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Yong Jun-hyung apologizes over past scandal, returns with new music after 4 years

Former Highlight member drops new solo EP "Loner"

Singer and producer Yong Jun-hyung holds a press conference for his new album
Singer and producer Yong Jun-hyung holds a press conference for his new album "Loner," in Seoul on Thursday. (Black Made)

Singer and producer Yong Jun-hyung, formerly a member of the group Highlight, on Thursday shared regrets about his inappropriate actions in relation to the spycam scandal in 2019 and promised only to bring good music to fans.

After a hiatus of almost four years, the 32-year-old musician dropped a new EP, “Loner,” on Thursday evening. Yong conducted an online press conference ahead of the release and shared his thoughts on his comeback and the new album. His return had already been postponed from Oct. 31 due to the Itaewon Halloween tragedy days prior that took 156 young lives.

“I’m happy to be presenting new music to my fans. I’m thrilled and proud with what has come out,” Yong said in opening the press conference.

The new album marks a return for the artist with his first new solo music since he dropped the full-length album “Goodbye 20’s” in May 2018. Yong started his career in music with boy band Beast, which later became Highlight. the group debuted in 2009 with the album “Beast is the B2ST.” Yong’s last release with Highlight was the act’s special album “Outro” in November 2018, before the boy band went on a long hiatus as the bandmates fulfilled their mandatory military service.

“Loner” is a six-track album consisting of songs written by Yong, who has been contributing in songwriting and lyrics-penning since the start of his career. In the six new songs, Yong expresses the various emotions of a lonesome person who enjoys the solitude.

“I’m actually the kind of person who enjoys being at home alone and finds that comfortable. Whenever I come home, I turn on something, the TV or music, because I don’t like that quietness, but the feeling of freeness I have then is what I like and inspires me,” Yong said. “It’s an essential time for me.”

The artist said the album asks the question of why we feel lonely even when we’re part of a crowd, and reflects the various emotions of a loner through various genres, from hip-hop to R&B and pop.

“The key of this album would be in viewing the mundanity of our daily lives from a different point of view,” Yong said. “I tried to escape from approaching emotions flatly. Rather than expressing loneliness as just loneliness and sorrow as sorrow, this album views the emotions from different aspects.”

Image from Yong Jun-hyung's new EP
Image from Yong Jun-hyung's new EP "Loner" (Black Made)

Leading off the album is hip-hop track “Koong.” The Korean title of the song translates to “noise between floors,” and “koong” is that loud thumping sound. According to Yong, the track compares the rush of emotions that results as an aftermath of a breakup.

“Noise starts between walls without a notice and once it begins, we don’t know when it will die down. Just like that, when a memory (from broken love) hits our head all of a sudden, it’s difficult to stop thinking about it,” Yong explained.

The music video shows Yong roaming around a room and opening up doors, and Yong said this reflects someone affected by the unexpected lurch of emotions after a breakup.

“We go around the room looking for the source of noise, and I tried to show the various situations in which we feel the different emotions following a breakup. So the noise is the emotion, and the doors inside the music video open and close, starting and ending the flow of feelings.”

The album includes five more self-produced songs from Yong. “Hate Me” talks about the breakup itself, “Lonely” asks the question of why we feel lonely even when surrounded by loud crowd, “Praha” shares the nostalgia of traveling he felt during the global lockdown and “Get Over You” is an easy-listening song about the frustrations felt after a breakup.

Among the B-sides, “Pieces” held a special place for Yong, as he devoted the song to expressing his undelivered heart to the people he cares for.

“It’s literally my pieces. I have the heart for others and the fans, but I’m not able to express it to its fullest. So I’ve melded it into the lyrics. This song is like a letter from me, with the pieces inside my heart put together. I thought it would be a good close to the album,” Yong said.

The new album marks a new start for Yong Jun-hyung as a musician. It is the first album he is dropping under his self-made label Black Made.

“It’s where I can make my own music and I’ve constantly worked on how I could best express my colors, and it brought me to make Black Made with some people who I have worked with and share thoughts,” Yong introduced his initiative in establishing the label.

Image from Yong Jun-hyung's new EP
Image from Yong Jun-hyung's new EP "Loner" (Black Made)

Thursday’s press conference also marked the first time for Yong to speak in front of local press after he was implicated in an illegal sex video scandal involving several local entertainers, including Seungri and Jung Joon-young, in March 2019. Yong was accused of being among the members inside a group chat where illicitly taken sex videos were shared. Yong was later cleared after an investigation, but he admitted to watching video shared through a one-on-one chat and making inappropriate comments about it.

Yong left Highlight following the investigation and enlisted in the military in April 2019.

The incident came up during the press conference, and Yong answered candidly.

“I was not involved in any kind of group chat. However, I full-heartedly admit that I committed wrongdoings in the process of chatting and I regret I could not have corrected myself. I will work to share only good news from now on,” he said.

He was asked to comment about the recent comeback of Highlight without him, but Yong answered only briefly, “I’ve heard all the songs from the recent release and I’m always rooting for them.”

Thirteen years into his career as a musician, Yong hoped he could end this year by making more chances to meet fans in person. He hinted at a concert soon.

“I hope to make this year a gift for myself and my fans who have waited long for me. I want to spend the rest of 2022 without regrets and make it a year that will last long in our memories,” he said. “I hope to meet the fans through stage soon.”



By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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