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About the Author
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Published by KpopBehind
Written by UK Jung
Illustrated by Sara Lee
*Some of the contents of this book might be based on the author’s personal opinion and point of view as a pop culture critic.
Hi, I’m UK Jung. You can call me either UK or Jung. :) I’ve been working as an entertainment journalist in Korea since 2010. I want to share all the stories behind k-pop stars. Ask me anything you are curious about k-pop stars! KpopBehind Q&A page: http://www.kpopbehind.com/p/question-answer.html
-Lives in Seoul, Korea
-Chief Editor of KpopBehind
I’m sure many fans are curious about k-pop stars’ real life and what’s really happening in the k-pop world. As the stars are only shown on the stage or TV, ordinary people can’t figure out how they’re like in real life. Who do you think is the good-natured k-pop star? Well, there’s more than meets the eye. Working as a k-pop journalist for years, I could meet many of Korean stars, and of course, I’ve met all of the stars who appear in this book through an interview, press conference, etc. I want to share all the stories behind them with k-pop fans all over the world.
The most common way for me to get deep information about famous stars and the entertainment industry is to have an interview with stars. Most of people think the press can ask for an interview with famous stars at any time, but it’s not true. As an interview could be an effective method for them to promote their albums and dramas, they usually like to be interviewed by the press before or after releasing their new albums or dramas. Usually, movie stars are available for an interview just before the premier of their movies, while singers and drama stars like to be interviewed right after their new albums are released or their dramas come to an end.
Actually, most of k-pop stars look good-natured as long as they are with influential people in show business such as TV producers or journalists. During years of trainee period, they take not only vocal lessons but also etiquette lessons. With a loud voice, idol stars usually make a deep bow in front of people in the industry. However, of course, not all the k-pop stars are good-natured. There are some arrogant stars too. Years ago, I went to the back stage to have an interview with a popular girl group. Most of the members, except for the leader of the group, treated people with an arrogant manner. They listened to people in an absent sort of way. The leader struggled by herself to smooth things over. But, on the stage, the rest members made a fake smile. I’ve never met anyone so two-faced.
The second way for me to get deep information about famous stars and the entertainment industry is to meet with people around stars including managers, stylists and more. They watch stars’ every move, and they exactly know how famous stars are like in real life. I talk to them on the phone, and I sometimes meet up with them for dinner and drinks too. The most reliable sources of information for me are ex-managers of famous stars. As they don’t need to protect their stars any more, they speak about stars’ private life and the industry’s secret without hesitation. They tell me about whom stars have dated, how stars are like in real life, and how dirty the industry is.
So, welcome to the real world of k-pop. Enjoy your time!
In Korea, adult males have to enter the army to serve a mandatory 2-year service. There’s no exception. Soldiers are controlled by strict discipline and have to spend 2 years at a military camp full of males except for when they’re having leave of absence. For this reason, the military sometimes invites k-pop girl groups, and the female idols put on a show at a military camp to boost the morale of the troops. Well, soldiers just go crazy when girl groups show sexy performance in front of them. But that’s not all. There are more reasons for k-pop girl groups to perform in front of soldiers.
Girl groups usually derive most of their incomes from small concerts. They perform at various parties and corporate events. And they perform at a variety of cultural festivals too. So, yeah, putting on a show at a military camp also can be k-pop girl groups’ source of incomes. However, girl groups are paid relatively little money when they perform at a military camp because the military has a limited budget, which means there is a more important reason for k-pop girl groups to perform at a military camp.
As I mentioned, soldiers just go crazy when girl groups show sexy performance in front of them, and girl groups sometimes are faced with an unexpected situation. Not a few soldiers jump up to the stage and dance with girl groups, while some soldiers even try to hug girl groups. So, by performing at a military base, k-pop girl groups can learn how to handle unexpected situations on the stage. Especially, rookie girl groups can build up their courage by performing in front of soldiers, and that’s why many of k-pop agencies want their girl groups to perform at a military camp.
As you know, most of fans of girl groups are males, and they form the bedrock of k-pop girl groups’ support. In that sense, how a girl group is popular among soldiers could be very meaningful information for the girl group’s agency because the girl group can be recognized as one of the most popular girl groups if the team gains great popularity among soldiers.
Once a girl group succeeds in gaining popularity at a military camp, its agency can appeal to broadcasting companies to give the girl group more chances to appear in TV shows or dramas, emphasizing the fact that the girl group is now one of the most popular girl groups. And by appearing in various TV shows and dramas, the girl group and its agency can earn money. So, in a word, performing at a military camp and gaining popularity among soldiers could be the first step to make profits for k-pop girl groups.
You know, SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment are the top 2 k-pop agencies. They’re very influential in the k-pop world, and they have many popular k-pop idol stars. Then, what do you think is the difference between the two k-pop agencies? Yeah, the most notable difference between them is that SM has many dancing idol groups and YG has many hip hop idols. Basically, yeah, it is because Lee Soo Man and Yang Hyun Suk have different tastes of music. However, actually, there’s a story behind it.
Who do you think was the first ever singer of SM Entertainment? H.O.T? BoA? No, the answer is Hyun Jin Young. He was the singer with whom Lee Soo Man made a contract for the first time. He was a hip hop singer, and he debuted in 1990. Well, he was on the fast track. He became one of the most popular k-pop singers, and it seemed nothing could stop him. However, he went downhill after being charged with smoking marijuana. He faced much public criticism, and people no longer liked him and his music.
So, in this situation, Lee Soo Man made a decision. He decided not to sign with a hip hop singer any more because he thought there are many potential risk factors. You know, hip hop singers usually have a freewheeling life style and some of them are engaged in deviant behavior and commit a crime just like Hyun Jin Young. Since then, Lee Soo Man has focused on producing dancing idol groups. Yeah, such as H.O.T, TVXQ, Super Junior, SHINee, Girls’ Generation and EXO. And of course, it was easier for Lee Soo Man to manage teenage idols than characterful hip hop singers.
So, Lee Soo Man is quite different from Yang Hyun Suk, huh? Yang Hyun Suk has been focusing on producing hip hop singers even though there were some problems. You know, some of the YG artists have been linked their names with drug scandals, but Yang Hyun Suk thought he will have much more to gain than lose. I can’t say who’s doing better, but what’s certain is there is a big difference between Lee Soo Man and Yang Hyun Suk’s management philosophies.
SM Entertainment had its workshop in Jeju Island in June, 2017, while about 900 employees of the company attended the workshop. And a variety of famous SM artists including EXO, Girls’ Generation and TVXQ’s Yunho also went to Jeju Island to take part in the workshop.
By the way, it’s notable that SM Entertainment had its workshop in Korea. Because the biggest k-pop agency held its workshop last year too but it was held in Hawaii. Well, actually, there’s a story behind it.
Jeju island is a major tourist destination for local and international visitors. Especially, a lot of Chinese tourists came to the island. However, the number of Chinese tourists visiting the island has dropped sharply due to ongoing diplomatic tension following Korea’s decision to host United States’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense(THAAD) system. Since March, 2017, the Chinese government has imposed a travel ban on Chinese tour groups going to Korea as part of an economic retaliation against Korea’s decision.
So, in this situation, Jeju island felt the full impact of the crisis and asked SM Entertainment to hold its workshop in the island because SM has many popular idol stars and they could attract overseas visitors. Lee Soo Man, who knew about all the situation and wanted to help Jeju island decided to hold the workshop in the island.
At Jeju island, Kim Min Jong, Yunho and Yoona met Jeju governor Won Hee Ryong and rode in electricity-powered vehicles. Actually, it was a promotional event for Jeju island and the three popular stars attended the event to help the island even though it was not a profitable thing at all. The reason why they rode in electricity-powered vehicles was because Jeju island wanted to let the world know that the island has a clean and natural environment.
Well, there could be some employees of SM Entertainment who wanted to go abroad, but I think SM made the right decision. The SM artists did the right thing as the most popular and influential idol stars, and I hope Jeju island’s economy will show signs of recovery soon.
On June 1, 2016, Korean media outlet Sports Donga reported that the 5 BIGBANG members may join the army around the same time. Actually, the media outlet just raised the possibility of it. I‘m acquainted with the journalist who wrote the article. He’s an experienced k-pop journalist and he’s not the one who writes ludicrous articles.
By the way, after the news was reported, Yang Hyun Suk denied the news reports, saying, “We didn’t even discuss about it, and we’ll take a legal action against people who spread groundless rumor”.
I laughed a lot after hearing his words. Isn’t it ridiculous that Yang Hyun Suk, one of the most powerful person in the world of k-pop takes legal action for such a minor thing? Do you think the news that the BIGBANG members may join the army around the same is a vicious rumor?
Well, here’s the reason why Yang Hyun was so mad at the news. You know, BIGBANG earned a lot of money at home and abroad, and the group has been the most profitable team among YG artists. Imagine what would happen if the BIGBANG members join the army around the same time. YG’s profits will drop drastically, and it will have negative effects on the company’s stock value. Yeah, it’s all about money. Yang Hyun Suk wanted to shorten the period of blank of BIGBANG, and that’s why there are some gaps of time among the 5 members’ enlistment.
Do you remember that so many k-pop idol groups released their new albums in early 2017? Red Velvet released its new song “Rookie” on February 1, while TWCIE and GFriend released their new songs around the same time too. And BTS, one of the most popular k-pop boy groups, made a comeback on February 13.
By the way, isn’t it strange that so many popular idol groups released their new albums around the same time? You might think it’s not strange at all because it was the beginning of the year and all the idol groups must want to make a great start. However, there’s another reason why so many k-pop idol groups released their new songs in early 2017.
In early 2017, Korean prosecutors were continuing with their raid of the presidential office in search of documents related to Choi Soon Sil, who was suspected of meddling in state affairs as President Park Geun Hye’s confidant, while Park has been suspended as a result of the impeachment. So, since October of 2016, all the attention of Korean people had been focused on the political scandal. The national attention was such that the number of filmgoers had decreased, while book sales in the country also had decreased.
So, in this situation, k-pop idols couldn’t release their new albums at the end of 2016 because it was obvious that they couldn’t draw any attention from the public, while some of the idols even delayed their comeback. However, as people’s interest in the political scandal had dropped off a little bit later, yeah, idol groups began to resume their activities in early 2017.
And one more thing. In early 2017, political commentators expected President Park Geun Hye would be completely impeached in March, (it really happened) which means the presidential election was coming up. What do you think it means to idols? Yeah, all the attention of Korean people could be focused on the presidential election after March, and the idols had to make a comeback before then. That’s the reason why so many k-pop idol groups made a comeback in early 2017.
No doubt, it’s the golden age of k-pop sub units. These days, it is common situation that k-pop idols form sub units of their original groups, and some of them become as popular as the original groups. You know, Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon, Tiffany and Seohyun formed Girls’ Generation TTS, while BIGBANG’s G-Dragon and TOP were teamed up as GD&TOP. And SHINee’s Key and Infinite’s Woohyun also organized k-pop duo Toheart, and After School’s Raina, Nana and Lizzy have been winning great popularity as members of Orange Caramel.
Basically, idols can maximize their personal magnetism by forming a sub unit because sub units are usually composed of fewer members than original idol groups. But, that’s just a superficial reason for the golden age of k-pop sub unit. There are some practical reasons behind it, and let’s see what those are.
K-pop idols usually have period of rest after wrapping up their promotional activities for their new albums. And during the period of rest, they prepare for their upcoming new album. To make a successful comeback, they have to make thorough preparations. Averagely, k-pop idol group’s period of rest is one year.
By the way, one year is too long for k-pop agencies. I mean, to earn more money, the agencies need to urge their artists to be more active as pop singers. In that sense, the agencies try to minimize their idol singers’ period of rest by forming sub units. If a sub unit releases an album during the original idol group’s break, of course, the absent period could be shortened.
And one of the biggest revenue sources for k-pop idol groups and their agencies is to perform at a variety of mini concerts. However, the problem is that most of idol stars are bound up in their individual activities such as drama and TV show appearance. For this reason, it is not easy for k-pop idol group members to be in the same place at the same time and perform at mini concerts.
That’s why k-pop agencies prefer to form sub units. Sub units have members, and of course, it becomes easier to adjust schedule. And the agencies can have cost savings effect though sub units too. For example, to carry a 10-member idol group, agencies need to offer two luxurious vans, but in case of a sub unit, one vehicle is enough.
And here’s another practical reason for the golden age of k-pop sub units. You know, k-pop idols are gaining great popularity in foreign countries too. These days, k-pop agencies focus on foreign market analysis even before their idol groups’ official debut in Korea. In that respect, sub units can help the agencies take over foreign music markets more effectively.
Let’s see an actual example. Super Junior’s sub unit Super Junior-M has been formed to target Chinese-speaking countries. The sub unit is comprised of Siwon, Ryeowook, Kyuhyun, Donghae, Henry, Zhoumi, Eunhyuk and Sungmin, while they sing songs with Chinese lyrics. And Henry is a Chinese-Canadian and Zhoumi is a Chinese, and that’s why they can approach Chinese fans in a friendly way.
A large number of young people all over the world now enjoy k-pop. By the way, some of you may wonder why k-pop stars are so active in foreign music market, especially in Japanese music market. Actually, it sometimes seems that k-pop stars and their agencies are obsessed with the market. So, let’s talk about the reason why k-pop stars and agencies are trying so hard to take over Japanese music market.
So, let’s talk about the reason why kpop stars and agencies are trying so hard to take over Japanese music market.
K-pop stars depend on album sales, TV appearance fees, concert profits and more for their incomes. Then, what do you think are the main sources of income of k-pop stars? In case of top-rated k-pop singers, those are concert profits and sales revenues of their goods, while the latter accounts for bigger part. But, Korean domestic music market is not big enough to make sufficient money out of concerts and sales of goods because Korea has only about 50 million people and a small percentage of them are crazed about k-pop stars.
That’s why k-pop stars and their agencies try to expend their business abroad. Yeah, it’s all about money. And as you may know, Japan has the second biggest music market in the world, while loyal Japanese fans are usually considered to have a tendency to collect items regarding their favorite stars such as albums, photos, magazines, etc. In addition, as Japan belongs to the same cultural sphere as Korea, k-pop fans in the country accept k-pop culture very naturally and some of them even recognize k-pop stars as their local artists. So, for k-pop stars, entering Japanese music market could be very effective way to make enormous money. They release Japanese albums, hold concerts in the country and sell goods to Japanese fans, while all the big k-pop agencies generate a large portion of their sales in the Japanese music market.
On July 12, 2017, Block B’s Zico held a press conference for his new solo album “Television” in Seoul. At the press conference, he gave his thoughts on the album. By the way, some of Korean media outlets were mad at the rapper. Do you know why?
When k-pop singers hold their press conference for their new albums, they usually have Q&A session after saying a few words about their comeback and new albums. However, Zico didn’t have Q&A session. Instead, he exchanged questions and answers with a female MC. He explained about his new songs and gave his thoughts on his comeback. And then, he left the place after having a photo time. And after he left the place, Seven Seasons, home to Block B, screened Zico’s documentary.
You may think there’s nothing wrong with the event, but some of Korean reporters were mad at Zico because, as I said, k-pop singers usually have Q&A session when they hold their press conference for their new albums. Top class k-pop stars such as PSY, BIGBANG, EXO and BTS also had Q&A session when they released new albums, while their press conferences were held for more than an hour. Zico’s press conference was held just for 40 minutes.
What pissed Korean reporters off more was that Seven Seasons lied to them to protect Zico. Seven Seasons said Zico couldn’t have Q&A session because the press conference was held at a theater and there was a movie which was scheduled to be screened right after Zico’s press conference was finished. However, there was no movie which was screened after Zico’s press conference.
So, check out titles of news articles written by those who were made at Zico.
“Zico’s one-way press conference”
“Idol star’s arrogance”
“Is Zico a super star who is better than BIGBANG, PSY, BTS and EXO?”
Well, I don’t think Zico made a huge mistake because he explained about his new songs and gave his thoughts on his comeback even though he didn’t have Q&A session. (He gave his signed CDs to reporters too) But it seems like he should have treated the narrow-minded reporters better because there are so many old fashioned reporters in the Korean media world.
Wanna One has been enjoying huge popularity. The boy group, which is comprised of 11 members who appeared in "PRODUCE 101 Season 2" has made advertising contracts with various brands, while the sales of Innisfree's mask pack that Wanna One filmed a commercial for jumped 300% in a week.
Actually, Wanna One’s fandom is more than twice that of I.O.I. Wanna One’s fan cafe has more than 180,000 members, which is the third highest out of all the k-pop idol groups. And even though k-pop idol groups do not usually reveal the actual number of paid-up members of their fan clubs, according to the officials, Wanna One has about 100,000 paid-up members. BTS, one of the most popular k-pop idol groups also has about 100,000 paid-up members, which means Wanna One is that much popular.
By the way, it seems like some of k-pop agencies hate Wanna One. Do you know why?
Well, a variety of k-pop idol groups release their debut albums every year, but the problem is that the total number of k-pop fans changes very little, which means numerous k-pop idol groups have to share the limited number of fans. So, what does it mean that new boy group Wanna One has so many fans? Yeah, some of the boy group’s fans once were other boy groups’ fans, and the boy groups lost their fans because of Wanna One.
On June 23, 2017, JYP Entertainment denied the report that Suzy will appear in movie “Rampant”, stating “She refused the offer due to her busy schedule”. Yeah, she is a super star who has to manage a series of tight schedules, but that’s not the only reason why she refused to appear in “Rampant”. Here’s a story behind it.
At first, the production crew of “Rampant” tried to cast AOA’s Seolhyun as the lead female role. “Rampant” is a historical film, starring famous actor Hyun Bin. Seolhyun had a meeting with the director of “Rampant” and it seemed everything was going ahead smoothly. Seolhyun responded positively to the proposal of “Rampant”, and that’s why the production crew of “Rampant” didn’t even try to cast another actress. They believed that Seolhyun will appear in the movie and do a good job.
However, Seolhyun suddenly began to contact with the production crew of another historical film “Ansi Castle”, starring actor Cho Insung. Actually, if she wanted to appear in “Ansi Castle”, she should have refused the proposal from “Rampant” first because it’s manners between actors and filmmakers in Korea. That’s why some of people in the film industry said “She’s selfish and arrogant”.
Anyway, in this situation, the production crew of “Rampant” began to try to cast Suzy as the lead female role. And she refused the offer right away. Think about it. Do you think it makes sense that Suzy, the most popular female k-pop idol appears in “Rampant” instead of Seolhyun? It could hurt her pride. In addition, Seolhyun decided to appear in “Ansi Castle” because she thought it’s a better movie than “Rampant”, which means chances are Suzy will not be able to achieve a big success by appearing in “Rampant”.
In 2014, Stellar generated a lot of buzz when the girl group released its song “Marionette” because the members’ costumes and choreography were too sexy. Some even strongly condemned the girl group, saying the members’ dance moves remind people of sexual acts. Well, it’s true their costumes and dance moves were a little too much. However, many people in the k-pop industry say they feel sympathy toward the sexy girl group. Do you know why?
Stellar debuted in 2011 but there was very few who knew about the girl group. During their years as an unknown, the members experienced their share of grief. Actually, before becoming well-known, k-pop idols can’t do what they want. Unless they belong to a big agency, they can’t eat well and dress well because of money matters. Stellar’s agency is not big, and the members had to bear hardships.
The problem is that the opportunities are not infinite. It costs a fabulous sum to produce a k-pop idol group. And idol groups of small agencies should be disbanded if they can’t become popular till their agencies run out of money. There are dozens of k-pop idol groups and agencies who experience this kind of tragedy in a year.
So, Stellar and its agency, who had limited opportunities to become successful, had to do something to survive in the k-pop world. And yeah, releasing a very sexy song was a struggle to survive. That’s why people in the k-pop industry, who knows well about the reality of k-pop idols and agencies feel sympathy toward Stellar. The funny thing is people who blamed Stellar when “Marionette” was released didn’t even care about the girl group when the girl group released lovely and cute songs. After debuting, Stellar released lovely and cute songs too, but no one was interested. What do you think it means? Yeah, Stellar had no choice but to release sexy songs to survive in the k-pop world.
When Stellar made a comeback with another sexy song “Vibrato” in 2015, I met Gayoung and asked how she thinks about the girl group’s sexy conception. She said, “People say we’re sexy, and I’m sure it’s a compliment to women. And I know some people say it’s too much, but I think it’s just because we are the first k-pop girl group who showed such a sexy performance. Even though majority of our fans are males, I hope female fans will like us too.”
She was very confident about what she was doing, but it saddened my heart because she looked desperate to survive.
There are many young idol rock bands these days who are active in the k-pop world. FNC Entertainment’s HONEYST debuted in May 17, 2017, while the band’s label mate N.Flying has been keeping up the good work. And other young idol rock bands such as The EastLight, IZ, and DAY6 are showing off their talents in the k-pop world too.
By the way, as you may know, there have been so many popular k-pop idol groups, but k-pop idol rock bands couldn’t distinguish themselves among them. Of course, FTISLAND and CNBLUE have achieved huge success, but there have been no idol rock bands who were as popular as them.
So, k-pop agencies have been reluctant to form idol rock bands because they’re less likely to become as popular as dancing idol groups. And another reason why k-pop agencies have been reluctant to form idol rock bands is because it costs them more money. Think about it. If a k-pop agency forms an idol rock bands, the agency should buy expensive musical instruments and offer lessons to the members.
Then, why do you think there were many idol rock bands who made a debut in recent years? Well, first, dancing idol group market is already too crowded. There are so many idol groups, and chances of success seem slim. That’s why k-pop agencies began to target a niche market.
But that’s not all. There is a more important reason for it.
You know, it has been years since FTISLAND and CNBLUE debuted, and the members are almost 30 now. What does it mean? Yeah, the members should join the army soon just like other k-pop idols do.
So, since 2-3 years ago, some k-pop agencies have planned for their “idol rock band projects”. They selected talented and handsome members and they trained them. What the k-pop agencies wanted was to make their young trainees into popular idol rock bands who can replace FTISLAND and CNBLUE. For this reason, some k-pop agencies are even looking forward to CNBLUE and FTISLAND’s joining the army. Of course, it seems really hard for the young idol rock bands to become as popular as FTISLAND and CNBLUE or surpass them, but let’s wait and see.
On July 6, 2017, SM Entertainment, home to SHINee’s Taemin officially announced about the idol star’s first ever solo concert in Korea. By the way, not a few Korean fans were mad at SM at that time. Do you know why?
One reason why they were mad at SM was because SM made an announcement about the concert in Japan earlier than the agency did in Korea. But that’s not all. A bigger problem was that the concert place was too small. SM chose the Olympic Hall at Olympic Park in Seoul as the concert place, but the Olympic Hall can accommodate only about 3,000 audiences, while top class k-pop stars such as Taemin usually hold their concerts at the Gymnastics Stadium in Olympic Park, which can accommodate more than 10,000 audiences. And actually, Taemin has successfully finished his solo concert held at the Budokan in Tokyo, Japan, in July, 2017, drawing a total of 28,000 audiences.
So, it was really hard to get a ticket for Taemin’s solo concert because, you know, the very popular idol star’s concert place was too small. As a result, tickets for the concert were all sold out in a moment, and SM had to add one more show. Taemin, who originally planned to hold his concert from August 26-27 decided to give one more show on August 25, but it seems like Taemin’s fans are still angry because it could be very exhausting for the idol star to give a total of 3 shows in 3 days.
On June 8, 2017, BIGBANG’s G-Dragon released his new solo album “Kwon Jiyong”, while it’s notable that the album was released as an USB, not as a CD. By the way, the Korea Music Content Industry Association, which is currently running Gaon Chart said it’s hard to admit GD’s USB album as a music album, stating “It’s just a tool to download music”.
About this, GD posted a long piece of writing on his SNS on June 15. He said “What’s the problem? You can just judge whether an artist’s work is an album or not by the decision made by someone we never know? From tape to CD, and from CD to download file. The appearance of music album has been changing again and again. What’s important are melodies and lyrics which console many people and are remembered by many people for a long time”.
Well, it’s very unusual for the idol star to reveal his thoughts on a sensitive issue, which means he was really angry about it.
Why do you think GD was so mad? Because his album could be excluded from Gaon’s album sales chart and it could have a bad effect on his rankings on music chart shows? No, he never cares about such a thing. He’s a little bit shy in front of strangers, but he’s the one who is full of confidence about his music. And he has put a lot of efforts into his new solo album. Yeah, he could not tolerate the Korea Music Content Industry Association ignored his album just because it was released as an USB.
Actually, what the Korea Music Content Industry Association did was the stupidest thing. Just like GD said, the world we are living in is changing very rapidly. They just couldn’t keep up with the trend. One reason why GD released his new album as an USB is that an USB has larger storage capacity than a CD. GD’s USB album can hold 4 GB, while CD albums can usually hold only 700 MB. YG has been planning to upload a variety of digital contents including GD’s music video and songs which can be downloaded to his USB album.
The funny thing is the Korea Music Content Industry Association changed its position after GD, who is acknowledged to be a no.1 k-pop star posted a long piece of writing on his SNS. The association announced that nothing was confirmed and it was just waiting for Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s decision.
G-Dragon released his new solo album “Kwon Jiyong” on June 8, 2017, but, you know, he has been embroiled in a controversy due to the form of his new album. The album was released as an USB, not as a CD, and some people blamed GD for it, while some people also blamed GD and YG for selling a low quality product because fans found out that the red color of GD’s album drains from the USB.
Well, of course, YG explained about it by saying “It is what is intended, and we painted the USB manually to express exactly what GD wanted”. And actually, it’s true that GD’s album was not a defective one because GD intended to make an album which symbolizes intrauterine world. The title of his solo concert that was held on June 1, 2017 was “G-DRAGON 2017 CONCERT: ACT III, M.O.T.T.E”, and “MOTTE” means intrauterine. It was the concept of his album, and that’s why he decorated his concert stadium with red color.
By the way, it seems like many of Korean media outlets didn’t think so. They attacked GD very harshly. Ok, let’s see the titles of their articles first.
“GD’s ambiguous explanation about the controversy over his USB”
“G-Dragon’s wrong sort of innovation”
“GD shoots his mouth off without thinking”
Well, why do you think many of Korean media outlets attacked GD very harshly? Because his album was released as an USB, not as a CD? Or because he sold a low quality product? No.
Actually, YG has a lot of enemies in the Korean entertainment world. Especially, some of Korean media outlets hate the k-pop agency because the agency usually never makes an official announcement about its artists’ scandals, while Yang Hyun Suk gives an interview to only very few media outlets. So, in a word, Korean media outlets attacked GD just because they hated YG. You know, BIGBANG’s TOP has been charged with smoking marijuana around the same time, and the media outlets thought it was a great chance to strike a blow to YG.
Of course, not all the Korean media outlets attacked GD. There are a few Korean media outlets which are very close to YG too. Yeah, the media outlets to which Yang Hyun Suk have been giving an interview. The praised highly on GD’s new album
“GD has irreplaceable charisma”
“GD realizes the fourth industrial revolution”
Well, isn’t it funny some media outlets tried hard to damage YG, while others did their best to protect and assist the agency? Actually, I’ve worked for major Korean media outlets too, but I decided to resign and concentrate on my works as a chief editor of KpopBehind because I hated to do such dirty things.
Anyway, my thoughts on GD’s new album? It is brilliant. The songs are very characterful songs which have high quality sounds, while GD expressed his own thoughts and feelings as a 30-year-old man through the songs. Outer appearance of the album is not important at all. The world we are living in is changing very rapidly, and we should keep up with the trend. The fact that red color drains from his album? It’s a kind of artistic expression. As I said, GD intended to make an album which symbolizes intrauterine world.
Wanna One is gaining great popularity. The boy group, which is comprised of 11 members who appeared in “PRODUCE 101 Season 2” has a lot of fans, while they have made advertising contracts with various brands.
Then, who do you think is the most popular among all the Wanna One members? Well, even though there could be different opinions, the one who is attracting most attention from people in the Korean entertainment world is Kang Daniel. You know, he is the winner of “PRODUCE 101 Season 2”, and he has many fans because of his attractive smile and good personality. Kang Daniel is currently receiving love calls from a variety of TV shows.
By the way, many people in the Korean entertainment are now saying it’s really surprising that Kang Daniel has been cast in MBC’s new reality program “Dangerous”. Do you know why?
Wanna One is comprised of 11 members who appeared in “PRODUCE 101 Season 2”, and the audition program was broadcast by Mnet. What do you think it means? Yeah, strictly speaking, Wanna One is Mnet’s boy group, and the other broadcasting companies don’t need to do something helpful to Wanna One and Mnet. That’s why I.O.I, a girl group which is comprised of 11 girls who appeared in “PRODUCE 101 Season 1” had difficulty in appearing in major TV channels’ programs.
So, the fact that Kang Daniel has been cast in MBC’s new reality program could be a symbolic event, and his appearance in the program means Wanna One doesn’t have any difficulty in major TV channels’ programs unlike I.O.I. You know, apart from “Dangerous”, Wanna One members appeared in not a few shows of various different TV channels such as KBS’ “Happy Together” and JTBC’s “Let’s eat together”.
Why do you think MBC and other broadcasting companies allowed Wanna One to appear in their TV shows, then? Actually, there is a simple reason for it. Because Wanna One is so popular and their appearance in a TV show guarantees high viewer ratings. When I.O.I was active in the k-pop world, broadcasting companies just ignored them. But, things are different now. They can’t ignore Wanna One because the boy group is gaining sensational popularity and is much more popular than I.O.I. I.O.I was paid about 30 million won for a pictorial shoot, but Wanna One is paid more than 40 million won (about 35,000 USD). Yeah, Wanna One, who is enjoying huge popularity made broadcasting companies kneel down.
TWICE made an official debut in Japan by releasing its first Japanese album “#TWICE” in the country on June 28, 2017. Well, the result was very successful. The album sold over 100,000 copies within just 4 days, while TWICE has reached no.1 position on Oricon’s daily album chart. And the girl group’s “TT dance” became vogue among young Japanese people.
That’s not all. On June 30, TWICE appeared on “Music Station”, which is the most popular music show in Japan. TWICE became the first k-pop girl group who appeared on “Music Station” since Girls’ Generation made an appearance on the program in 2012. It’s very unusual for the program to invite a rookie girl group. In addition, TWICE succeeded in putting the ad of its hit “TT” on the billboard of Tokyo Tower. TWICE became the first ever k-pop idol group who proceeded a joint promotion with Tokyo Tower, one of the iconic buildings in Tokyo.
And actually, TWICE is more popular in Japan than foreigners think because many of Japanese female idols revealed that they’re big fans of the girl group. You know, it’s very unusual for celebrities to reveal that they’re big fans of foreign idol group. It means TWICE is that much popular in the country.
Then, what do you think is the reason why TWICE is enjoying huge popularity in Japan? Do you remember Kara and Girls’ Generation made a big splash in the Japanese music market years ago? Well, TWICE and the two girl groups have something in common, but TWICE has an additional advantage.
First, TWICE members are very cute and lovely just like Kara and Girls’ Generation’s members were. Second, their songs are very catchy and easy to sing along to just like Kara and Girls’ Generation’s songs were. TWICE and the two girl groups have something in common in terms of music. Just like Kara and Girls’ Generation who have achieved a great success with its girlish and catchy hits such as “Mister” and “Gee”, TWICE entered stardom with its hits which are girlish and catchy songs. And all of the three girl groups aim at becoming k-pop girl groups who can fascinate people of all ages, not just teenagers or adult males, while their musical contents are not raunchy and provocative at all unlike some of other k-pop girl groups’.
But that’s not all. It could be the biggest benefit of TWICE that the girl group has Japanese members. You know, TWICE has three Japanese members, Momo, Sana and Mina, and that’s one reason why the girl group is receiving a great deal of attention from Japanese people. The three talented Japanese members are doing really great in the team.
Many people in the k-pop industry are now cheering for TWICE because the girl group’s great success in Japan can boost the industry. For now, yeah, there is a good chance that TWICE will continue to dominate the Japanese music market.
BLACKPINK has been on a roll. After making a very successful debut with “Whistle” and “Boombayah” in August 2016, the girl group’s popularity has been growing sharply with “Playing with fire”, “Stay” and “As if it’s your last” in three consecutive hits. In addition, the music video of “As if it’s your last” reached over 70 million views just in 25 days, which was a new record for a k-pop idol group.
It is very unusual for a rookie k-pop girl group to enjoy such a huge popularity, and BLACKPINK, who made an official debut in Japan is creating a sensation in the country too.
Then, why do you think BLACKPINK is so popular? Well, you can infer the reason from Yang Hyun Suk’s statement. Below is what Yang Hyun Suk talked about BLACKPINK when the girl group just debuted.
“We don’t release new album unless we’re not satisfied with it. I dare not try to persuade the publice with an unsatisfactory album. That’s why it took so long for BLACKPINK to make its debut. And when I produced Bigmama, BIGBANG and 2NE1, I didn’t care much about their appearance. However, BLACKPINK members are not only talented but also very pretty. I decided to go another way this time, but what I want to tell you is that BLACKPINK will not do cute music. They’ll do music of YG style”.
So, now you can see the reason why BLACKPINK could achieve huge success? BLACKPINK, who does music of YG style succeeded in differentiating itself from the other k-pop girl groups who usually just try to act cute on the stage. You know, BLACKPINK members are so charismatic and professional on the stage. And like Yang Hyun Suk said, the members are not only talented but also very pretty, which means they have no weaknesses. What YG thought about BLACKPINK was that the girl group has as good singing ability as 2NE1 but is much prettier than the disbanded team.
In addition, it’s also notable that BLACKPINK, who has been active in various TV shows is gaining popularity among not only its fans but also the general public. You know, YG artists have not been so active in TV shows, but BLACKPINK members have been giving off their charms through various TV shows.
And actually, sorry for fans of 2NE1, but the fact that 2NE1 has been disbanded had a positive effect on BLACKPINK too. You know, 2NE1 was an irreplaceable girl group who had its unique musical characteristics, while it’s true that BLACKPINK’s songs are a little bit similar to those of 2NE1. It’s matter of course because Teddy is the main producer of both teams. So, if 2NE1 has not been disbanded, there is a possibility that BLACKPINK couldn’t achieve such a huge success because 2NE1 and BLACKPINK are similar girl groups and they have to share k-pop fans who like YG girl groups.
After 2NE1 was disbanded, YG has been zeroing in on BLACKPINK because the girl group is YG’s new hope. YG is now giving full support to BLACKPINK, and it is likely that the talented and pretty girl group will stay popular for a long time because the team is the only one YG girl group and is irreplaceable in the k-pop world now.
BLACKPINK won no.1 trophy of SBS’ “Inkigayo” aired on July2, 2017. With its new song “As if it’s your last”, the girl group topped the chart show. By the way, BLACKPINK members burst into tears when their name was called. Yeah, they burst into tears because they were so moved. But that’s not all. There’s a story behind it.
BLACKPINK released “As if it’s your last” on June 22. And on the same day, MAMAMOO also made a comeback with its new song “Yes I am”. Great attention was focused on the competition between the two popular girl groups, but, it seemed that MAMAMOO won the competition. MAMAMOO reached the top of a variety of online music charts, while it’s notable that the girl group ranked higher than BLACKPINK on Melon, the biggest Korean music site. In addition, BLACKPINK’s “As if it’s your last” is a single, which means, the girl group couldn’t get any album sales points on music chart shows.
In this situation, BLACKPINK members couldn’t imagine that they would be able to win no.1 trophy of “Inkigayo”. Yeah, that’s why the members were very surprised when their name was called and burst into tears. BLACKPINK could win over MAMAMOO because BLACKPINK got much more SNS points than MAMAMOO, which means BLACKPINK’s music video is very popular on Youtube and the girl group is very hot on various online platforms including Twitter and Facebook.
Anyway, congratulations, BLACKPINK!
No doubt, Red Velvet is one of the most popular k-pop girl groups. Red Velvet has many hit songs such as “Rookie” and “Red Flavor”, while the team is one of the k-pop idol groups who always rank high on online music charts.
By the way, there is a noteworthy thing about Red Velvet. Unlike most of the other k-pop girl groups, who are very popular among Korean males, the 5-member girl group is now gaining huge popularity among Korean female fans. Let’s see the result of a popularity vote of Korean community site first. It is a site for females only, and it has a large membership. The question for the vote was “Who is your favorite female star?”
1. Irene of Red Velvet
2. Kim Taeri (actress)
3. Krystal of f(x)
4. Jun Jihyun (actress)
5. Joy of Red Velvet
6. Kim Hyesoo (actress)
7. Rose of BLACKPINK
8. Seolhyun of AOA
9. Taeyeon of Girls’ Generation
10. Seulgi of Red Velvet
11. Sohee (actress)
12. Wendy of Red Velvet
13. Somi of I.O.I & Seo Hyunjin (actress)
15. Park Boyoung (actress)
16. Jisoo of BLACKPINK
17. Yoojung of I.O.I
18. Kyungri of 9Muses
19. Nayeon of TWICE
20. Jung Yoomi (actress)
21. Yoona of Girls’ Generation & Jennie of BLACKPINK
So, what do you think about the result of the vote? Yeah, the Red Velvet members ranked very high among the famous Korean stars.
Well, many people think girl groups should gain popularity among male fans. It’s true, but it just applies to girl groups of small and medium agencies.
Let’s see. K-pop idol groups have 3 main sources of income. First, concert tour & goods. Second, appearance on drama, movie, and CF. And third, performing at various events. Among these, concert tour & goods is the biggest source of income for k-pop agencies and singers, but there are few agencies and singers who can hold exclusive concerts or sell their goods. Only big agencies and very popular idol stars can do it. The same applies to the second one because only popular idols can have a chance to appear on drama, movie, and CF.
Then, what’s left? Yeah, a majority of k-pop idols should make money by performing at various events such as college festival, music festival, corporate events, etc. By the way, most of the hosts of the events prefer girl groups who are popular among males because such girl groups receive lots of cheers at the events. That’s why most of k-pop agencies try to produce a girl group who can fascinate male fans.
However, girl groups of big agencies like Red Velvet aim higher. They aim to become a girl group who earn lots of money by holding exclusive concerts and appearing on dramas and commercial films. Then, to become such a girl group, what do they have to do? They have to make a lot of loyal fans. By the way, female fans are usually more loyal to their idol stars than male fans, and that’s why big k-pop agencies such as SM and YG aim to produce a girl group who can capture female fans’ hearts. Yeah, just like Red Velvet and its senior girl groups Girls’ Generation and f(x). When producing its girl groups, what SM cares about most is the girl groups’ conception and attraction, while SM always targets female fans, not male fans.
So, I can say SM’s strategy is quite successful so far because Red Velvet is gaining huge popularity among female fans as planned.
Jung Eunji of Apink has successfully finished her solo concert. The female idol held her concert at the Samsung hall in Ewha Womans University in Seoul from May 3-5, 2017. As it was her first ever solo concert since she debuted in 2011, she seemed to be filled with emotions. She said “I was very nervous, but I’m so thankful to my fans who gave me an unforgettable memory”.
By the way, it was notable that Eunji’s solo concert was held at a small concert hall. Samsung Hall can accommodate only about 700 audiences. But other idols who are as popular as Eunji usually hold their concerts at a bigger concert hall. For example, Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon held her solo concert at the Olympic Hall at Olympic Park in Seoul, which can accommodate about 4,000 audiences.
Then, why do you think Eunji held her solo concert at a small concert hall? Do you think she’s less popular than other famous female idols? Of course not.
First, it was because of the concept of her solo concert. The concert was titled “The Attic”, while Eunji explained about her first ever concert, “To me, an attic is a mysterious but warm place because I can draw out my memories from it. So, I wanted to show you my small attic”.
At the concert, Eunji communicated with all the fans by reading their stories and singing songs related to the stories, while she couldn’t have carried out such a concept if she had not held her concert at a bigger concert hall.
Second, it was because of her position as a solo singer. You know, as a member of Apink, she sang many cheerful and lovely songs, but as a solo singer, she released acoustic and calm songs.
Do you remember IU held her concert at a small concert hall in 2014? Yeah, both of IU and Jung Eunji sing acoustic and calm songs, and what they wanted to do was deliver their voices to their fans better. That’s why they held their concerts at small concert halls even though they’re two of the most popular female k-pop singers.
You know, Jeon Somi has been highly active in the Korean entertainment world. She has received a great deal of attention as a member of Unnies of “Sister’s Slam Dunk Season 2”, while she made an appearance in “Idol Drama Operation Team” too. She’s one of the most sought-after young female idols in the Korean entertainment world, and there are so many fans who love the pretty girl.
By the way, isn’t it strange that Somi didn’t make an official debut early? She is the winner of “PRODUCE 101” and she had been active as a member of I.O.I. However, unlike the other I.O.I members, she didn’t make an official debut right after finishing her activities as a member of I.O.I even though she was the most popular I.O.I member. You know, Kim Sejung debuted as a member of Gugudan, while Lim Nayoung and Zhou Jieqiong became members of PRISTIN. And Choi Yoojung and Kim Doyeon debuted as members of Weki Miki too.
Actually, JYP Entertainment, home to Somi was not in a hurry about Somi’s debut, and there are some reasons for it.
First, because Somi is the most popular I.O.I member and JYP is one of the biggest k-pop agencies. The reason why many idols who are from TV audition programs debut so soon is that they could be forgotten by the people if they have a long hiatus. However, Somi has been active in the Korean entertainment world even though she didn’t make an official debut yet because, yeah, she is the most popular I.O.I member and JYP, one of the biggest k-pop agencies has been giving full support to her.
Second, because she was only 15 years old when she finished her activities as a member of I.O.I. Even though Somi is really talented and pretty, it’s true that she was not perfect when she was a member of I.O.I. So, JYP wanted her to build up her experience as an entertainer by appearing in various TV shows and practice singing and dancing longer. JYP hoped to make it perfect because JYP regards her as the future of the agency, who will succeed Suzy.
Third, because TWICE has been doing so great, which means JYP didn’t need to hurry to produce another rookie girl group. If TWICE couldn’t have achieved such a huge success, yeah, the situation would have been different.
Girls’ Generation released its 6th full album on various online music sites on August 4, 2017. Girls’ Generation released the album to celebrate its 10th anniversary, and the album drew lots of attention from k-pop fans. By the way, it’s notable that Girls’ Generation didn’t release its physical album on August 4. The physical album was released on August 7, three days after the release of digital album. You know, it’s unusual for a k-pop idol group to release its digital and physical albums on different days. Then why do you think Girls’ Generation decided to release its digital and physical albums on different days?
August 5 was the exact date of Girls’ Generation’s 10th anniversary, and the girl group originally planned to release its new album on the day. The girl group also held its 10th anniversary fan meeting event on the day, and Girls’ Generation members planned to celebrate their 10th anniversary by singing their new songs in front of their fans, who have been supporting them for 10 years.
But, the problem was that August 5 was Saturday. K-pop idols do not usually release their new songs on the weekend because they can’t draw much attention from the general public.
So, after a discussion, Girls’ Generation members decided to release their new album one day before holding its 10th anniversary fan meeting, while it was not an option for them to release the album after the fan meeting because they hoped that their fans would listen to their new songs before the event.
After then, Girls’ Generation members thought of releasing their digital and physical albums on the same day, but they changed their mind because their new album was their 10th anniversary album and they wanted to give a special present to their fans.
According to the SM official, Girls’ Generation members were very excited about their 10th anniversary, but what’s most important to them was that they should please their fans, who have been supporting them for a long time. They know they could become the most popular k-pop girl group thanks to their enthusiastic fans, and they didn’t want to finish up all the things on one day because they wanted to make their fans happier.
So, on August 4, fans could enjoy listening to Girls’ Generation’s new songs, and on August 5, they could meet with Girls’ Generation’s members by attending the girl group’s 10th anniversary fan meeting. And on August 7, they could purchase the girl group’s brand new physical album.
Jessica released her third mini album “My Decade” on August 9, 2017. Jessica’s comeback drew much attention from k-pop fans because it was her 10th anniversary special album.
By the way, you know, Girls’ Generation released its 10th anniversary special album around the same time too. Girls’ Generation released its 6th full album on various online music sites on August 4, while the physical was released on August 7.
Actually, not a few Korean netizens blamed Jessica for releasing the album. Jessica, who debuted as a members of Girls’ Generation in 2007 left the girl group in 2014. At the time, she started her business and she had a boyfriend. She decided to leave Girls’ Generation to do something else, and people blamed her because it seemed she didn’t care about the other Girls’ Generation members and the popular girl group’s so many fans. Even though it has been years since she left the team, there still are people who blame her for being irresponsible, and yeah, they also blamed her for releasing her 10th anniversary album because they thought Jessica’s comeback could have bad influence on Girls’ Generation’s 10th anniversary party.
Well, by the way, what’s notable about Jessica’s comeback was that the female singer decided to release her album two days after the release of Girls’ Generation’s physical album. Here’s a story behind it.
It was a difficult decision for Jessica to decide the release date of her new album because, as I said, not a few Korean netizens blamed her for releasing the album for various reasons. So, after a lot of thinking, she eventually decided to release her album two days after Girls’ Generation’s comeback.
August 5 was the exact date of Jessica and Girls’ Generation’s 10th anniversary, but it’s natural that Girls’ Generation decided to release its album on August 7 because August 5 was weekend and August 7 was Monday, the first day of the week. However, Jessica decided not to release her album on the day because she didn’t want to cause damage to Girls’ Generation by competing with the girl group on k-pop album charts. In addition, she didn’t want to be misunderstood that she tried to use Girls’ Generation again to promote her new album. That’s why she decided to release her 10th anniversary album two days after the release of Girls’ Generation’s album. If she decided to release her album just one day after the release of Girls’ Generation’s album, some haters must have blamed her, saying “She’s trying to use Girls’ Generation”.
Well, I’m sure Jessica made a wise choice because that way, everyone could be happy. Girls’ Generation and their fans were able to celebrate their 10th anniversary, and Jessica and her fans were also able to celebrate their 10th anniversary, instead of competing or fighting with each other.
On January 17, 2017, Miss A’s Suzy released her warm-up single for her first ever solo album, while Girls’ Generation’s Seohyun also made a solo debut by releasing her first solo album on the day. It was the k-pop queens’ war, and extra attention was focused on who’s going to be the winner of the war because Suzy and Seohyun are two of the most popular female k-pop idols.
Well, Suzy became the winner of the war because her song “Pretending to be happy” has reached the top of various online music charts, while Seohyun’s “Don’t say no” was not that popular on the charts. However, there is a reason why you can’t just say Suzy won a complete victory over Seohyun. Do you know why?
After “Pretending to be happy” became a big hit, Suzy finally released her first ever solo mini album “Yes? No?” on January 24. No doubt, people expected that she will achieve a huge success with the album because you know, she’s already achieved a success with “Pretending to be happy” even though the song was just a warm-up single. However, the result was below expectations. Her title track “Yes No Maybe” couldn’t gain popularity with the public.
The reason why “Pretending to be happy” became a big hit was, yeah, first, because Suzy is a popular k-pop star. But that’s not all. She could arouse sympathy from many people by singing the song which had a lyrical melody and emotional lyrics. The lyrics were about her own life story, while it is essential for singers to put their sincere hearts into their songs to win sympathy from k-pop fans. I’m sure “Pretending to be happy” is one of the best k-pop songs of 2017.
Well, however, people didn’t like “Yes No Maybe” because the song was not very catchy, and not fresh either. The dance track is written by Park Jin Young, who is one of the most famous k-pop composer, but the song had no popular appeal, while it didn’t really suit Suzy either.
Then, how about Seohyun? Actually, she failed for a similar reason. Her title track “Don’t say no” couldn’t gain popularity among people because the song was not very catchy, and not fresh either. However, the notable thing is that the song was not the title track at first but she even persuaded Lee Soo Man because she really wanted to choose the song as the title track of her first ever solo album. Frankly speaking, I think she should’ve listened to him. Anyway, as she said, she took much part in producing the album because she wanted to show herself as a solo singer. And even though her song was not a commercial success, it can be said that she’s achieved the intended goal because she selected her title track herself and showed a new side of herself on the stage.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to take sides with Seohyun against Suzy. Both of the female idol stars did a good job and I was happy to see the talented idols’ solo debut.
On January 2, 2017, AOA made a comeback with its new album. Well, as the album was the popular k-pop girl group’s first ever full album, much attention was given to it. However, the result was below expectations. Both of the girl group’s double title tracks, “Excuse me” and “Bing Bing” ranked very low on Korean online music charts, while it seemed that many of music fans were not interested in the songs at all. You know, AOA’s popularity grew very sharply with “Miniskirt,” “Short Hair,” “Like a Cat,” and “Heart Attack” in four consecutive hits, and no doubt, AOA became one of the most popular k-pop girl groups. That’s why many people in the k-pop world thought the failure of AOA’s comeback was quite outrageous. So, what do you think was the reason for AOA’s failure?
AOA’s Seolhyun and Jimin have embroiled in a controversy due to their lack of knowledge of history in May 2016. In their reality program, “Channel AOA,” the two idol stars tried a history quiz but couldn’t recognize Ahn Jung Geun, who was a famous Korean independence fighter. After the broadcast, a firestorm of criticism was directed at them.
Well, the public’s outrage toward Seolhyun and Jimin was not just because they’re ignorant about history. Ahn Jung Geun was a Korean independence fighter and was a leader of the Korean independence movement against the Japanese occupation of Korea. He was executed by the Japanese government in 1909 for assassinating Ito Hirobumi, the Japanese administrator of power in Korea. You know, Japan’s colonial rule and wartime aggression aren’t appreciated by any Asian nation, and everything about Japan is always a very sensitive issue for Koreans. In the program, Jimin even addressed Ahn Jun Geun as “Kin To Kang,” the Japanese way of pronouncing Korean name “Kim Doo Han,” who is another historical figure, while it seemed that Seolhyun has never heard of Ahn Jung Geun even though she is the ambassador of 2016-2018 Visit Korea Year.
Unfortunately, there still were many Korean people who thought ill of Seolhyun and Jimin when they made a comeback in early 2017, and it’s true that their tarnished image had an adverse effect on the result of AOA’s comeback.
What do you think was the reason for AOA’s success in 2014 and 2015? There were many reasons for it, but basically, yeah, the members were very young and pretty. Of course, they’re still young and pretty, but the problem is that so many rookie girl groups who are younger than AOA debuted for the past few years. We have TWICE, GFriend, Red Velvet, BLACKPINK, OH MY GIRL, LABOUM and more now. The k-pop world is very rapidly changing.
Basically, k-pop girl groups’ biggest fans are male fans in their 30s and 40s. But they’re not usually very loyal to their girl groups, which means their favorite girl groups are always changing. And yeah, they prefer younger and prettier girl group.
So, sadly, it’s true that AOA was not as competitive as in the past when the group released its new album in early 2017, and that is one of the reasons why AOA’s comeback was a huge failure. Even though there are a few k-pop girl groups who stay popular for a very long time such as Girls’ Generation, it is really hard for senior girl groups to outrival younger girl groups.
On June 22, 2017, AOA’s Choa declared she will leave the team. She posted a long piece of writing on her SNS, stating “Since debut, I have been feeling like crying but I had to pretend that I’m happy. Such a thing happened again and again, and I found myself becoming ill. Under the agreement with FNC, I decided to leave AOA”.
By the way, it seemed that there was no agreement between Choa and FNC. On June 23, FNC announced “We respect Choa’s opinion, but nothing is confirmed yet whether she will really leave AOA”.
And as you may know, Choa eventually left AOA later. Well, why do you think Choa wanted to leave AOA, then?
Choa has been very busy since her debut in 2012. She couldn’t sleep well, and she had to manage a series of tight schedules. Of course, all the idols go through similar hardships, but it was so hard for Choa to endure it because Choa was one of the hardest workers among k-pop idols.
In this situation, what made it harder for Choa to endure was that AOA couldn’t have much success. AOA’s popularity grew very sharply with “Miniskirt,” “Short Hair,” “Like a Cat,” and “Heart Attack” in four consecutive hits, but the girl group’s comeback in January 2017 was a failure. And actually, even though AOA has already become one of the most popular k-pop girl groups, the members couldn’t make much money. Yeah, it’s true Seolhyun appeared in a variety of commercial films, but her appearance fee was not very high, while she had to share it with FNC Entertainment and the rest 6 members.
So, Choa went into hiding to take some rest and escape from reality. She hasn’t participated in any activities of AOA since March, 2017. And Lee Sukjin, the CEO of Najin Industry was by her side. The rich man, who is 5 years older than Choa gave much support and comfort to Choa as a big fan of AOA when she was having a hard time. But, the problem was that Choa didn’t feel better even after taking some rest. She was not motivated to sing on the stage, and she felt no necessity to be active as a member of AOA.
JJ Project, which is comprised of JB and Jinyoung of GOT7 released its new album “Verse 2” on July 31, 2017. Well, much attention was given to the album because it was JJ Project’s first album in 5 years. But that’s not all. There were some reasons why the duo’s comeback in 5 years was very noteworthy.
In 2012, JJ Project released its song “Bounce”, and yeah, the song was quite impressive. The song had unique sound and melody, while JB and Jinyoung showed off their charms through the song. But, the song was written by Park Jin Young, and the two members didn’t take part in writing their song, which means the song was more a song of Park Jin Young than of the two handsome members.
But, 5 years later, JB and Jinyoung took part in writing songs of their new album. Especially, they co-wrote the title track with Park Jin Young, and they showed their own musical characteristics through the song. You know, they could grow up so much as musicians for 5 years by taking part in writing GOT7’s songs, and they opened a new chapter of their career by releasing their new album.
When JJ Project debuted in 2012, the two members had many fans, but it can’t be said they achieved huge popularity. And they had some hard times even after making a debut as members of GOT7 too. However, GOT7 members continued their efforts and they finally became one of the most popular k-pop boy groups. They have many fans at home and abroad, and their album is now one of the top-selling k-pop albums.
So, JJ Project, who once was just a rookie group now became a sub unit of one of the most popular k-pop boy groups, and that’s why the duo could receive much attention from people when they made a comeback in July 2017. And they proved their competitiveness as a sub unit of a popular boy group by releasing a high quality album.
GOT7 has been active in the world of k-pop since its debut, but, the GOT7 members were not that active as solo singers or actors. Of course, Jinyoung has appeared in some dramas, but it’s true that GOT members were relatively less active about their individual activities than other popular idols.
Basically, it was because of JYP’s strategy to promote GOT7. JYP hoped GOT7 to become popular as a team first. That’s why GOT7 members have been focusing on their group activities. But, GOT has become one of the most popular idol groups, and yeah, it’s time for the members to start being active as solo singers and actors. In addition, GOT7 members need to do their individual activities to boost their popularity too.
So, JJ Project’s comeback means the start of GOT7’s a variety of individual activities. According to JYP Entertainment, GOT7 members will please their fans with various individual projects. Jackson has already released his Chinese album, and some of the other members will appear in some dramas and TV shows.
On May 23, 2017, SISTAR announced that they decided to disband the team. Not only the girl group’s fans but also people in the k-pop industry were surprised by the news because the 8th-year girl group has been enjoying great popularity in the world of k-pop and there has never been a hint of the 4 members’ breakup.
Then, why do you think SISTAR decided to disband the team even though the team was still considered as one of the most popular k-pop girl groups? Well, let’s see why k-pop idols leave their groups first. There are 7 reasons.
It costs a fabulous sum of money for k-pop agencies to produce idol groups. The agencies usually invest hundreds of millions of won into training idols and have to retrieve the investment after their idols’ debut. However, only a few of the idols win success and make actual profits. Many of idols suffer from the hardships of life because they do not have steady income. If an idol group can’t make profits for years and its agency can’t retrieve its investment, the group has to be disbanded, of course. So, before their groups are disbanded, some of the idols make their minds to leave the groups.
Most of k-pop idols are in their late teens or early 20s, which means they’re not old enough and still need to be looked after by their parents. However, some of idols’ parents are too enthusiastic about their sons and daughters’ careers. And their over-bearing intervention sometimes create conflicts between k-pop agencies and idol singers. Parents always expect better of their children, right? Enthusiastic parents ask k-pop agencies for too much, while some of them even make their sons and daughters leave idol groups.
Every idol singer feels anxiety about the future because they can’t be active as idol singers for all of their lives. They have to retire someday. So, some of idols who are unsure about their future determine to quit their singing careers and try to find a new route. Some start their acting careers, while others strive to concentrate on their studies or start their own business.
One of k-pop idols’ difficulties is that they have to share their incomes with their agencies and team mates, while many of idols complain that their incomes are very low for their work hours. In this situation, idols are tempted to leave their groups and act alone. And there are also some astute businessmen who put the comether on the idols to leave their groups and agencies. The businessmen want to turn the idols to profit, but as far as I know, there has been no idols who achieved a success after leaving their groups in this way.
K-pop idol group members eat, sleep, and sing together all day long. However, they’re ordinary people too, and there should be a discord among the members. I can speak with confidence that all the k-pop idol groups experience internal conflicts. Some of them can overcome it, but others can’t. And yeah, a discord among idol group members sometimes make one of them leave his group.
K-pop idols are young boys and girls, and they dream of romance too. They enjoy their dates secretly, while some of them pour everything they have into their love. Wonder Girls’ Sunye is the typical example. After her marriage, she has been passive about her activity as a singer and finally left her group. Love sometimes conquers all.
People envy k-pop idols who are loved by so many fans. However, some of the idols are forced to work around the clock, while they make very little money. There are some k-pop agencies which lives off the backs of their idols. So, if the situation become unbearable, some idols make a decision to leave their groups and agencies because they don’t have any choice.
Among these, which one do you think applies to SISTAR’s situation? First, there was no discord among the SISTAR members. They’re getting along well with each other. Second, Starship, home to the girl group, treated the members with consideration. SISTAR has earned a lot of money for the agency, and the members received fair treatment. Third, SISTAR didn’t have a super star member like Suzy of Miss A, which means they didn’t decide to disband the team because they wanted to achieve bigger success.
You might say they still can do their individual activities without disbanding their team, but it’s a different story because the prerequisite is SISTAR should maintain its great popularity for a long time. However, unfortunately, there are so many young girl groups in the k-pop world, and it’s true the young girl groups such as TWICE, BLACKPINK and Red Velvet have already become more popular than SISTAR among young k-pop fans.
In this situation, SISTAR’s 7-year contract with Starship has expired, and the members decided to leave the group to make a fresh start. In a way, they were very smart because they made a quick decision. Actually, the fact that the 4 members have actively done their individual activities means they’ve been preparing to stand alone. For them, it wasn’t a sudden decision to disband the girl group. Good luck to all of them.
On June 13, 2017, Hook Entertainment, home to famous Korean stars such as Lee Seung Gi, Lee Seo Jin and Lee Sun Hee announced that the agency made a contract with Bora, the former member of SISTAR. Check out what the CEO of the agency talked about the contract.
“I wanted to sign with her, and I made a proposal to her first because I think she has a huge potential. She has cheerful and healthy charm, and she’s already proved her competitiveness as a singer while she was active as a member of SISTAR. I think she has a potential as an actress and she has a talent as a TV entertainer too. I’ll give full support to her, and we’re also planning for her solo album. Please support her”.
Actually, it was the best choice for Bora to sign with the agency for some reasons. First, Bora wanted to be active not only as an actress but also as a singer, and Hook Entertainment was the right agency to give full support to her. You know, Lee Seung Gi belongs to the agency and he’s been active in various fields. The agency has the know-how to support talented entertainers.
Second, Hook Entertainment has enough money. Kwon Jin Young, the CEO of the agency was just a manager of Lee Sun Hee in the old days, but she made a lot of money thanks to Lee Seung Gi’s huge success. She is now regarded as one of the richest people in the Korean entertainment world. No doubt, Bora will be able to receive great support.
Third, Bora will be able to create a synergy effect with Lee Seung Gi. It is expected that Bora will do some collaborative works with him. In addition, Lee Seung Gi, who is one of the most popular male k-pop stars has no anti fans and he is loved by so many people. His existence will be helpful to Bora, who has just made a new start.
On May 23, 2017, SISTAR announced that they decided to disband the team. It certainly was a sad news for the girl group’s fans. By the way, do you think other k-pop girl groups will be able to replace SISTAR? Well, there are so many girl groups these days, but, actually, people in the k-pop world are now saying SISTAR is irreplaceable. Do you know why?
So many rookie k-pop girl groups have debuted in recent years. But, as you may know, most of them are cute and lovely girl groups. Yeah, just like TWICE, Red Velvet and Lovelyz. There is a little different style of girl group who does hip hop music like BLACKPINK, but there are no sexy girl groups like SISTAR. Well, this is because of the change in k-pop trend. The biggest consumers of k-pop girl groups in Korea are male fans in their 20s and 30s, but they like cute girl groups better than sexy girl groups these days. What do you think it means? There is a strong presumption that there will be no sexy girl groups in the k-pop world for some time.
However, trend always changes. After the SISTAR members announced that they decided to disband the team, what do you think is happening in the k-pop world? Actually, some k-pop agencies started their “Sexy Girl Group Projects”. Yeah, they want to produce new sexy girl groups who can replace SISTAR. Believe me, not a few sexy girl groups will debut a year or two later. But, the problem is that the SISTAR members are not only sexy but also very competent as singers. When I saw SISTAR for the first time in 2010, I was surprised because Hyolyn sang so great. Even though she was just a rookie, she was better than most of the other female idols. And of course, Soyou sang great too, and Bora’s dance was impressive. And Dasom was really pretty. So, there will be many sexy girl groups but it will be really hard for them to surpass SISTAR..
Why do you think SISTAR became so popular? Yeah, there are many reasons for it, but one reason is because the girl group was comprised of entirely different members. Especially, it’s very notable that Hyolyn and Soyou, two talented vocalists who have totally different voices led the team. You know, Hyolyn has very powerful voice, while Soyou has attractive and husky voice. It is unusual to include totally different two vocalists in one idol group, and SISTAR could be loved by so many fans because the group could carry out a variety of concepts thanks to the combination of different members. There could be new idol singers who can sing as well as SISTAR, but it will be never easy to form a new girl group who is comprised of entirely different members like SISTAR.
In January 2017, actress Go Ara, who’s belonged to SM Entertainment for the last 14 years decided to leave the agency and signed an exclusive contract with her new agency, Artist Company. Well, after the news was reported, some people said there must have been some problems between the actress and SM, but it’s not true. She had her own reasons for leaving the agency.
Contrary to popular belief, entertainer management is subdivided into various fields. I mean, singer management is totally different from TV actor management, while film actor management is also different from these. It’s outrageous that a dentist performs a brain surgery, right? The same applies to entertainer management. Each manager and agency has their own specialty.
Managers of singers simply must have the ability to produce a good music album because singers show themselves through their albums unlike actors who show themselves through their acting. And to produce a good album, managers of singers should have a good relationship with influential people in the k-pop industry such as famous songwriters and choreographers.
And managers of TV actors must have the ability to choose a good drama. Before actors appear in a certain drama, their managers read a variety of drama scripts and should make the best choice for the actors. If a manager is not efficient in his work, his actor appears in a less popular drama and can’t become famous. And managers of TV actors always make every effort to maintain good relations with TV drama producers because they have full authority to cast actors.
What managers of film actors do is basically very similar to what mangers of TV actors do because they must have the ability to choose a good film. However, a major difference between them is that the film industry has a very high barrier to entry. In Korea, there is a perception that film actors are better than TV actors. And it’s true some of film actors look down on TV actors. That’s one reason why many of famous Korean film actors hardly appear in a TV drama. Managers of film actors usually have long experience in the industry and they have connections with movie people, while it is nearly impossible for rookie actors to have a chance to appear in a film without a competent manager.
So, let’s turn to the issue of why Go Ara left SM. She debuted in 2003 and all the people in the Korean entertainment world said she’s going to be very successful because she’s pretty, talented and good-natured. However, she wasn’t as successful as expected. She appeared in various dramas and films but she’s experienced failure again and again. Of course, her drama “Reply 1994” was a huge success, but that was all. What do you think was the problem? Like I said, entertainer management is subdivided into various fields, and each manager and agency has their own specialty. You know, what SM is good at is singer management, not actor management. And sadly, it’s true that popular k-pop idol groups such as TVXQ, EXO and SHINee are more important than Go Ara to the k-pop agency.
In this situation, Go Ara had to do something for the future. Her new agency, Artist Company has famous movie stars like Jung Woosung and Lee Jungjae, while it has competent managers too. It is expected that the agency will give full support to Go Ara, and there will be an opportunity for her to take a leap forward as a TV actress and film actress. Well, after making a contract with the actress, the agency official said, “After having a talk with her, I could know how enthusiastic she is about her acting. She’s eager to show her outstanding ability, and we want to be helpful. I’m sure she still has many things to show as an actress.”
In June 2017, Nam Taehyun made a comeback with his new album. But, you know, it was not WINNER’s album. The former member of WINNER has formed a band named “South Club”, and the album was the band’s first ever album. And after releasing the album, Nam Taehyun held his fan meeting event and concert in Tokyo in July.
By the way, at the time, not a few k-pop fans are blaming him for making a comeback too early, saying, “It has been only 6 months since he left WINNER and he said he had a health problem. He must be very selfish because he just didn’t want to be active as a member of WINNER”.
Well, what do you think? Yeah, it’s true he made a comeback only 6 months after he left WINNER, and it’s also true that it is difficult to understand why he had to leave WINNER if he had planned to form a new band. But, here’s the reason why you should not blame him.
Before leaving WINNER, Nam Taehyun had a health problem. To put it more concretely, he had a mental health problem. In this situation, YG made a quick decision on WINNER and Nam Taehyun, announcing that the agency has decided to part with Nam Taehyun. It had been a long time since he had a health problem, and YG wasn’t sure that the problem will be solved soon.
K-pop idols are under tremendous stress. They always have to smile a bright smile in front of people, and they should keep their feelings to themselves to maintain the right image. Some idols are very good at these, but others have difficulties living as idols. Yeah, Nam Taehyun was the one who was not suitable for the job, and he suffered from a lot of mental stress. In addition, the fact that Nam Taehyun couldn’t release his characterful own songs whenever he wanted made it harder for him to endure. As a YG artist, he had to always wait. When I interviewed him before he left YG, I could absolutely feel that he is more of an artist and musician than an idol star.
So, Nam Taehyun was just different from the other WINNER members. And there was no discord among the members before Nam Taehyun left the team. He didn’t leave the team because he was selfish, and the other members understood him. We should not blame someone only because he is different from the others, right?
Check out what Kang Seungyoon talked about Nam Taehyun in his interview. The interview was done when WINNER released “Really Really” in April 2017.
“We wanted to be together for a long time, but Nam Taehyun had to leave the team because of his health. When he was active as a member of our team, he had hard times. It’s too bad. Before releasing our new album as a 4-member group, I was worried if we lose our popularity because Nam Taehyun has great singing ability and there still are many fans who love him. But, we tried our best to fill the vacancy. Especially, Jinwoo tried really hard to improve his singing skills. I’m sure we got a great outcome”.
Suzy’s contract with JYP Entertainment has expired on March 31, 2017, and the interest of her fans has been collecting around whether or not the top k-pop star will renew her contract. Suzy didn’t say a word about the renewal of her contract even though it has been months since her contract ran out, and that’s why there have been so many rumors about her decision.
But, on August 2, 2017, yeah, JYP officially announced that Suzy renewed her contract with the k-pop agency.
After Suzy’s contract with JYP has expired, some agencies contacted her to sign an exclusive contract with her because, yeah, she is a super star. And Suzy thought seriously of making a contract with one of the agencies, but she refused the proposal eventually. The agency is not big, but Suzy thought the agency can give full support to her and help her grow as a competent solo musician.
Suzy also thought about establishing her own agency. According to people close to her, she asked them about establishing her own agency. And she also asked her friend for advice. Her friend is a celebrity who has established his own agency, and Suzy asked detailed questions about establishing and operating her own agency.
However, Suzy eventually decided not to leave JYP, and there were two reasons for that.
First, Suzy preferred an agency for musicians to an agency for actors. You know, Suzy has been active not only as a singer but also as an actress, and it’s true she felt there was something lacking when she was active as an actress of JYP because JYP is a famous k-pop agency but is not a great agency for actors.
That’s why she once thought about making a contract with an agency for actors, but the problem was that she hoped to keep on being active as a solo singer. Generally speaking, singers can be active as actors in k-pop agencies because all they need to do is just to act. However, actors can’t active as singers in agencies for actors because making a music album needs workforce skills and capital investment. Especially, it needs skilled workers and technical know-how. That’s why Suzy couldn’t leave JYP, one of the most competent k-pop agencies.
Second, even though Suzy’s contract with JYP has already expired, JYP has given full support to Suzy, who has been busy filming her new drama “While you were sleeping”. So, Suzy could feel how much JYP cares about her, and she didn’t need to leave her home. In addition, you know, JYP discovered and trained Suzy. And Suzy could become a top star thanks to JYP. Suzy has a special bond with Park Jin Young, and that’s why Suzy has kept in touch with JYP even after her contract has expired.
On August 8, 2017, CJ E&M announced that it made a contract with Wanna One’s Kim Jaehwan. The rookie singer was the only Wanna One member who didn’t belong to any k-pop agencies, but he finally found his home. CJ E&M said “We’ve offered all the trainees who appeared in “Produce 101 Season 2” practicing rooms and vehicles, and we could build a trust with Kim Jaehwan at the time”. Kim Jaehwan will be active as a singer of CJ E&M after finishing his activities as a member of Wanna One.
By the way, some of k-pop agencies blamed CJ E&M for making a contract with Kim Jaehwan. Do you know why?
As I said, Kim Jaehwan was the only Wanna One member who didn’t belong to any k-pop agencies, and after he was chosen as a member of the sensational boy group, a lot of k-pop agencies tried to contact him to make a contract with him. They really wanted to sign with him because, you know, he became so popular by appearing in “Produce 101 Season 2” and becoming a member of Wanna One. However, the agencies couldn’t contact him because he has no manager and he has been busy preparing for Wanna One’s debut.
In this situation, yeah, CJ E&M signed with him. CJ E&M is a large company which has not only a management agency but also various broadcasting companies including Mnet. So, some k-pop agencies which wanted to make a contract with Kim Jaehwan blamed CJ E&M because they couldn’t even have a chance to persuade the young promising singer. They thought it was the high-handedness of a large company.
Well, however, it can’t be said CJ E&M did wrong because, you know, there are no fixed rules about how k-pop trainees choose their agencies. And frankly speaking, it was a great choice for Kim Jaehwan to sign with CJ E&M because the company is big and influential. In addition, MMO Entertainment, home to Wanna One’s Kang Daniel and Yoon Jisung is an affiliated company of CJ E&M Music, which means Kim Jaehwan will be able to do various collaborative works with the two Wanna One members even after finishing his activities as a member of Wanna One. They will be able to create a great synergy. I wish good luck with Kim Jaehwan’s future.
Do you like Girl’s Day’s Hyeri? Well, I think all the k-pop lovers like her. She’s pretty, lovely, lively and cheerful. By the way, she once was not that popular among k-pop journalists. Aren’t you surprised? Here’s the reason for it.
K-pop idol stars are interviewed by many journalists. I don’t think they show their real selves during the interviews, but I can figure out what kind of people they are to some degree. Journalists like obedient and affable stars because such stars answer questions very well. They give long, detailed and sincere answers. However, Hyeri was not a person of that type at least in front of journalists, and that’s why many journalists did not like her.
But, there were misunderstandings about her. As far as know, she’s a person of cheerful deposition just like her drama character Duksun. She was just not used to be interviewed and didn’t want to flatter the journalists. Some of my acquaintances were at the filming spot of “Reply 1988”, and all of them said Hyeri was very kind and friendly to people around her. And one more thing. She has been too busy in recent years. The idol star filmed countless commercials. And she had to promote Girl’s Day’s song too. The tight schedule has totally worn her out and she even didn’t have energy to talk much when she was interviewed.
Of course, all the misunderstandings were cleared up late, and there are many k-pop journalists these days who like Hyeri so much.
IU, one of the most famous k-pop stars, was just like the other rookie singers when she debuted in 2008. She was not that popular, while nobody anticipated that she will be a super star. The little girl had to sing other singers’ songs on the air to promote herself.
However, I’m astonished at how much things have changed now. Since she made a huge success of her song “Good Day” in 2010, IU has been on a roll. She became the most sought-after female singer in Korea, and she also got a honorable nickname “the nation’s little sister”.
Well, by the way, what has changed is not only IU’s position in the world of k-pop but also people’s attitude toward her. When IU debuted, she was just a little girl. People in her agency made a baby of her. But, after becoming a top star, she began to receive a star treatment. Now? Nobody can mess with her, while her word is law in her agency. That’s why she is called the “Chairman” by people in the world of k-pop. Oh, don’t get me wrong. It just means IU became such an influential and powerful super star. IU is still good-hearted and is nice to people around her.
IU made an appearance in JTBC’s “Hyori’s Guest House” as a regular in 2017. She was employed as a staff member of Hyori’s guest house, and she did great in the program. By the way, it’s notable that it was the first time for IU to appear in a reality show as a regular, while she’s not been very active in appearing in TV shows. Then, why do you think the female star decided to appear in “Hyori’s Guest House” as a regular?
Well, in a word, it was because she liked Lee Hyori so much. You know, Lee Hyori is the queen of k-pop and many of k-pop female singers respect her. And Lee Hyori is very popular among young female singers because she is always confident and straightforward. Furthermore, even though she is not a great vocalist, Lee Hyori is not only a sexy dancing queen but also a competent musician who has her own musical characteristics.
IU has an old head on young shoulders, and she likes people who have a mind of their own. And she likes musicians who have their own musical characteristics. You know, she’s dated one of them. So, IU is a big fan of Lee Hyori too, and that’s why she decided to appear in “Hyori’s Guest House” as a regular.
And here are more stories behind IU’s appearance in the program. Before IU decided to appear in the show as a regular, Lee Hyori told the production crew “I hope a young artist who’s working in the k-pop world will appear in my show”. After then, the production crew asked IU to appear in the show as a regular because they thought the two have many things in common. And IU readily accepted the proposal because, yeah, she liked Lee Hyori so much.
IU didn’t tell Lee Hyori about her appearance in the show because IU was not acquainted with the sexy star, and Lee Hyori heard about IU’s appearance in “Hyori’s Guest House” for the first time on her first day of shooting. Lee Hyori was very excited at that time because as the queen of k-pop, Lee Hyori has designated IU as her successor a few times at private meetings with her friends, and she liked the young and talented artist too.
After appearing in the program together, Lee Hyori and IU became best friends. Check out what the producer of the program talked about how they did.
“We wanted to cast IU because we thought Lee Hyori and IU are going in the same direction as female musicians. Of course, we didn’t have personal connections with them, and we heard that the two have very different characteristics, but we were sure that a bond of sympathy will develop between the two female musicians. And we were sure that IU and Lee Sang Soon have something in common too. When we asked IU to appear in the program, she readily said ok without hesitation. She accepted our proposal because she liked Lee Hyori and she wanted to show her usual self through the program. You know, celebrities sometimes suffer from mental stress because they can’t reveal their real selves and have to act differently on TV. IU wanted to live in the guest house as her real self, and that’s why she wanted to be called “Lee Jieun” in the guest house. At first, Lee Hyori and IU were not close at all, but they became best friends in the end. IU was like Lee Hyori’s little sister”.
IU made an appearance in JTBC’s “Hyori’s Guest House” as a regular, and the program gained great popularity. By the way, according a person who took part in filming “Hyori’s Guest House”, all the production crew of the program felt enormous gratitude to IU. Do you know why?
Basically, yeah, they were thankful to IU because they could achieve a big success thanks to IU. Of course, Lee Hyori is a top star who receives great attention from people, but, “Hyori’s Guest House” couldn’t achieve such a big success without IU, an iconic young k-pop star.
However, that’s not all. There is a bigger reason why the production crew of “Hyori’s Guest House” felt enormous gratitude to IU. No doubt, IU is a super star, and super stars are usually too demanding. Most of them only do what they want to do, and they act snooty while filming TV shows.
But, IU, who is well known for her great personality didn’t act difficult at all while filming “Hyori’s Guest House”. She just did what she had to do, and she didn’t ask the production crew to do something for her either. According to the production crew of “Hyori’s Guest House”, IU just asked them for one thing before filming the program. She said “I’m not a good TV show entertainer, and it’s so hard for me to make funny comments”, and of course, the production crew accepted her request, saying “You don’t need to artificially do something. You can just enjoy your time in Jeju Island”.
Girls’ Generation’s Seohyun began to appear in her drama “Bad Thief Good Thief” in May 2017. She did really great. Her acting was stable, while it’s notable that she showed a new side of herself through the drama. Actually, she had a great affection for the drama, and that’s why she cut her hair in a bob-type style for the first time since she debuted.
By the way, it seemed it was really hard for Seohyun to focus only on her drama because Girls’ Generation was scheduled to make a comeback in August. Being active as a singer and a drama actor at same time is never an easy thing because one should manage a series of tight schedules.
In this case, k-pop idols usually request the production crew of their dramas to change their shooting schedules. It’s a matter of course because they have to maintain their schedules as singers too. However, a problem occurs when the idol is a leading actor. Leading actor takes much part in his drama, which means if his shooting schedule is changed, dozens of staff members and actors of the drama should change their shooting schedules too.
So, Seohyun was a leading actress of “Bad Thief Good Thief”, and if she changed her shooting schedule due to Girls’ Generation’s comeback, many staff members and actors of the drama had to change their shooting schedules too.
However, Seohyun asked the production crew of “Bad Thief Good Thief” to change her shooting schedule at a minimum. A staff member of the drama said “She told us that she never wants to cause damage to all the staff members and actors”.
Well, there are few famous stars who ask for such a thing because, yeah, most of stars are not as considerate as Seohyun. You know, Seohyun is a good-natured person, and she always cares about others.
On June 23, 2017, Park Bogum denied the rumors of his romance of actress Jang Nara. On the day, the rumor spread that the actor is dating Jang Nara and they’ll marry soon, but Park Bogum’s agency denied the rumors, stating “The story is utterly without foundation”.
By the way, as you may know, it was not the first time for Park Bogum to link his name with a love scandal with Jang Nara, with whom he has appeared in “I remember you” together in 2015. What do you think is the reason why Park Bogum linked his name with a love scandal with Jang Nara again and again, then?
It’s true Park Bogum and Jang Nara are very close to each other. By the way, they’re two of the sweetest celebrities in the Korean entertainment world. They’re goodhearted, and they’re always kind to people around them. All the people who have worked with them say they’ve never seen them angry. So, think about it. The two goodhearted celebrities always care about each other and act nice to each other because they’re very close and they’re kindhearted. Seen from a distance, yeah, they look like they’re lovers. In addition, as Jang Nara looks much younger than her age (She’s 12 years older than Park Bogum), some people misunderstand that they’re real lovers.
On June 13, 2017, it was reported that Jung Ryeo Won and Nam Tae Hyun are dating. According the report, Nam Tae Hyun visited the actress, who were filming her new movie “Gate” and waited to see her for a long time late at night. However, Keyeast, home to Jung Ryeo Won denied her romantic relationship with the former WINNER member, stating, “It’s not true they’re lovers. Her friends including Nam Taehyun and Son Dambi just visited her to support her”.
It was the third time that Jung Ryeo Won and Nam Tae Hyun linked their names with a love scandal, but the actress denied it every time. Especially, it’s notable that she denied her romantic relationship with Nam Tae Hyun so quickly every time. It usually takes some time for agencies to make an official announcement about their artists’ scandals, but Keyeast did it so quickly.
Well, apart from whether they’re really dating or not, there are some reasons why Jung Ryeo Won denied her romantic relationship with Nam Tae Hyun so quickly.
First, she is the one who hates to reveal her private life to the public. Second, Nam Taehyun is an idol and she didn’t want to do harm to him, who is very close to her. Third, she is 13 years older than Nam Taehyun, and there are still many old fashioned people in Korea who blame a woman who dates a very young man.
Do you think they’re not really dating, by the way? Well, it’s true there has been a rumor in the k-pop industry that the two are old lovers and they’re just trying to hide their relationship, but, yeah, Jung Ryeo Won denied it and the two are the only people who know the truth.
On January 18, 2017 k-pop queen BoA and famous actor Joo Won admitted to being in a romantic relationship with each other. Well, most of you might be surprised at the news. They met for the first time at a gathering of friends in 2015. And they had good feelings toward each other on their first meeting because they had some mutual interests.
You know, BoA began her acting career in 2014 and she is still a rookie actress who has many questions about acting, while Joo Won, who debuted as an actor in 2006 and has shown his great acting ability through various dramas is the one who can give answers to her questions. And as Joo Won was originally a musical actor, he has a lot of interest in singing, while BoA is No.1 female singer in Korea. In addition, both stars like to play golf, and that’s why they could become intimate with each other in a short time.
By the way, after their romantic relationship was known to everybody, all the people in the Korean entertainment world willingly congratulated them on becoming lovers. You may think it’s a matter of course, but it’s not. People in the entertainment industry usually don’t even care about entertainers’ romance because there are many entertainers who are involved with too many men or women and they usually break up with their lovers so soon. In addition, as there are some entertainers who are arrogant and overbearing, people in the entertainment industry don’t like to congratulate them.
So, reason why people in the Korean entertainment world willingly congratulated BoA and Joo Won on becoming lovers is that they are two of Korean entertainers who are keeping a very straight and narrow life and kind to everyone around them. Actually, both of them are well known for their great personality among people in the Korean entertainment world, while they are much alike in character because both of them are good-hearted.
BoA is always modest even though she has achieved so many things as a global star, and Joo Won hasn’t changed a bit since his debut although he became a top star now. Last year, a person who works for a cinema PR company told me that she wishes all actors were like Joo Won. Movie actors usually have to take part in a variety of promotional events for their movies. However, some arrogant actors refuse to do it, saying “I’m an actor, not a publicist for the movie.” But Joo Won does his best in everything and always tries to care for people around him even though he should be so tired due to his tight schedules.
On July 14, 2017, it was reported that Uee and Gangnam had been dating for about 3 months. However, Uee denied her romantic relationship with him at first. She even posted a long piece of writing on her SNS, saying “I’m so embarrassed now. I became intimate with Gangnam after appearing in Law of the jungle together, and we had a meal together. However, it’s sad that people groundlessly say we’re lovers. When I get a boyfriend, I’ll let you know”.
But, a short time later, Dispatch released photos of Uee and Gangnam. The photos showed them holding hands and hugging each other. They sure looked like lovers.
After then, Uee eventually admitted her romantic relationship with Gangnam. Yuleum Entertainment, home to Uee announced “First of all, we apologize for the mix-up. Both of them are very careful about revealing their relationship because they’ve just begun dating. In addition, Uee was worried if her relationship with Gangnam could have bad influence on her new drama. They denied their romantic relationship because they wanted to take care of each other, but they decided to admit to being in a romantic relationship after a discussion”.
Uee was blamed for lying about her relationship with Gangnam. It seemed many people hated her because they thought she deceived them. But, there was a reason why she had to lie about her relationship with Gangnam.
When k-pop stars are embroiled in a dating scandal, they usually deny it, saying “We’re just close friends.” Of course, it sometimes is true, but a fair number of k-pop stars say so just because they want to walk away from the situation. There are few idol stars who readily admit that they’re dating somebody because it could have a negative effect on their careers.
That’s why Korean media outlets such as Dispatch try to secure solid evidences including photos and videos. Once media outlets seize photos or videos as real evidence, they usually contact k-pop agencies for confirmation. And after getting a phone call from a media out, what k-pop agency does first is to ask its idol star if it’s true that he or she is dating someone because even k-pop agencies do not know everything about their idol stars’ private lives. After that, people in the agency begin to debate whether they should admit their idol star’s romantic relationship with somebody. In this stage, they take a variety of things into consideration, including whom their idol dates, how solid the media outlet’s evidence is, etc.
However, it was not Dispatch which reported about Uee and Gangnam’s romantic relationship for the first time, and Uee couldn’t even imagine that Dispatch will release their photos. Uee, who didn’t want to be in an open relationship with Gangnam because she thought it could have a negative effect on her careers denied her romantic relationship with him at first for that reason.
In addition, Uee was very reluctant to admit to be in a romantic relationship with Gangnam because she just began dating him at the time, which means they were not in a deep relationship yet. Eventually, Uee and Gangnam, who felt a lot of pressure after admitting their relationship have broken up.
Park Shinhye is a good-natured person. She is nice to everyone, and she acts like an ordinary person in real life even though she is a very famous star. She never acts haughtily. That’s why many people in the Korean entertainment industry love her.
But that’s not all. She is now called “angel” among people in the Korean entertainment industry for another reason.
Park Shinhye has held her fan meeting tour every year since 2012, while she is the only Korean actress who can hold such a large scale event in various foreign countries. She has recently finished her fan meetings held in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
By the way, a remarkable thing about her is that she’s been donating all the profits from her fan meeting events to Food for the Hungry International. She’s been donating lots of money, and that’s why she has become a member of “Philanthropy Club”, a gathering of people who donated large sum of money to Food for the Hungry International.
What do you think is the reason why famous Korean actors hold their fan meeting events in various foreign countries? Because they want to see their foreign fans closely? Yes, right, but in most cases, what’s most important to them is money. Korea has a small market, and if they hold their fan meeting events in foreign countries, they can earn a lot of money.
So, the fact that Park Shinhye has been donating all the profits from her fan meeting events to Food for the Hungry International means that she willingly forwent immense amounts of money. If she didn’t donate all the profits, she could sit on a pile of money. However, she held her fan meeting tour every year since 2012 only for two reasons. First, because she wanted to see her foreign fans closely and make them happy. Second, because she wanted to help people who suffers from hunger.
Well, she might be a real live angel.
On July 5, 2017, Song Joongki and Song Hyekyo officially announced that they will marry in October, and many people were surprised by the news.
Before announcing their marriage, Song Joongki and Song Hyekyo seemed to be very close to each other in real life. They had a pleasant chat with each other, and they touched each other in a friendly way too. However, they didn’t look like lovers. They looked like real brother and sister. As a noona, Song Hyekyo cared a lot about Song Joongki, and the handsome actor acted cute in front of his noona. Anyway, congratulations!
By the way, you know, they denied their romantic relationship again and again. Whenever they linked their names with a love scandal, they vehemently denied it. That’s why some of Korean reporters felt a sense of betrayal at the news that they’ll marry soon.
Well, actually, there were some reasons why they denied their romantic relationship again and again.
First, they were very careful about revealing their real relationship because they were in a serious relationship and they were thinking about getting married. There are many variables regarding marriage, and they wanted to reveal their relationship after everything is confirmed. Second, Song Joonki didn’t want to reveal their relationship because he thought it could have bad influence on Song Hyekyo. Korea is a conservative country, and female stars usually are damaged by a love scandal.
Song Joongki and Song Hyekyo began dating after finishing filming their drama “Descendants of The Sun” in 2016. They even didn’t tell their agencies about their relationship, and the agencies could hear about the relationship just about a month before the marriage announcement.
Their very close friends and the producer and writer of “Descendants of The Sun” knew about their relationship. Song Joongki and Song Hyekyo treated the producer and writer to a meal and expressed their gratitude to them because they could become lovers thanks to them. And one more person who knew about their relationship was the director of Song Joongki’s new movie “The battle island”. The movie will be released soon, and Song Joongki told the director about his romantic relationship with Song Hyekyo because he thought his sudden marriage announcement could have bad influence on the movie.
Congratulations again, and I wish Song-Song couple every happiness.
On November 24, 2016, Moon Heejun, a member of legendary kpop idol group H.O.T, announced that he’s going to marry Crayon Pop’s Soyul. It was absolutely a surprising news not only for k-pop fans but also for all the people in the k-pop world because nobody even didn’t know Moon Heejun was dating the female idol who is 13 years younger than him. Actually, people in the k-pop world including journalists usually can hear about somebody’s dating rumor before it is reported. However, even people close to Moon Heejun – including the H.O.T members – never knew he was dating Soyul. Do you know why? Here’s a reason for it.
Moon Heejun has had his heyday in the 90s as a member of H.O.T but the team was disbanded in 2001. After then, he debuted as a solo singer. Well, by the way, he received a great deal of criticism from people only because he did rock music. People made a mockery of him, saying, “He pretends to be a competent rock musician even though he is just a former member of an idol group who is deficient in his musical ability.”
But, things turned around after Moon Heejun completed his military service. In Korea, all able-bodied men over 19 are required to serve in the military for 20 months. The constitution clearly states that every Korean citizen has the right, as well as the obligation, to serve in the military without any discrimination. Famous k-pop stars are no exception.
However, 20-month-long compulsory military service is an unavoidable source of trouble for Korea’s young men since they must suspend their studies in colleges or quit jobs at the peak of their youth. Especially, for k-pop stars, who tend to have short careers, compulsory military service is exactly what they want to avoid. In this situation, Moon Heejun has completed his military service without any complaints. Besides, he didn’t make any complaints during taking a fierce public criticism and living through such a hard time. That’s why people began to feel good about him.
So, as Moon Heejun has experienced a dramatic change (super star → unlikeable rock singer → likeable entertainer), he began to be very careful about every single thing in his life. He realized that a very small thing can have a great effect on the ups and downs of his life, and he tried to keep everything about his private life secret. Of course, his girlfriend Soyul was influenced by him and she also tried to be cautious not to tell about her romantic relationship with Moon Heejun.
On July 21, 2017, Sandara Park attended a VIP preview of “Battleship Island”. By the way, Celebrities can’t attend a VIP preview of a Korean movie just because they want to watch the movie. They must be invited by someone who is relevant to the movie, while Korean actors and actresses usually invite celebrities who are very close to them to VIP previews of their movies. So, “Battleship” Island” is a movie starring famous actor Song Joongki, and it seems that not a few k-pop fans are curious why Sandara Park attended the VIP preview.
Actually, Sandara Park attended the event not because of Song Joongki. Famous actress Lee Junghyun appears in the movie too, and yeah, the actress invited Sandara Park to the event. Sandara Park and Lee Junghyun have been friends for a long time, and actress Son Yejin is their best friend too. That’s why Son Yejin also attended the VIP preview of “Battleship Island”. According to Lee Junghyun, the three stars always hang out together, and they care about and support each other. And they talk a lot about guys too. :)
Aren’t you curious about k-pop stars’ real personality? Aren’t you curious about unknown stories about them? Here’s what you’ve been waiting for!
Welcome to the real world of k-pop. We tried to include all the secret stories about Korean entertainment industry in the
K-pop Secret Vol.1 contains stories about the real personality of 40 Korean stars. The author, who has interviewed more than 100 Korean celebrities since 2010 tells the story of famous Korean stars including G-Dragon, Baekhyun, Nichkhun, IU, Suzy, Kim Soohyun, Lee Kwangsoo, Song Joongki, Jun Jihyun, Park Shinhye and more.
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.goodbarber.kpopsecret
K-pop Secret Vol.2 contains unknown stories about k-pop industry. The author, who has been working as a k-pop journalist since 2010 gives you answers to some questions about k-pop industry such as “Do k-pop idols really sing live?” “How do k-pop chart shows choose their no.1 of the week?” and “Who’s the best singer among k-pop idols?”
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K-pop Secret Vol.3 contains all the stories about k-pop idols’ date. The author, who has been working as a k-pop journalist since 2010 gives you answers to some questions about k-pop idols’ date such as “With whom they date?” “Why k-pop idols break up so soon?” and “How much dating experience do they have?”
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.goodbarber.kpopsecret3
K-pop Secret Vol.4 contains stories about the reality of k-pop idols. The author, who has been working as a k-pop journalist since 2010 gives you answers to some questions about the reality of k-pop idols such as “How much do k-pop stars earn?” “Why do k-pop agencies do sajaegi?” and “Why do k-pop idols leave their groups?”
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.goodbarber.kpopsecret4
K-pop Secret Vol.5 contains stories about k-pop idol group ranking. As an experienced k-pop journalist, the author tells the story of the latest trend in the k-pop world. The book includes various stories about the hottest k-pop idol groups such as EXO, BTS, GOT7, TWICE, BLACKPINK and Red Velvet, while the latest version of k-pop idol group ranking is also included in it.
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.goodbarber.kpopsecretvol4
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*Some of the contents of this book might be based on the author’s personal opinion and point of view as a pop culture critic.
-Stories behind k-pop news -Answers to questions about k-pop idols -Written by an experienced k-pop journalist Are you a k-pop lover? Well, don’t you want to know stories behind k-pop news then? Welcome to the real world of k-pop. contains various unknown stories about k-pop stars. The author, who has been working as a k-pop journalist since 2010 gives you answers to various questions about k-pop idols such as “Why did they disband their team?”, “Why did they deny their romantic relationship?” and “Why are they so popular?”.