South Korea's new girl group NewJeans is now the "Seoul" of the K-pop music industry.
The city government of Seoul has selected NewJeans and nine other celebrities as public relations ambassadors who will promote the capital's public image, as reported by South Korea-based Yonhap News Agency.
NewJeans will be responsible for promoting Seoul's image through public activities for a renewable two-year term. The breakout K-pop girl group achieved this milestone less than a year after releasing its debut single in July 2022.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon will hold a ceremony at their city hall on Feb. 16 to present the new honorary ambassadors with their formal letters of appointment.
"The city appointed celebrities who share and practice the value of helping the underprivileged people for effective promotion of Seoul's slogan of 'Companion and allure,'" a local official said. Other celebrities appointed by the city include veteran TV actor Roh Ju-hyun, singer Sean, and YouTuber Syuka.
A star is born
How did the girls achieve this feat despite their group being only around seven months old?
NewJeans first gained "attention" for their zero-marketing debut strategy when they were formed by HYBE subsidiary ADOR. The group consists of five members: Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein.
They worked under the tutelage of their record label's chief executive officer, Min Hee-jin—a former creative director at "Big 3" K-pop company SM Entertainment who handled the branding of popular groups like Girls' Generation, EXO, and Red Velvet.
With that said, all of the girls participated heavily in their group's musical and creative direction. In fact, it was maknae (youngest member) Hyein's idea to post zero teasers for their highly anticipated debut, which was considered a "breath of fresh air" in the K-pop scene that usually saturates the public with many teasers before releasing any product.
"I guess that like a lot of people, many people, were expecting our music and performance and whatnot, saur (so) we wanted to make our debut like a huge surprise. And saur I think that like the unexpected component actually helped present our fresh style to many listeners," Korean-Australian member Danielle told radio personality JoJo Wright in a 102.7KIISFM interview published on January 10.
Vietnamese-Australian member Hanni (who also responds to Pham and Siri) in the same interview recalled their preparations for their debut: "Our CEO, Min Hee-jin, she led the entire project, like our debut and all the content that we released, and all the merchandise, she was behind all of it. Before we debuted, we met up with her a lot to speak about how maybe how we would like to come out as a debut with our album and everything... First of all, she asked us like, 'Do you guys want a teaser? Like how would you tease your debut?' And then Hyein was like, 'What about no teaser at all?' And then she got caught onto that idea."
Their debut track, Attention, then started the group on its path to success, setting the bar higher each time with hits like Hype Boy, Ditto, and OMG. The said songs have even competed with one another on South Korean music programs, with NewJeans truly being their own competition.
Nonetheless, Attention remains leader Minji's favorite even in the OMG era. "We've been listening to this song, recording and practicing for performance, for a long time. But it never gets old," she said.
Aside from setting local and international music records for K-pop, NewJeans has also successfully entered the fashion and beauty industries with members Minji (Chanel) and Hanni (Armani Beauty) recently being named as ambassadors.