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Get to know Big O!cean, the first hearing-impaired K-pop boy group

By Saihjee Galang Published Apr 22, 2024 6:44 pm

K-pop's first hearing-impaired boy group, named Big O!cean, has made their debut.

The group, under PARASTAR Entertainment, released their first digital single Glow on April 20 which also incorporated sign language in their choreography.

With their performances, Big O!cean will be pioneering S-pop (Sign Language Pop) by using Korean Sign Language, American Sign Language, and International Sign Language in singing.

Big O!cean is a three-piece group consisting of Kim Jiseok, Park Hyunjin, and Lee Chanyeon, who are all hearing impaired. Here's everything you need to know about each member.

Park Hyunjin

Park Hyunjin, born on October 24, 1999, is Big O!cean’s main vocal. Due to a high fever, he developed hearing loss at two years old.

He then had cochlear implant surgery later in one ear and is wearing a hearing aid on the other.

Hyunjin used to work in a cafe before becoming a trainee. In his free time, he advocates hearing loss awareness.

In an interview with Korea Now, Hyunjin said that he has big ambitions, “since we are challenging ourselves with a new genre that combines sign language and dance, we are walking on a path that others haven’t tried before, thus, our future is uncertain,” he said  

“But at the same time, because it’s such a challenge, it could spread hope and positive energy to people. We hope to meet a lot of people through world tours and concerts, and we also hope to make a barrier-free world, where non-disabled people and people with disabilities can coexist harmoniously,” Hyunjin added.    

Lee Chanyeon

The main rapper of the group, Lee Chanyeon, was born on March 27, 1998. Like Hyunjin, Chanyeon also has a cochlear implant, but his are in both ears.  

Chanyeon lost his hearing at the age of 11.

Before becoming a Big O!cean member, he used to work at a hospital as an audiologist – a healthcare professional who manages, diagnoses, and assesses hearing disorders.

Chanyeon shared in an interview with Korea Now that the meaning behind their group name Big O!cean is "to spread positive energy around the world.”  

Kim Jiseok 

Kim Jiseok is the youngest of the group—commonly known as maknae in K-culture—and the main dancer. 

Before becoming a K-idol, he first used modeling as a training ground for honing his skills and stage presence.

Jiseok was also a part of the Seoul Para Ski Team. In the Korea Now interview, he shared that he graduated from Seoul Samsung School, a school for people with hearing impairments. It is also the school BTS member RM gave donations for music education in 2019.

“I was a student back then and thanks to [RM], I got the chance to discover dancing and come in contact with cover songs. I also had a lot of opportunities to play various percussion instruments and experience different kinds of music, so I got more interested in music,” Jiseok shared.  

He also shared it would be nice to meet RM and do a collaboration with him someday.   

Making music

In terms of practicing and recording music, Jiseok admitted that it was hard for them to get the timing right.

"When recording or filming a music video, we practice a lot, but there are times when we miss it. People help by moving their hands in front of us and thanks to their help, we were able to wrap up the shoot as soon as possible,” Jiseok said.  

In terms of recording, “I look across the glass door and catch the hand signal to get the timing right,” he added.  

With challenges in keeping in tune, the group makes use of AI which learns the members' speech data. 

Before their debut as Big O!cean, the group was formerly named S-Boyz. Their debut date was on April 20, which is Korea’s Disabled Person’s Day. They performed their debut single Glow, a remake of H.O.T.’s Hope.