Fans of LOONA were blindsided earlier this month when the beloved K-pop group’s former creative director Jaden Jeong and his new agency Modhaus announced that they had signed exclusive contacts with four of the group’s former members: Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul and Choerry. In an exclusive interview with NME, Jeong speaks on how he reunited with the four idols and addresses speculation around their future at the agency.
Jeong parted ways with LOONA when he left the group’s agency Blockberry Creative in 2019. However, that didn’t mean they severed ties, he tells NME. Jeong and LOONA “would typically catch up over a meal about once a year”, with a modest amount of contact between those gatherings. “I did hear from them occasionally on holidays and other special occasions.”
However, neither Jeong nor the four ex-members had initially set out to reunite under the same agency. “I must admit that there is no sensational or dramatic story to tell,” he says, adding that Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul and Choerry had contacted him after securing injunctions to terminate their Blockberry Creative contracts in order to “[seek his] guidance regarding their future”.
“At the time, the future did not necessarily mean [a] future with Modhaus. My intention was to provide them with my personal advice in choosing the most suitable management company for them,” he explains. “However, as our conversation progressed, it became clear that there was potential for them to continue their careers with Modhaus.”
Since the signing of Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul and Choerry was reported on March 17, fans and observers alike have speculated that the quartet could join the agency’s other girl group, tripleS, especially considering all 24 tripleS members have yet to be revealed.
It appears that the speculation will remain just that, with Jeong describing them as “sister groups”, each with their own “unique worldview”. But what might happen is cross-group collaboration: “They can come together and create even greater strength. […] While it is important for talented idols to maintain their group’s identity and narrative, they also need new driving forces. This can be achieved through new attempts.”
Instead, the Modhaus CEO states that the quartet “will continue the identity of LOONA” – although questions surrounding the usage of the group’s name remain. For now though, the agency will refer to the “action and activities” of Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul and Choerry as the “Artemis Strategy”, after the Greek goddess of the moon, though Jeong emphasises that it is “not a new group name”.
While Jeong remains tight-lipped about what exactly to expect from the quartet – “disclosing everything will take away all the fun” – he did reveal that Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul and Choerry are already working on new music. That, notably, includes what appears to be the return of a fan-favourite sub-unit.
“We already started recording. It felt refreshing to see the Odd Eye Circle members again in the recording studio after such a long time,” he says. “During that time, their skills have improved, and their opinions have become clearer. I have been working closely with Jinsoul to develop her A&R skills. I must say, her talent in this area is quite impressive.”
The return of Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul and Choerry under Jeong’s wing has also brought back some old memories for the Modhaus CEO – in particular, the scrapped album ‘La Maison LOONA’, also known as ‘LOONA the Ballad’. When asked if there’s a possibility of revising this material with the quartet, he says: “I am quite open to this matter.”
“Even after my departure, I have been asked to provide the songs for other artists. However, I never gave this particular content to anyone else and planned to keep it as a personal item for life.” Now that everything has changed, though, Jeong says he does “plan on releasing it at the right time”.
Jeong tells NME that he wants to “share this experience with the fans”, who have long yearned for the release of this shelved record. He’s particularly keen to share ‘Hyper Ballad’, a snippet of which had first appeared on LOONA’s 2019 release ‘[X X]’ as a hidden track: “‘Hyper Ballad’ was a song I used to listen to by myself”.
As for the possibility of someday reuniting LOONA, Jeong prefers to keep mum for now while some lawsuits are still ongoing. Last month, Vivi and Hyunjin had reportedly filed to suspend their contracts, while Haseul, Yeojin, Yves, Olivia Hye and Gowon previously had their requests rejected allegedly due to amended contracts. On the other hand, Chuu started her own company, Chuu Co., last October prior to her unceremonious removal from the group just a month later.
But the Modhaus CEO had this one thing to say: “In my personal opinion, LOONA as a whole shine the brightest.”