Aja Romano wrote in Vox: “The women of K-pop are typically depicted as traditional versions of femininity. This usually manifests in one of several themes: adorable, shy schoolgirls who sing about giddy crushes; knowing, empowered women who need an “oppa” (a strong older male figure) to fulfill their fantasies; or knowing, empowered women who reject male validation, even as the studio tailors the group’s members for adult male consumption. [Source: Aja Romano, Vox, February 26, 2018]

“An idol group’s image often changes from one album to the next, undergoing a total visual and tonal overhaul to introduce a new concept. However, there are a few girl groups — 2NE1 and f(x) spring most readily to mind — that have been marketed as breaking away from this gender-centric mode of performance; they’re packaged as rebels and mavericks regardless of what their album is about, even while they operate within the studio culture.

“Yet the women of K-pop are also increasingly producing self-aware videos that navigate their own relationships to these rigid impositions. Witness Sunmi, a former member of Wonder Girls, tearing down her own carefully cultivated public image in her recent single “Heroine,” a song about a woman surviving a failed relationship. In the video, Sunmi transforms physically, growing more empowered and defiant as she faces the camera and finally confronts a billboard of herself.

“If songs for women in K-pop break down along the “virgin/mature woman” divide, songs for men tend to break down along a “bad boy/sophisticated man” line. Occasionally they even break down in the same song — like Block B’s “Jackpot,” the video for which sees the band posing as wildly varied members of a renegade circus, uniting to kidnap actress Kim Sae-ron into a life of cheerful hedonism.

David Volodzko wrote in Global Post: “Korean ladies, despite being among the world’s most educated, are objectified, vilified and legally enslaved by a multibillion dollar industry that manufactures outrageous profit from their exploitation. Male stars are certainly exploited, too. But female artists suffer heavy double standards, especially when it comes to pay and the way their personal lives are judged. “Most K-pop videos portray women as sex objects and that includes all the female K-pop singers and groups, too,” Kevin Cawley, professor of East Asian studies at University College Cork in Ireland, told Global Post. Many have cosmetic surgery and dance provocatively, but are “still expected to adhere to outdated Confucian norms about sexual conduct in their private lives while men can do as they please.”[Source: David Volodzko, Global Post, April 25, 2016]

Romano wrote: “Male performance groups are generally permitted a broader range of topics than K-pop’s women: BTS notably sings about serious issues like teen social pressures, while many other boy bands feature a wide range of narrative concepts. But male entertainers get held to arguably even more exacting physical and technical standards than their female counterparts, with precision choreography — like Speed’s all-Heely dance routine — being a huge part of the draw for male idol groups.”

Good Looks and K-Pop

John Seabrook wrote in The New Yorker: ““Good looks are a K-pop artist’s stock-in-trade. Although some of the idols are musicians, K-pop artists rarely play instruments onstage. Where K-pop stars excel is in sheer physical beauty. Their faces, chiselled, sculpted, and tapering to a sharp point at the chin, Na’vi style, look strikingly different from the flat, round faces of most Koreans. Some were born with this bone structure, no doubt, but many can look this way only with the help of plastic surgery. Korea is by far the world leader in procedures per capita, according to The Economist. Double-fold-eyelid surgery, which makes eyes look more Western, is a popular reward for children who get good marks on school exams. The popularity of the K-pop idols has also brought Chinese, Japanese, and Singaporean “medical tourists” to Seoul to have their faces altered to look more like the Korean stars. [Source: John Seabrook, The New Yorker, October 8, 2012]

Dong Sun-hwa wrote in the Korea Times: The members of Red Velvet, Girls’ Generation and Blackpink have the most requested looks for women seeking plastic surgery. Previously, South Korean actresses such as Song Hye-kyo, Kim Tae-hee, Han Ye-seul were more popular. “Irene from Red Velvet is No 1, with Yoona of Girls’ Generation and Jennie of Blackpink second and third respectively,” surgeon Kim Jong-myung said on the TV talk show Video Star. “Irene boasts a face with clear-cut features and Yoona is the all-time beauty. Jennie has a unique aura.” [Source: Dong Sun-hwa, Korea Times, May 9, 2019]

David Volodzko wrote in Global Post: ““They asked me to sing, and I’m not the best singer,” ex-TAHITI member Sarah Wolfgang, formerly known as Hanhee, said of her recruitment in a recent interview. But that doesn’t matter in K-pop, she added, because “everything can be touched up.” During a May 2014 Reddit AMA, when asked if she liked K-pop, Wolfgang replied, “I hate it. No one is an actual artist.” She also pointed out that songs, dance routines and clothes are handed to performers who have “little to no artistic input,” and that fans favor certain groups because of their look, “not because they are talented.” But in the Plasticine world of K-pop, looks are just as manufactured as talent: Before their formal debut, both male and female artists are often forced to undergo cosmetic surgery. Fresh-faced ingénues can decline, but unless they work for YG Entertainment — which forbids its girl groups from going under the knife — opting out of surgery is tantamount to opting out of the industry. As Patricia Marx of the New Yorker puts it, Korean pop culture “shapes not only what music you should listen to but what you should look like while listening to it.” According to the BBC, 50 percent of South Korean women in their 20s have now had cosmetic surgery.” [Source: David Volodzko, Global Post, April 25, 2016]

Girl’s Generation

Nine-member Girls’ Generation — Tiffany, Yoona, Sooyoung, Taeyeon, Hyoyeon, Sunny, Seohyun, Yuri, and Jessica — was the dominant K-Pop girl group in the late 2000s and early 2010s. The group debuted in 2007 had a breakout hit with "gee" in 2009 that transformed them into one of the biggest K-pop acts, with particularly large following in China and Japan In 2010, they were placed on the cover Nikkei, the Japanese business magazine, with the suggestion that maybe were the next Samsung. In 2014, Jessica was kicked out reducing the group to eight members.

According to the group’s promotional material: “Each member of Girls' Generation adds her own brilliant hue to the vibrant creativity of this multi-faceted band. One minute coyly taking the stage in a rainbow of skinny jeans and the next minute dressed in military-type outfits and showing off their legs through powerful, controlled dance moves — these girls can do it all! Whatever the concept, Girls' Generation adds their own unique style, making each album a bit hit and spreading Girls' Generation fever across the globe. As the leading girl group in Asia, Girls's Generation has enjoyed tremendous popularity not only in Korea but also in Japan and Taiwan, setting the global standard for girl idol groups.

Girls' Generation (also known as SNSD) won the Artist of the Year (Daesang) awards at the Golden Disk Awards for two consecutive years (2009 and 2010) and were the first Korean girl group to make it to #1 on Japan's Oricon weekly album chart and the first overseas group to top the best-selling albums list in Japan. Girls' Generation is widely recognized for their talent both in Korea and abroad. Its members have appeared in various shows, dramas, radio programs, and commercials, winning the hearts of men and women of all ages. The group's 2009 hit single 'Gee' holds the record for being the longest running No.1 song on KBS Music Bank. Other hit songs include 'Girls' Generation,' 'Kissing You,' 'Tell me your wish,' 'Oh!,' 'Run Devil Run,' and 'Hoot.'

Girl’s Generation Members

John Seabrook wrote in The New Yorker: “Girls’ Generation has two members, Tiffany and Jessica, who were born and reared in California. Tiffany, who was born in San Francisco and grew up in Los Angeles, was recruited at fifteen, while auditioning for a talent show, and brought to Seoul, where she trained in the idol-making system. Jessica, who was born in the same hospital as Tiffany, was discovered in Seoul at twelve. “I didn’t really audition,” she told me. “I went to Korea to meet my dad’s side of the family, and I was shopping, and one of the agents saw me, and picked me and my sister together.” Her sister, Krystal, was seven at the time; now she’s a member of the group f (x). In Seoul, both Tiffany and Jessica attended an international school by day; after school, they reported to S.M., where they trained until ten, and then they had to do homework. Jessica’s training lasted for seven years. [Source: John Seabrook, The New Yorker, October 8, 2012]

Yoona became widely known to the Korean public, especially among those in their middle ages, after her portrayal of Jang Sae-byeok, a positive and optimistic character, in the KBS drama You are my destiny (2008). In recognition of her talent not only as a singer, but also as an actress she was awarded the 'Best New Actress Award' and the 'Netizen Award' during the 2008 KBS Drama Awards and the 'Best New Actress Award' and the 'Popularity Award' during the 2009 Baeksang Arts Awards.; Date of Birth: May 30, 1990; Blood Type: B; Height: 166 centimeters.

Sooyoung had been a member of the duo 'Route 0' in Japan in 2002 ; before making her debut in Girls' Generation. Thanks to her fluent Japanese, she has been instrumental in facilitating Girls' Generation's activities in Japan. Sooyoung hosted the MBC TV children's game show Fantastic Duo and has proved to be a talented entertainer in sitcoms, movies, and fashion shows.; Date of Birth: February 10, 1990; Blood Type: O; Skills/Hobbies: Japanese; Height: 170 centimeters.

Hyoyeon is an exceptional dancer, Hyoyeon takes center stage during Girls' Generation's lively dances with her strong and powerful movements. In contrast to her intense charisma on stage, on entertainment programs she captivates fans with her bright personality and her quirky charms.; Date of Birth: September 22, 1989; Blood Type: AB; Skills/Hobbies: Dance; Height: 160 centimeters.

Yuri is known for her lively personality and her tan, healthy glow. Before her debut with Girls' Generation, she appeared in numerous commercials, magazines, music videos, and movies. She showed her witty side as the talented host of MBC's Music Core and also took part in the KBS entertainment program Invincible Youth.; Date of Birth: December 5, 1989; Blood Type: O; Skills/Hobbies: Swimming; Height: 167 centimeters.

Taeyeon is often thought of as the group's best singer, thanks to her rich and soothing voice that is as powerful as it is unique. Taeyeon participated in the making of the OST for the Korean drama Hong Gil Dong, the Hero and the song 'Can you hear me' for the drama Beethoven Virus. She was also the lead actress in the musical Midnight Sun, showing a new side of herself to her many fans. Recently, she has been gaining popularity thanks to her friendly face and personality.; Date of Birth: March 9, 1989; Blood Type: O; Skills/Hobbies: Chinese; Height: 162 centimeters.

Tiffany introduces herself as 'Tiffany, brighter than a jewel.' Her smiling moon-shaped eyes and her warm personality seem to spread her perpetual good mood to everyone around her. One of the hosts of the music program Sonyeon Sonyeo Gayo Baekseo (KM), Champagne (KBS) and Show! Music Core (MBC), she is known for her singing abilities and fluent English.; Date of Birth: August 1, 1989; Blood Type: O; Skills/Hobbies: English, playing flute; Height: 162 centimeters.

Sunny is bright and full of charm and affectionately called the 'Vitamin of Girls' Generation.' She is experienced in the entertainment field and has co-hosted a DMB radio program with Sungmin of Super Junior and hosted numerous TV music programs. In 2009, she starred in the KBS program Invincible Youth and won the hearts of TV viewers with her can-do spirit and adaptability in the face of rural life.; Date of Birth: May 15, 1989; Blood Type: B; Skills/Hobbies: Exercise; Height: 158 centimeters.

Seohyun is the youngest of the Girls' Generation members. She has an innocent image, but demonstrates a surprising level of maturity as a singer. Seohyun starred in MBC's We got Married Season 2 (which ran for over a year) as the virtual wife of CNBlue's Jung Yong-hwa. She was also featured in TVXQ's song 'Journey' for the repackaged album, 'Keep Your Head Down.'; Date of Birth: June 28, 1991; Blood Type: A; Skills/Hobbies: Playing piano; Height: 168 centimeters.

Girl’s Generation Awards, Promotions and Advertising Gigs

Girl’s Generation served as ambassadors for the Seoul City Government, the Girl Scouts, Incheon Airport Customs, the Incheon World Ceramics Festival and the '2010-2012 Visit Korea Year' . The group has performed at the Thailand Papaya Music Festival and Japan Fuji TV's 'FNS Music Festival'. It has done promotional work for Samsung's 'Hahaha Campaign', the Daum internet portal, worldwide Intel brand and Vita 500 of Gwangdong Pharmaceuticals. Their first photo album was 'Girls (in Tokyo)'. After that the group launched 'All About Girls' Generation "Paradise in Phuket"' DVD Girls' Generation's 1st Asia concert tour was called 'Into the New World'. Their First Japanese tour: was 'Girls' Generation Arena Tour 2011'

Girl’s Generation has served as a commercial model for Elite school uniforms, viliv multimedia, Gupne Chicken, New Ellesse, Haitai's Sunkist Sweet Ade, Samsung Anycall Haptic, Binggrae's banana-flavored milk, Dongseo's Post Cranberry Almond Granola, LG Electronics' CYON new chocolate phone, Shinhan Card, Samyang Ramyeon, Korea' Nintendo DSi, Caribbean Bay Water Park, Dominos Pizza, Samsung Electronics in China, Japan UHA Mikakuto e-ma Nodoame (candy), Woongjin's water purifier and Lipton in Japan

2007 14th Annual Korean Entertainment Arts Awards - Best New Female Group; Foreign Press Club - Foreign Promotion Award; 15th Korea Most Popular Entertainer Awards - New Generation Rookie Award; 22nd Golden Disk - Rookie Award, Popularity Award; SBS Inkigayo Mutizen Song – 'Girls' Generation' (2 times); 2008 17th Seoul Music Awards - Best Newcomer Award and High1 Music Award; 2009 Korea Golden Disk Award - Digital Music Daesang Award; Melon Music Awards - This Year's Artist Award, This Year's Song Award, TOP10 Bonsang Award, Mobile Music Award, Smart Radio Award, Odyssey Award; Korea National Assembly Award Ceremony - This Year's Pop Music Award; MBC Entertainment Awards - Special Award in musician category; 2010 16th Korea Entertainment Art Award - Female Group Award; 19th High1 Seoul Music Award - Daesang Award, Bonsang Award, Digital Music Award; Korea Golden Disk Award - Daesang Award in disk category, Bonsang Award, Popularity Award; KBS Music Bank - Year-end Overall K-Chart #1; Japan TBS 52nd Japan Record Award - New Artist Award; KBS Music Festival - Top Korean Pop Song #1; Bugs Music Award - This Year's Song, This Year's Idol, This Year's #1 Music Video; Melon Music Awards - Artist Award, Hot Trend Award, TOP 10; Korea Gallup Poll - This Year's Musician Award, Top Popular Song #1 (2 consecutive years); Korea Pop Music Award - This Year's Song Award, Netizen popularity Award; 2010 Korea Advertising Awards - Top Commercial Model Award; KBS Music Bank First-half Integrated K-chart #1; 22nd PD Awards – Musician Award; 2011 20th High1 Seoul Music Award - Hallyu Special Award, Bonsang Award, Popularity Award, Daesang Award; Japan Record Association, 25th Japan Golden Disk Award - This Year's New Artist Award; 2nd Korea Seoul Culture & Arts Award - Daesang Award in pop music category; #1 in Forbes Korea 'Korea's Power Celebrities 40'.

Girls' Generation Songs

On Girls’ Generation 2009 hit ‘Gee’, Jon Caramanica wrote in the New York Times: “There can be a saccharine sweetness to K-pop, and bubble gum is an aesthetic the genre doesn’t shy away from. This is often found in its purest form in girl groups. In the last decade, few have been more popular or influential than Girls’ Generation. The aerobic “Gee” is one of its early hits.” [Source: Jon Caramanica, New York Times, February 7, 2018]

Discography: 2007 August, 2007 'Into the New World' (Single album); November, 2007 'Girls' Generation' (1st album); 2009 January, 2009 'Gee' (Mini album); June, 2009 'Genie' (Mini album); 2010 January, 2010 'Oh!' (2nd album); March, 2010 'Run Devil Run' (Repackaged 2nd album); October, 2010 'HOOT' (Mini album)

Girl’s Generation Hits: M-Countdown #1 – 'Into the New World'; M-Countdown #1 – 'Girls' Generation'; SBS Inkigayo Mutizen Song – 'Kissing You' (2 times); KBS Music Bank #1 – 'Kissing You'; M-Countdown #1 – 'Kissing You' (2 times); M-Countdown #1 – 'Baby Baby'; KBS Music Bank K-Chart #1 – 'Gee' (#1 for 9 consecutive weeks, a new record); Inkigayo Mutizen Song – 'Gee' (Triple Crown); KBS Music Bank K-Chart #1 – 'Tell me your wish'; SBS Inkigayo Mutizen Song – 'Tell me your wish' (2 times); KBS Music Bank K-Chart No. 1 – 'Oh!' (#1 for 5 consecutive weeks); SBS Inkigayo Mutizen Song – 'Oh!' (2 times); Gaon Chart – 'Gee' #1 2009 Digital Music Award; KBS Music Bank K-Chart #1 – 'Run Devil Run' (2 times); SBS Inkigayo Mutizen Song – 'Run Devil Run' (2 times); KBS Music Bank K-Chart #1 – 'Hoot' (5 times); SBS Inkigayo Mutizen Song – 'Hoot' (3 times)

Girl’s Generation Sound and Image

August Brown wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “For years, Korean pop lived in the shadow of Japan's hyper-kinetic music and fashion scene... But in 2009, one single instantly transformed the country's role in the Asian pop landscape. Girls' Generation's "Gee" was the K-pop equivalent of Elvis walking into Sun Studios: It drew the blueprint for a culture to come. The song, written by the South Korean duo E-Tribe, used double-time electronic drums, fluorescent synthesizers and a cute-cloying repetition of the song's title. It's so insistent and poppy, it's almost avant-garde. "It's just really good pop music. It's very hooky and fast and just doesn't sound like Western pop," said James Brooks of electronica band Elite Gymnastics, who wrote an essay on K-pop for the influential music website Pitchfork. [Source: August Brown, Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2012]

“The track stormed Asia — the official version of the video where the nine girls dance around a clothing store clocking in at just over 70 million plays on YouTube. The song topped South Korean pop charts for two months and made Girls' Generation the first non-Japanese Asian girl group to top Japan's singles charts. It also set a template that, alongside a broad array of peer acts like the more rap-inclined 2NE1 and dance-heavy group Wonder Girls, suggested that South Korea's pop music culture was coming into its own.

John Seabrook wrote in The New Yorker: I was watching the show from beside the stage when the nine members of Girls’ Generation came out, in bluejeans and white T-shirts, to perform “Gee.” The whole place shouted the hook: “Geegeegeegeebabybaby.” Whenever a song ended, the Girls deployed around the stage. At one point, Sooyoung came to where I was standing and began frantically winking and waving her way through the crowd, wearing a blissful smile and shaking her glossy hair. She was no longer the cold idol I had encountered in the press room but a super cheerleader. It was just as Jon Toth had said it would be: the Girls had come to see us.

“But after the Girls left the stage the concert flagged a bit, and I found myself wondering why overproduced, derivative pop music, performed by second-tier singers, would appeal to a mass American audience, who can hear better performers doing more original material right here at home? The Girls’ strenuous efforts notwithstanding, the mythical mélange of East and West remained elusive.” [Source: John Seabrook, The New Yorker, October 8, 2012]

Jessica Kicked Out of Girls' Generation

In 2014, Jessica was thrown out of Girls' Generation. AFP reported: “One of K-pop's marquee acts, has kicked out one of its star members, sending shockwaves through the group's devoted fan base in South Korea, Asia and beyond. Jessica Jung, a prominent member of the nine-girl act that has toured to packed stadiums around the world, said she had been "shockingly" informed by her eight colleagues and agency that she was no longer part of the band. "I am devastated — my priority and love is to serve as a member of GG but for no justifiable reason, I am being forced out," the 25-year-old wrote on her microblogging Weibo account. [Source: Agence France-Presse, September 30, 2014]

“Her agency SM Entertainment insisted Jessica had expressed an intention to quit earlier this year to focus on her newly launched fashion business. "As the band had conflicting priorities and interests and Jessica started her own fashion business ... we came to a conclusion that we can no longer continue the band like this," SM said in a statement. "We made a decision on her departure earlier than originally planned," it said, without going into detail.

“The agency stressed that Girl’s Generation would keep going with the remaining eight members. The news made headlines in South Korea and immediately began trending on social networks as messages poured in from devastated fans. "They kept saying that they were like families and they would sing and stick together until they became grannies," said one disillusioned fan. "But they were just business partners after all." A Korean-American, who was born and raised in San Francisco, Jessica launched her own fashion line "BLANC" in August 2014.


2NE1 is a girls group comprised of Park Bom, Lee Chaerin (CL), Gong Minji (Minzy) and Sandara Park (Dara). Their single "I Am the Best" was a smash. Their second album, Crush, hit the top ten on the American iTunes chart earlier this year. of the Black Eyed Peas worked on 2NE1's American debut album. Their music was used in a Microsoft Surface commercial.

On 2NE1's 2011 single ‘I Am the Best’, Jon Caramanica wrote in the New York Times: “A postcard from the moment when K-pop, which had been reliably indebted to other countries’ sounds, was beginning to embrace excess as its own style. The girl group 2NE1 was a potent force, almost ruthlessly modern, and “I Am the Best” encapsulated its high-grade attitude. [Source: Jon Caramanica, New York Times, February 7, 2018]

CL of 2NE1 is known making her colorful outfit match with here hair. On the group’s wardrobe, Kathleen Lee Joe wrote in “With their fearless sense of fashion, the quartet kick it on stage in Jeremy Scott's winged sneakers, neon blue hair extensions and that blinged-out dental accessory loved by RiRi, Bey and Miley, custom-fit grills. Check out leader singer CL's video for 'The Baddest Female'. An exercise in fashion one-uppery, it features over ten costume changes courtesy of Adidas, Hermés, Versace and Tom Ford, among others. [Source: Kathleen Lee Joe., June 9, 2014]

2NE1's Park Bom confirmed that she smuggled “psychotherapy drugs” into South Korea from 2008 to 2014. While she claims that she thought the pills were legal in South Korea, the drugs were found hidden inside a teddy bear. Emily Singh wrote in Korea Expose: “In 2014, pop star Park Bom, of the group 2NE1 made headlines with her alleged drug usage back in October 2010. The singer had ordered 82 amphetamine pills labelled ‘gummy bears’ from the U.S. and dispatched them to her grandmother’s address in the port city of Incheon near Seoul. The police verified that she had taken only 4 of the pills, the singer pleaded for leniency based on her prior use of the medication while residing in the U.S., and eventually her case was dropped. But much controversy trailed Park, owing to the public’s lack of knowledge of and demonization of narcotics. The media and the public were quick to denounce Park as a ‘drug addict.’ [Source: Emily Singh, Korea Expose, October 21, 2016]

Wonder Girls and Their Effort to Find Success in the U.S.

The Wonder Girls were among te first K-Pop groups to be promoted to American audiences They were the first K-Pop group to crack the Billboard Hot 100 chart. They did in it in 2009 with their crossover hit “Nobody” — released in four different languages, including English. Wonder Girls spent two years living and working largely in America and toured with the Jonas Brothers. They broke up in 2017.

Wonder Girls were for a while JYP’s most successful girl group. John Seabrook wrote in The New Yorker: “In their video “Nobody,” they wear shimmering dresses and bouffant hairdos — Korea’s answer to the Supremes. Out of costume and without makeup, they were almost unrecognizable. They sat at a conference table, with Sohee, who looked very tired, in the middle. We talked a lot about jet lag. Sunye, sitting on Sohee’s left, looked at the clock on the wall, which read 5 P.M. “This time of day is the worst!” she declared....The Wonder Girls, who used to be the biggest girl group in K-pop, spent two years in New York trying, unsuccessfully, to break into the American market, while they were eclipsed at home by Girls’ Generation. Several people I met at the agencies cited this as a cautionary tale. [Source: John Seabrook, The New Yorker, October 8, 2012]

Wonder Girls and Girls’ Generation” became “so popular in Cambodia and Thailand” that a lot of fans and local singers there” were “imitating them. There were reports that Wonder Girls members were kept in isolation and denied medical during a North American tour but the band denied the claims. Later, Sunmi, a former member of Wonder Girls, according to Vox, tore “down her own carefully cultivated public image in her single “Heroine,” a song about a woman surviving a failed relationship. In the video, Sunmi transforms physically, growing more empowered and defiant as she faces the camera and finally confronts a billboard of herself.”

Wonder Girls’ were produced by singer and songwriter, Park Jin Young (JYP). His company, JYP Entertainment achieved international attention after producing hugely successful sensations, ‘Rain’ and ‘g.o.d.’. The group attracted worldwide attention when well-known American celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton, posted a clip from the music video, “Nobody” on his entertainment website. In addition, the British entertainment media company, Virgin Media, selected the Wonder Girls as one of the ‘Top 8 Girl Groups to Watch Worldwide’.

The group consists of five members: Sun-ye, Ye-eun, Yu-bin, Hye-lim and So-hee. The Wonder Girls officially debuted on Feb. 10, 2007 on MBC's "Show! Music Core" and after winning many televised music competitions, the “Wonder Girls sensation” took off. The Wonder Girls’ made their debut with their first single, “Irony” but struck it big the song “Tell me”. They have scored three consecutive number one hit singles with "Tell Me", "So Hot", and "Nobody". Dovetailing with “Tell Me,” the group began appearing in numerous TV shows and commercials. They also have their own cosmetics brand, “Wonder Girls Cosmetics” which is popular among their fans. In the spring of 2010, the Wonder Girls were the first Korean musicians to tour in the US, covering 20 major American cities. They rose to the No. 16 on's 2010 list of top stars under 21 years old. "Nobody" became an international hit single on Youtube, drawing a large audience in Asia, South America, and Europe. The Wonder Girls followed with a successful showcase in various regions in Asia.

According to the groups website: Fans can join “Wonderful” by registering at the club’s official Daum café website. Becoming an official fan is actually quite competitive, since JYP Entertainment only selects a limited number of people every year. Those not selected as official fans can always be a part of the action through the Wonder Girls website. Also, many concert goers wave pearly wine-colored balloons and transparent pink wands to show their devotion to the band.”

Wonder Girls Members

Min Sun-ye was the leader of the Wonder Girls and was first discovered in the mid 2000s on a SBS national talent show. She leads by example, not skipping a single dance or singing lesson. This dedication impressed Park Jin Young, and has led to great confidence and in Sun-ye to represent the group. Before their debut, Park once said Sun–ye was the only member of the group who was unquestionably ready. Sun-ye lost her mother when she was young and her father suffered from health problems. She grew up with her grandmother, who she has shown strong affection for in many interviews. It is well known that she bought her grandmother a home in 2009. Sun-ye has an outgoing personality and her favorite foods are ice cream and Tteokbokki. Date of birth: August 12, 1989; Blood type: A; Height: 160 centimeters. Weight: 45kilograms; Talents: Piano; Hobbies: Watching movies, working out; Education: Currently on leave from the Division of Performing Arts, Dongguk University

Hye-lim replaced Sunmi and became the newest member of The Wonder Girls in 2010. A JYP trainee since 2007, she is fluent in English, Korean, and Cantonese. She grew up in Hong Kong and her English name is Christina. She appeared as Lim in a video of the Chinese version of The Wonder Girls, which was released in early January 2010 on Daum TV pot and Her powerful dance and vocals drew much attention at the time. Her cute image earned her the nickname, Xiao Ping Guo, or small apple, in China. Birth Name: Woo Hye-lim; Date of birth: September 1, 1992; Blood type: O; Height: 164 centimeters. Weight: 46kilograms; Talents: Chinese language; Hobbies: Dancing; Education: Applied Music Department, Lila Art High School

Ahn So-hee So-hee starred in a minor short film while still in elementary school. She is known as a talented actor and singer. In 2007, she fulfilled one of her childhood dreams by starring in the movie “I Like it Hot.” Her cute nickname, “dumpling” comes from her plump cheeks, and fans also love her flair for fashion. Date of birth: June 27, 1992; Blood type: AB; Height: 165 centimeters. Weight: 43kilograms; Talents: Taekwondo; Hobbies: Reading,

Ye-eun was a member of the choir and dance club at her high school. In 2007, she was spotted at the MTV “UCC Star Competition.” Although she was the last member to join, she demonstrated her dedication to the group by practicing above and beyond what was asked of her. Park speaks highly of her in interviews and believes she is talented enough to produce a solo album one day. Birth Name: Park Ye-eun; Date of birth: May 26, 1989; Blood type: AB; Height: 165 centimeters.; Weight: 47kilograms; Talents: Singing; Hobbies: Reading the Bible; Education: Currently on leave from the Postmodern Music Department, Kyung Hee University

Kim Yu-bin was born in Gwangju, Jeollanam-do Province and has lived in the U.S. for more than two years. She was with the Good Entertainment Company before debuting with the Wonder Girls. Although her original management was behind Shinhwa and other Korean superstars, financial setbacks affected the release of her initial debut. However, when Hyun-a had to leave due to health issues, Yu-bin auditioned with JYP to replace her. She is now the lead rapper in the group and is also well known for her stunning looks. She also appeared in Shinhwa’s music video “Once In A Life Time” in 2006.. Date of birth: October 4, 1988; Blood type: O; Height: 163 centimeters. Weight: 45kilograms; Talents: Water sports (Swimming, Scuba diving, etc) Hobbies: Listening to music, collecting CDs; Education: Currently on leave from the Department of Performing Arts, Myungji University


KARA was a Korean girls' group heavily marketed in Japan and perhaps known best for they way they turned their backs to audience a rotated their butts together in perfect synch. After entering the Japanese market in August 2010, KARA was selected as the best new artist of the year on RecoChoku, a Japanese mobile music site. The group is active in both Korea and Japan and also is scheduled to make appearances in Japanese dramas.

Kara was a five-member girl group whose name taken from the Greek word for “sweet melody.” The group made its debut with the album [Blooming] in March 2007. Members include: Park Gyu-ri, Han Seung-yeon, Goo Ha-ra, Nicole, and Kang Ji-young. The group combines hip dance styles from Euro dance pop, electronic dance, and alternative rock. Their hit songs include ‘Break It’, ‘Pretty Girl’, ‘Lupin’, and ‘Jumping’.

Kamilia is KARA's official fan club. The name combines KARA and the latin word familia, and stands for KARA's family of supporters. The fan club's official colors and cheering gear include: light pink (pearl peach) balloons, towels, Varsity letter jackets, and glow sticks. Kara was together for nearly a decade. One of group’s biggest songs, “Step,” garnered nearly 100 million views on YouTube.

Commercials and advertising: 1) "Lemona" ad for Kyung Nam Pharmaceuticals; 2) Cosmetics ad for Etude; 3) Ramyeon ad for Ottogi; 4) "Grilled chicken" ad for Jinjin Food System; 5) shoes multishop Lesmore; 6) Han Seung-yeon in Samsung commercial ; 7) Fashion ad for Warner Brothers' Tweetie; 8) Dmaris, a dining franchise; 9) Crown Bakery; 10) Free Style, an online basketball game; 11) Pizzaetang; 12) Missha A'Pieu; 13) Ambassador for National Election Commission; 14) Lotte "Pepero"; 15) Samsung Pavv; 16) Samsung Dugeundugeun campaign; 17) Thai cosmetics brand “Mistine”; 17) fashion brand "ASK”; 18) footwear "BearPaw"

Kara was managed by D.S.P., one of the smaller agencies, John Seabrook wrote in The New Yorker: “In February, 2011, three members of KARA filed a lawsuit claiming that, even though the group earned the agency hundreds of thousands of dollars, each member was paid only a hundred and forty dollars a month. The agency disputed that figure, and eventually the two sides settled.” [Source: John Seabrook, The New Yorker, October 8, 2012]

Kara Members

Park Gyu-ri; Nationality: Korean; Position: Lead vocalist and Group Leader; Bio: Park Gyu-ri has a mature and charming appearance. She started her entertainment career as a child actress with her first appearance in the 1995 MBC drama . Additional credits include appearances in SBS's drama . In addition to being a member of KARA, she is also an MBC radio show host. Her motto is to think positively and do her best at every moment. Date of birth: May 21, 1988; Education: Department of Broadcast Entertainment, Dongduk Women's Univ. (currently enrolled); Blood type: AB; Height: 162 centimeters; Hobbies: Enjoys reading and watching movies; Talents: Singing and acting.

Han Seung-yeon; Nationality: Korean; Position: Vocalist; Bio: Han Seung-yeon is known for her charming smile. She first joined the entertainer industry in elementary school by appearing in almost 100 extra roles in TV programs including the MBC drama “Star in My Heart". After joining KARA in 2007, she appeared in various entertainment and variety shows as host or emcee, including MBC's “Han Seung-yeon's MSL Break", KMTV's “Children Singing Contest", and MBC's “I Love Pet” Date of birth: July 24, 1988; Education: Department of Theater and Film Studies, Kyunghee Univ. (currently on leave); Blood type: A; Height: 160 centimeters; Hobbies: Enjoys reading and listening to music; Talents: Singing and dancing

Nicole (Korean name: Jeong Yong-joo); Nationality: USA (Korean American); Position: Vocals, rap and lead dancer; Bio: Nicole's charm lies in her free spirit. Born in Glendale, California she came to Korea after debuting with KARA. While in school, she was an active student who loved dancing and performing. As a member of KARA, she appeared in various entertainment programs, including KBS2TV's “Star Golden Bell”, MBC's “On Sunday evening”, and Mnet's “Nicole's Fun Veterinary Science 101". Her motto is to live without regrets, work hard on stage, and share an honest side off stage. Date of birth: October 7, 1991; Education: Veterinary Science, Konkuk Univ. (completed short-term program); Blood type: A; Height: 165 centimeters; Hobbies: Playing violin and enjoying movies; Talents: Dancing

Goo Ha-ra; Nationality: Korean; Position: Vocals and dance; Bio: Goo Ha-ra has a cute face and soft image. She started her entertainment career as a member of KARA. Through appearances in Mnet's “Very doubtful casting Season 2", MBC's “On Sunday evening”, and KBS2TV's “Young Hearts Never Lose”, she became known for her honest and charming personality. Date of birth: January 13, 1991; Education: Media Visual Acting Department, Sungshin Women's Univ. (currently enrolled); Blood type: B; Height: 163 centimeters; Hobbies: Enjoys music and dancing; Talents: Singing and dance

Kang Ji-young; Nationality: Korean; Position: Backup vocals; Bio: Kang Ji-young is the youngest KARA member. She is loved for her cute and lively image. In entertainment programs, she is known to present an honest and tomboyish style. She has been the host of an Mnet radio show since March 2010 and is now working to develop her talents as an multi-facted entertainer. Date of birth: January 18, 1994; Education: Attends Muhak Girl High School; Blood type: O; Height: 167 centimeters; Hobby: Enjoys movies and listening to music; Talent: Singing

Goo Hara Found Dead at Age 28

In November 2019, just six weeks after Sulli’s death, her close friend Goo Hara, member of K-pop group KARA, was found dead in her home in Seoul. She was 28. A maid reportedly found her unresponsive and called police, who said they found a handwritten note at her home. On the day before her death Hara posted an image of herself to Instagram, showing her staring at the camera from beneath blankets on her bed with a message of “Good Night.” Police say a note was found at the scene in which she expressed hopelessness. Goo and Sulli were close friends. Goo attempted to kill herself in May 2019 after an ex-boyfriend attempted to blackmail her with threats of assault and the release of a sex video. Amid the dispute, Goo’s agency terminated her contract. [Source: Daniella Scott, Cosmopolitan, November 28, 2019]

Daniella Scott wrote in Cosmopolitan: “Hara was a member of four-person K-pop group, KARA, which disbanded in 2016. Hara had since been working as a solo artist and appeared on a number of TV shows. The deaths of Hara and Sulli so close together have prompted people to question the reality of life for a K-pop star. Hara made headlines a number of times last year after an ex-boyfriend claimed she had assaulted him. She then accused him of threatening to release a sex tape of her. She was subject to a barrage of vicious messages and online abuse as a result of this dispute.

Goo dated hairdresser Choi Jong-Bum after the two first met on the set of the beauty TV program My Mad Beauty Diary. In September 2018, Choi broke into Goo's house drunk while she was sleeping and started an argument that escalated into violent assault, when he allegedly tried to break up with her. The police arrived at Goo's house after Choi reported her for assault. Goo claimed that the incident was two-sided and then both parties posted images of their injuries to the internet to explain their side of the story. During the incident, Goo suffered from uterus and vagina hemorrhage, and was also diagnosed with "cervical sprain", "facial contusions and sprain", "lower leg contusions and sprain", and "right forearm and additional sprains." Following this, Goo filed a lawsuit against Choi for threatening to release a sex video filmed without her consent in an attempt by him to end her career, and the sex video was submitted to the court per the judge's request, where it was confirmed privately by him. In August 2019, Choi was acquitted of the charge of filming the sex video without permission as the court agreed that the filming was done without her consent, but because she remained in the relationship they found him not guilty of illicit filming.However, he was sentenced to one year and six months in prison, suspended for three years of probation after being convicted of threatening to upload the sex video, coercing, physically assaulting, and destroying Goo's property. [Source: Wikipedia]


Blackpink is a four-member South Korean girl band comprised of Lisa, Jennie, Rosé, Jisoo. Their name is derived from the mixture of tough "black" and flirty "pink" of their songs. Formed by YG Entertainment under the in famous K-pop trainee system in South Korea, they became global K-Pop stars after the release of their June 2016 single "Boombayah." [Source: Erica Gerald Mason, People, December 15, 2020]

Erica Gerald Mason wrote in People: “Blackpink debuted in 2016 with the mini album Square One, which consisted of only two songs — "Whistle" and "Boombayah." The debut was heavily promoted in the K-pop scene as Blackpink was the first girl group from YG Entertainment in seven years. "Boombayah" galloped straight out of the gate to hit No. 1 on Billboard's World Digital Songs chart, and their popularity continued with additional releases in the following year. In 2018, Blackpink made headlines again with their single "Ddu-Du Ddu-Du" from the EP Square Up. A few months later, the group branched out by working with Dua Lipa on the track "Kiss and Make Up." YG Entertainment positioned Blackpink for a global market by partnering with Interscope Records and Universal Music Group in October 2018. In short order, Blackpink then focused on the U.S. market with performances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Good Morning America, and the 2019 Coachella music festival.”

Blackpink’s career began when the members auditioned with the YG entertainment agency “to become students or 'trainees' with the hope of one day making their debut as a recording artist. When Blackpink debuted, their label YG Entertainment said the name intends to convey that the group embodies more than beauty — there's a toughness, too. "The meaning of BLACKPINK aims to contradict the common perception of the color pink," the statement read. "Pink is commonly used to portray prettiness, but BLACKPINK actually means to say that 'Pretty isn’t everything.' It also symbolizes that they are a team that encompasses not only beauty, but also great talent."

“Between their debut in 2016 and the 2020 release of The Album, Blackpink released fewer than 22 songs, all singles. Despite the small discography, the group's glam look and fun choreography were quickly replicated by other K-pop groups and fans in their social media videos. The biggest part of Blackpink's popularity lies in their songs, which talk about independence and vulnerability, bilingual lyrics, and undeniable stage presence. Blackpink is also known for the styling of their videos, otherwise referred to as 'concepts' for each song. Where some K-pop videos might have two or three concepts in their music videos, Blackpink will often have five or six completely different concepts (complete with different hair colors and clothing) featured in their video.

Blackpink Members

Jisoo: Erica Gerald Mason wrote in People: Kim Jisoo is a singer, often referred to as "adorable" by BLINKs (the official name of Blackpink fans). She's known her steadiness and composure — and for balancing random objects on her head or shoulders — previous videos showed her with a cup or an award on her head. Jisoo acted in commercials prior to Blackpink, and was recently announced as a star of the new drama Snowdrop. Although she is the only member who does not speak English fluently, the singer speaks Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. During a 2019 appearance on The Late Show with James Corden, Jisoo's unflappable calm impressed the host. [Source: Erica Gerald Mason, People, December 15, 2020]

Jennie: Kim Jennie was in the trainee for just shy of six years — the longest of the members. Jennie lived in New Zealand before moving back to South Korea in 2010, and speaks fluent English, Korean, and Japanese. She was the first member of Blackpink to release an individual track, titled "SOLO."

“Rosé: Park Chaeyoung (Rosé) was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia — where she auditioned for YG Entertainment. Rosé is fluent in English and learned Korean after moving to South Korea to take part in the trainee program. She is the group's main singer, and fans claim her distinct voice is easy to recognize. On a promotional appearance for The Album, Rosé impressed fans (and Shakira herself) for her impressive take on the song "Waka Waka."

“Lisa:Lalisa Pranpriya Manoban is known for both her rap and dance skills. Born and raised in Thailand, Lisa (like Rosé) — learned Korean after moving to South Korea in 2011. Lisa also speaks English, Japanese, and Chinese. During promo appearances, Lisa often showcases her impromptu dancing skills, creating viral moments for the group.

Blackpink Music

Erica Gerald Mason wrote in People: For an introduction to Blackpink music, start with them at the beginning: their debut single "Boombayah." The video for the song has an upbeat and fun girls-night-out vibe (ending in a party at a retro rollerskating rink). The video offers viewers a peek at the group's impending stardom with sharp choreography and a flair for visuals. [Source: Erica Gerald Mason, People, December 15, 2020]

“Next, move on to "Ddu-Du Ddu-Du" - — the 2018 comeback single is a rapid-fire whirlwind of tough-girl cool; follow up with "Whistle," "As If It's Your Last," "Lovesick Girls," and "Playing With Fire," each of which have introspective melodies with lyrics full of love, eagerness, and passion. The track "Ice Cream," on the other hand, is a rare sexy song from the group, showcasing double entendre lyrics against a hypnotic beat. Check out the animated version of the video to see Blackpink rendered as Zepeto — an app that allows users to turn themselves into 3D animated characters.

“"Pretty Savage" and "Crazy Over You," songs from the band's new album, highlights the group's vocal prowess, with maple syrup smooth lyrics against a can't-get-it-out-of-your-head melody. "Bet You Wanna" featuring Cardi B, is a fun song for the brand, with bubblegum pop lyrics meant for summertime pool parties or dancing in the kitchen while you make dinner. End with fan favorites "Kill This Love" and "How You Like That" to see how the group has grown into its own: the two songs showcase girl power, sick beats, and in-your-face optimism.

Kat Moon of Time magazine wrote: The arrival of BLACKPINK’s first full-length album — so highly anticipated the project was simply titled The Album — was one of K-pop’s biggest news events in 2020. While the pre-release singles “How You Like That” and “Ice Cream” with Selena Gomez charted higher on the Billboard Hot 100, “Lovesick Girls” is the true gem on the album. The heavy electronic production characteristic of BLACKPINK’s crowd-riling bops remains intact, but it’s stripped back to accentuate sung melodies from the four members. Their voices are layered over acoustic guitar to create a breezy and mellow ambience, taking a more pensive and melancholic turn from the hard-hitting nature of the group’s 2018 and 2019 title tracks.” [Source: Kat Moon, Time, December 12, 2020]

Blackpink in Your Area

Erica Gerald Mason wrote in People: “The band's signature phrase, first uttered in their debut song "Boombayah," declares the group's global domination plan. With every new song, Blackpink teases snippets of new concepts, hair colors, and clothing. And boy, has the publicity has paid off. The group now has over 54 million subscribers on their YouTube channel — with the video for "Kill This Love" currently sitting at over 1.1 billion views. [Source: Erica Gerald Mason, People, December 15, 2020]

“Loyal fans count everything from each member's line distribution on songs to who keeps the center position in the choreography. Blackpink, eager to give the fans what they want, often upload practice videos of the group practicing their choreography. The practice video for "Lovesick Girls" has 96 million views at the time of this writing.

“Fans also flock to what's known as 'fancams' — concert videos that focus on one member of the group's performance. Search for 'Blackpink fancam' on YouTube, and you'll find dozens of videos from each of their live performances, each highlighting one member at a time. The popularity of Blackpink means new business ventures for its members: Jisoo has signed as a Dior ambassador, Jennie for Chanel, Rosé for Saint Laurent, and Lisa for Chloe.

“Netflix paired with Blackpink to air their documentary Light Up The Sky — a first look behind the scenes of the inner workings of the band. For a peek into the (almost) off-duty personality of the band, look for 'Blackpink 24 365' on YouTube. The program, the title of which is a reference to a line from their song "Whistle," is set in a Big Brother-type camera-outfitted house, is a hub where the bandmates live during the promotional periods surrounding new singles.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons.

Text Sources: South Korean government websites, Korea Tourism Organization, Cultural Heritage Administration, Republic of Korea, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Library of Congress, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, “Culture and Customs of Korea” by Donald N. Clark, Chunghee Sarah Soh in “Countries and Their Cultures”, “Columbia Encyclopedia”, Korea Times, Korea Herald, The Hankyoreh, JoongAng Daily, Radio Free Asia, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, BBC, AFP, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2021

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