[BIRTHDAY BIOS] Vanner's Gon celebrates 28th birthday with heartwarming gift from fans
In a galaxy of talented stars that shine in K-pop, birthdays are one of the biggest festivities for fans to get together and remember just how much they love their dearest artists. To add to the celebration, the Korea JoongAng Daily’s entertainment brand Celeb Confirmed will take votes from fans on their favorites from stars born in the respective month and dive into their careers, achievements and more in the newest series Birthday Bios.
As this month's winner of Celeb Confirmed’s K-pop birthday vote, Gon of boy band Vanner took the No. 1 place with a whopping 61 percent of ballots cast on fans’ favorite among August-born stars.
Rapper, dancer and singer — the talented all-rounder Gon of boy band Vanner was born on Aug. 7, 1995, as the youngest of four siblings with his birth name Lee Won-seo.
Gon’s dancing gift was visible early on in life when he showed such great potential in various sports that he considered becoming a professional athlete. But instead, he found his vocation in dancing and shared his aptitude by teaching other aspiring dancers to become as capable as he.
He used the same nickname he is using now, taken from a Japanese dinosaur character of the same name in the comic series “Gon” (1991-2002) because of the similarities in their looks.
Gon had never aspired to become a K-pop artist himself. But when he visited a team of K-pop trainee members in 2018, who later became his bandmates at Vanner, he was persuaded by the agency’s executive to join the band because of his obvious talent and potential.
Gon’s debut along with his four bandmates was ambitious, as they perfected their live performance skills at over 200 gigs in Japan before releasing the band’s first album “V” in Korea in February 2019.
Long story short — it took them four more years for their efforts to pay off. But when it did, it really did.
Vanner endured four years of lukewarm reaction from a K-pop market that was hit with the Covid-19 pandemic soon after the group’s debut. Even the biggest bands struggled through the global unrest, let alone a newly-debuted band from a small company.
All the agency's employees left, leaving just the chief and the band's five members to take care of their own management. The members took part-time jobs to make ends meet and took care of managerial work such as updating their website because there was no one else to do it.
Gon himself worked part-time jobs while working on the band’s music as well as practicing his songwriting and vocals at the company studio.
It was in 2023 that the members finally got a second chance on cable channel JTBC’s reboot program for undervalued boy bands in a show named “Peak Time” as Team 11:00. The series aired from February to April and highlighted boy bands who had already debuted but were less well-known.
Vanner won the show for its excellence in all aspects throughout the series, winning a cash prize of 300 million won ($229,000) as well as an opportunity to release a new album and showcase it with JTBC's help.
The band’s new album will drop on Aug. 21 and is titled “Veni, Vidi, Vici,” Latin for “I came; I saw; I conquered.” The six-track EP will include new lead “Performer” and a 2023 version of the band's 2020 single “Form.”
“Thank you VVS so much for taking me to the top,” Gon told the Korea JoongAng Daily after winning the birthday vote. VVS is the name of Vanner’s fan club.
“Thank you so much for always cheering me on and giving me love. This summer is so hot, so keep hydrated with plenty of cool drinks and watch out for the strong air conditioning. We’re so looking forward to our upcoming music, so let’s all go on a happy voyage together! Thank you VVS, you are so precious and I love you.”
To find out more about Gon and Vanner, visit https://celebconfirmed.com/
BY YOON SO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]