The former leader of B.A.P, the prolific composer, the inspiring individual and rapper… this week’s idol is none other than Bang Yong Guk!
Debuting in 2012 as a member of the idol group B.A.P under TS Entertainment, it’s less well known that Yong Guk’s first releases were not with B.A.P at all. His first commercial success came with a collaboration with Song Jieun, a sunbae at the same company. “Going Crazy” topped the Gaon Chart and brought Yong Guk a great deal of attention, despite his still being a trainee. Later in the same year, he debuted in a rap duo with Zelo, who would go on to become one of his future members, and also released a single with Highlight’s Yang Yoseob called “I Remember.”
But despite all this, it’s his time with B.A.P that is most widely, and fondly, remembered. They were an immediate success, bursting onto the Kpop scene with songs such as “Warrior” and “One Shot.” Each single released saw them gain more popularity, and at the time, they were considered one of the top boy groups alongside the likes of EXO, who debuted shortly after. The issues that prevented B.A.P from soaring even higher and well known and well documented. It is a testament to how strong the groups bond was, and still is, that they returned from a lawsuit they began together still by each other’s side. Much of this is due to Yong Guk’s leadership.
Even when taking a personal hiatus in 2016, Yong Guk’s presence remained steadfast within the group. He did not conceal the issues he was dealing with either, being open and honest about his struggles with panic disorder. These were later expressed in one the best ways he knew how; through music. Not only did he write a great deal of his own content for B.A.P’s songs, but he produced songs for other groups too, including the likes of VIXX’s “Love Me Do”, under an English pseudonym. With Yong Guk’s return to performing a year later came “Wake Me Up,” a single that touched heavily on mental health and the perception of others.
Having been a leader throughout most of his time in the industry, it’s no surprise that he was the first of the B.A.P boys to take the leap and not renew his contract with TS Entertainment in 2018. There’s still hope that B.A.P may come together again someday in the future, but until that time, the members have the chance to take a new path. For Yong Guk, this has meant embarking on his own solo career. Whilst still under the company, he began to release self-composed singles, beginning with “Yamazaki” in 2017, and the track “Portrait” in 2018, which was accompanied by a music video he co-directed. When it came to his first release after leaving TS, he also chose to co-direct the music video. This song, “Hikikomori”, was perhaps one of the most personal he had released to date.
Speaking of personal facts, it’s also little known outside of his fans that Yong Guk has an identical twin. He also owns a dog named Tigger, who is as much a star as his owner – he has his own Instagram account that is sure to melt your heart with all the fluffy good looks! If you want to keep up with Yong Guk himself, however, that’s even easier. You can follow him on Twitter here, or on his own Instagram here. For all of his music videos and personal releases, you can go straight to his official YouTube channel.
Most recently, after much anticipation, his first full-length album released on 15th March. Self-titled, the album contains eleven tracks all composed by Yong Guk. And very soon, fans in Europe are going to get the chance to see this new music live thanks to KEvents on his 2019 European Tour. You can still pick up tickets here for dates in London, Budapest, Madrid, Paris and Cologne if you haven’t been able to already!
Check out some of Bang Yong Guk’s other releases below.