(Photo courtesy of NCT Dream)

Arts and Entertainment

K-pop group NCT DREAM celebrates first North American tour

At the height of their inaugural international tour, K-pop group NCT DREAM speaks with young journalists in a virtual roundtable about what a world tour means for the group's success — both present and future.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/lailamayfield/" target="_self">Laila Mayfield</a>

Laila Mayfield

April 24, 2023
A group of seven teenage boys from South Korea debuted their first song Chewing Gum in 2016 as a part of the third subunit of famous K-pop band NCT. They called themselves “NCT DREAM,” a verbal reflection of what eldest member Mark “MARK” Lee said in a virtual collegiate journalism roundtable on April 9 is the group’s primary goal: “to be a symbol of hope to young dreamers.”

(Photo courtesy of NCT Dream)

Eight years later, as NCT DREAM recounted the opening performances of their inaugural North American tour in this journalism roundtable, this mindset remains crystal clear.

“What sets us apart … is the story we’ve created since our debut. Every K-Pop group has a (story), but for NCT DREAM, it’s really the hope we’re trying to give to the youth,” said Huang Ren Jun, who goes by “RENJUN” as a band member. 

Aside from performances at Southern California’s Korean culture celebration KCON, this is the first time the boys have ever performed on a transcontinental scale. “THE DREAM SHOW2: In a DREAM” tour began back in September to promote their second full-length album,Glitch Mode.Before hitting the US, the boys toured East Asia and three major cities in Europe. 

“This is pretty much the embarkation of a world tour. We’ve really had to prepare ourselves — performance-wise and mindset-wise — to make sure we can show the world our capabilities,” MARK said in the roundtable. 

(Photo courtesy of NCT Dream)

An international tour is a huge step forward in the boy band’s career and has led to discussion on the group’s growth, both as performers and people. Member Park “JISUNG” Ji-sung honored the importance of confidence, saying that when he was younger, he cared too much about what others thought. 

“I don’t think there’s a need for that (anymore),” he said. 

MARK said the group’s growth is particularly noticeable in their music.

“Our voices have changed, but our inspirations and the way we convey our emotions have grown as well,” MARK said. “And we’re still growing — and I feel like our fans are growing with us too.”

The boys have always strived to actively connect with their passionate fan base, which is 12 million strong on Instagram. And whether they’re performing in Paris or Newark, there is the opportunity to connect with fans and build strength as a group, noted member Lee “JENO” Je-no. 

(Photo courtesy of NCT Dream)

RENJUN referenced an interaction with a fan that was particularly memorable for the boy band. During a virtual event, a fan on the call told NCT DREAM that they had made it through a surgery by listening to the band’s 2021 single Hello Future.” 

“When I heard this story, I was very touched. It made everything that we worked on feel much more meaningful,” said RENJUN. 

Outside of performing, MARK and Na “JAEMIN” Jae-min said that going to the gym, watching movies and shopping at the local malls were some of the boys’ go-to stress-relieving activities in-between performances. 

“As soon as I arrive (to a hotel), I go straight to the gym,” JAEMIN said.

Enjoying the popular landmarks and food from each tour stop has been another highlight of being on the road, said Renjun. At the time of the roundtable, the boys were preparing for a performance in Houston. Members MARK, RENJUN and JAEMIN were mutually excited about getting to try the “Texas Barbeque.” 

The nine-stop American segment of the tour has hit major cities like Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles. NCT DREAM will continue their world tour in Southeast Asia, with shows in Manila and Singapore, among others. 

Although additional dates have yet to be released, NCT DREAM tweeted that more shows are to come, according to their official Twitter account.

(Photo courtesy of NCT Dream)