Kino kpop k-pop pentagon

KINO has reborn “Naked” to show his true self in a new solo adventure

Pentagon’s singer founded his first agency and is embarking on a new musical journey with the release of its first song, Fashion Style

Within the kaleidoscope of K-pop, one name continues to etch itself into the hearts of fans worldwide – Kang Hyung-gu, a versatile artist better known by his stage name, KINO. Born on January 27, 1998, in South Korea, KINO has established himself as a force to be reckoned with, donning various hats as a singer, songwriter, rapper, composer, and dancer. The prologue to his artistic narrative played out with the debut of Pentagon, a boy group that entered the spotlight in 2016 under the guidance of Cube Entertainment.

Unpacking the layers of his identity, KINO revealed the intricacies behind his chosen stage name, stating, "My real name is Kang Hyung-gu. 'INO' is an acronym for innovation, reflecting my aspirations as a singer and within the team. The 'K' comes from my original family name, Kang's K, symbolizing Korea."

However, the narrative took a turn in October 2022 when KINO bid farewell to Cube Entertainment, signaling a pivotal juncture in his career. The outcome of this chapter heralded the inception of a new venture – his very own agency, NAKED. Launched officially on December 15, NAKED embraces authenticity as its ethos, vowing to present Kino to the public in a genuine, sincere, and unadorned manner.

The announcement of NAKED was accompanied by a visual spectacle – concept photos capturing KINO in a serene beach setting, embodying the agency's commitment to portraying the artist in a carefree atmosphere, symbolizing youthful freedom.

Beyond the pulsating beats and catchy melodies, KINO unfurls another layer of his artistic palette as a fine art painter, showcasing his talents on the TV show "Art Road." The global reach of his creative collaborations shines in partnership with Italian artist Fudasca. The fruits of their synergy materialized in the release of "How it Was" in October 2023, a track that not only captivates with its musical finesse but also pays a witty homage to Bruno Mars.

As KINO continues his solo journey, launching his inaugural single, "Fashion Style," on January 8th marks a significant milestone. This all-English track carries a profound message, urging listeners to embrace confidence and comfort in their own skin. Notably, it also signals KINO's initiation into using social media platforms, particularly TikTok, to interact with fans, promising a unique journey shared directly with his audience.

The canvas of KINO's career expands, and as he steps into the spotlight with NAKED, fans await the unfolding chapters of this artist's vibrant and multifaceted journey in the Hallyu world. spoke with him.

Thank you, KINO, for being here, and nice to see you again. How have you been?

I've been living a very busy yet happy life! I am preparing various projects and cannot contain the excitement to share the projects with fans

I won't ask you to introduce yourself again, but I would loveif you could introduce us to NAKED.

Just like the original meaning of NAKED, "The real me, without nothing on", I am hoping later in the future, the label will grow and become a collective of artists who have their unique style, as if they will be stylish without nothing on.

This is a huge step in your career: how does it feel?

There's the pressure and responsibilities that come with it. However, it is that much interesting. With people around me who are sharing their talents, it gives me the energy to carry on. I am very excited to see what the future holds for NAKED.

And you also have new music: Fashion Style. What kind of song is it?

It contains the message "all people are beautiful when they are being themselves". I hope all the people who listen to Fashion Style will love themselves and have their confidence boosted up.

Fashion Style is your first single in English, it also has a huge social media interaction. Which was the most fun part of creating this concept?

Writing the lyrics was the most difficult and yet the fun part. The way you write them was very different. So I am very excited to see how the music listeners will react. Also, unlike before, I wanted to share more about the song before its release, the intention/meaning behind it, how the music production process was like, etc., hoping fans will relate to my thoughts. Make sure to check out my TikTok!

And the most challenging?

The "Change" I am making. In the beginning, I was a bit worried about how people who already know and love KINO may feel and whether they will feel repelled. That worry is gone now. Throughout the whole process of the production, I felt the power of music. I think the song is ready to be loved!

You have a long story with Italy. Last October, you collaborated with Fudasca on “How It Was”. I want to ask you the same, how it was?

(He laughs) I love the pun. Fudasca actually reached out to me first (thank you!). Italy was the country I wanted to visit most in 2023, and we share musical similarities so I got on board, wrote the verses, and recorded them. This is very fun to perform on the stage!

I have to ask you: since you visited Italy, what are your fondest memories?

I've been to Italy once as a part of a world tour! I have a very fond memory of Italian food, weather, shopping, and Italian fans!

I know you have already had the chance to meet with your fans, but a big project is coming for your birthday: Born Naked. Can you give us a spoiler of what is going to happen during the live event?

The songs you are familiar with will be rearranged in a way you never expected, and unreleased songs will also be performed. To leave some surprises at the venue, I will close my mouth here.

I also would like to address your artistry. You are a well-rounded artist, and you are also a painter. How do music and arts collide in your world?

Music, Fine Art, and Fashion, all of them, are under the category of “Art”. It has a different form, but it’s a way of expressing myself and conveying those feelings to audiences. It won’t be weird if any of these are mixed with the other. Just like my art+dance stage on the show “ArtRoad”. I mixed dance choreography with fine art. You can check out the performance on my YouTube! The creation process is like a nutrition source to me, and it helps me grow. All these creative processes are making me!

And then Pentagon. We had the chance to meet back in the days with the group, but now I’m curious: how did being part of the group help you develop your art as a solo singer, a CEO, and a “newborn” artist?

If I started my career as a solo artist seven years back, I would have had a lot of flaws and mistakes. I learned a lot from members of Pentagon throughout the years and made them mine. I believe this is the right time for me to start a solo career. Also, the group activity taught me how to live and work with others, which is a very important trait for business.

I have a signature question: if you had to describe yourself in one word, right here, right now, without overthinking it, which would it be?

"Relatable", the most important keyword for artist KINO in 2024. I want to sing and tell the stories that we all can relate to.

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Marianna Baroli

Giornalista, autore

(Milano, 1986) La prima volta che ha detto «farò la giornalista» aveva solo 7 anni. Cresciuta tra i libri di Giurisprudenza, ha collaborato con il quotidiano Libero. Iperconnessa e ipersocial, è estremamente appassionata delle sfaccettature della cultura asiatica, di Giappone, dell'universo K-pop e di Hallyu wave. Dal 2020 è Honorary Reporter per il Ministero della Cultura Coreana. Si rilassa programmando viaggi, scoprendo hotel e ristoranti in giro per il mondo. Appena può salta da un parco Disney all'altro. Ha scritto un libro «La Corea dalla A alla Z», edito da Edizioni Nuova Cultura, e in collaborazione con il KOCIS (Ministero della Cultura Coreana) e l'Istituto Culturale Coreano in Italia.

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