From K-pop fans to K-idols

A.C.E began their music career busking on the streets of a hip district in Seoul

South Korean boy band A.C.E were recently in town ahead of K-pop music festival HallyuPopFest. The Straits Times gets the members to reveal more intimate details about one another.
South Korean boy band A.C.E, comprising (above, from far left) Chan, Wow, Jun, Byeongkwan and Donghun, are known for their bold and colourful stage costumes.
South Korean boy band A.C.E, comprising (above, from far left) Chan, Wow, Jun, Byeongkwan and Donghun, are known for their bold and colourful stage costumes.PHOTO: HALLYUPOPFEST

South Korean boy band A.C.E may have more than 470,000 followers on Instagram, but before they became K-pop idols, they were K-pop fans.

The five-member group - comprising Jun, Byeongkwan, Donghun, Wow and Chan - first gained a following busking on the streets of the hip Hongdae district in Seoul, covering the dance choreography of popular groups such as BTS, Blackpink and EXO. They debuted in 2017 with the song, Cactus.

While in town for a fan meeting at Wisma Atria last month, Byeongkwan, 22, says he loves fellow boy band BTS, one of the biggest and most successful Korean boy bands: "Personally, I prefer the powerful and intensive style of dance and song, so I look up to BTS."

A.C.E's leader Jun, 24, says of their busking days: "The videos of us doing those covers garnered us a lot of attention, even with global K-pop fans.

"It was also a great learning experience for us. We learnt to handle unexpected situations during performances and how to communicate with the crowd."

The group - known for their songs such as Take Me Higher (2018) - will perform on the first day of the two-day K-pop music festival, HallyuPopFest, later this month.


  • WHERE: Singapore Indoor Stadium, 2 Stadium Walk

    WHEN: May 25 and 26 (full-day)

    ADMISSION: $98 to $288 a day from Sports Hub Tix (go to

    INFO: For the full artist line-up, performance schedules and artist engagement events, go to

A.C.E are also known for their bold and colourful stage costumes, which include androgynous choices such as cropped tops and hot pants.

On their sartorial sense, the members say: "Initially, our team would suggest styles for us to try, but now, we've progressed to sharing our opinions more actively.

"If we see styles or make-up that we like, we'll suggest it, then work with our team from there."

This is not the group's first time in Singapore. They were here last year for StarHub's Night Of Stars awards show, in which they picked up a Best Newcomer Award.

Chan, 21, also attended HallyuPopFest last year as part of project group UNB - which debuted on reality show The Unit last year and ended their activities in January this year. He has since rejoined A.C.E full time.

While their trips here have been brief, the group have always felt the passion of Singaporean fans.

Jun says: "When we arrived at the airport, it was about 5am. We saw some fans around, so we're grateful for that."

Byeongkwan also picked up some local lingo to impress fans.

Referring to a Hokkien word used to describe a pretty girl, he says: "Choice (the official name given to A.C.E fans), you are 'chio'."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2019, with the headline 'From K-pop fans to K-idols'. Print Edition | Subscribe