Gathering student journalists from universities around the United States, from UCLA to NJIT, the members of K-pop boy band NCT Dream hosted a student roundtable on April 9 in order to promote their world tour and connect with American audiences. NCT Dream is a subunit of the group NCT, which stands for New Culture Technology and was started by South Korean entertainment agency SM Entertainment in 2016. NCT Dream consists of seven members, known mononymously as Mark, Renjun, Jeno, Haechan, Jaemin, Chenle, and Jisung.
The group was already dressed in their performance outfits, ready to take the stage in Atlanta just after the panel. Its current tour, “The Dream Show2: In A Dream,” is the band’s first to include dates in the United States and will see the members crisscross from the United States to Singapore and Germany. Known for its music dealing with growth, adolescence, and bittersweet themes, NCT Dream has also been featured in Billboard’s 21 Under 21 list multiple years in a row.
“We all debuted at a very early age,” said Mark, the leader of the group, introducing the group and why they had wanted to do the roundtable. “Even then, we had the goal of being a symbol of healing for our listeners and to be a beacon of hope for our supporters, especially for people young like us — young Dreamers. It felt perfect and meaningful for us to meet people who are striving so hard for their dreams.”
When asked about how NCT Dream feels about their first-ever American tour, Mark commented, “This is our first journey on a world tour. We’re now beginning to really see the world and travel all around the globe to see our fans, so this first tour really means a lot. We had to prepare very strongly, performance-wise and mindset-wise, to make sure we can show the world our capabilities.”
To recharge in between tour dates, each member has a different activity that they like to participate in. “Playing games, champagne, and beer,” laughed Haechan, a vocalist of the group.
“As soon as I arrived, I went straight to the gym,” recalled Jaemin, who specializes in dancing.
“I play basketball with Mark,” added Chenle, who also sings for the group.
The members were asked what they would tell their younger selves, knowing what they know now. “I would tell myself, ‘Don’t be scared or shy,’” said Jisung, who is one of the group’s primary dancers. “Back then, I was very concerned about what people would think of me. Now, I don’t see a need for that.”
“Our growth is definitely visible in our music as well,” commented Mark. “Technically, our voices have changed as well over the years. Our inspirations and the way we convey our emotions have also grown over time, but we’re still growing, and I think our fans are growing with us.”
NCT Dream has partaken in culturally specific activities while touring different countries. Renjun, a vocalist and dancer of the group, liked seeing the Eiffel Tower, while Jisung commented that the group usually visits famous landmarks and samples local cuisine. “We’re also looking forward to the Texas barbecue,” added Renjun.
The members were asked to recollect a time when they got to interact with a fan and see how their music impacted people’s lives. “I’m not sure if I can say that it changed fans’ lives,” reflected Renjun, “but when we did a video-call event, we talked to a fan who had to undergo surgery. They were very nervous, but before going in, they listened to ‘Hello Future,’ and through that track, they found strength. When I heard this story, I was very touched and it made everything we worked on much more meaningful.”
As the roundtable wound up, the members expressed their appreciation for their fans, and shared a piece of advice for college students. “Your college years are when you have the most passion and strength to pursue your dream,” said Renjun. “I would like to say that you should do everything you want to do, so that you live without regrets.”
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