First step, debut. Next step, world domination.
They've made their debut. Next goal, rookie of the year.
Boy band Treasure made its official debut on Friday evening with its first single "The First Step: Chapter One," after a year and a half of training together as a group since being chosen as the finalists of JTBC2's audition program "Treasure Box" in 2019.
Treasure was initially set to debut in the summer of that year, but that plan was postponed once due to the tumultuous circumstances within its agency YG Entertainment. And when their new debut date was finalized, members counted down the days on their calendars.
"We thought, let's do this. Let's just do the best we can," said member Choi Hyun-suk to the Korea JoongAng Daily in their first interview with the local press on Monday afternoon.
"We supported each other and encouraged each other. I think the moment that we heard the date of the debut, our hearts were just full of emotions."
Those emotions were mostly excitement, according to Ji-hoon.
"We told each other that we should have fun preparing for it. We flicked through the calendar every day, and we'd get more and more excited as the D-day posters were released [from the agency]. We were just really excited," he said.
Because the band was formed through a television audition program, Treasure already had a strong fan base, eagerly awaiting its official debut. Treasure has already sold 170,000 copies of its single in presales, as well as hitting 10 million views on its music video for the lead track "Boy" within 26 hours of release on Friday. "Boy" also topped the iTunes chart in 19 regions around the world, and the band's official YouTube channel saw over 300,000 additional subscribers within two days since the debut to reach a total of 1.7 million as of Monday afternoon.
"We really didn't expect any of it, and we're really proud and surprised of everything that we've achieved so far," said Bang Ye-dam. "It's made us feel like we should do better. I hope that we can get to do that."
Ji-hoon thanked the fans, especially the fan club Treasure Maker, for making everything possible.
Treasure Maker hand-picked the members of Treasure by taking part in the viewer votes during "Treasure Box," which has allowed the band and fans to become closer in a short amount of time.
"I feel like we're friends, Treasure Maker and us," said Choi. "Whenever we upload something on social media, we get a lot of comments and witty marks, and we feel like we are communicating as friends."
As the result of "Treasure Box," seven members were initially chosen as Treasure and six members were set to debut as a separate group named Magnum. YG Entertainment announced that the two will be combined to form a group named Treasure 13, but one member dropped out earlier this year and Treasure was born. Due to this special history, Treasure has become the first K-pop band to have two leaders to the group: Choi and Ji-hoon.
"[Ji-hoon and I] manage the team together overall, but Ji-hoon tends to pay attention to the details that I miss when we practice altogether," said Choi, who is also the oldest in the group. "We have a really good vibe. We're all very active and energetic, and we talk a lot. We give each other a lot of feedback, and having a lot of members means that there's more people to watch me and take care of me."
Another thing that makes Treasure unique is that it's the band with the most number of members to have debuted under YG Entertainment — which has produced Big Bang with five members, 2NE1 with four, Winner with four, iKON with seven and Blackpink with four — with 12 members. It's also the first time for a YG band to have Japanese members — not just one, but four.
"My sister was a fan of Big Bang," said Yoshi. "I listened to their songs when I was younger and I was influenced a lot. I've been dreaming of becoming a K-pop artist from elementary school, and I feel so grateful that my dream has come true."
The other Japanese members — Asahi, Haruto and Mashiho — also picked Big Bang as the group they listened to the most in Japan, and also the reason for choosing YG Entertainment out of all the K-pop companies in Korea. But that doesn't mean that Treasure aspires to be the next Big Bang. Its goal is to pave its own path and be titled the "Global-dol," meaning global idol.
"We have that YG-vibe, but I think we're different from the other artists, especially when it comes to our performance. I think things like the composition [of the group] makes our color distinct from others," said Choi.
Bang added, "Each member within Treasure is so different, and we all have our own individual characters. But then as a team, our teamwork is great and so are our performances. I think that's what makes us, Treasure, as one."
Having landed a smashing debut, Treasure's next goal is to continue its work throughout the year with new releases, possibly for a full album by the end of this year.
"We do aspire to get the Rookie of the Year award, because you only get one chance for that," said Ji-hoon. "But I hope that we get to finish our promotional schedules healthy and well. And we'll be content as long as we get to show our growth through our performance and the public feels our message."
The other members also had their very own goals in mind, such as Yoshi's hopes of getting the Rookie of the Year award in Japan as well, Ji-hoon who would like to land a spot high on the Billboard chart and Choi, who would like to get the chance to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime Show one day. But Treasure's ultimate goal is to spread good influence to people around the world through their music.
"Our slogan is 'Find your Treasure,'" said Bang. "It means that we want to become something special in people's everyday lives. If we can give them a sense of consolation or happiness through our music, or make them happy, then I think that's the good influence that we're spreading."
BY YOON SO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]