[BIRTHDAY BIOS] Vanner’s Sungkook celebrates 28th birthday as he nears goal of representing Asia

For this month’s Celeb Confirmed K-pop birthday vote, Sungkook of Vanner was voted No. 1 among March-born stars with 55 percent of the total with 46,135 votes. [CELEB CONFIRMED]

In the 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 .

For this month’s Celeb Confirmed K-pop birthday vote, Sungkook of Vanner was voted No. 1 among March-born stars with 55 percent of the total with 46,135 votes.

A true icon of aspiration and ambition — Sungkook of boy band Vanner was born on March 27, 1996, with his birth name Park Sung-kook as the second child of the family in Gunpo, Gyeonggi. The young Sungkook knew ever since he was in high school that he wanted to become a K-pop artist, a dream he sought to fulfill by joining the Dong-Ah Institute of Media and Arts junior college in 2015 majoring in K-pop and beginning a career as a dance trainer.

It was back then when he, whilst teaching other fellow K-pop hopefuls to achieve their own dreams as stars, got an opportunity to team up with Hyesung, Taehwan, Gon and Younggwang to form a quintet boy band, Vanner.

Vanner debuted in 2019 with five members and big goals. Sungkook made his first debut with the stage name Ahxian, embodying the ambitious goal of representing Asia and Asian people.

The five members had spent the better part of 2018 in Japan for their “pre-debut” training, performing on 200-plus live stages around the country, training and perfecting their live performances.

Five years after their debut, Sungkook and the four Vanner members are getting closer to that goal more than ever as they head toward the second chapter of their careers, but never came easy for them.

Despite making a long-awaited debut on Feb. 14, 2019, with its first full-length album “V,” Vanner saw little success in Korea upon its debut. The devastating news of Covid-19 hit the band especially hard, as it became more difficult to promote and especially difficult to hold live performances in front of the public — the thing Vanner can do best.

Sungkook of boy band Vanner [KLAP ENTERTAINMENT]

After the arduous journey where the five members and the CEO of the band’s then-agency were left with no choice but to take on part-time jobs to make ends meet, the time for Vanner to shine finally came in 2023.

The five members joined JTBC’s audition program “Peak Time,” designed to shed light on the many underrecognized boy bands in the industry. Vanner, with its determination and skills, won the show, taking home the cash prize of 300 million won ($224,400) and earning the opportunity to release a new album.

Sungkook and Vanner did not waste the opportunity, dropping its first EP “Veni Vidi Vici” only four months after winning the program, followed by its second EP “Capture The Flag” in January this year.

It was also in August last year when Sungkook decided to move on from his stage name Ahxian, using his given name for future activities.

“Professions like artists and idols, I think, are people who need to represent themselves and I think using my real name can help me better represent myself,” said Sungkook.

But ditching the stage name didn’t mean Sungkook and Vanner weren’t getting close to their goal of representing Asia and Asian people on the world stage. “Veni Vidi Vici” gathered positive receptions in and outside Korea: the album topped iTunes’ Global Albums chart in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan upon release; the music video for its lead track “Performer” became the sixth-most watched K-pop music video on Aug. 31 and Vanner was first selected as winners of a weekly music show.

“Capture The Flag” also followed with good reactions, as the album sold over 142,600 copies in the first week of its release, making it the most-sold album in Vanner’s history. They also took home the Hanteo-Choice K-pop Male Artist award at the 2024 Hanteo Music Awards in February.

Vanner will also hold its first concert in Korea, “The Flag: A to V,” in April, performing in Seoul for three days on April 26, 27 and 28, enabling it to show its live performance skills to Korean fans.

But before that, Sungkook celebrates his 28th birthday on Wednesday.

“I was told that I ranked No. 1 on Celeb Confirmed’s March birthday vote, I thank you so much!” Sungkook said.

“I think [my birthday this year] was celebrated by more people than ever before and it really makes me realize how happy and blessed I am as a person.”

While Vanner continues its “The Flag: A to V” tour in Taiwan, Tokyo and Hong Kong starting in May, Sungkook will start a new chapter of his own by completing his mandatory military service. He will start his military service in the Korean Army on May 7 and will return in November 2025.

“I will always try my best to repay the love I’ve received from everyone — and I’ll make sure to repay more than I’ve ever received. I hope you guys stay safe and healthy, and I wish your life ahead is filled with happy moments, just like the warm season of spring,” Sungkook said.