[YOUR PLAYLIST] Bvndit shares what kept it going during its 2-year break

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[YOUR PLAYLIST] Bvndit shares what kept it going during its 2-year break

If you were to make your life into a movie, what song would be playing in each scene? Everyone has a story, and the same is true for K-pop stars. In “Your Playlist,” K-pop artists share what the soundtrack would be for different moments in their life with the Korea JoongAng Daily.  
After a two-year hiatus, girl group Bvndit broke its silence, much to the delight of its fans. The team of five — Yiyeon, Jungwoo, Songhee, Simyeong and Seungeun — came back with its charismatic EDM track “Venom” in May, which sings about the group’s ambition to shout out its name to the world.
Bvndit's EP "Re-Original" (2022)

Bvndit's EP "Re-Original" (2022)

Pronounced “bandit,” the girl group made its debut in 2019 and released songs “Hocus Pocus” (2019), “Dramatic” (2019), “Dumb” (2020) and “Jungle” (2020). Bvndit then started a hiatus, which members say was a time of endurance and self-discovery.
“Two years is more than enough time to get lost in my thoughts,” said the group’s leader Yiyeon. “My thoughts got so deep, and I got to take a really good look at myself. After a period of confusion, I think we found our answers.”
After their long-awaited comeback, members of Bvndit say they had so much they wanted to share with fans over the past two years. The group sat down with the Korea JoongAng Daily on June 14 in Mapo District, western Seoul, to discuss their latest release and the music that guided them throughout both the good and the bad.
Dreaming K-pop
Though the members come from different regions and backgrounds, one thing they all shared when they met as trainees was the dream for K-pop stardom.
Yiyeon, whose hometown is the small seaside city of Donghae, Gangwon, was visiting Seoul when she was recruited by an agency.
“At first, I simply thought, ‘Why not?’ But as time went on, I got more invested. I developed more dreams and ambitions, and I couldn’t stop until this day.”


Seungeun had been interested in dancing from a young age, but what she didn’t know was that her path to becoming a K-pop idol would come so suddenly.
“I signed up at a local K-pop dance studio as a hobby,” she said. “The studio turned out to have connections with auditions. It was just my second day when the headmaster almost forced me to take an audition, which I somehow passed. Now I’m so glad I found the perfect job for my wildly active personality.”
Jungwoo also remembers the moment her hobby turned into an ambition.
“I was at a noraebang [singing room] with my cousin, and I sang ‘Good Day’ by IU,” she said. “I tried to emulate her signature three high notes, and it worked. My cousin saw that and told me, ‘Jungwoo, you are destined to become a singer.’ I think that’s when I made up my mind.”


The final lineup of five was completed in 2017, and they then started working toward their collective goal: making their official debut. Yiyeon says there is one song that takes them back to when they truly came together as a team for the first time.
“It was during an end-of-the-month evaluation session in mid-2018,” she said. “Our debut had been pushed back several times over the span of two years, and we wanted to show higher-ups in our agency how badly we wanted it. So we sang BTOB’s ‘It’s Okay’ with perfect harmony for our evaluation. It was our first moment of coming together to express how we feel to our agency, and that’s when our dream as one team truly started. Plus, the song’s lyrics soothed our tired souls and would always get us in tears while practicing.”
When dreams come true
After years of training, in 2019, the members were finally told they would debut as a K-pop group. But Simyeong recalls that the moment their dreams came true was not as dramatic as she had imagined.
“We imagined something like our agency chief announcing to us, ‘Listen you guys, you are Bvndit from now on,’ and us crying tears of joy,” she said. “Instead, we went to the recording booth just like any other day and our manager told us, ‘Guys, your group name is out.’ We were like, ‘Is that so?’ and she said ‘Yeah, it’s called Bvndit.’ The five of us gathered and went, ‘I guess we’re Bvndit now.’”
Poster for film ″Bandits″ (1997) [WAlT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES]

Poster for film ″Bandits″ (1997) [WAlT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES]

Bvndit officially explains that the group name stands for “Be Ambitious and Do It,” but soon after the group name was decided, the members found out where the name really originated from.
“Our agency chief made us watch the film ‘Bandits,’” said Seungeun. “’Why is he making us watch this?’ I thought. We were tired enough from practice!”
“Bandits” is a 1997 German musical film about four female prisoners who form a rock band and become a global sensation. Members say they were initially puzzled by the sudden movie break, but afterwards became one step closer to grasping Bvndit’s charismatic concept as the group’s identity.
Ailee's EP "Invitation" (2012) [YMC ENTERTAINMENT]

Ailee's EP "Invitation" (2012) [YMC ENTERTAINMENT]

“After news of our debut settled in, we were so full of confidence,” Yiyeon said. “The best song to describe how we felt at the time is Ailee’s ‘I Will Show You.’ All we could think about was that we were going to show the entire world what we got.”
“We weren’t scared of anything, to the point that for our debut stage, we sang live without any background vocals whatsoever,” Simyeong recalled. “Now that was reckless!”
Ups and downs
The group has been through two phases of uncertainty — the years leading up to its debut and the two-year hiatus it just emerged from. The members say the reason they could endure their slumps was because of each other.
"Trainees weren't allowed to use their phones freely, so during practice until 10 p.m., we only had each other,” Simyeong said. “So we would sit in a circle and talk about all kinds of stuff. We shared even the most trivial of stories to keep each other from feeling down."
"If it wasn’t this exact group of people, I don't know how we could’ve made it through that time," added Jungwoo.
Although the five finally made their debut after a long wait, the first phase of their activities was short lived as the group went into a seemingly unending hiatus due to several factors, including difficulties caused by the pandemic.
"As our hiatus got longer, I was worried that our group would just come to an end like that," Jungwoo said. "I remember finding solace in Hyuk's 'Boy with a star.'”
J Rabbit's album "Looking Around" (2012) [MIRRORBALL MUSIC]

J Rabbit's album "Looking Around" (2012) [MIRRORBALL MUSIC]

"There were so many moments that I wanted to give up," Songhee said. "My parents were also extremely against me becoming a K-pop idol in the first place, so I had to keep defying them. Not only was training hard, comparing myself to other, more talented people lowered my self-esteem. I was thinking, 'How long do I have to do this?’
"And before our comeback with ‘Venom,’ all of us were quite exhausted. We had let go of a lot of our expectations, and talking to each other was what kept us going. Now we are so happy to be active again, and we're trying to do everything with positivity and confidence. I listen to J Rabbit's 'Happy Things' to get into that positive mindset and tell myself 'I can do it, I trust myself.'"
But looking back, members say it was also a time to rediscover what really matters to them.
“I realized I’ve put in so much effort that we just couldn’t quit,” Yiyeon said. “I knew we would have so many regrets if we didn’t try our best as Bvndit until the end. There’s my life as Yiyeon of Bvndit and as Jung Da-sol [her real name], and I concluded that, as of now, the former is more important to me.”
Girl group BVNDIT sits down for an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily on June 14. [JEON TAE-GYU]

Girl group BVNDIT sits down for an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily on June 14. [JEON TAE-GYU]

Bvnditbul lights the path
The official name for Bvndit’s fandom is Bvnditbul, the Korean word for firefly as well as a play on the group’s name. Members say their time off also deepened their love for their fans.
“When I saw our fans for the first time after our two-year hiatus, I almost burst out in tears,” said Seungeun. “I was thankful for them before, but now my heart aches when I think about how they were waiting for us the entire time. Almost all of the fans we saw two years ago were there for us when we came back. They’re so precious to us.”
Just like the name implies, members say Bvnditbul lights up the path so that Bvndit can keep going.
Girls' Generation's digital single "Sailing (0805)" (2016) [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

Girls' Generation's digital single "Sailing (0805)" (2016) [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

“We can’t find our way or keep walking without Bvnditbul,” Yiyeon said. “It’s a shame we don’t have a fan song yet. We want to work on one soon together with our fans, hopefully for our next release. I want it to be titled ‘Bvndit Light.’ Until then, the song that reminds me of Bvnditbul is one of Girls’ Generation’s fan songs called ‘Sailing (0805)’ [‘That Summer’ in Korean]. Its sentimental melody and lyrics makes you picture fireflies on a summer night.”
The group also recommended its song 'Fly,' a soft love song, for how they feel about Bvnditbul.
"We feel sorry that we kept them waiting for so long," Songhee said. "We're so happy to be back together and to think that Bvnditbul will always have our backs."
The future ahead
“The lyrics of ‘Venom’ is about shouting our name to the world, and it’s really the song that fits Bvndit’s ‘Be Ambitious and Do It’ identity the best,” said Simyeong. “It is indeed about time the world heard our shout-out.”


Now in their fourth year, the members say they will keep moving forward as if every performance is their last.
“Our agency promised us more comebacks after ‘Venom,’” laughed Songhee. “We believe that as long as we try our best and keep releasing good songs, more people will love us.”
“We want more people to enjoy our music and get to know more about our personalities too,” Jungwoo said. “I know our charismatic concept makes us look a bit scary and dark on stage, but you should see how talkative and easygoing we are when we’re off the stage! I hope fans stay tuned in and tell us, ‘You guys tore up the stage!’”


Bvndit's Playlist
1. Bvndit - Venom
2. IU - Good Day
3. BTOB - It's Okay
4. Ailee - I Will Show You
5. Younha - Waiting
6. DAY6 - Time of Our Life  
7. AKMU - Will Last Forever
8. Jungkey - Mama
9. Jeon Sang-keun, Shin Ye-young – Bye, We have to break up
10. Hyuk - Boy with a star
11. Yoon Jong-shin – Tired (with Kwak Jin-eon, Kim Feel)
12. J Rabbit - Happy Things
13. Girls’ Generation - Way To Go
14. Twice - Cheer Up
15. Apink - Moment
16. Bvndit - Don’t Mess With Me
17. Sam Ock - Who I Am
18. Girls' Generation - Sailing (0805)
19. Bvndit - Fly
20. Mamamoo - I Love Too  
21. Hyuk- Winter Butterfly  
22. Car, the garden - Tree
23. aespa - Next Level
24. NCT Dream - We Go Up

BY HALEY YANG [yang.hyunjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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