the throne ... Read more »