Video by Lee Min-young, Kim Kang-min
Interviewed by Dong Sun-hwa
For K-pop girl group MOMOLAND, food is much more than just fuel or nutrition. Eating is "healing" for the six members ― Ahin, Jane, JooE, Hyebin, Nancy and Nayun ― who love dining together and visiting must-eat restaurants even amid their hectic schedule.
The K-pop act, known for hits like "BBoom BBoom (2018)," sat down recently with The Korea Times and its sister publication the Hankook Ilbo E&B at a studio in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, to talk about their comfort foods linked with cherishable memories and musical activities. The band dropped the single "Ready Or Not," Nov. 17.
The following are excerpts of an hour-long interview.
Q. What are MOMOLAND's comfort foods?
JooE: Our comfort foods are malatang (spicy and numbing hot soup originating from China), huoguo (Chinese hot pot), sushi and tteokbokki (Korean stir-fried rice cakes). We all love them.
Ahin: We enjoy malatang when we are feeling happy or sad. I did not try it a lot when I was studying abroad in China, but ironically, I became fond of it after coming back to Korea. But I think malatang tastes quite similar in both countries.
Nancy: We know a lot of must-visit malatang restaurants near the broadcasting stations.
Hyebin: I actually gained weight because of it. In the case of Chinese hot pot, ever since I introduced it to our members, we have frequently had it whenever we felt exhausted after work. We also had it for our recent get-together, which took place before a flare-up in coronavirus cases in Korea. I often cook it on my own as well.
Nancy: In the case of sushi, I ate it yesterday, too. I once tried making it myself. I found on the internet a way to cook rice for sushi and bought some sea urchin eggs at a market to make it.
Jane: Nancy and I used to have it three times a week. It is convenient to eat and there are different kinds of sushi to choose from.
JooE: When we had a fan event in Japan, we tried sushi there, too. Now, let me talk about our all-time favorite tteokbokki. We were crazy for it. When we were living together, we ordered tteokbokki almost every day.
Nancy: We loved eating tteokbokki even when we were idol trainees. In fact, it is always best to dine together with our members ― when I eat alone, I can't eat much.
Q. Please tell us about your diet/menu.
Nancy: We go on a diet before kicking off our promotional activities for new releases. Once we begin our musical activity, we should eat well as we need energy to dance on stage. During these times, we tend to gain some weight.
JooE: Around when we debuted, we usually had salads. We had detox diets, too.
Hyebin: But we are eating less these days.
Jane: In the past, I used to wake up early in the morning to visit popular restaurants. But these days, I don't do that a lot.
JooE: The places that Jane takes us to are always awesome.
Jane: Nowadays I usually order food on a mobile application.
Nancy: When making orders, I often refer to the reviews.
Q. How are you spending your time amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
Nancy: I am recently doing diamond painting. My neck hurts a lot because I have to keep my head down while doing it. I once stayed up until 6 a.m.
Hyebin: I watch a lot of videos on platforms such as Netflix. I recently saw "Sweet Home" and "House of Cards."
Nayun: I watched "The Penthouse: War in Life."
Jane: I play games like "League of Legends." Since I know I am not a very good player, I do not feel very bad about being criticized. But sometimes I am sad because things don't go my way while playing.
JooE: I enjoy doing a manicure at home. I also do a pedicure by myself, but I have never done it for my bandmates. I will try in the future once I get used to all the techniques.
Hyebin: I want to recommend MOMOLAND's song "Wonder Love" to those who are feeling sad due to the virus epidemic. Its melodies and lyrics might be able to cheer them up.
Nancy: It has been almost a year since we have had a concert in front of our fans. I really want to have a performance after the pandemic comes to an end.
Q. Please tell us about your new release "Ready Or Not."
Nayun: "Ready Or Not" is a song about girls who boast their confidence and bubbliness at a prom.
Jane: "Gangnam Style" (2012) artist PSY wrote the lyrics and sang the guide version of the song for us. He made it easier for us to feel the song's vibe.
Nancy: While gearing up for the release, we had a lot of meetings. But this helped us come up with a concept we all love.
JooE: This time, we communicated a lot with our company officials and suggested a lot of ideas for the release. I think we will increase our participation in the future.
Nancy: "Ready Or Not" is my favorite release so far.
Ahin: We did have a tough time when the track's release was postponed. I actually wanted it to come out in May. But we were so happy when our fans praised the quality of our song.
JooE: In fact, when we prepare for a new release, we are always anxious. We wonder if our songs would sound good to our fans as well.
Hyebin: An album can earn recognition only if it wins the hearts of many people. This makes us anxious and nervous but we will keep trying our best to satisfy ourselves and the listeners at the same time.