Yuju on Tuesday dropped her new album "O," packed with soft, comfortable music just like the warmth of the spring air spreading gently through the nation.
The new album marked Yuju's return after 14 months. The time away was a carefully-knit process of finding the right pieces to complete the full picture, the singer said.
"It wasn't a short process. Usually, we'd select the songs to go into the album before going into recording, but this time, we recorded various songs first and picked out songs from that pool that would match the (album's) story, so it took much longer," Yuju said during a press conference held on Tuesday ahead of the album's release later that day.
According to the artist, "O" follows her nine-year journey as a musician.
Yuju debuted as an artist when she was 17-year-old. Since then, she has gone through many events that have tinted her life with various emotions, from excitement to despair, love to hate and comfort to confusion.
Nine years have gone by, and Yuju says those emotions didn't only come and go, but returned again and again to form a huge circle. The name of the album, "O," reflects that ring of emotions.
"It's the shape of the circle 'O' that carries significance. I compared our lives to a voyage, and felt the repetition of emotions in our life was like a circle," Yuju elaborated.
The autobiographical album marks the second album from Yuju after she officially came out as a solo artist last year with her first EP "Rec."
In the new album, she diverges far from the powerful look she pulled off in the past and wears more natural clothes in which she could most easily tell her story.
According to Yuju, her second EP "O" is a reflection of herself as she is right now.
"The keywords I had in mind for the first album were like 'vigor,' 'transformation' and 'debut.' It was a new start and I was filled with a strong energy inside," she said.
"But with this album, I tap into my past, present and future, portraying myself as I am in my most natural state," she said, adding, "This album is just me and I think that's why it's more comfortable in the eyes of others, as well."
Encompassing Yuju's nine years are five tracks, "9 Years," "Without U," "Dreaming," "Peach Blossom (feat. sokodomo)" and "Full Circle," for which the singer wrote all the lyrics.
The title song is "Without U," and Yuju said she wrote the song thinking about something she could not live without -- music.
"The song is about something we cannot live without. It would be different for everyone who listens to this song, so I'm not trying to suggest an answer, but for me, what I had in mind the most was music," she said.
Yuju, whose real name is Choi Yuna, debuted in January 2015 as a member of the now-inactive group GFriend. She spent the next six years as part of the group, garnering global fame and making a name for herself and GFriend.
After the group's abrupt disbandment in May 2021, Yuju found a new home in her current label, Konnect Entertainment, and re-debuted as a solo musician in January 2022.
"I was full of excitement and curiosity when I began music. But as what had been a hobby became my work, I gained more responsibility and there were times when I came to despise music and even fight with it," the 25-year-old said. "Now, I suppose it's become like a friend with which I connect deeply. Music is like my old, childhood friend."
With the first song, "9 Years," Yuju goes back to that first moment when she had glowed with pure passion.
"It's my voice message to myself nine years ago, when I was 17-year-old," she explained.
"Back then I was stuck in between 'student Yuna' and 'singer Yuna.' It was a time of confusion and worry. I had to live in a dormitory separated from my family. If I could choose a moment in my past when I could go back and give myself a hug, that would be the moment."
Following Yuju's footsteps from "9 Years" to "Without U," "Dreaming" and "Peach Flower (feat. sokodomo)" leads to the last track "Full Circle," completing the artist's loop of emotions. "Full Circle" ends with the sound of Yuju's laughter, bidding the listeners a pleasant farewell as they alight from her journey.
With the album, Yuju not only reminisces on her memories and emotions, but sends out words of comfort to people who are all writing out their own lives.
"Traveling does not only refer to going somewhere by car or plane. I feel that we're all on our own trip that began when we were born into this world," she said adding, "As much as I had wanted to introduce my life journey, I also want to shout out to everyone who is fervently cruising ahead in their own lives."
Meanwhile, Yuju's second solo EP "O" was released at 6 p.m. on Tuesday with the music video for the title track "Without U." Another music video for the B-side track "Peach Flower (feat. sokodomo)" is set to be released in the next few days.