In Conversation With Singer Dabit About His New Single, Queer Representation In South Korea And More


Over the years, K-pop has become a global phenomenon, especially in India. The music industry is growing every day, with multiple groups and artists debuting from all corners of South Korea and some from other Asian countries. But have you ever wondered how hard it is to survive in such a competitive and vast industry? When Ohio (USA) was born and raised, David Kim (Dabit) started his idol career as a trainee, and later, after debuting with the boy group 24K, which he later opted out and realised the K-Pop industry wasn’t the one for him.

But this didn’t stop him from flourishing in his art and passion for music. Over the past couple of years, he has been constantly making music for his fans. Dabit is highly popular among K-reality show fans who have seen him doing his thing on the dating reality show His Man 2 as Kim Jeongwook.

What makes him special is his honesty and relatability; he has always been open in his thoughts, be it in his music or personal life. Last year, when he publicly came out on his Instagram, he shared that, despite the lengthy and complicated road over the previous few years, he is finally at a point in his life where he is happy with his own orientation. “I have come to terms with it, and I just want to live and share my life with the people I love without any shame, and that includes you guys,” he said to his followers. Which is not an easy task for anyone considering queerness is still a sensitive topic in South Korea.

In terms of his music, Dabit has recently dropped his new single, Habit, an evocatively moving and heartbreaking piece where he opens up about the end of his eight-year relationship. And in a conversation with ELLE, he is taking us through his creative process.

ELLE: How was the creative process while making the single?

Dabit: Emotional turmoil meets inspiration. I wrote Habit 2 weeks into my breakup with my ex of 8 years. Although it was one of the quickest songs to write, it took the longest to release. Habit is like a window that I have opened and so, I think the biggest hurdle was processing and understanding when I would feel emotionally secure enough, to release that part of me into the world.

ELLE: Any new concepts you would love to explore in the future?

Dabit: As an artist, I was always searching and trying to figure out who I was and where I wanted to go musically. I think the idea of concepts was what fueled the first 9 years of my career as a closeted artist. My concept now is to simply tell the most authentic story of myself while embracing all my queerness.

ELLE: Acting or singing, what comes more naturally to you? Where do you think you’re being true to yourself and your art?

Dabit: Definitely singing! I love acting as well, but I grew up attaching a core part of my identity to music. So I definitely feel more in my element while I’m performing or writing a song. But I definitely do have plans to challenge myself and pursue potential acting gigs in the future!

ELLE: K-POP has taken over the world; it’s not just a Korean thing anymore, but rather a worldwide phenomenon. Do you feel pressured to perform well as a singer because it is a very competitive field?

Dabit: In the realm of K-pop Idol music, there are giant corporations that are investing hundreds of thousands into curating, training and molding young artists into their vision of perfection. Although I am simply an independent singer-songwriter, I definitely went through my idol trainee days, and I think a-lot of that mentality stuck with me. But to this day, the pressure to perform musically is actually not as big as the pressure to look “perfect”. I am grateful that I have my own space to do the things I love, in the way that I am comfortable with.

ELLE: What are your dream collaborations that you wish to add to your discography?

Dabit: If the sky was the limit, my ultimate dream collaboration would be with boy group ZB1 or Troye Sivan!

ELLE: Queer dramas and reality shows are becoming more popular in South Korea, and views around LGBTQIA+ acceptance are changing. Tell us something about your experience shooting HISMAN 2.

Dabit: His Man 2 was shot in a very cute remote village-like location. All eight of us were in the main house while the writers, producers, engineers and staff took up the rest of the smaller housing units. So for a week, I was living in a safe bubble where being gay was not demonized but actually openly celebrated. Experiencing that bubble for me held so much more value over anything else that happened in the show.

ELLE: Why was it so important for you to be openly queer in this industry?

Dabit: Representation is important. And by representation, I do not just mean fantasy BL’s or niches that play on stereotypes. I mean, real queer people who have had to overcome real queer struggles to stand where they are now. I would have never had the courage to come out to my fans if it wasn’t for openly gay artists like Troye Sivan, Holland, and Sam Smith leading the way.

Although everyone has their own story, as a Korean-American gay man who just came out in his mid-thirties, I wanted to share my story and reach out to those who may relate to it. I also wanted to create a space where I could tell that, you can do whatever you love to do in any industry, regardless of your identity. To be honest, I am still learning and it is difficult but I wanted to start off by trying to be one of the examples.

ELLE: What do you say to your young LGBTQ+ fans who want to come out?

Dabit:  It’s never a race. Take your time, prioritise loving yourself, build a support group (even if it’s online), and when the time is right you will know. I love every one of you and I am rooting for your path to self-acceptance and happiness.

Also, read: In Conversation With The New Gen Z K-pop Group On The Block, ‘POW’

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ELLE Exclusive: K-Pop Star AleXa Talks About Her New Single ‘Sick’ And Upcoming World Tour

- Digital Writer


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