Yunhyeong: I did like singing, but I didn’t work towards becoming a singer, so I was at square one. // Bobby: When he first got here, it was unbelievable - he couldn’t sing, he couldn’t dance - he wasn’t particularly good at anything. // Hanbin: Out of the six [Team B] Yunhyeong-hyung’s changed the most. // Bobby: He got here on pure effort. // Jinhwan: Now he’s indispensable to our team, and I’m thankful to have him around.
Yunhyeong [to Jinhwan]: There was a time I wanted to quit. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. When I didn’t even know the ‘D’ of dance - I was so sick and tired of practicing - you helped me go over and learn the routines even if you already knew them all, even if you were already tired. That made me determined to do well, and that’s why I got this far today. (/starts crying)
“For the me I’ve been dreaming of. Tonight, throw it away. At the end of this moment I’ve been running for - No limit gon’ touch the sky.” – Yunhyeong, Climax
Yunhyeong [after losing WIN]: Let’s get back to the training center and practice for November’s monthly evaluation.
MIX & MATCH (2014)
Yunhyeong [first time meeting the new trainees]: To us [Team B members] this really is a matter of life or death.
Yunhyeong [to Donghyuk]: In times like these, we have to be more confident. We have to think we’re going to make it. We can’t think we’re not going to make it.
“Wait (wait), because we’re gonna be forever now (And I’m coming for you baby). Because I can’t go on without you. Wait for me, hey, time go faster.” – Yunhyeong (+ Jinhwan), Wait for Me
Yunhyeong: I’m just curious. Because for us [Yunhyeong/Donghyuk/Junhoe] if this doesn’t work out, this is the end for us. Junhoe and I have been here for two and a half years now. If we don’t get in this team, then it’s the end for us. But you guys have only been here for a few months - it’s a lifetime opportunity for you three, and you shouldn’t think that this is a competition between you three. You have to compete against us. You have to try and win over Hanbin. That’s the only way you can compete and win against us three.
Hanbin [after running away from the training center for 4 hours]: How’s Yunhyeong-hyung? // M&M PD: Yunhyeong’s totally worried. // Yunhyeong [when Hanbin returns]: You’re having a hard time, aren’t you? You’re probably having a hard time. It’s okay. // Hanbin [to Junhoe and Jinhwan]: Oddly, Yunhyeong-hyung kept coming to mind. I felt sorry to him the most. // Yunhyeong [later, about Hanbin]: I’m sure in those 4 hours he was probably thinking a lot to himself. He probably released his stress. I was relieved…I wish we could just take out some stuff. I wish we don’t have to worry about these struggles because we will deal with them eventually. We can go through these struggles ourselves. (/starts crying)
Yunhyeong [before performing Basket Case]: “I don’t have to put Yunhyeong through another survival program.” Ah, “He’s definitely changed. His skills have increased.” It would be nice if these were his [YG CEO’s] thoughts.
[After Basket Case performance] // Masta Wu: For me, I kept watching Yunhyeong. Compared to last time I saw you, you really got better. To me, Yunhyeong stood out the most in this performance. // Yang Hyun Suk (YG CEO): I have the same thoughts as Masta Wu. During the WIN battles the most regretful members were Song Yunhyeong and Kim Donghyuk because they had the shortest training time. Today, after all that time since WIN, I’ve been looking at this stage focusing on how much you have improved, and I can say Song Yunhyeong has made glaring improvements and looked natural on stage. // Yunhyeong [commenting on YG CEO’s words later]: Honestly, during WIN, I didn’t show much. I only hid, and always tried to blend with the members. I think I was too busy hiding my weaknesses among the six of us. Honestly, it felt so good to be acknowledged that I couldn’t say anything. This is the best day in my whole time being a trainee in YG.
Yunhyeong [about his team’s DEUX performance]: We included everything we can do. We show individual talent so it won’t be boring for the audience. // Tablo [after the performance]: Daebak! That was so entertaining. While watching your performance, I felt the same excitement I felt when I was a student watching DEUX’s performances. And, Yunhyeong? I didn’t really notice you before, but for this stage I just kept thinking “Is that him? Is that the same person?” That’s how cool you were. And your teamwork was jjang! It was the best! (Proceeds to give the team a perfect score). // SanE: Personally, for this stage, Yunhyeong stood out a lot and the teamwork was really good. (Also proceeds to give the team a perfect score).
Yunhyeong [after being eliminated in the Episode 6 mock elimination]: I felt sorry. I felt sorry toward the members who believed in me until now. I was eliminated like a fool. The most cruel thing was that I can be excluded from the team at any moment. It’s really scary. I tried to hide my sorrow away on purpose because I felt sorry toward the others. I tried to hide it, but this is really heart-wrenching. // Donghyuk: The feeling that all the hard work we’ve put into this is gone to waste - I know how hard he has worked for this. // Junhoe: How? How could such a thing happen? It’s hard to be put in this situation. It’s very hard to hold the pain in. It was just…I felt really sorry towards Yunhyeong-hyung. It made me remember the day Yunhyeong-hyung and I first entered YG. [They joined the company on the same day]. The thought of losing Yunhyeong-hyung that easily - it was difficult to accept. Why do these situations happen to us? // Yunhyeong: Within the team, I felt that I somehow have the responsibility, and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to show it. I will not back down from now onwards. I will be selected as a member, confidently.
Yunhyeong [after receiving 10xNivea Cherry Lip Balm from Hanbin]: (/screams) // Bobby: Do you see him? He really likes it! // Yunhyeong: I almost cried. // Hanbin: I know what Yunhyeongie likes best (note: the change from Yunhyeong-hyung to Yunhyeongie). I was in the same room with him and pretended I wasn’t his manito (like secret santa). While leaving the room he said “I wish my manito would buy me 10 of these lip balms” (/sly smile) // Yunhyeong [giving Bobby a Mickey Mouse computer mouse next]: This is something my manito really needs. FYI It’s really awkward between me and my manito~. // (Everyone starts guessing Junhoe) (Yunhyeong hugs Bobby) // Bobby: YAH! You and I are close!! I’m so excited about my present… // Chanwoo: He looks disappointed. // Bobby [pulling it out]: Haha! Mouse! Exactly what I don’t need. I really don’t need this! I have so many! // Yunhyeong: No! You never use one…! // (eventually Hanbin steals the mouse to look at because it has Mickey on it).
Yunhyeong [before the final battle]: I don’t think I will be eliminated, but I’ll admit I’m a little afraid. What if I don’t make it? Me not being on that team is something I can’t imagine, so it would be hard.
“Long time no see. I longed for you a lot too. I got lost on the way to see you. I won’t go anywhere, Baby don’t worry.” – Yunhyeong, Long Time No See
Yunhyeong [the night after the final battle]: I feel like we’ll be getting a new task tomorrow.
Yunhyeong [packing to leave the dorm]: I’ve never left this place in two and a half years. It feels weird going home. Wait…I’ve lived here for three years now. // Bobby: This feels like a movie. When movies end its always in the morning. // Yunhyeong: I hope it has a happy ending.
Jinhwan [as Yunhyeong is getting in the van]: You’re going to leave just like that? // Yunhyeong: (/arms out then pulls back) Hugging again? We’re going to see each other soon! // Jinhwan: Still, we don’t know for sure (/hugs) // Yunhyeong: What do you mean you don’t know for sure! (/Hanbin joins the hug too).
DEBUT (15 September 2015)
“Time is like looking at gold, like it’s a valueless stone. Don’t act like you’re a hot shot, I know you wanna play. Woo~ Hum along ladi dadi everybody move your body!” – Yunhyeong, Rhythm Ta
Slightly shy of two years ago (mid November, 2013), a friend of mine urged me to take a peek at Team B. I knew about WIN happening. I had spent plenty of time seeing it get mentioned on Twitter and not caring, and everyone I knew at the time were on about Team A anyway (not to diss, WINNER are phenomenal, just like I said back then I didn’t care). This friend told me to just watch Climax and see how I felt. So I did…and that was the beginning of something. All it took was that performance, and these guys have been in my heart ever since. Yunhyeong in particular has stuck out to me for a long long time. Above is just some of the highlight moments of his time on Survival shows.
To anyone who doesn’t know them, or hasn’t given them a chance yet…to anyone who hasn’t dug into Song Yunhyeong in particular, let me tell you about him.
Song Yunhyeong is the second oldest member of iKON, joining Team B about a month after Junhoe though they entered the company on the same day. Yunhyeong actually entered YG to be an actor and transferred into singing with zero, that’s right, zero real training whatsoever. He went to Hanlim Arts High School (which is a pretty big deal of a place. Mino and Taehyun of WINNER both attended, Krystal of f(x), Taemin of SHINee, Sejoon of SPEED, Yugyeom of GOT7, the list goes on). He was still attending High School during WIN. If you watch the WIN behind the scenes videos, he talks about having tests for school to study for in the midst of his practices.
He went from nothing to someone “indispensable” as Jinhwan put it, with “glaring improvements” as his comfort on stage and playful charisma really unleashed over the years. If you watch his parts on WIN, his voice was still shaky but check anything in MIX&MATCH and his stability is almost shocking in comparison. He went from someone who couldn’t dance (and managed to actually not have a dancing aspect to his YG audition prior to joining Team B) into both a silly dance king and iKON’s reliable acrobat. It’s like he has no fear of getting hurt, the way he’ll throw himself around in performances (see Basket Case) and trusts his members easily to spot him (see Siri Says dance). I wonder, for all the work he’s put in, how many injuries do we not know about? There were times, he said, early on when he really wanted to quit but instead that fueled his drive, trusting in the other members and working harder.
When he fails - all he thinks is how he’s sorry to them. The responsibility he feels towards them. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Song Yunhyeong is the glue of iKON. He and Jinhwan have a special friendship as the oldest two, such that Jinhwan is the only hyung Yunhyeong has amidst the members, the one who taught him in the beginning. It’s an easy reliable trust. He joked in one of the quotes I put above about being awkward with Bobby, but that couldn’t be less of the case. Bobby clings on him, and leans on him, as same year chingu. Often there’s photos of the guys going grocery shopping (apparently that’s the one time people seem to catch them out and about) and it’s almost always Bobby and Yunhyeong together (often Chanwoo too!). Yunhyeong and Hanbin’s friendship very clearly got closer over the course of MIX&MATCH even if they were whatever level of close before. Hanbin casually calling him Yunhyeongie on broadcast, don’t think I didn’t catch that change. Yunhyeong broke into tears while thinking about Hanbin’s struggles early on in the show (Episode 3). When Hanbin reprimands the new trainees it’s Yunhyeong who swoops in too, making sure the points are conveyed clearly and seriously. If anything, Yunhyeong is a solid right hand man in leadership.
With Donghyuk, Yunhyeong is always encouraging him. He does have a softer personality and the other guys know that, but it seems like Yunhyeong took Donghyuk under his emotional support wing as the newest member after himself, much like how we’ve seen his interactions with Chanwoo of late. He’s very brotherly and warm to Donghyuk, and the younger broke down sobbing on his shoulder when Yunhyeong was only mock eliminated (Episode 6). Junhoe is the most awkward of the guys, like a big kid who always has something to prove, but his interactions with Yunhyeong are always playful. And again, when Yunhyeong was dropped in the mock elim the ‘sassy’ Junhoe literally curled up in tears until it was Yunhyeong rubbing his shoulder saying everything would be okay. And Chanwoo, well, it looks as if they’re brothers separated at birth. Chanwoo wanted to room with Yunhyeong from the start, slipping into the ‘Northern room’ in their new dorm after Yunhyeong had announced that was his preferred choice. After everything that went down in the show, that’s should be Yunhyeong’s room now, rather than the living room which he’d ended up with on M&M. Need more evidence of how comfortably close they are? Episode 7, preparations for the final battle, they spend a while giggling like schoolgirls in a stairwell and it’s adorable as all get out. In more recent behind the scenes videos, there’s always some bit with Yunhyeong and Jinhwan looking after Chanwoo somehow. It’s cute. Trust me.
Yunhyeong is the glue, with a positive encouraging word for everyone and a resolute expression/boundless smile that never fails, even when his life doesn’t go perfectly (though truly, how blessed is he? I couldn’t be more proud and happy for him). He’s taken the responsibility on himself to be their pillar, reliable and priceless. He’s a worrier, he’s admitted that in interviews, but that has never stopped him from taking whatever situation he’s faced with by the reigns and making good come of it (seen over and over in his interactions with Chanwoo and Jinhyung on M&M). Truly, he went from someone hiding uncertainly in the background on WIN to someone who literally cannot stop shining. Now, on their debut album, true he doesn’t have as many parts as some of the others, but you can’t say his parts are anything less than golden. (Also, his involvement cannot be completely judged just yet. We haven’t seen any of iKON’s dances for this debut yet and nothing excites me more right now).
As someone who personally has spent years upon years floundering about in kpop looking for a group that made me completely happy and a person I wanted to support without fail, I’ve gotten everything I could dream of and more in Song Yunhyeong. Please give him a chance. Please love him. Please love all these boys. And other fans…you understand. We’ve waited for so long. We’ve waited and it’s finally happened. iKON has debuted. The limit, the weight, the burden…there isn’t anything in the way. I, for one, am thrilled, to watch them touch the sky.