The life of a K-pop artist is that of constantly thinking about the next thing, the next schedule, the next project. At the time of our interview, it’s been a little over five months since TREASURE’s debut, and in that time they’ve released three single albums and a full-length LP, becoming one of the fastest boy groups to earn the title of “million sellers.” From the bombastic “BOY” to the pop-EDM hybrid “I Love You” to the hip-hop-centered “MMM,” their music is as prismatic as their name. “When people think about the music that TREASURE does, I hope it’s not limited to a single genre,” Yedam says. We want to be artists who make TREASURE-colored music.” And what is the color of TREASURE? “Everything! Every color!”
But the speed at which they’re releasing music is a lot, even by K-pop standards. Junkyu still can’t believe it. “I really am so thankful for our fans. I know they waited for us,” he says. He speaks with a perpetual smile on his face. Then, he directs his next thought to their fans, known as TREASURE MAKERS. “I just want to say…” he starts in Korean, before excitedly switching to English, “Thank you, thank you, I love you so much!” His smile is so wide it’s luminous.
“We’ve been really busy since our debut,” he adds. “We’re constantly improving. We will continue to work hard, so please keep your eyes on us.” Then, in English, he bursts, “I love you love you love you!” As a staff member patiently interprets his thoughts, Junkyu bounces in his chair, incapable of sitting still, and silently encourages them with a series of finger hearts.
This hyper level of engagement is normal for TREASURE. After each question I ask, or statement I make, I’m met with an explosion of sound. Vibrant, loud cheers and playful remarks. A benign comment like “your latest single pumps me up” earns a round of applause. A single compliment sends them into a full-blown celebration. “They’re really high-tension,” a staff member tells me. That’s code for “they have too much energy.” Even now, past midnight in Seoul.
But there’s also something to be said for their ability to make everyone around them feel important, to feel seen, even a reporter who’s just passing through their busy orbit. Maybe that’s the effect of being in a group with so many members. Encouragement is second nature. “We’ve been together for a long time, so it’s not unusual for us to share our thoughts and talk about our feelings,” dancer Jihoon says. “It’s normal and healthy for us.” He leads the group alongside rapper Hyunsuk, who explains their dynamic simply: “I’m like a strict mom, and Jihoon is a warm-hearted dad.” Jihoon, like a good leader, agrees and emphasizes the importance of communication. “Having a conversation should be the priority so that we can help each other,” he adds.