Coming in the wake of superstars BigBang, new K-pop boyband Winner know they have their work cut out for them trying to live up to the standards of their YG Family seniors.
"It's a little embarrassing to say this, but I think Winner's only advantage over BigBang is our height and youth," says the group's 20-year-old leader Kang Seung Yoon in Korean.
Standing on average at 1.79m, the rookies tower over their BigBang seniors, whose average group height is 1.7m, and the Winner boys are all in their early 20s, while the five BigBang members are a few years older.
Daunting as it is to follow in the footsteps of BigBang, Winner are thrilled to finally launch their career.
Kang, Lee Seung Hoon, 22, Song Min Ho, 21, Nam Tae Hyun, 20, and Kim Jin Woo, 22, were visibly excited as they spoke to Life! backstage before they made their official stage debut at the YG Family concert on Aug 15. At the concert, they sang tracks hot off their first EP, 2014 S/S, released just a week before.
The five boys from Winner earned the right to debut after beating fellow YG trainees Team B on the YG Entertainment survival talent reality TV show WIN: Who Is Next (2013).
They are the first boyband to debut under YG Entertainment since BigBang's debut eight years ago, so they know comparisons will inevitably be drawn between the two groups.
Kang, who is the group's singer and composer, details the differences between the two: "BigBang has a repertoire of breakthrough music with powerful vibes, whereas our music melodies are simpler. We feel that our content is something that our listeners can identify with."
Their 10-track EP has topped Billboard's World Albums chart, that compiles the top-selling international albums, within a week or so of its release last month. It also did well back home in South Korea, with the title track Empty topping nine online music charts on the day the album was released last month.
Despite their initial success, there is no denying they are rookies and they still have to observe certain etiquette when they are backstage at a concert with their A-list seniors.
Kang says: "Once we reach backstage, we will go and greet our seniors. They will give us pointers and words of encouragement."
After the proper protocol is observed, though, they let their hair down and kid around with the others.
Kang says: "When we act cute in front of our male seniors like BigBang, they will ignore us or jokingly get angry with us. We have lost our confidence. We usually try our cute charms on female seniors like 2NE1, who are more receptive."
Jokes aside, Winner say they are humbled by the professionalism and passion of their mentor, BigBang's vocalist Taeyang.
Lee, who is a rapper, says: "Taeyang was our mentor on Who Is Next. He told us that even though he's been a singer for a long time, he still feels excited before going onstage to perform.
"Feeling our senior Taeyang's passion for performance even though he's already a big shot, we want to take him as our role model. We hope to become as passionate about performing as he is."