Since ATEEZ debuted in October of 2018, Hongjoong has served as leader of the group. Even as a rookie idol, it was clear from the start that he took his role seriously, from the production of their music to taking care of the members and everything else that a good leader does.
Even though ATEEZ is still only about two and a half years into their career, Hongjoong has already proved himself to be an extremely reliable, thoughtful, passionate, and caring leader. Here are 9 reasons why he serves as a great example of not just a leader in the fourth generation of K-Pop, but for the K-Pop industry as a whole.
1. He’s incredibly patient and resilient.
Hongjoong first applied to get into KQ Entertainment by sending in a mixtape that he’d created. Even though it took a year for the company to get back to him about it, he stayed loyal to them and didn’t audition for any other companies because of his dedication to joining KQ Entertainment. When he did get into the company, he was the first trainee out of all of ATEEZ to be there and was alone for a while before Yunho joined next. Even though he said it was difficult and he was lonely, he still persevered.
2. He’s always been extremely hard-working and self-motivated.
Even before Hongjoong joined KQ Entertainment, he was already working hard in order to pursue what he loved. He actually didn’t attend school very often as a teenager because he spent so much time in the studio, teaching himself how to produce music. Even though he went through many struggles during this time, he turned those hardships into music that he can share with the world and inspire others.
3. He refused to give up in the face of difficulty.
Hongjoong didn’t have any formal training before he joined KQ Entertainment, and everything he knew — composing, producing, singing, and rapping — was self-taught. When ATEEZ’s now-producer, Eden, was introduced to Hongjoong as a mentor, he wasn’t impressed with the young aspiring idol.
In fact, he has since admitted that he tried to “find a way to make [Hongjoong] give up on music”, and was particularly ruthless to him. He even gave Hongjoong a list of 200 terms to learn in one night, saying that he wouldn’t teach him otherwise. Expecting him to give up, Eden was shocked when Hongjoong came to him the next day with all of them memorized after he’d spent all night learning them. Due to his incredible determination and tenacity, Eden took Hongjoong under his wing, and now even refers to him as his son and the only person he would teach music to.
4. He truly cares for and takes care of his members.
Along with being hard-working and determined when it comes to the music he produces, Hongjoong is also compassionate with his fellow members as well. Despite staying up until late hours working, the other members have said that he makes a point to wake up early and help them get ready for the day, as well as seeing them all off to bed at night.
He’s always encouraging the other members of ATEEZ to confront their insecurities and assuring them that they can accomplish anything. He considers them his family, saying that they’re his treasure, and even refers to him and Seonghwa as the dad and mom of the group!
5. He’s already an idol that inspires his juniors in the industry.
Despite still being only a few years into his career, other K-Pop idols have been vocal about how Hongjoong inspires them. N.CUS‘s Seungyong, E’LAST‘s Wonhyuk, and AWEEK‘s Logan and Jinghyu are all rookie idols that have named him as their role model! Other idols and K-Pop staff alike have also praised him for his kind behavior and how lovely it is to be around him.
6. He takes time to educate himself on global issues.
Despite living in South Korea all his life, Hongjoong has made a point to educate himself on global issues in other countries. One of the first covers he performed on his own was Michael Jackson‘s “Black or White”, a song that advocates for racial equality. He has always promised to keep himself informed and hold himself accountable if there is ever anything he does that appropriates other cultures or minorities.
7. He’s an advocate for important causes.
He’s also a huge advocate for many different important causes in the world. The one he’s likely most well-known for is his dedication to the Polished Man Campaign, which spreads awareness for child abuse victims and provides support for them. He’s always seen with one of his nails painted as a symbol of his dedication to this cause. The members of ATEEZ themselves are now actually brand ambassadors of the campaign, and have raised over $30,000USD for it.
He has also been seen wearing bracelets, accessories, and shirts in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Hongjoong even wore a shirt with a Black Lives Matter logo on it for his first performance at the MAMAs. Other causes he has supported with his attire include Dear Heart (which raises money for children with heart disease in Korea), as well as wearing a yellow ribbon in remembrance of the lives lost in the horrible Sewol Ferry tragedy.
8. He encourages fans and provides emotional support for them.
He tries to go live as often as he can to talk to ATINYs, and has said that he loves to share support and encourage them in their own lives. Many fans have said that he’s a huge emotional support for them, and even people who don’t consider themselves ATINYs have said how much he inspires and supports them through their difficulties. Because of this, people always feel welcome when they join the ATEEZ fandom.
9. He’s a phenomenal performer.
As incredible of a person Hongjoong is off-stage, his presence on-stage is just a cherry on top of who he is as a whole. He has an amazing charisma and a natural skill for performing, from the way he raps to his dancing abilities and his captivating facial expressions. There’s no doubt that Hongjoong was born to be a K-Pop idol, and one that has already inspired millions!