Highlight, formerly known as Beast, is an all-male group formed by Cube Entertainment in 2009. The band is currently composed of five members – Yoon Doo-joon, Yong Jun-hyung, Yang Yo-seob, Lee Gi-kwang, Son Dong-woon, and Jang Hyun-seung. Former member Jang Hyun-seung left the group in April 2016 when they left Cube Entertainment to establish Around Us Entertainment.
2009 to 2010: HIGHLIGHT Official debut as Beast
Prior to their debut, it was initially reported that Cube Entertainment will be debuting a new boy group known as ‘B2ST,” whose name stands for “Boys to Search for Top” and is pronounced as “Beast”. The name was officially changed to “Beast” before the debut, but the group still used the original stylization for their promotions.
The group held their debut showcase at the MTV GongGae Hall in October 2009, followed by their live performance of their debut single, “Bad Girl,” on KBS’ Music Bank.
During this time, the group filmed a documentary on their debut, titled “MTV B2ST,” which showed the members filming their first music video.
Their debut mini-album, Beast is the B2ST, was subsequently released on October 14, 2009, featuring a total of five tracks, including the intro track of the same name, “Mystery,” and “Oasis.” The song “Yet,” however, was banned from airplay due to swear words in the lyrics of Jun-hyung’s rap.
It was for this album that Beast won their first award as the Rookie of the Month for December from the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.
After the success of “Bad Girl,” the group released their second single, “Mystery”. As part of their promotions for the songs, the members created their own humorous amateur music videos featuring fellow K-pop singers including members of Girls’ Generation and Kara. It went on to sell 40,000 copies (after selling out the initial print run of 20,000 copies in its first month), an unusual feat for a Korean rookie group at the time.
In January 2010, Beast, together with labelmates 4minute, signed with Universal Music Group for their international promotions and album launches, beginning with activities in Taiwan.
The following month, they won the Best Newcomer Award alongside girl groups T-ara and After School at the 19th Seoul Music Awards.
In March of the same year, Beast released their second mini album, Shock of the New Era, featuring the lead single “Shock,” for which they took home their first number one win on Mnet’s M! Countdown. The album immediately sold 20,000 copies in Korea upon its release and was certified into the Gold Disk category in Singapore.
During the group’s promotions for “Shock,” they performed an orchestra version of the song “Despite Holding On” by Korean group Noel and received recognition as a group with “outstanding singing ability”.
In April 2010, Beast released a digital single version of the track “Easy” from Shock the New Era, calling it “Easy (Sincere Ver.)”.
In August, the group won the Golden Disk Award from Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand at the ‘2010 Summer CUBE Stars Party’ in Seoul. Beast, along with 4minute, also became the first Korean artists to be invited to perform on the pre-opening stage of the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics.
In the same year, they won the Cool Star Award at the 2010 Mnet 20’s Choice Awards, with American R&B singer Omarion making a surprise appearance with the group onstage as they received their award. Earlier, Omarion invited Beast to perform with him after seeing a video of the group on YouTube doing a dance performance of his single “Ice Box”.
Beast released the song “Jumeogeul Kkwak Jwigo (Clenching a Tight Fist) on September 17, 2010, as a single from their third mini album Mastermind. The song gained attention from the public for the excellent vocal display by the group, drawing anticipation for the official release of the album on September 28.
A week after their comeback, the group won first place on KBS’ Music Bank with the song “Soom” from Mastermind. And on October 23, Beast was one of the recipients of the Asia Influential Artist Award, an award given to those who had gained the most attention in Asia for the year.
Pre-order sales for Beast’s upcoming fourth mini album, Lights Go On Again, opened on November 3, 2010. And upon its release on November 8, the album took the top five spots on the Mnet music charts with the title track – “Beautiful” – debuting at first place, followed by the four other tracks.
On November 15, the group released the first part of the relay music drama from Lights Go On Again on their official YouTube channel. The drama drew the attention of fans as well as international promoters and media for the unique concept of the music videos.
On November 24, Beast made their entry in the Japanese music market with the release of their first Japanese album, Beast – Japan Premium Edition, which debuted at number 13 on the Oricon weekly album charts.
Three days later, they held their first Japanese showcase, The Legend of Beast Vol. 1, at Tokyo Big Site in Odaiba, Tokyo. For the showcase, the members of the group were transported to the venue by helicopter where they witnessed a human formation of the group’s name made by fans as a welcome greeting. They performed a total of nine songs at the showcase, including “Bad Girl,” Shock,” and “Soom”. After the show, the group announced that they are set to make their official Japanese debut in February 2011.
On December 1, Beast was recognized as one of 2010’s Most Photogenic Figures at the 11th Korean Visual Arts Festival, which was hosted and organized by the Korea Broadcast Camera Directors Association. On December 9, they won the Yepp Newcomer Award at the 25th Golden Disk Awards. Additionally, Beast was also recognized by Hanteo as the only rookie group to have sold more than 100,000 copies of their albums in 2010 – they were recorded to have sold a total of 107,006 copies from January to October 2010.
On December 12, they held their first solo concert at the Jamsil Indoor Stadium in Seoul, titled ‘Welcome to the Beast Airline’.
On December 23, it was announced that the group is scheduled to release self-composed duets by the members. They released the hip-hop track “Thanks To” by Yo-seob and Jun-hyung, the R&B track “Let It Snow” by Gi-kwang and Hyun-seung, and the ballad song “Muni Dathimyeon (When the Door Closes)” by Doo-joon and Dong-woon. All the songs were debuted by the pairs on M! Countdown and were released as the digital mini-album, My Story.
2011: BEAST’s Japan debut and rising popularity
Beast welcomed 2011 with the Bonsang Award at the 20th Seoul Music Awards on January 20, where they also performed their hit songs “Shock” and “Soom”. They were also ranked number 40 on Forbes Korea’s Power Celebrity List on February 24.
On March 16, the group released their first Japanese single, “Shock,” which debuted at number two on the Oricon weekly chart. However, all of their Japanese promotions were canceled due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake.
Two months later, they returned to Korean promotions with the release of their first full-length Korean album, Fiction and Fact, featuring the title track “Fiction”. Prior to the release of the album, the song “On Rainy Days” was released as a digital single. It won first place on KBS Music Bank instead of the album’s lead single, which the group promoted.
On June 15, Beast released their second Japanese single, “Bad Girl”.
2012: BEAST International tour
Beast embarked on their first international tour in 2012, titled “Beautiful Show,” visiting a total of 17 cities in 12 countries from Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. Around this time, they were also featured in the soundtrack of Korean drama, “Big,” with the song “Hateful Person”.
On July 11, the group held a “Hang Out On Live Air” broadcast on their Google+ page in celebration of their 1,000 days together as a group. Through the live event, they spoke with fans from 50 countries and announced an upcoming comeback.
Beast released their fifth mini-album, Midnight Sun, on July 21. An hour after the release of the album, the group released the music video for the title track “Beautiful Night” on their official YouTube channel. As part of their promotions for Midnight Sun, they held a guerrilla concert in front of 4,000 people at the Gwanghwamun Plaza, which was broadcast on SBS’ Inkigayo.
The group won a triple crown on M! Countdown for “Beautiful Night,” achieving the top spot on the charts for three consecutive weeks.
2013 to 2015: More releases
Beast released the digital single “Will You Be Okay?” on March 29, 2013. The song was written by Yong Jun-hyung and peaked at number 1 on domestic charts and the Billboard K-pop chart.
On July 11, Cube Entertainment announced that the group will be releasing a new album, titled Hard to Love, How to Love on July 19. The following day, the label revealed the album’s promotional track, “Shadow (Geurimja)”. On July 15, the complete tracklist was released, with a total of eight tracks completing the album. The music video teaser for “Shadow” was released the group’s YouTube account, followed by the full-length version of the music video on July 19.
On June 16, 2014, Beast released its sixth extended play, Good Luck, featuring the lead single of the same name. The album peaked at number 1 on the Gaon Weekly Album chart, and number 2 on the Monthly Album chart.
On October of the same year, the group announced the release of their seventh mini-album, Time, through a teaser video posted on their YouTube channel. The album was released on October 20, featuring a total of six tracks, including the lead single “12:30”. Time peaked at number 1 on the Gaon Weekly Album chart and at number 2 on the Monthly Album chart.
For the whole 2014, Beast received a combined total of 19 music show trophies for “Good Luck” and “12:30”.
On July 27, 2015, Beast released its eighth mini-album, Ordinary, featuring the lead single “YeY” along with five other tracks. The album peaked at number 1 on the Gaon Weekly Album chart and at number 7 on the Monthly Album chart.
2016: Hyunseung’s departure, departure from Cube, and new label
Cube Entertainment released a statement on April 19, 2016, confirming Hyunseung’s departure from the group, citing difference in music styles between him and the other members. The incident also follows controversies on his alleged “attitude problem” and lack of participation in group activities such as fan meetings. He went on to pursue a solo career under Cube Entertainment, while Beast reorganized and continued promoting as a five-member group.
On June 26, the pre-release track, “Butterfly,” was released, while their third full-length album, Highlight, was released on July 3. Highlight features a total of 12 tracks, including the lead single “Ribbon”. This also marks the group’s first comeback as a 5-member group.
On December 15, they Beast officially announced the launch of their new label, Around Us Entertainment, after leaving Cube Entertainment seven years after their debut. The five remaining members failed to come up with an agreement with the agency and decided not to renew their contracts. However, as the name Beast is trademarked by Cube and holds ownership of it until 2026, the members are unable to promote under the name legally.
Four days later, the group announced a surprise fan meeting, “777 Party,” to be held at the Jangchung Gymnasium on December 31. The fan meeting is the group’s first event after being managed by their new label.
2017 to present: Debut as Highlight
On February 24, 2017, the group announced that they will be continuing their promotions under the name Highlight.
On March 2, Highlight was announced to be making their official debut on March 20 with the release of their mini-album Can You Feel It?, which features a total of six tracks including the lead single “Calling You”.
The group announced on April 9 that they are set to hold their first concert tour as Highlight and will be releasing the repackaged album, Calling You, on May 29. The album features a total of 7 tracks, including two new songs – the title track “Calling You” and “Sleep Tight”.
On October 16, Highlight released their second EP, Celebrate, in celebration of their eighth anniversary together. The album consists of six tracks featuring the lead single “Can Be Better”. Upon release, it peaked at number 2 of the Gaon Weekly Album chart and number 5 on the Gaon Monthly Album chart.
Notable Reaction Videos
Yong Jun Hyung Departure
Yong Junhyung, a rapper in the group HIGHLIGHT (formerly BEAST), is the latest idol to be affected by the investigation. He announced his exit from the band after revealing he had received explicit videos from Young.
First of all, I sincerely apologize to the members and all fans who must have had a difficult time because of me for the past few days.
When I received the call from my agency to confirm the validity right after the SBS 8 O’Clock News aired on 11, I did not understand the point of the issue clearly and only said that I was not in the chatroom. As a result, the agency took my side and said in the official statement that the reports are false, but this was information relayed inaccurately by me. The reason I said was from 2016 while talking with the agency to release an official statement is that I no longer have the chat records with Jung Joon Young in my KakaoTalk, so I was not able to check the date accurately. I also apologize for causing further confusion due to this.
In the KakaoTalk messages with Jung Joon Young from late 2015 reported by the news, we drank the night before and went home, and I asked him how he is doing the next day. Jung Joon Young told me that he got caught after sending illegal video footage to someone, and I responded, “You got caught by her?” I did not receive a video at the time, but I did receive a video at a different instance. In addition, I participated in inappropriate conversations regarding it. All of these actions were very immoral, and I was foolish. I treated it as not a big deal without thinking that it is a crime and illegal act, and it is also my fault for not firmly restraining .
I participated in a witness interview regarding this matter. I said everything that I know without any lies, and I cooperated with the investigation. While receiving the witness interview, I saw exactly what conversations I had in the past, and I was embarrassed and could not help but feel horrified.
I never participated in the illegal acts of taking hidden camera footage or circulating it. In addition, I have maintained a relationship of only greeting each other once in awhile with Jung Joon Young since late 2016. However, although I knew of what was happening during that time, I thought of it as not a big deal and acted at ease. I was a silent bystander about this severe issue where several more victims may have arisen due to my actions.
I am very sorry to have not been able to repay the overwhelming love and as I betrayed the trust of the members and fans who have trusted me due to this issue. I realize the severity of this matter, and I do not want any further harm to be done to my fans and members who must have been disappointed because of me, so I will leave the group Highlight as of March 14, 2019. I will live while reflecting on myself again and again. I once again apologize sincerely.”
Fun Fact: The Maknae is the youngest member of the band.