After ten years together in the K-Pop industry, NU’EST disbanded on March 14, and Ren decided to pursue solo activities to further his career. In an interview, Ren shared that going solo is more lonely than he imagined, but he has no regrets.
Before going solo, Ren and the other NU’EST members discussed work and their future direction. The members shared that they wanted to do their own things and mutually respected each other to pursue what each member wanted to do. Although they went their separate ways, Ren hoped they could someday be together again.
He embarked on his solo work, which steered him towards appearing in musicals, an area where people around him said his energy would fit well. He said he fell in love with musicals because they allowed communication with audiences in real-time, changing lines and tones according to the day’s emotions.
His solo musical projects actually started in 2020 with his very first work, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, a musical based on the true story of Jamie Campbell, a 16-year-old British schoolboy who overcame prejudice and bullying to come out as a drag queen. He played the title role for two months and gained self-confidence from the good reviews he got for his performances. He was recognized for his potential as an actor.
His next musical was in 2021, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a rock musical that follows the story of Hedwig Robinson, a genderqueer East German singer of a fictional rock and roll band. Playing the role of Hedwig, Ren once again impressed the public with his performances and fascinated the audience with his take on Hedwig.
He signed up with Big Planet Made Entertainment (BPM) as a solo artist in May. His first musical as a solo artist was Bungee Jumping Of Their Own, a musical based on the 2001 film of the same title. It was about a high school teacher, In Woo, who falls for one of his male students, Hyun Bin, after noticing similarities between the student and his deceased girlfriend, Tae Hee. Ren played the role of Hyun Bin.
Though he was happy with his career as a performer in musicals, he also encountered struggles upon going solo.
It’s much lonelier than I imagined. As a team, we were together as five wherever we went and had fun sharing the little things. Even on stage, when I am with my members, we can rely on one another, feeding off each other’s energy that you miss when promoting alone.
There are benefits too. As a team, we try not to stand out too much. It’s challenging to change the promised choreography or positions, but now that I am alone, I can express myself more freely.
He still wants to pursue a career as a singer. This is why he is currently working on an album that can show his personality and uniqueness and was recently seen in the K-Pop producer battle show Listen Up. In the show, he performed with Ryan Jhun, a hit producer who has previously worked with NU’EST. He felt his exposure in Listen Up was a good start for solo singer Ren, showing a side of him that was neither excessive nor ordinary.
Currently, Ren is in a new musical, The Three Musketeers, which runs from September 16 to November 6 at the Universal Arts Center in Seoul.