It Girl

IVE On The Brink

With a world tour and Lollapalooza debut, the K-pop phenoms are about to have one massive summer.

IVE’s Liz, Wonyoung, Yujin, Leeseo, Rei, and Gaeul are posed with their arms situated just so to form a giant heart — except Leeseo is having trouble figuring out which limb to use. It’s 6 p.m. at Columbia Records’ studio space in New York City, and this is one of the last images they need to take for this story. A staff member runs in to gently lift Leeseo’s other arm, and the team around me remark on their perfect skin and how great the shot is. (In this position, they do resemble a live-action Sailor Moon squad.) Meanwhile, the girls just smile.

In the one and a half hours during which the group poses for photos, films video content, and sits down for this interview, I keep hearing impressed murmurs around me. A publicist gushes about how their live show — his first K-pop concert — rocked his world, and when the shoot wraps, the photographer asks for a personal pic. I can’t tell if it’s all business, or if that’s just the power of IVE.

In K-pop terms, the six-member girl group are still considered rookies, but given their early success, that label feels like a misnomer. Before they’d even released anything, they boasted over 1 million followers across social media platforms, largely due to Wonyoung and Yujin’s pre-existing fan bases from their pre-idol competition days. And when they did drop music, starting with 2021’s “Eleven,” their bubbly anthems ballooned their audience even more. In South Korea, the members’ faces are plastered on advertisements for beauty products and pizza, and their songs are blasted at 7-Elevens. But now — with a 24-date world tour, their Lollapalooza debut, and a second EP all in the works — IVE seems poised to be the next K-pop act to make it big in the U.S.


"I really like NIKI. 'Every Summertime’ is my favorite song."


“Originally, I was a really big fan of [Saweetie]. I really love all her songs. When I met her, she was so sweet, and we talked about our hair and makeup and nails.”


“I love all the cities we went to. But in Atlanta, we went to the aquarium together and we had steak, and [I] had such good memories with my members.”

After the shoot, I head to the green room, where I walk in on Liz and Yujin noisily hammering away at Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots while the other members chill on sofas, scrolling on their phones. But when they see me, the devices are immediately stashed, and they sit up straight. They had two business meetings before this — and tomorrow, they’ll play their last U.S. show at New Jersey’s Prudential Center — but any exhaustion is hidden by their professionalism. Still, after some probing, Gaeul says she’s looking forward to a “lower-body bath” to help with blood circulation, while Rei will go for a Vaseline face mask, a treatment trending in South Korea.

For IVE, this leg of shows in America has been a wake-up call to just how global their fan base, called Dives, has become — and they’re impressed. American Dive cheers are “very, very loud,” Wonyoung says, as Liz mimics the barking noise fans have been making during their shows, which references a peculiar K-pop trend. Because these were their first solo shows stateside, Wonyoung says she wasn’t expecting the overwhelming turnout — or the fans’ “hot” energy. “I never felt that before in [any] other country,” she says. “So I really love them.”

Maybe unintentionally, the tour has also become a press generator. When IVE was in Atlanta in March, a photo of Liz and Yujin meeting Anne Hathaway at a Hawks game made the news, though Liz remembers that moment as a missed opportunity: As a huge fan of The Intern, she wanted to tell Hathaway how much she loves her movies, but she got too nervous at the last minute. (“I’m a little upset [about it],” she says via a translator.) And shortly after our conversation, a clip of Yujin hair-flipping and hip-whining to Ariana Grande’s “The Boy Is Mine” at the Prudential Center show took off on TikTok, eliciting all-caps comments about how she ate.

With the recent announcement of their new EP, the attention will only increase. In the teaser photos for IVE SWITCH, out April 29, the members are shown in contrasting black-and-white styling to reflect a “transformation” moment, Gaeul says over Zoom from Seoul. (The group is on break before their tour resumes in June in Europe.) The lead singles in particular, titled “Accendio” and “Heya,” will introduce “very different vibes and concepts,” Gaeul adds. When Wonyoung first heard the former — which is synthy, dark, and spell-like, with lyrics about magic, according to a press release — she says it reminded her of their 2022 hit “LOVE DIVE,” but “more developed.” Meanwhile, “Heya,” a rap track inspired by a folk tale of IVE’s own invention called The Tiger Who Loved the Sun, will be accompanied by a music video meant “to express Korea’s beauty.”


“The U.S. Dives do this barking kind of cheer, like ‘woof woof woof.’ It was our first time hearing that ever, so we were very surprised.”


“Rapping for the first time was a challenge. I practiced by myself, but then when I went to the studio, several directors gave me a lot of feedback. I hope my fans will like it.”


“I love SZA. I really love R&B, and SZA is one of the [artists] I really respect. I love her performance.”

The theme of metamorphosis applies to the members themselves, too, as they’ll showcase new skills as artists. Both Yujin and Leeseo tried their hand at rapping for the first time, while Wonyoung adds a sixth songwriting credit to her name with a song called “Blue Heart.” It was inspired by her “work in this industry,” she says, seemingly alluding to the hyperscrutiny idols, specifically female idols, experience from the media and netizens. “People in the world [are] very aggressive to us,” she says. “So some girls choose an icy blue heart more than a warm red heart so you can be strong.”

But with their Lollapalooza debut on the horizon, Yujin says her simple hope is that they’ll continue to have fun with those who already love them — provided the fans show up. “They promised me,” she jokes — but that seems like a guarantee.

Photographs by Elizabeth Wirija

Set Designer: Maisie Sattler

Talent Bookings: Special Projects

Photo Director: Alex Pollack

Editor in Chief: Lauren McCarthy

SVP Fashion: Tiffany Reid

SVP Creative: Karen Hibbert