[Exclusive] Singaporean businessman David Yong to establish K-pop label in S. Korea this year

2024. 3. 3. 17:44
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David Yong poses for photos before an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul, Feb. 28. (Im Se-jun/ The Korea Herald)

David Yong, CEO of the Singapore-based Evergreen Group Holdings and a K-pop artist and producer, plans to establish a K-pop label in Seoul this year.

“I’m applying for some licenses this year to establish a full-fledged label in Korea. We are working on getting a management team (and are) looking for the right candidates to join us," Yong said in an interview with The Korea Herald on Feb. 28. "From then, we are definitely (going to get) new talents in, signing established artists and developing new talents. That is our focus,” said the CEO, whose holdings company oversees a diversified range of businesses from timber to finance.

Yong plans to make use of his strong base in Southeast Asia to expand into the entertainment sector.

“We have the capabilities to bring Southeast Asia’s potential talents over to Korea to train from a young age. I think that’s one of the main things that we want to do to really establish a two-way bridge between Korea and Southeast Asia. I want to be able to offer this opportunity to our talents in Southeast Asia, especially in Singapore. I think this year will be a good start for that,” Yong added.

David Yong (Im Se-jun/ The Korea Herald)

After debuting as a K-pop singer with the single “In My Pocket,” released independently in 2022, the K-pop enthusiast began expanding his business network in Korea by investing some 10 billion won ($7.5 million) in the K-pop entertainment agency Attrakt.

He did not have any connection with Attrakt when he decided to invest in the agency which, at that time, was experiencing difficulties due to a legal dispute with its four-member girl group Fifty Fifty, its one and only artist.

Despite being relatively unknown in South Korea and operating under a small K-pop label, Fifty Fifty was referred to as a miracle as its hit single “Cupid” broke records on the US-based Billboard and the UK-based Official Charts.

Soon after the group's international success, three members of the group -- Aran, Sio and Saena -- began a legal battle against Attrakt over a contract dispute last year, resulting in the termination of their exclusive contracts.

Yong proceeded with the investment, believing solely in the agency's vision.

“At that time, the members of Fifty Fifty had all left the group. So to us, it was more about believing in the vision of the company because it already had a record of having a successful group (which was popular not only in Asia, but globally)," said Yong. "I decided to have faith in that and to see where this would take us,” the entrepreneur said.

He is currently actively involved in recruiting members for the second generation of Fifty Fifty from Southeast Asia. The new Fifty Fifty group will consist of Keena, one of the original members, and three others.

“The members we’re looking for are bright, cheerful, positive talents who are capable of (making an impact and) making people feel happy when watching them perform. We want the second generation of Fifty Fifty to stay longer on Billboard’s charts, to break their own record," said Yong, expressing his hope that the new group will get to perform in Europe, the US and Southeast Asia.

"With additional professionals on board to really cultivate this group, I think the potential is enormous,” said Yong.

The decision to make Fifty Fifty a multinational group comes from Yong’s vision that diversity is what will make K-pop grow further over the next decade.

“K-pop is mainstream in Southeast Asia. When you have global members, it shows how inclusive K-pop actually is. Having members from countries like Thailand, China and Vietnam makes them relatable to people from their home country," Yong said.

"The inclusiveness and the global diversity of K-pop will get bigger and bigger with foreign members. I would definitely say this is the trend,” Yong added.

By Hong Yoo(yoohong@heraldcorp.com)

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