Despite their popularity, some people still ask: what are Kpop idols?

If you’re one of these people, you need not fret or be shy. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about K-pop—its history, unique style, plus the different groups under its roster.

What is K-pop?

K-pop is short for Korean pop music. It covers the entire music genre, from hip-hop to electronic to the unique style of Korean rock music.

Korean popular music is relatively young, for it is believed that K-pop only began in the 1990s. Although this is the case, the K-pop industry draws inspiration from the 1950s.

While the K-pop sound is uniquely South Korean, there’s no denying that American music has had a significant impact on the present Korean pop culture.

Such is seen in contemporary K-pop music, which is unique for having rap verses and some English phrases strewn into the lyrics.

This trend is believed to be pioneered by the girl group ‘Fly to the Sky’ to showcase their proficiency in foreign languages.

What are Kpop Idols, Then?

The name speaks for itself. Korean entertainment companies have formed these music groups to spread Korean pop influence.

K-pop stars usually boast various talents, such as singing, rapping, and dancing.

They often stay within the Korean music industry for years, for they need to undergo years of grueling training. This period is not limited to honing just their talents, though, for they often take up foreign language classes as preparation for global success.

K-pop fans can expect their idols to release singles and albums periodically. Usually, a K-pop performer may promote their music for one to two months before starting their next project.

Each modern K-pop group will flaunt their synchronized movements with multiple position switches throughout the routine. This is known as jaribaggum, which translates to ‘formation changing’ in English.

Choreography is repetitive—even addictive to younger audiences. This movement is called pointeu anmu, or point dance in English.

The best example of this is Gangnam Style, popularized by one of the most popular solo artists from Korea: Psy.

Who Are the Pioneer Groups in South Korea?

The pioneer idols who first hit the stage in 1992 are Seo Taiji and Boys. They are said to be the first to introduce raps in their songs, which continues in today’s Korean wave.

The immense popularity of the K-pop idol culture eventually led to the launch of various entertainment companies, such as the:

  • SM Entertainment (1995)
  • JYP Entertainment (1997)
  • YG Entertainment Company (1998)

1996 saw the birth of the first idol group—H.O.T. By 2003, popular K-pop groups such as BoA and TVXQ have amassed international fans as well.

3 Popular South Korean Girl Groups

Brown Eyed Girls, which first broke through in 2006, is a four-member ensemble nicknamed BEG/BG. BEG further cemented its popularity in 2009, which has led them to extend its reach in East Asia.

Launched in 2007, Girls’ Generation (also known as SNSD) is a popular musical group under the SM label. They’re so popular that they became the first non-J-pop group to top the Oricon Albums Chart. Girls’ Generation, composed of eight members, is nicknamed ‘the Nation’s Girl Group.’

Debuting the same year as SNSD is Wonder Girls, which rose to fame with their catchy song ‘Nobody.’ As the country’s ‘Retro Queens,’ they’re known to incorporate the 60s to 80s flair in their music.

4 Famous South Korean Boy Groups

Super Junior is another SM label K-pop group that debuted in late 2005. The ten-member group is dubbed the ‘King of Hallyu Wave.’ During their heyday, they were the bestselling K-pop artists for four years in a row.

Dubbed as the ‘Kings of K-pop,’ Big Bang first burst into the music scene in 2006. The four-member group has won several accolades, including ‘Song of the Year’ and ‘Artist of the Year’ at MNET.

Compared to most groups in this list, Stray Kids was formed via a reality show. The eight-member group, signed under the JYP label, first debuted in 2017. To date, they have two bestselling albums under their belt.

Of course, a Kpop group list is not complete without the inclusion of BTS. Also known as the Bangtan Boys, the artists formed the ensemble in 2010 and debuted three years after.

By 2017, the boys have become a global phenomenon, breaking sales records in Korea and the US. Their international recognition paved the way for six American Music Awards—a feat other groups have yet to follow.

BTS has made its mark as more than just a K-pop star, though. They have addressed the UN General Assembly three times. They’re also ambassadors of Korean Culture, for which they were recognized with the Order of Cultural Merit.

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