Though many people nowadays associate the term “bugaboo” with a popular stroller brand, according to the Oxford Dictionary a bugaboo is “an object of fear or alarm; a bogey”.
It’s with this in mind that new K-pop girl group BugABoo was formed.
The brainchild of A Team Entertainment and produced by prominent K-pop songwriter Ryan S. Jhun, six-member BugABoo arrived on Oct 25 with their first song, the sprightly, upbeat self-titled BugABoo.
It was released with a vibrant, comedic music video that featured the six women facing down ghosts and various monsters and creatures straight out of Ghostbusters or a cartoonish B-grade horror film from the 1970s.
“It was a bit of a hard video to film,” says band member Yoona, “but honestly, the production team directed us in a really spontaneous way so it was a lot of fun.”
“There were so many computer graphics added later that sometimes we had no idea what was really going on,” adds Cyan.
“In one scene, you see me reaching out my hand towards a jellyfish, and I had no idea that’s what it was going to be.”
When the BugABoo members speak with the Post over a video call, they reveal these ghoulish characters represent their fears and weaknesses, which they call their traumas.
“Our big picture is that we want, as artists through our work, to overcome our personal traumas,” says group member Choyeon, “and through our music and videos inspire listeners to similarly face down their own traumas.”
For the group, the pandemic has become a bit of a bugaboo: Not only can they not meet fans directly and have to resort to various digital forms of interaction, but even prior to their October debut, travel restrictions stressed them out, especially the group’s non-Korean members.
Japan-born Yoona say she was especially concerned about visiting her family, worried that she’d not be allowed back into South Korea and that her career, and BugABoo’s debut, would be derailed.
Each member identifies their own personal bugaboo, or weakness, which they hope to overcome through BugABoo.
Eunchae trained for six years to debut as a K-pop star, but it’s taken until now for her to see success, and the group’s very existence is helping her move on.
“It felt like time had stopped for me,” recalls Eunchae. “There were a lot of times I wanted to give up and run away, but now time is ticking again.”
Taiwan-born member Rainie says she struggles with expressing herself in Korean. “The language barrier is something really weighty, but I’m working with the other members to improve.”
Choyeon has felt she was called out before for being too excited and energetic while appearing on the 2018 K-pop TV competition show Produce 48, but is working on putting her excess energy into her work.
In contrast, Cyan says she thinks she comes across as too relaxed and casual in her expressions, which isn’t necessarily ideal for an idol pop star, but like the rest, she’s trying to moderate herself as BugABoo’s career progresses.
Like Cyan, the group’s youngest member Zin, 20, thinks she sometime comes across as having a dark aura thanks to her introverted nature, which isn’t always the best thing for a celebrity; she’s attempting to enjoy this facet of herself more as she gets older.
Yoona is similarly concerned about how she may be perceived, though her worry is less about her personality and more about living up to the ideals of K-pop idols: Yoona’s “bugaboo” is controlling her appetite, as gaining weight as a star could be immensely stressful.
“I think our concept [as a K-pop group] is fresh and unique,” says Zin.
“I think we’re sharing our weaknesses with people out there, and showing ourselves overcoming these weaknesses. I hope it’ll send out encouragement and hope to listeners.”
Though they’re new, BugABoo have rapidly attracted attention, and their first music video acquired over 13 million views in the first two weeks of its release. After preparing for so long, it feels like just the start for them.
“We debuted recently so every day feels new and very fresh. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we do in the future,” says Eunchae.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.