Ex-NU’EST member Aaron Kwak reveals he wanted to leave group after ‘Produce 101’

Aaron Kwak, aka Aron, former member of defunct K-pop boy band NU’EST, revealed that he wanted to leave the group after his fellow members participated in the survival audition show “Produce 101” in 2017.

NU’EST’s Baekho, JR, Minhyun and Ren participated in “Produce 101” season 2 but Aron did not. Minhyun won and became a member of K-pop group Wanna One.

"Korean Cowboys" podcast hosts Joel Lane (left), former member of BTL, and Aaron Kwak (right), former member of NU'EST (Screenshot from "Korean Cowboys" video on YouTube)

Aaron Kwak and Joel Lane, former member of boy band BTL, which disbanded in 2015, are hosts of the “Korean Cowboys” podcast.

In the May 13 episode of the podcast, the two talked about mental health and wellness of K-pop idols and revealed their own experiences.

“You know there were like periods where I was like super depressed where I was in like big slumps and then there were times where I was okay and that went back and forth for a while and then after my group members went on a show called ‘Produce 101’ right?” Aaron said.

He added, “I was the only member that did not go on the show for a multitude of reasons but they went on and after that, our group found success. And starting from that point on, I felt like I had a big weight on my shoulders.”

Aaron said he wanted to leave NU’EST as he did not want to ride on their success.

“After the show I actually wanted to leave the group. I didn't want to ride off my members’ coattails. So I told the company , ‘I didn't even go on the show for like six months. I didn't do anything.’ I'd rather not ride on my ‘dongsaengs,’ my little brothers’ coattails. I think I just want to leave,” he said.

But Pledis Entertainment and fellow NU’EST members assured him and convinced him to stay in the group.

“And my company was like, “No, you just got to work hard. It's okay. It's not like you didn't do anything for the last five or six years. You worked your ass off too,’” he said.

He added, “And I remember talking to my members. I'm sure a lot of our listeners and viewers know, but when I tried to talk to my members, I guess they knew the conversation was coming. They were like, ‘Hyung. Shut up. Just follow us. We'll take care of you.’”

“To this day, I'm still grateful and thankful to my members for that. And my company too. They really helped me with a weird time,” he said.

However, Aaron said, “But it was during that period where I kind of started seeing signs of like social anxiety because I had this huge weight on my shoulders. I didn't want to disappoint anyone. I didn't want to do anything wrong that might mess up my team's future.”

“And so i just started becoming really paranoid from that point on. And in the beginning it wasn't too bad. I had to live like a super clean lifestyle. I quit drinking for a short period of time. I didn't go out and see anyone. I just didn't want to do anything that could jeopardize my members’ hard work. It just kind of like built up from there. I took a break now the end of 2020 up until mid 2021. I took a hiatus for six months because I was having weird symptoms and i was like, ‘I'm not normal.’”

NU’EST disbanded in March after 10 years since debuting in 2012.