The Korea Herald


First Filipino K-pop group HORI7ON sets sail

By Choi Ji-won

Published : July 24, 2023 - 20:34

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All-Filipino K-pop boy band HORI7ON poses for a picture during its debut media showcase held at the Olympic Hall in Songpa-gu, Seoul, on Monday. (MLD Entertainment) All-Filipino K-pop boy band HORI7ON poses for a picture during its debut media showcase held at the Olympic Hall in Songpa-gu, Seoul, on Monday. (MLD Entertainment)

K-pop's first all-Filipino boy band, HORI7ON, arrived in Seoul on Monday, officially embarking on their journey as a global pop group.

Debuting under the local agency MLD Entertainment, HORI7ON's seven members -- Vinci, Kim, Kyler, Reyster, Winston, Jeromy and Marcus -- were brought together through Filipino TV audition program "Dream Maker," which was jointly launched by MLD and Filipino TV broadcaster ABS-CBN.

They then went through around 100 days of so-called "K-training," the notorious pre-debut process every K-pop idol must go through.

The septet's debut media showcase event was like no other, as it was held at the Olympic Hall in Songpa-gu, Seoul, where singers often hold concerts and not press conferences. The band is later set to conduct their fan showcase there in the evening as well.

Vinci, the 23-year-old leader of the group, greeted the journalists in English on behalf of the group: "It's definitely an unreal feeling that we're finally debuting. We've prepared so much and we want to show that we have much to offer."

The group mostly spoke in English throughout the event.

Introducing the boys into the K-pop scene is their first studio album, "Friend-Ship," a 21-track package that symbolizes the group's "first sail towards the horizon," as put by Vinci.

"It contains many charms, group songs and solo songs. It also features a strong lineup of collaborations with our 'seonbaenim,' and we're proud to show that we've also collaborated for (the making of) our song, 'Mama,'" the leader explained, using the Korean term for a senior person in the same industry -- "seonbaenim."

Fronting the album is "SIX7EEN," the name of which is coined from combining "six," a symbol of multi-talented perfection, and "teenager," which shows the group's youthful energy, conveying the rookie band's ambition to unfold their talents and pursue what they truly want.

The mostly English song with some Korean lyrics was performed live by the band that day.

The seven boys glowed with joy and pride for finally making their long-awaited debut. While they've already experienced a sensational popularity in their home country as the winners of a TV audition program, the real game in the motherland of their music genre is just beginning.

This was the dreams-come-true moment for the seven boys who said they spent a long time honing themselves to become K-pop singers.

According to Vinci, performance videos of K-pop singers online became the first inspirations for their dream, especially those by the massively popular boy band, NCT, and member Mark Lee.

A big factor defining the Filipino group as a K-pop band was the stringent training the boys went through, which still continues to this day, with MLD Entertainment, an up-and-coming label in South Korea. Multicultural girl group Lapillus also debuted with the company last year.

The boys seemed to be on point on the exact factors that characterize the group and its music as "K-pop."

"When we do our training and when we learn our choreographies, we really go in-depth when it comes to the details. From head to toe, we really do our best to be in sync and we perform," said Marcus, adding, "We have many passions behind us. It's been urgent pretty much our entire lives. Our energy and all the hard work are going to continue."

Jeromy also stressed "strictness" and "synchronization" as the key factors differentiating K-pop training from other acts in his local music scene.

Adding to Jeromy's comments, Vinci said, "It's very structured. We have fixed schedules every day of what we should do and when we should train for -- on vocals, language and even dance. That's what makes it very challenging for us because it's a constant challenge every day."

During Monday's event, the group split up into units to perform two other tracks from their first album: Vinci, Kyler, Kim, Reyster and Winston showcased "Death Or Paradise," while Jeromy and Marcus coupled up for "How You Feel" -- the last was joined by the song's official feature artist, Haeun of Lapillus.

HORI7ON is set to continue its promotional activities both in South Korea and the Philippines.

Kim said he looks forward to performing on local music shows along with the other artists the most.

"I'm anticipating seeing other idols in real life and watching their performances. I expect to learn a lot from them," Kim said.

HORI7ON's debut carries a special significance for the Korean industry as it expands into the global music scene, and the bandmates seemed well aware of it.

"Moving forward as a global pop group, it's a very unique case for us as the first all-Filipino group to promote in South Korea and that's such a rare opportunity for us Filipinos," Vinci said.

He continued: "Other than the competition of setting our own standards as HORI7ON, (we hope to) send inspirations for everyone who wants to reach their dreams."