Jung Kook is the latest member of BTS to head out solo after the group announced a temporary hiatus in 2022 that would allow them time to explore new creative ventures and complete the mandatory military enlistment required of almost all young Korean men. His debut album Golden comes after the release of a handful of pre-release singles, including “Seven” and “3D” with Jack Harlow, and plays on a nickname that’s followed him his entire career—the “golden maknae,” or the youngest member who excels at everything. The record, which is sung entirely in English, is a stimulating mash of genres, covering straight pop, silky R&B, retro ‘70s funk and some good old-fashioned crooning. Despite the title reflecting his status as the band’s youngest brother, it’s an album that shows a more grown-up Jung Kook, the kind that sings about sex and partying and being so hooked on someone you can’t see straight.
“If you were able to sense the maturity, then that is good,” says Jung Kook of the album, over a video call from Seoul, via a translator. “I don’t think it was something I did intentionally. I think it has just come out naturally.”
Here, GQ talks to Jung Kook about recording his debut album in English, the track he thinks the ARMY will love the most, and looking for satisfaction over success.
GQ: How did you find recording the album as a solo artist?
Jung Kook: While working on the album by myself, and performing on stage alone, (I noticed) things about myself that I was unaware of – the good points and the areas I’m lacking in. In terms of music, I found myself realizing, “Oh I can do these kinds of things as well, huh?,” or “Ah, this is something I can work on.” I found myself missing the members (of BTS) quite a bit.
I wondered if there were any particular challenges you found in producing a full record in a different language?
Compared to recording a song in Korean, there was definitely (some) exhaustion, yes. But I don’t think fatigue is important (to me). I have noticed how my pronunciation is getting better, but still, I’m learning a lot from that process, so it’s definitely fun and I want to continue challenging myself.