SEOUL – It has been quite a year for South Korean singer Nam Woo-hyun of K-pop boy band Infinite.
The 32-year-old was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in early 2023, for which he underwent hours-long surgery. He then joined the band for comeback concerts and the release of a mini album.
On Nov 28, he dropped his first solo studio album, Whitree, and is due to hold solo concerts in Seoul in December.
“I was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal stromal tumour, for which I underwent surgery at a university hospital in April,” he said during a group interview in Seoul on Nov 23.
“I was expecting a small surgery at first. But when the surgery began, the surgeon found that the tumour was much bigger. I was under general anaesthesia for 10 hours.”
Nam, known mononymously as Woohyun, said he was devastated when his doctor told him that he would not be able to sing and perform as he had before the surgery, because it would be difficult for him to breathe normally.
“I felt miserable because I thought I was not going to be able to have this job anymore. But my fans made me pull myself together and get back on stage,” he said.
“The nurses looking after me at the hospital also encouraged me by saying that I could continue being a K-pop artiste if I eat well and exercise.”
Although his doctor had recommended rest, Nam decided to push ahead with Infinite’s comeback in July.
The six-member group held two concerts – their first in five years – and released a mini album, titled 13egin.
“We had everything planned since January, including the concert venue reservation. I didn’t want to delay our group’s comeback because of me,” he said. “My fans did know by that time that I had had surgery, but I did not give them the details as to why because I did not want to worry them.”
Nam pushed himself even further by releasing his solo album as scheduled.
“I wanted to give positive energy and hope to people who are ill like me through my first solo studio album,” he said, adding that he composed and wrote the lyrics to most of the songs.
The 11-track album is led by Baby Baby, a city pop track which has Korean and English versions.
“I made the English version of Baby Baby hoping that my album lands on the Billboard charts and also for my foreign fans,” he said.
“As a member of Infinite, I’ve been on numerous world tours and we’ve received a lot of love from fans around the world. I wanted to present this music in a way that is more comfortable for them to listen to.” THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK