The leader position in a K-Pop group is one that comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility. While it’s often the oldest member that gets chosen for the position, sometimes there are other qualities in an idol that make them the most appropriate to be that kind of representative for the group.
Not only is Hongjoong the leader of ATEEZ, but both he and the other members of the group call him their “captain” as well. While the title was given partly due to the pirate concept that they debuted with and continue to use, but there’s a deeper meaning to the word that truly encapsulates what Hongjoong means to ATEEZ and ATINYs.
From the beginning of their career as a group, ATEEZ was at a bit of a disadvantage compared to other boy groups debuting around the same time. The company they debuted with was small compared to others, and their first album (now beloved by ATINYs) didn’t make many sales.
This could have easily discouraged the members. And while it’s true that they struggled at times to stay optimistic in the face of adversity, it was their close bond and the determination by a young, passionate dreamer that has now become a worldwide-known leader that kept them going and carried them to the path of success that they’re now on.
There are numerous stories about Hongjoong’s unyielding motivation and hard work that make him an inspiration not only to his fellow members, but to other K-Pop idols as well. From memorizing an absurdly long list of terms in one night (meant to discourage him from continuing his idol training) to remaking all the music lost on a stolen laptop in a short period of time, it often seems like “rest” and “Hongjoong” are two words that can’t belong in the same sentence.
Along with his incredibly work ethic, another unique aspect of Hongjoong as a leader is his stage presence. While it’s usually hard to pick out who the leader of a group is just from watching them on stage, there’s no way you would ever watch Hongjoong and think that he’s just a rapper in ATEEZ.
He made sure that the K-Pop world knew that ATEEZ was here to stay with his opening statement for their performance at the 2019 MAMAs, crying out “2019 MAMA we’re here!” while proudly carrying the group’s flag.
There have been numerous other occasions where Hongjoong was in charge of ATEEZ’s flag, marking him as the captain of his “crew” by loudly and boldly proclaiming his pride for the group. It’s an honor that he clearly holds dear to his heart, and doesn’t take lightly.
Hongjoong holding ateez’s flag is my favorite kind ot art pic.twitter.com/dBh5uKmiEi
— 케니 rest (@atee_zZz) June 22, 2020
— (rest) (@ateezlight) October 8, 2018
drug of choice: hongjoong carrying the ateez flag pic.twitter.com/9g9plwsFvv
— aves | eric nam D12!!!! (@wommysaurus) June 26, 2020
His lyrics also make it clear about who he is to the group. From his opening lines in “Wonderland” demanding attention to his declaration as the captain in “Say My Name”, he has never shied away from announcing to the world who he is.
[Hongjoong] Bureugo bureugo bulleojwo nal
Nae ireumeun ireumeun geomsaekchange nawa
Geureoke baradeon neimtek daratgo
Gyeote gadeuk chingudeuldo moa
Ewossa dureugo jikyeobwa ireum ttak ne geulja yeogida
Ti nage namgyeonwa Zoom in here Cause I’m the Captain pic.twitter.com/DVp0v3Wzbi
— Journey to Wonderland #ATEEZ3rdJourney (@jtwonderland2) October 21, 2021
Kingdom: Legendary War provided Hongjoong with even more opportunities to really explore the storyline and lore of ATEEZ. His king-like aesthetic in their performance of “From the Wonderland” alone made it impossible to look away when he commanded the stage, and his speech in “The Awakening of Summer” was something that could have inspired a revolution had it been performed in real life.
i have listened to hongjoong’s speech a thousand times but every damn time I get so many goosebumps, howww
— mar s | closed. (@cutieseokjoong) May 1, 2021
Most leaders of K-Pop groups don’t take their role as literally as Hongjoong does when it comes to performances. Of course, there are many fantastic leaders in the K-Pop industry, but ATEEZ is unique with how much effort they put into the concept of them being a group with a captain that you would follow to the end of the world if he asked.
There’s a reason that the other members of ATEEZ proudly call Hongjoong their captain, and that they view him with a huge amount of respect and devotion. He was clearly born to be a performer, he lives and breathes charisma on stage, and ATINYs are proud to have someone like him to look up to and be inspired by every day.