Let’s time travel together. How about we go back millions of years before our earth was even born, before we were born, before rules and boundaries. sciences and philosophy, animals and plants were born? Can you imagine floating in outer space, witnessing the birth of the universe? Can you hear the Big Bang?
It is louder than any kind of onomatopoeia can even express and it means much more to our existence than any scientific book can describe. The Big Bang marks day one, the beginning of life, the start of us and everything.
But let’s face it: No human being, or at least not the majority of us, ponders about the past that much. We usually think back and remember our childhood, then immediately stop when we reach our embarassing high school days. However, nowadays, the term “Big Bang” refers to more than the birth of the universe. Aside from the popular US TV-series “The Big Bang Theory” that many people are aware of, there is, somewhere in the small country that is called South Korea, a group of five young men who have one thing in common: their passion for music.
Yes, there is a Big Bang that didn’t happen millions of years ago. In fact, it all started in 2006.
"Hello, we’re Big … Bang!"
The five men – back then they were just boys – proudly introduce themselves, mimicking the sound of a real ‘bang’ when pronouncing the second syllable of their band name. Some people giggle when they hear it for the first time. Everything seems a bit childish: their oversized clothes, weird hairstyles and toothy grins on their faces. Little does the world know what these guys had to endure before being able to smile so brightly into the camera.
Kwon Jiyong, born in 1988, is a talented little kid. At young age, he participates in dance competitions, winning them effortlessly with his swift and flawless moves. The boy is different. Even back then, he is interested in fashion, accompanying his mother to the mall whenever she goes there. She chooses and makes outstanding clothes for him and little Jiyong loves it. He doesn’t know yet that he’ll receive presents from the most famous fashion designers one day. “I was very shy as a kid.”, he says. Indeed, he was. But that didn’t stop him from continuing with acting and dancing, didn’t stop him from getting noticed by a man called Yang Hyun Suk, who is, today, one of the richest men in South Korea. Maybe he wouldn’t be if he hadn’t convinced little Jiyong to sign a contract. “When your mother is back [from the restroom], tell her that you really, really want to join my company.” These are his original words.
Kwon Jiyong is a teenager when he becomes a trainee at YG Entertainment. He is still timid, although CEO Yang believes in his talent. But things are not easy. The future leader of BIGBANG is still a student and it becomes hard for him to manage training and going to school at the same time. Usually, he is at YG till late in the night. Then he arrives at home, does his homework sloppily before waking up at six in the morning again. Of course he dozes off. His scores are low. He gets scolded a lot. His teachers scold him. His parents scold him. Jiyong askes himself if he made the right descision. But then he remembers listening to Wu-Tang Clan at his friend’s house for the first time. Damn, he loves rap and he really wants to become a rapper.
Someone will share that dream with him soon.
One day, Jiyong meets this boy who is leaned back in a comfortable position, reading a comic that hides his face from him. The whole time, he asks himself “Who is this?”. Being the shy kid that he is, he cannot bring himself to go and talk to him. Instead, it is the other boy who introduces himself to him. Dong Youngbae, born in 1988, is a new trainee at YG.
He is a bubbly kid who has even bumped his fist on Yang’s office table, boldly asking him to accept him. He is a complete contrast to the quiet Jiyong. The latter is even a bit scared of him at first, finding out that he is the “third best fighter at school”. Nevertheless, the two soon get along well – very well, to be more specific. Even though their characters are complete opposites, both boys share the same dream: becoming a singer. “We have qualities that the other doesn’t have. That may be irritating at times though it helps most of the time” – Youngbae today about his ten years of friendship with Jiyong. Some people say that they have switched personalities after growing up.
The two teenagers call themselves GDYB, performing at the concerts of their seniors. They buy their costumes with their own pocket money at that time. “We couldn’t even imagine about make-up.”, says adult Jiyong now. After their performance, they go home by subway, just like the fans do. People stare at them and start whispering. They don’t whisper because they are excited to see them. They whisper because they cannot believe that those two kids performed on stage and were now going home by subway, like ordinary people. It doesn’t sound like much, it really doesn’t. But to those two young teenagers, it was a fairly embarassing experience. One time, the manager is supposed to pick them up and they wait for hours and hours. No car arrives. They decide to give him a call and when he finally picks up, he mumbles something like: “Oh, sorry, I kind of forgot you.” Ah, yes. Everyone seems to overlook Jiyong and Youngbae. They wipe the windows with old newspapers, tidy up the practise rooms and watch their seniors all day. After that, they start practising as well. They dance and sweat and write one song after the other. Still, nobody notices them. There are times when they really want to give up. They don’t. Jiyong and Youngbae dream of becoming a Hip-Hop duo like Kriss Kross. However, Yang Hyun Suk has other plans. He wants to form a so called idol group. This not what he promised them. It’s not what they have wished for. But GDYB remain quiet. It is not that anybody will listen to them anyway. Before they know it, four other boys enter YG Entertainment.One of them, Jang Hyunseung will not even make it. The CEO will eliminate him soon but he doesn’t know yet.
Choi Seungyun, born in 1987, is one of Jiyong’s old childhood friends. Eventually, he falls in love with hip-hop and starts a “career” as an underground rapper under the pseudonym "Tempo". Seunghyun is not a very social kid back then. He doesn’t like talking to people he doesn’t know, doesn’t like expanding his connections. But when Jiyong calls him and convinces him to send one of his demo tracks to YG, he is thrilled. Maybe he can stop being an underground rapper now. Maybe he can become something big, like the Notorious B.I.G. He can become a part of Big Bang.
He can’t at first.
Because even though Yag Hyun Suk is impressed by Seunghyun’s rapping skills, he doesn’t approve his appearance. "Tempo" is chubby. “Go and lose weight first.” He takes this words seriously. Seunghyun spends his days at the gym and does crazy exercises. One day, his teachers hits his stomach and realizes that there is none anymore. "Tempo" has officially died. It’s just Seunghyun now, Choi Seunghyun, the oldest member with the deep voice and good looks. It’s unbelieveable but the chubby boy from back then will model for Calvin Klein and act in movies one day. Of course he doesn’t know yet. He is just dorky Seunghyun.
Kang Daesung is born in 1989 and loves ballads so much, he joins YG though his father forbids him to do so, even disowning him for a long time before eventually accepting his son’s decision. Daesung has an amazing voice and some fans who send him letters and presents from time to time. Still, within the company, people refer to him as "the ugly one", the one Yang keeps because of his vocals and nothing else. One could assume that he is quiet and dull but he isn’t. Daesung gets another nickname soon, "the smiling angel". Yes, he is always smiling, is always cheerful and bright and has a good heart. Seunghyun wonders how he can be so happy all the time and tells him to share his worries with him. Even as the oldest member, he is amazed by Daesung’s mature response: “I don’t have these kind of problems. When I do, I pray. When I pray, it all goes away.” The smiling angel keeps everything bottled up to himself.
Lastly, there is Lee Seunghyun, the youngest member that is born in 1990. He is the baby, the kid of the group, only 16 years old when BIGBANG debuts. He is not even from Seoul but from Gwangju, meaning that he had to leave his family in order to be able to train at YG Entertainment. Even though he is the oldest child at home, being the youngest in the group is not easy. Sometimes, they wake him up at 4 AM and ask him to go and buy water. Little Seunghyun obeys but he is not completely submissive. He, for example, does not grill the meat for his older members when they are eating BBQ outside (It’s common in Korea that the younger ones prepare the meat for the older ones) , claiming that he doesn’t know how to. This will evoke a lot of laughter in future variety shows but he doesn’t know yet. Little Seunghyun’s overflowing confidence is his strongest point, even to this day. Yang plans to eliminate him together with Hyunseung. However, the young boy manages to convince him of his dedication for music and dance. Nobody can believe it, but the kid from Gwangju actually softens the CEO’s hard heart up. The group bids their goodbyes to Jang Hyunseung. Their time together with him ends in tears.
G-Dragon ak.a Jiyong, Taeyang aka.Youngbae , TOP aka. Seunghyun Choi, Seungri aka.Seunghyun Lee and Daesung are the only ones left. They are no longer strangers but a group of friends who will later refer to each other as brothers, who will overcome many obstacles together and who will give hope to millions of fans all over the world.
The Big Bang of the Korean music industry happened on 19th August 2006. They came, saw and conquered. They striked like a meteorite. They were different from other groups. Maybe not as good-looking as others but different. Before they arrived, many people didn’t know what passion meant, what working for your dreams meant and what real friendship is. BIGBANG’s fans all have something in common: They discovered the band when they had nothing to hold on to anymore.
This theory of Big Bang is slightly different from the one you already know. If Big Bang was the birth of life, then BIGBANG was the birth of hope and love for many people.