ATEEZ on ZERO : FEVER EPILOGUE’s Meaning, Their Friendship, and Touring Again

Fashion

2022 has just started, but K-pop boy band ATEEZ is soaring into the new year with momentum following the December release of their six-track EP ZERO : FEVER EPILOGUE and their January U.S. tour dates, which start next Tuesday in Chicago. The proof is in the numbers alone—and the staggering speed in which ATEEZ’s millions of fans, called ATINY, help propel the boys to new milestones. ATEEZ, for context, was the fifth most tweeted-about artist in the world last year, with only BTS, Kanye West, Beyoncé, and Drake preceding them.

The eight-member group, who debuted in October 2018 and boast over 5.7 million fans on Instagram alone, quickly earned the #1 spot on Billboard’s World Album chart for their new EP ZERO : FEVER EPILOGUE, which came out on December 10. The music video for its first single, The Real (Heung Ver.)” has over 24 million views and counting.

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But the boys of ATEEZ’s goals for 2022 are less about numbers and more about connection. Yeo Sang tells ELLE.com, “There will be many things we wish to accomplish in 2022 if you were to ask us, but our goal is to make happy memories with our fans by continuing with our activities, always doing our best in good condition and health in 2022, as well.”

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Yeo Sang and ATEEZ’s other members Jong Ho, Yun Ho, Min Gi, Hong Joong, Seong Hwa, San, and Woo Young spoke to ELLE.com ahead of their first concert about the meaning of their new EP, their favorite style era, and what their dynamic as friends is like. They had different opinions on who the mom of the group, life of the party, and more really are.

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Take ELLE through ZERO : FEVER EPILOGUE, song by song. What is the meaning of each track?

Turbulence

Hong Joong: ‘Turbulence’ is a song that expresses the agony of the youth living in the present era in ATEEZ’s style. While ATEEZ has talked a lot about FEVER so far, releasing the FEVER series album, this song is a message that ATEEZ wants to express at the end of that fever.

It’s not just a consolation that says, “It’s okay, it’s going to be okay,” but it’s a song that can elicit sympathy by expressing each person’s pain instead. It contains the message that even if we cannot count all the pain of everyone, we’re not alone.

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Be With You

Jong Ho: It is a song for those hurt by the cold gaze around them and the indifference to each other. It can be considered a traditional ballad song in ATEEZ style. The emotional piano melody and lyrics are on point, and the vivid vocals leave a lingering impression.

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The Letter

Min Gi: It’s a song full of gratitude for the fans. Like a letter, I hope you note we have filled the lyrics with our emotions. I think this song is unique because you can also see the cute aspects of the members through the cheerful and witty lyrics.

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Still Here (Korean Ver.), Better (Korean Ver.)

Seong Hwa: These two songs were released as Japanese albums, but they were newly recorded and released in Korean this time. ‘Still Here (Korean Ver.)’ means that we are ‘Still Here’ beside ATINY no matter what difficult hardship or wandering comes. ‘Better (Korean Ver.)’ has a hopeful meaning that ‘We can do better and get better even in any difficulties.’

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The Real (Heung Ver.)

Woo Young: It’s a song that was introduced in the Kingdom Final Round. However, ‘The Real’ of this album is the ‘Heung Ver.’ which has a lot of traditional Korean instrument sessions. I think you will be able to feel even more Korean vibes compared to the previous ‘The Real’.

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WAVE (Overture)

Yun Ho: This song was a contest song that we performed at the Kingdom introduction ceremony. If the original ‘WAVE’ was a refreshing song, this one is a contest version that can incorporate powerful performances suitable for the ceremony.

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WONDERLAND (Symphony No. 9 “From The Wonderland”)

Yeo Sang: WONDERLAND allowed us to embellish the stage greatly with an arrangement of classical songs during the first round of the Kingdom competition. At that time, I remember working so hard preparing for the stage that all the members had such dogged determination. It’s a Wonderland where you can feel ATEEZ’s passion and determination.

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Answer (Ode to Joy) (Feat. LA POEM)

San: This is the song we performed during the third round of the Kingdom competition. We performed ‘Answer’ with ‘LA POEM,’ and I think it was a stage where our eyes and ears were all happy. I had fun because the tremendous energy of ‘LA POEM‘ gave us so much strength. This song also includes many factors of our storyline, so it would be very interesting to imagine it while listening to the music.

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You explore the end of the long fever of youth in ZERO : FEVER EPILOGUE. How did creating music with that theme change the way you see yourself?

Min Gi: While working on the lyrics of “Turbulence,” I wrote this part: “A trip to find the answer in the question mark of youth.” As the text implies, youth is a question mark for us, and I think we are on our way to finding the right answer. If there was a time when I thought “what others want” is the answer and that’s right, now I think, “The person I want and want to be. Wouldn’t that be the answer?” I think my perspective has changed in this part because finding that way itself is a good goal, and I think going like that will make me happy in the future.

What track are you most proud of and why?

Hong Joong: “Turbulence.” Turbulence is a style that we haven’t tried before, but each member’s emotions came out well, so this track makes me proud of the members. You can indirectly feel how the members are dealing with their youth, and I feel proud of the members who are with me.

Seong Hwa: I think I can say “The Real (Heung Ver.)” It’s a song that represents ATEEZ’s style, and I think it’s more meaningful because we performed it in the Kingdom Final. And it’s the most recent version of ATEEZ’s music that constantly improves, so I’ll choose it as the track that I’m proud of.

Yun Ho: I like “Be With You” as well, but I’m most proud of “Turbulence.” I think the ending part is just too good. Especially, when the melody of “WAVE” melts in, I get very emotional.

Yeo Sang: I think it’s “Turbulence.” I recorded it in a voice tone I’ve never done before, and I think we did express well at the moving parts.

San: For me, it’s “Be With You.” I think the emotional lyrics and melody are very beautiful, and it’s also my favorite song in this EP.

Min Gi: I think “WONDERLAND (Symphony No. 9 ‘From The Wonderland’)” has a lot of grand and interesting elements in it, and I thought it’s great when we see it on the actual stage, so I’m most proud of this song.

Woo Young: I think it’s “The Real (Heung Ver.)” It is notable for me since it was introduced first in Kingdom. This time it came out in a new version, and I think it’s the best as ATINY wanted to see the performance of all the eight members.

Jong Ho: I think it’s “Be With You” because it’s the first time for ATEEZ to do such an authentic ballad, and it’s a song that illustrates the colors each member wanted to express very well.

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What message do you want fans to take from this mini album as a whole? The ZERO : FEVER series in its entirety?

Hong Joong: We can say this album is a wrap-up of the FEVER series that ATEEZ has worked hard on. Through this album, it would be nice to listen to how much ATEEZ has grown during the FEVER series and how mature the messages we want to convey have become. And through the song “The Real,” I hope we can deliver messages such as, “This is ATEEZ’s definition of real beauty, cool, and style.” The message we want you to take throughout the entire FEVER series is that during a time of fever and youth, anyone can go through times in which they feel pain or feel lost. And if our songs and messages in the music can bring you sympathy and hope in any kind of way, just that alone can be the message we want to deliver to you throughout the FEVER series.

You debuted three years ago. How has your relationship with yourself and your ATINY changed as you’ve gone on this journey together?

San: ATINY was always there in our happy moments and even when we had hard times. After three years, I think our relationship with ATINY became strong and firm. We will always do our best to maintain this relationship, as we believe they are our lifelong partners who will always be with us on our journey.

Your style as a group has evolved so much over the years. What was your favorite style era for ATEEZ? Favorite comeback look?

Hong Joong: In my case, every comeback has been excellent, but the styling during “HALA HALA (Heart Awakened, Live Alive)” and “Say My Name” were unique and new. It was very innovative and sophisticated, and we caught people’s eyes.

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Seong Hwa: I think I would choose “WONDERLAND” as my favorite. I liked the united uniforms, and I tried an exceptional hairstyle at the time. So personally, my favorite styling is the style of the “WONDERLAND” era.

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Yun Ho: In terms of the overall styling, my favorite era would be the recent ZERO : FEVER: EPILOGUE album. And personally, I also liked the style from WONDERLAND.

Yeo Sang: Personally, I like “Deja Vu” the most. Of course, the styling was beautiful during all activities, but ATINY and people around me said that I looked the best during “Deja Vu” era, so I personally think “Deja Vu” is my favorite era.

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San: When I think about it now, I think “Say My Name” and “HALA HALA (Hearts Awakened, Live Alive)” were my type. Musically, the songs were excellent, and style-wise they could show ATEEZ’s strong aspect very well.

Min Gi: Recalling the “WONDERLAND” era, I always think that it could have been better if I had prepared a little harder, but at the same time, I think it was a very stylish era. I think “WONDERLAND” had a great style.

Woo Young: Personally, I like the overall styling of the FEVER series. It may be because the theme is about youth. I think all members were looking amazing.

Jong Ho: We’ve been trying various styles, but I think my favorite era is when we performed on Kingdom. We challenged ourselves to exceed our limit at that time and showed a lot of new things through Kingdom. In terms of comeback styling, my favorite era is ‘Answer’, because I think the styling for the song suited me very well.

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Is there any hair color or clothing style you hope to try in a future visual that you haven’t gotten to before?

Hong Joong: I’m one of the members who always tries various colors or styles, and I want to try all styles of genres and colors according to each stage and concept without any borders rather than having a fixed style of genre or color.

Seong Hwa: For hair colors, I want to try blue. Because the vibe of blue will be something new. For my clothing styles, I usually wear and like to style myself in a rock-chic look, but I also want to try more hip-hop styles. I’d like to try various clothing other than my usual style.

Yun Ho: I want to try a unique hairstyle like Hong Joong. I also want to try a hair color or clothing style with bright and splendid colorful concepts.

Yeo Sang: I’ve tried a lot of styling and hair colors, but there are still concepts that I haven’t got the chance to encounter. So, only if I have the opportunity to do it, I want to try new stylings and hair colors that I haven’t tried before.

San: I tried short hair, and it was enjoyable, and next time, I think it would be fun just to cut it shorter. I think it would be good to try red hair color. I would also like to try the style of the riders.

Min Gi: I actually don’t want to bleach my hair anymore because I’ve already bleached my hair a lot these days, but if I do, I want to go with yellow hair that is completely bleached. I think it would be fun if we wear matching looks that are hip-hop and dandy at the same time.

Woo Young: I haven’t tried red hair, so I want to try red color if I have a chance later.

Jong Ho: The hair color I want to try is purple. It’s a color that doesn’t seem like one I would try but I want to try it someday. In the case of clothing, I like neat and clean looks, but I want to try hip-hop style clothes, too.

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How would you describe your personal style now? What’s your go-to look on a day off?

Hong Joong: I think my fashion style is just Hong Joong. I think a lot about expressing myself in a way that suits me. I sometimes find clothes that fit me or if they don’t, I try to figure out thinking, “How can I make them suit me?” The style I usually wear on my day off depends on my mood. Even if I just work all day in the studio, if I think “I want to look good today in front of the mirror,” I pay much attention to my clothes. Of course, on days when I’m too tired, I just grab some clothes or often look for training set-ups. Clothes that match well even when I don’t have to think so much.

Seong Hwa: I’d like to describe my fashion style as a rock star and a gentleman. That’s because I like to match high-rise pants with cropped or tweed jackets and leather clothes and prefer coats and suits. On my day off I just wear what I want. We don’t usually have that many occasions to wear our own clothes, so I wear coats or tweed jackets and clothes that I like on my day off.

Yun Ho: I like to dress neat and clean, and I’m not too fond of uncomfortable clothes. I don’t wear revealing clothes, and I like neat and comfortable styles. A comfortable look is my go-to look on a day off.

Yeo Sang: I think my fashion style is like Hanbok (Traditional Korean Clothing), big pants, and comfortable tops. So, I want to express is as “Hanbok-like.” On my days off I just wear very comfortable clothes. Except for schedules that I have to wear something formal, I wear comfortable clothes on day off.

San: I love to wear comfy clothes. So on my day off I wear my comfortable clothes, but I like to add something that could be a point of the look.

Min Gi: I enjoy a variety of styles, so it’s hard to describe my style in a word, but I think I can put it as a street, dandy look. On my day off, I tend to wear various styles.

Woo Young: On stage, I like to wear clothes that fit my body nicely, but I like to wear in street fashion when I’m on my days off. I like the style of A$AP Rocky.

Jong Ho: I really like neat and dandy styles. For example, I like coats or suede jackets, and I also like angular knitwear rather than overfit ones.

What’s something fans should know about your friendship that they don’t get to see?

Woo Young: I think that our fans, ATINY would already know about this. All the eight members are so close that we call ourselves brothers.

Jong Ho: As the time we spend together is getting longer, our friendship is at the point that just by looking at each other’s eyes we know what he is thinking. In fact, in the past, we had lots of conversations and communicated a lot depending on the situation. Now we know a lot about each other, so we can tell just by looking at each other’s eyes.

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You’ve been a group for three years now. Help ELLE.com learn a little more about your friendship dynamic with these superlative questions!

Who’s the best cook?

Hong Joong: Woo Young. Woo Young is interested in cooking, and I think he’s improving a lot.

Seong Hwa: We can say it’s Woo Young. Woo Young also has his cooking content.

Yun Ho: Woo Young. He’s passionate about cooking and cooks a lot for the members.

Yeo Sang: It’s Woo Young. Woo Young doesn’t seem to cook much these days, but he has many records of cooking well before, so I’ll choose Woo Young.

San: Woo Young. He’s good at cooking

Min Gi: Woo Young. He studies cooking.

Woo Young: Me. It’s because I like to cook, and I cook often.

Jong Ho: I think it’s Woo Young. Because he likes cooking and he’s the member who cooks a lot in the team.

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Who’s the biggest fashionista?

Hong Joong: Everyone has their style, but I want to pick Seong Hwa, Min Gi, and Woo Young. In the case of Seong Hwa and Woo Young, they know their style very well and seem to find and wear things that suit them. In the case of Min Gi, there are times when his attempts and ideas of style are just brilliant.

Seong Hwa: Hong Joong. Because Hong Joong is always unique in many ways and tries many different things.

Yun Ho: Hong Joong. He is interested in fashion and is good at styling.

Yeo Sang: The members dress well, but I think it’s Hong Joong. When Hong Joong wears his clothes, he seems to wear many unique accessories and pays much attention to the details.

San: Hong Joong. He’s very interested in fashion.

Min Gi: Hong Joong. Because he has many clothes.

Woo Young: Hong Joong. He uses unique items the most.

Jong Ho: I think it’s Hong Joong. I think he wears a lot of various and unique styles without being shy at all.

Who’s the life of the party?

Hong Joong: I think it’s Yun Ho and Woo Young. They’re the friends with personalities that have the energy to lead the atmosphere and make it good.

Seong Hwa: I think it’s Min Gi these days. We make a lot of jokes with him, so I guess Min Gi is the light of the party these days.

Yun Ho: Me. Because I like to be active.

Yeo Sang: It’s either San or Woo Young. I can pick two, right? When San and Woo Young are around, there’s no time to be quiet or dull.

San: Yun Ho. Yun Ho is at the peak of this field.

Min Gi: Yun Ho. Looking at him just makes everyone feel happy.

Woo Young: Hong Joong. I think it’s Hong Joong these days.

Jong Ho: I think it’s San. He’s really bright, bright and bright.

Who’s the shyest?

Hong Joong: I think it’s Yeo Sang. He’s still a bit shy.

Seong Hwa: Yeo Sang. Yeo Sang’s shyness always looks kind of cute, so fans seem to like it, too.

Yun Ho: Seong Hwa. He’s sentimental and shy.

Yeo Sang: I think it’s me. I’m not good at getting compliments. Still, I’m grateful to those who compliment me, but I get a little shy. But, I always appreciate them.

San: Yeo Sang. Yeo Sang is very shy. Jong Ho is very shy, too.

Min Gi: Yeo Sang. I think he’s very shy.

Woo Young: Yeo Sang. Yeo Sang tends to get shy around new people.

Jong Ho: I think it’s me. Because I’m a little shy and I’m not good at expressing my affection to the members.

Who’s the mom of the group/biggest caretaker?

Hong Joong: I think it’s Seong Hwa. Seong Hwa seems to be very good at mediating the mind of the members, especially the 99s members.

Seong Hwa: I’ll pick myself. I can give them a feeling of stability.

Yun Ho: Hong Joong. He sometimes says things that mom would say.

Yeo Sang: I think it’s Seong Hwa. Although he is the oldest, he’s very friendly to the younger members, and sometimes I think he is just like a friend.

San: Seong Hwa. He’s like a parent.

Min Gi: Seong Hwa. He’s in charge of the team’s mom.

Woo Young: Seong Hwa. Because he’s meticulous and considerate.

Jong Ho: I think it’s Seong Hwa. He’s like a brother who quietly comes next to you and asks if you’re okay in an uncomfortable situation.

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Who’s the most athletic?

Hong Joong: Yun Ho is good, of course, but I thought Woo Young is very athletic, too. these days. San is also very athletic. Recently, I watched “Running Man” that San appeared, and he’s never tired and is generally very athletic.

Seong Hwa: It’s San. San’s physical condition is always so good that he’s good at all those things.

Yun Ho: Me. I’m confident in all sports!

Yeo Sang: I think it’s either San or Woo Young. Both are good, but I think San is very athletic. San’s athletic abilities got to shine because he learned from his father since he was young, including Taekwondo.

San: Me! San. I guess so. I’m kind of good at things like that.

Min Gi: Jong Ho. He has a strong body.

Woo Young: Woo Young. I’m not so good at sports with balls, but I think I’m athletic.

Jong Ho: I think we are all generally athletic. Everyone seems to be good at any sport, and we all keep up with it when we exercise, so I think everyone’s good.

Who tells the best jokes?

Hong Joong: I think it’s Jong Ho these days. I thought his jokes were not funny in the past, but these days, I think I laugh a lot at them.

Seong Hwa: I pick Jong Ho. In the case of Jong Ho, it’s not that he’s the funniest, but he makes many jokes so when he succeeds in one of them, it’s a huge one, so I pick Jong Ho.

Yun Ho: Yeo Sang. I think Yeo Sang is so funny these days.

Yeo Sang: I think it’s Hong Joong these days. Hong Joong just made a joke just a moment ago.

San: Me! I think I’m funny.

Min Gi: San. I think he is giving us lots of good energy.

Woo Young: Yun Ho. He often makes strange jokes because he is in a different universe.

Jong Ho: I think it’s me. There seems to be no one who can overtake my jokes yet.

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Who’s the most encyclopedic/booksmart?

Hong Joong: I think Yeo Sang is knowledgeable. He has various knowledge… In the case of Min Gi, he seems to have much knowledge that we need in our lives.

Seong Hwa: I’ll pick Hong Joong. We get a lot of help from Hong Joong when we work, and he watches the news a lot.

Yun Ho: Hong Joong. He is knowledgeable but more than that, he is logical.

Yeo Sang: Hong Joong. But I’ll choose Woo Young too. Woo Young is very well-informed.

San: Jong Ho. I think Jong Ho is good at studying.

Min Gi: Hong Joong. He looks smart.

Woo Young: Hong Joong. I heard he was brilliant when he was younger.

Jong Ho: I think Hong Joong is the most knowledgeable person. In fact, as the captain of our team, he tells us many things and you can tell he is very knowledgeable just by looking at him.

Who’s the most competitive?

Hong Joong: All the members are strong in competition, but it’s Yun Ho and San if I have to choose. They are both competitive, but in a good way. I think I’ve seen many cases where their intense desire of wining leads to positive growth.

Seong Hwa: I think it’s Yun Ho, because he never gives up until the end when doing something.

Yun Ho: I think I’m a competitive person.

Yeo Sang: I think it’s Yun Ho. Yun Ho always has an excellent desire to win. I think that’s why he’s good at games.

San: Yun Ho. Yun Ho likes this kind of thing of competing.

Min Gi: Yun Ho. I think he’s been a competitive person since he was young.

Woo Young: All eight members seem to have a strong desire to win. Sometimes I wonder why we are being so competitive in everything.

Jong Ho: I think it’s Yun Ho. He seems to hate losing when he plays games.

The holidays just passed. What was your favorite holiday movie or song to listen to during the season?

Yun Ho: There’s actually no movie I can come up with, but I really want to watch the latest Spider-Man movie [Spider-Man: No Way Home]. Recently, I haven’t been able to watch it because I didn’t have time, but I think it’s one of the best movies to enjoy at the end of this year.

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What can you tease about what’s coming next for you—and what to expect from your World Tour coming up?

Seong Hwa: It’s hard to tell you about the next album yet, but you’ll be able to see our growth as always, so please look forward to it. Please give much love and listen to our ZERO : FEVER EPILOGUE EP until we come back with the next album. And you’ll also be able to see how much ATEEZ has grown on the tour. There aren’t many performances you can enjoy in person these days, but the on-site atmosphere of our live performances is a massive advantage for us, so we’d appreciate it if you would look forward to these things.

You can stream ATEEZ’s ZERO : FEVER EPILOGUE here on YouTube and here on Spotify.

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