David Yong is a man on a mission.
The 35-year-old Singaporean hopes to be the bridge between Southeast Asia (SEA) and Korea, and one of the ways he intends to do that is to start a K-Pop training centre in Singapore in the first quarter of 2023.
Before delving into that, here's a short introduction on Yong.
He's the CEO of Evergreen Group Holdings, which started off as a timber company but has since diversified to a multinational enterprise with a portfolio that ranges from lifestyle, F&B, automotive and real estate industries.
He is also a lawyer and managing partner at boutique law firm YSL Legal LLP.
Oh, and Yong has just made his K-Pop debut too.
Speaking to Mothership, the multi-hyphenate shared that he now splits his time equally between South Korea, where he is signed under Korean entertainment company RBW, and Singapore, where he runs his businesses.
With so much on his plate, he credits the teams that work with him for ensuring everything runs smoothly.
"One man can't do everything," Yong said. "You need to have the right team focused on the right job [...] We have strong teams helping me manage [the day-to-day work]."
Starting from the ground up
Even before signing to RBW, which is home to girl group MAMAMOO, Yong identified that overcoming the language barrier would be crucial in making his connections in Korea work.
He underwent daily Korean classes and can speak "about 70 per cent" of the language, understanding "almost 80 [to] 90 per cent" of the conversations around him.
Being under a strict training regime also meant that his lifestyle had to change.
"My lifestyle was more irregular—a lot of late business meetings, and sometimes I would have my meals late in the night. There was definitely more alcohol involved.
But after signing on as a professional artiste, my whole lifestyle has become more disciplined and regulated [because] I have a schedule to follow. I have to prepare for filming, recording sessions and practice sessions.
So I think it's done me a lot of good, also because we have a professional team that takes care of my well-being, dietary requirements and exercise routines."
In his pocket
After months of training, he made his K-Pop debut with the catchy "In My Pocket", which features Korean rapper Kid Milli.
The music video has racked up an impressive 10 million views since it was released in July.
Despite the success of the song, Yong's intention is not to become the next K-Pop sensation.
Rather, he hopes that being close to the ground will be useful to the K-Pop training centre he intends to open in Singapore.
He feels aspiring K-Pop stars "are not ready for the real training they're going to undergo when they start their training life in Korea".
With his programme, he hopes to give budding stars a better head start by ensuring they are at least the "bare minimum standard required" to enter the industry.
This doesn't mean that he wants the next generation of Singaporeans to abandon their studies to pursue their dreams. Rather, he wants those who pass through his academy to be all-rounders.
"For the young generation, they shouldn't limit themselves to having [just] one pursuit in life. They should open themselves up to more opportunities that might come along the way rather than just having one goal in mind [...] and who knows, it might even do better for them."
Top photos from David Yong's Instagram and LinkedIn