I met Mark Tuan on a Zoom call on a Tuesday afternoon in late July. He’s wearing a black bucket hat and white tee while sitting on a couch in his family home in California. And because I know you're dying to know, I’m in my favourite Hex Girls Tee.
If you’re not one of Tuan’s 12.3 million devoted Instagram followers, let’s take a minute to bring you up to speed. Mark is the oldest member of third generation Korean-Pop boy band, GOT7. The seven members which include JayB, Jackson, Jinyoung, Youngjae, Bambam, Yugyeom, and of course Mark, debuted with JYP Entertainment in 2014. They’re well known for their lively performances, which often include flips and stunts from some of their members, their mostly unfiltered banter and antics, as well as their devotion to their fanbase, Ahgase. You want to talk about fan service? I’ll be at the GOT7 table.
Aside from their music accolades, GOT7 is well known in the Korean music scene because in January 2021, they successfully left their company, JYP Entertainment, and rather than disband, decided to stay together. Despite signing and creating solo music with seven different entities, in May 2022, the seven members made new social media accounts for GOT7 and released a 6 track EP under Warner Music Korea with their title track and music video, “NANANA."
Now, 28-year-old Mark Tuan is back home in Los Angeles, California preparing to release his first solo studio album this month and go on his first solo tour later this year. As Tuan moves into an exciting and unexplored season of his life, Refinery29 talked to him about his newfound passion for self-care, finding the space to explore his beauty and style, and what side of him fans can expect to hear on his upcoming album.
On Painting His Nails
“I never really wanted to try it (nail art) but then my member BamBam started doing it a couple years back. After I moved home to L.A., I got curious and told my friend ‘I think I might go get my nails done.’ And he said ‘Oh damn. I’m down, let’s go together.’ Suddenly we were deciding what kind of design we wanted and were like ‘oh this is kinda fun.’ I think what drew me to do it more was creating little tiny art for each finger.”
After getting his nails done, Tuan influenced the rest of his friends to experiment and have a little fun with their style, too. Tuan wasn’t nervous about a negative reaction to exploring beauty or style trends such as painting his nails, cooling adding, “because I’m in the spotlight you always have people trying to talk shit about you. That played a role in my life where I don't really care what you’ll say about me as long as I have fun doing it.”
If you go to Tuan’s IG page, you’ll see he recently started a partnership with Spark Aligners to enhance his smile. Tuan says this partnership contributes to his investment in his self care, an initiative he started prioritising after returning to the United States last year. Tuan pinpoints that going at his own pace and keeping his schedule light to make room for hanging out and relaxing is the best way he can take care of himself.
“I try to find time in my day and space out my work so I'm not too busy because in Korea I've been through all that. I’m slowing down. I don't rush everything so it’s not too hard on my body.”
On His New Album
Having already released four singles this year, Tuan has been exploring a more vulnerable side to himself than we’ve ever seen. His lyrics in his February 2022 single, My Life read, “How could somebody look at me and think that I’m happy? You say I seem okay when I’m sitting here with all my friends. Easy to say when you’re looking from the outside in.” Tuan says he doesn’t want fans to think his music will only be dark in the future, but for now he’s focusing on making sure people know they’re not going through their struggles alone because he has been navigating hardships, too.
After his first solo studio session last year, Tuan was inspired to create an album that tells a story he’s never been allowed to share with fans, disclosing “as a K-Pop idol and a K-Pop group, we have to hide certain images or thoughts. We have to keep that away from the fans so I thought it would be pretty cool to tell my story and tell a side fans haven’t heard about.” When asked to elaborate on what images he now feels has the freedom to share with his fans that he didn’t in previous years, Tuan explains, “just moments where we're depressed. Times where we felt like people don't really give a shit about us. The low lows.”
On What Brings Him Joy
“I think I have a lot of free time. Finding new things to do and hobbies. I've picked up on Golf recently. Anything to destress. Everybody should do something they enjoy in their free time to get their mind off work.”