The night air is unusually warm for late October. Inside C9 Entertainment’s rehearsal room, in the Mapo district of western Seoul, there are no windows, nor clocks. Two walls of mirrors reflect seven young men: five members of rookie idol group CIX, as well as the choreography duo, Just Jerk. They’re going through the routine for their new single, “NUMB”, a song that’s aggressively upbeat, but paired with a bleak outlook on the loss of childhood, adult apathy, and Korean schooling. “One, two, three, four, and five, and six, and seven – and eight!” one dancer shouts, enthusiasm rising as sneakers squeak on the polished floor.
The dance looks both ridiculously easy, and utterly impossible. The youngest and tallest member, Hyunsuk, aged 18, and Yonghee, 19, whose gentle features are framed by chocolate brown hair, have a minor collision, but don’t stop. Sweat slides down their cheeks. “When we’re on-stage, every little movement and expression is important,” says CIX’s leader, 21-year-old BX. “I’ve learned how precious every moment of it is. We want to be a group that our fans are more and more proud of.