Woosung isn’t afraid of the unknown. The 28-year-old singer, songwriter, and frontman of K-pop band The Rose has learned that the joy of life blooms in serendipity. “If you know how everything is going to happen, there’s no point in living. It’s like using a cheat, if everything goes the way we want it to,” he tells Teen Vogue over a phone call from Seoul, South Korea. “I like the hope of life. You hope for things and you create a purpose, you keep going towards that, working hard. That’s the fun part, the moments where memories are created.”
It’s the speech of someone who has been turned over and around by the tides — but learned to come ashore everytime. From his upbringing as a Korean kid in the United States, to his crushed dream of being a football player, and later to the ups and downs of becoming a K-pop idol, Woosung’s journey led him to an unwavering self-confidence. He shares the story of how he got here in an eight-episode series out Sept. 14 on Mindset, an audio platform established by brothers and DIVE Studios co-founders Brian, Eric, and Eddie Nam. It’s the first time Woosung has laid everything on the table.
“I don’t think I’m nervous,” he says. “No matter what the reaction [of the public], it is what it is.” After a long period away from the spotlight — partly increased by the pandemic — he felt like now was the right time to share his learnings with the world. “I kinda liked staying inside and not being surrounded by so many things to do, you know what I mean?” he asks. “When you have nothing to do, you start to think about yourself, and you have time to realize and grow. I think that was good.”
While Woosung’s singing voice is swoon-worthy in its husky yet smooth modulation, immediately recognizable in any song, his talking voice is a serene lake. “I hope that it can heal their minds, give them comfort,” he says of his Mindset series. “You are not alone, and when you feel like everything is going bad, everybody else goes through similar things in life. I think that’s what I want them to get out of this.”
He often defines himself as “Lazy,” the title of his latest single, although his extensive career defies that — throughout a decade, he participated in two competition shows, released music both as part of The Rose and as a soloist, toured the world, and was an MC for Korean talk show After School Club. Today, he also talks about feeling old, in that quiet acceptance that only your late-twenties are able to provide. “I always wanted to be a little older than I was,” he explains. “I feel like the older you get, the more things you are capable of, and you have knowledge that could make you survive a little bit easier in life. I’m all about getting old. I mean, except I want to enjoy it. I want to be healthy.”
I ask if he has ever heard of Saturn returns. He hasn’t. Astrologically, when Saturn, the planet of old age, diligence, and responsibility, returns to the exact sign it was when you were born — which takes roughly 28 to 30 years, so Woosung’s first Saturn return has just started — life confronts you with the consequences for your actions and choices so far. It’s a time of maturing into a more accountable version of yourself. “Oh my God, no way,” Woosung exclaims after the explanation. “I think that’s why I started to be more responsible for myself. But I’m glad, I’m happy. Thank you, Saturn!”