PENTAGON's Hui Talks About Reliving His Trainee Days On

From a boy group leader to producer of audition programs and back to being a trainee, PENTAGON’s Hui had an eventful streak the last decade!

In a recent interview, the artist shared how he has been processing his latest chapter, the one where he competed as one of the 98 trainees in “Boys Planet.”

First, he reflected on the moment he came to tears while watching other trainees perform PENTAGON’s “Shine” during an initial level test. Letting out a laugh, Hui said, “I wanted to go home. I missed my members so much. I was holding it in, but when I saw them perform ‘Shine,’ I cried. Because they were so nervous, the trainees came out holding hands. We also have times we went out on stage holding hands. The memories overlapped and reminded me of the old times, making me miss my members more.”

As mentioned, Hui also has experience producing songs like “Never” for “Produce 101 Season 2” and “Energetic” for the group Wanna One. During “Boys Planet,” Hui crossed paths with previous Wanna One members Hwang Minhyun and Kim Jae Hwan. While previously they met as artists and producer, this time they met as star masters and trainee.

On this, Hui commented, “When I saw Hwang Minhyun, it really hit me that, ‘I’m really here.’ The beginning stages of filming were much harder than the later stages. I had to adjust to my environment, and there was a performance I had to put together performances with many other trainees. There was so much to think about, and it wasn’t easy.” He added that Hwang Minhyun encouraged him by asking if things weren’t too hard, to which he replied, “It isn’t easy,” and Hwang Minhyun said, “I don’t think it was easy for me, either.” Hui continued, “For ‘Produce 101,’ I gave them the music and did the recordings. So I didn’t know the extent of how strenuous the show was. I think this motivated me to think that I need to endure this period well.”

On a different note, Hui mentioned that there were some moments he regretted joining the show. He said, “Many of my seniors who were active while I was or I had personal relationships with came. Later, I didn’t think much of it, but in the beginning, I think I was sad about it. Later, I was very happy to see people I know come on the show.”

Hui’s experience as an idol did come in handy, however. Hui said, “There were moments where I thought, ‘I guess I have performed a lot.’ I think it looks cool when you take your in-ear monitors out even when you can hear well. Aside from facial expressions and gestures, I think there were a lot of other ways I could make good stage presence.” This made him think back on his initial time as a trainee, even before debuting with PENTAGON. He reminisced, “When I was a trainee, I practiced twirling and throwing my mic up in the air. Yang Yoseob would also twirl his mic. I thought it looked cool, so I always copied him, but I don’t think he does it that often anymore.”

Hui returned to trainee status for the first time in seven years. He shared his observations, saying, “Trainees these days are so good. While practicing in the past was mostly about observing and copying, trainees these days are good at freely expressing themselves. So I learned a lot too. Really, it’s to the point where I watch them in the practice room thinking, ‘How can I adopt their strengths?’ And they’re so good at dancing. Everything just seems more free.” Going from being exact and in sync to focusing on individual style and expression wasn’t easy. He continued, “So in the beginning, it was tough. I felt like I was lacking and reflected, ‘Have I ever truly contemplated my own expression of self?'”

He also explained, “Despite me being older and a senior [artist], I told the other trainees that I’d prefer it if they gave me honest feedback. So one time, Lee Ye Dam told me, ‘Hyung, it doesn’t look so good right now. Getting all-stars is going to be hard if it goes like this.'”

The debut lineup of “Boys Planet” was chosen through fan votes. Hui explained that he also partook in voting, saying, “Given my personality, I couldn’t ask people to vote for me. So I don’t think I asked anyone around me to do so. I voted for myself by myself. I didn’t vote for trainees who were ranked above me. There were many trainees who had everything on the line for just one more chance to go on stage. I think I tried to vote for them.” He pointed out one trainee in particular, Yoon Jong Woo. Hui explained why he voted for him, saying, “It always seemed like Jong Woo was anxious. I thought it’d be nice if he could really showcase himself more.”

Hui also picked out the trainees from “Boys Planet” that he learned from, including Sung Han Bin. Hui explained, “With Han Bin, his skills are a given. But he’s also a really solid guy. There’s an age difference, and he is younger than me, but I thought that if he achieves something or does well, I would be so happy for him.”

Another memorable trainee was Park Han Bin. Hui said, “I learned from many of the trainees, and a trainee I learned from towards the end was Han Bin. He was really good. It was to the point where I thought, ‘I’ve already debuted and have been active, but I need to learn from him.’ His self-expression is already clear and free like an artist.”

With the conclusion of “Boys Planet,” fans are now waiting for ZEROBASEONE, the resulting boy group, to debut. When asked if he would potentially be working with the group as a producer, Hui replied, “Anything is fine with me.”

He added, “I went through missions with ZEROBASEONE members during the show. Even though we just worked on arranging songs, altering the melody, or writing lyrics, which aren’t intense work, they did say things like, ‘We’ll go over to your studio sometime.’ Gifting them songs would be nice, but I would like to work with them on music apart from that. I think it’ll be so much fun. I’ve watched them grow, but I think seeing them in that light would be great motivation too.”

Hui was the oldest trainee out of the Korean trainees on the show. He naturally became people’s go-to mentor for mental support. There was Kim Gyu Vin, who said in his winning speech, “I wouldn’t have been able to finish this race without [Hui]. He was that much of a pillar for me.”

Hui commented, “It wasn’t intentional, but as time passed, I had become an older brother that the trainees depended on. My first priority was to never say negative things to them. It’s not so much that I wanted to only say positive things but more that I wanted to be someone that listens. I tried to listen and say less.” He added, “When you’re going through it, you go through emotional ups and downs. More and more trainees came to me when they were going through the downs.”

On how he managed his own mental health, Hui said, “I was thankful that they would come to me. I depended on them just as much by saying, ‘I’m like that too.’ While we lived together, we all depended on one another. I talked with Gyu Vin a lot too. I think I depended on him.”

Watch “Boys Planet” again here!

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