In the world of entertainment, Johnny Suh has become one of the biggest global K-pop stars as a member of the record-breaking group NCT 127, the boy-band ensemble behind the latest behemoth hit “2 Baddies”. She is also a rising fashion icon, recently profiled in Vogue, People and Paper magazines for her debut at the Met Gala in 2022. It was a night in which her nine million Instagram followers made her one of the most talked about celebrities of the night. Even ahead of co-host Ryan Reynolds, according to data from market research firm Netbase Quid.

But in suburban Northbrook, it’s Johnny Suh, a 2013 graduate of Glenbrook North High School, who loves coming home from Seoul, South Korea, where he now lives, with fellow Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson during the group’s October appearance admits on her talk show that she misses the winter and snow of Chicago.

“She asked what I missed most about Chicago and I said cold, and she called me crazy or something like that,” Suh ​​says, laughing, during a phone chat ahead of NCT 127’s brief US tour. which closed on January 1 at 9 at the United Center.

Chicago has recently enjoyed some major “firsts” within the massively popular K-pop (Korean pop music) genre, including the first ever South Korean headliner at a North American festival, when BTS’ J-Hope performed Last year Lollapalooza was shut down; and contemporary TomorrowX taking the stage together that same weekend, marking the first time a K-pop group played the event.

But having a K-pop member from our proper city is another, if not unexpected, high point.

Suh grew up loving singer-dancers like Usher, and always knew he wanted to be famous. His mother caught wind of a global audition in 2007 organized by SM Entertainment, one of South Korea’s largest entertainment conglomerates that boasts an in-house talent agency, record label, music production division and publishing house . It has been the driving force behind the careers of many high-profile K-pop artists such as TVXQ, Super Junior and Girls’ Generation.

“It’s a little kid’s dream, and I think my mom knew about the dream, and there was an opportunity for me to audition. … She asked me if I wanted to go, and even though I was a ‘teenage- ish’ and thought this might be cool, I was like, why not? Just take this opportunity and see what happens,” recalls Suh.

NCT 127 member Johnny Suh is a graduate of Glenbrook North High School.

He was in 7th grade at the time, and says the experience was similar to what we might see during an “American Idol” audition. After clearing the final round, Suh was recruited by SM Entertainment Division, which, in time, converted the up-and-comer to live in South Korea, where he would eventually be paired with eight other selected artists who NCT will become 127. The group was officially launched in 2016.

“It took a long time to transition. I was very young, so they wanted me to see what it was like first,” says Suh, recalling that she went there during her summer break from school to hone her pop-star skills. Will travel to Asia during. “It was like summer camp. I came here to Korea and learned how to sing, how to dance, and I did that for a few years. Upon graduating from high school, he moved to Seoul full-time.

NCT 127 has been a successful part of the K-pop global phenomenon during the last decade. Billboard calls the group “a huge part of the modern American music industry” and will host its own first The-K Billboard Awards in 2022, honoring artists’ achievements in the genre. Forbes has also called K-pop a “powerful player”, noting that it recently ranked as the No. 6 top music market according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s “Global Music Report”. In 2019, fellow K-pop act BTS became the second most streamed group on Spotify.


Boy band NCT 127 performs during the 11th Gaon Chart Music Awards at Jasmine Indoor Gymnasium on January 27, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea.

With 665 million streams on Spotify in the US alone, and their fourth album “질주 (2 Baddies),” released in September debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, NCT 127 is just the second K-pop artist to ever top three positions have been achieved. album in the top 5. On January 30, the group will release a new version of the album featuring additional songs, which Suh says, “There’s going to be another side of NCT 127 that people haven’t seen yet. … It’s definitely the hardest.” Performance for which we had to prepare in my opinion.

Some have compared the rise of K-pop to the cultural lynchpins known as ’90s boy bands like NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys.

“I think it’s kind of similar, with [band] Members are working together and growing together, except now technology and social media have made it even more accessible,” Suh ​​says.

NCT 127 is known for incorporating dance, electronic, hip-hop, and R&B into their music.

But there is also an important cultural exchange: NCT 127 stands for Neo Culture Technology, while 127 is the longitude (east-west-geographic coordinate) of Seoul. Suh explains the concept, “We know the impact music has on people and our whole idea is that everyone is connected through music. Through music we want to share our culture and our heart with people all over the world.

He keeps in touch with fans through the “Johnny Communication Center” on NCT 127’s YouTube channel, where he shares new experiences such as golfing, surfing, and beer-making with his 5.6 million subscribers. There’s even a video where he shows his fellow bandmates Northbrook and Chicago to sleep over at his parents’ house in the city.

Where did the idea come from [the other NCT 127] Member. They always call me the ‘Communication Center’ because I love to talk. I like to communicate, to see what the other person is thinking. I thought why not make it a youtube channel of sorts [aspects] for our members or my fans that they’ve never seen before,” Suh shares.

For his next segment? “I want to show what I did to have fun in the winter in Chicago, and I hope the fans enjoy my plan.”

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