It is notoriously difficult to find in-depth information about 015B in English. What Wikipedia and some other sites seem to agree on is that the group started out with four members and later became a duo, brothers Jeong Seok-won and Jang Ho-il. However, listening to several of their albums reveals that they are keen to try just about any genre under the sun, and they do it well. Case in point: “Lost Temporarily” featuring Shin Bo-kyung (also known as Boni) from the group’s 2006 album, Lucky 7. As Jung Bae points out, the track has “no frills on the arrangement, just a slow and soulful beat, and Shin sang the chorus with skill and conviction beyond her years.”
015B debuted in 1990, merely two years before the appearance of Seo Taiji and Boys in 1992. They avoid the kind of spotlight we see “idol” groups bask in, but the ease with which they play in multiple genres foreshadows the kind of mixing of genres that will become a staple in K-pop.
KPK: Kpop Kollective, the oldest aca-fansite for K-pop, celebrates its 10-year anniversary on these K-pop streets!
BRIDES says that the traditional anniversary gift for the 10th anniversary is tin or aluminum, symbolizing flexibility and resiliency. It seems appropriate for KPK, because no matter if we are many or few, we are still here using our powers for good. But what is KPK? While we started out providing accurate information that fans want to know about their favorite artists, KPK has always taken K-pop seriously and worthy of study and attention. It has always been about providing the public with information and context for K-pop. That means all of K-pop, not just our favorite groups, because we believe that context is key to understanding. We believe you have to constantly balance K-pop’s history along with other forces that impact it today. For that reason, KPK has always been in it for the long haul, not just when it is popular. K-pop has changed a lot since we started, but at the same time, it remains important and significant.
Because of KPK’s public mission, we have also helped students, academics, media and industry professionals and basically anybody who has asked because we view ourselves as part of the K-pop community. As scholars, we are interested less in rumors and sensationalistic coverage of K-pop, and more about trying to interpret its complexity. At the same time, we are fans, so we also spend a lot (A LOT) of time experiencing K-pop on the ground (the ground often meaning social media).
We are celebrating our tenth anniversary all year long, looking back at some of most popular posts and continuing to provide unique insight into K-pop. We hope you will continue to join us on the journey.
Fun fact: Decennium is also the name of veteran K-pop duo Fly to the Sky’s 2009 album! Here’s Restriction, my favorite song from the album!
MBCkpop. “Fly To The Sky – Restriction, 플라이투더스카이 – 구속, Music Core 20090228.” YouTube. 7 Feb 2012. (Accessed 17 Jan 2020). https://youtu.be/PFn657LCBPk
Recent developments involving award and competition shows reveal the impact of mainstreaming on K-pop. As stakes increase for industry and media, accolades and competition are perceived as metrics for quality. However, they largely measure popularity, which is subject to manipulation.
While many K-pop acts are managed by an agency and undergo rigorous training that may span years, others result from competition shows developed by broadcast companies. These shows produce a temporary K-pop group that promotes during a fixed promotion period, and then often disbands. Such shows have proven popular, drawing on the increased global popularity of K-pop. For example, Produce 101, created by CJE&M, has produced K-pop groups I.O.I, Wanna One, IZ ONE, and X1 in four seasons.
Such shows have not been without controversy. While fans may express their displeasure when their favorites do not win, police in South Korea have found that results of the shows were manipulated. Writing for soompi, D.S. Kim reports: “According to the police, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s cyber investigation team found differences between the number of votes revealed on the final episodes and the raw data showing the actual votes that were sent in by viewers.”
Questions about vote manipulation are also leveled at accolades such as awards. Not very long ago, mainstream recognition was not an issue in K-pop because of its marginalized status. However, the mainstreaming of K-pop involves participation in award shows. When the K-pop girl group BLACKPINK recently won several People’s Choice Awards in November 2019, major American media outlets like Newsweek reported on the frustration of fans of BTS, who during the past couple of years had been the most recognizable K-pop group in the United States. Other media outlets revealed suspicions by BTS fans similar to those that sparked the Produce 101 investigation: “Others were confused at the group’s loss given how popular BTS is, with a few fans keeping tabs on fan voting for the People’s Choice Awards. ‘There is no possible way that blackpink beat BTS for this award,@peopleschoice you have some explaining to do,’ wrote @tae25 while tweeting out screenshots of Awards stats that show BTS leading in votes” (Ali).
While fans often lead the charge with accusations around manipulation, it is the personnel in the corporations that manage the competitions and awards. They encourage the use of popularity as a metric of quality. The Produce 101 competitions ultimately relied on fan votes that were based on the performances shown by the show itself, performances that generated profit for the companies when the shows aired. Similarly, awards like the People’s Choice Awards are popularity awards, popularity which results from exposure that the media helps to generate in the first place.
When accusations of manipulation are made, it is in part because of an environment that uses popularity as a metric for quality and benefits the very entities that create the competition. This is only possible when K-pop goes mainstream, generating a certain level of popularity.
JYJ (originally known as Junsu/Jaejoong/Yoochun in Japan) includes members Junsu (Kim Junsu; Xiah), Yoochun (Park Yoochun; Micky), and Jaejoong (Kim Jaejoong; Hero). After performing for several years as members of extremely popular male group TVXQ!, in 2009, the trio brought forward a lawsuit against their management company SM Entertainment, alleging significant problems with the contract’s length and associated distribution payments. . . . Click here to read more at KPOPIANA.
ZE:A (Children of Empire) is a nine member male group. Currently signed with the Star Empire Entertainment, group members include Kevin (Kim Ji Yeop), Kwanghee, (Hwang Kwang Hee), Siwan (Im Si Wan), Jun Young (Moon Jun Young), Tae Heon (Kim Tae Heon), Heechul (Jung Hee Chul), Minwoo (Ha Min Woo), Hyungsik (Park Hyung Sik), and Dongjun (Kim Dong Jun). . . . Click here to read more at KPOPIANA
Miss A is a four-member female group that was formed by famed producer Jin Young Park (JYP Entertainment. Predebut, the group was originally known in China as “Sisters,” and had five members. Eventually, the fifth member joined Wonder Girls (member: Lim), and further auditions solidified the current group. As Miss A, members Fei (Wang Fei Fei), Jia (Meng Jia), Suzy (Bae Su Ji), and Min (Lee Min Young) are managed by AQ Entertainment, a subsidiary company at JYP Entertainment. . . . Click here to read more at KPOPIANA.
Park Hyo Shin is a solo artist who performs rhythm and blues and is well-known for his deep, rich and versatile baritone voice. Currently signed with Jellyfish Entertainment, Park often performs with other Korean soul singers, including Brown Eyed Soul, Wheesung, and Gummy. . . Click here to read more at KPOPIANA.
IU (Lee Ji Eun) is a female solo Kpop artist who is currently signed with Loen Entertainment. She debuted on September 24, 2008. Her career trajectory is one that reflects a slow and steady climb to commercial success. . . . Click here to continue reading at KPOPIANA.
2NE1 burst onto the music scene in 2009 with their debut song Fire. The group’s name means “New Evolution of the 21st Century,” showing that they want to add their unique style to the existing pop music industry. After making a name for themselves in Korea with their popular songs, the group also debuted in Japan with their hit single I am the Best. The four girls aim to show the world their music for everyone. . . . Click here to continue reading on KPOPIANA.
SHINee debuted in 2008 under the S.M. Entertainment label. During the same year, U-KISS, Davichi, and 2AM also debuted. SHINee has five members: Onew (Lee Jinki), Jonghyun (Kim Jonghyun), Key (Kim Kibum), Minho (Choi Minho) and Taemin (Lee Taemin). Known for their emotional songs, avant-garde fashion, and mastery of difficult choreography, SHINee call themselves a contemporary band who aims to set music, dance, and fashion trends around the world. . . . Click here to continue reading on KPOPIANA.