MALE K-POP STARS, MASCULINITY AND SEXUALITY
Bora Kim, who was studying an MFA, started a K-pop group and explore "what K-pop and what K-pop fandom is" and investigate how K-pop has impacted views of Asian masculinity. "We were amazed how the concept of gender operates in K-pop boy bands," she wrote. "These boys are tailored to attract straight young females, originally, but the presentation of their sexuality is very complicated. A lot of people in the U.S., when encountering K-pop idol groups for the first time, express their confusion about the gender role and sexuality that these boys convey.“[Source: Roisin O'Connor, The Independent, April 18, 2017]
"For example, a young group of pretty boys with great skin start rapping in a hip-hop music video while wearing a lot of make-up. What does this mean? Who is the target audience? It is totally gender-bending and experimental, but, at the same time, it is very typical, mainstream K-pop. And the acceptance of this strangeness (in the eyes of Western audiences) started to happen when Korean economic prosperity reached a point where it was enough for the entertainment industry to produce high-quality pop culture products.
"Cultural barriers or mistranslation are overcome by the shiny framing/packaging of pop. And that’s where I want this project to go in the long run. The biggest obstacle is funding, of course, but I do want to have the language of the commercial in order to convince people and to get people’s attention and start the dialogue on the politics of our cultures."
Super Junior is a boy group that debuted in 2005 and became very big throughout Asia and ultimately found a big global audience. According to the group promotional material, Super Junior has catchy songs, spirited dance moves and a powerful stage presence that manages to combine each member’s individual charisma and energy for a fluid and unified performance. Super Junior’s fame continued to spread after the band went on tours through China, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan, and headlined SMTOWN concerts in LA and Paris. In the wake of the SMTOWN concerts in particular, a surprising number of fans across the world banded together to ask for Super Junior concerts in their own hometowns.
Super Junior goal has always been to become superstars not only as a singing group, but also as entertainers in each of their respective fields; acting, performing, MCing, music composing, modeling, etc. In addition to their activities as a group, Super Junior has also formed various subgroups to accommodate different musical genres; ‘Super Junior-K.R.Y.’, ‘Super Junior-T’, ‘Super Junior-M’, and ‘Super Junior-Happy.’ Moreover, the members of Super Junior have each made individual appearances on television and in other media outlets. Ever since releasing their first full-length album ‘Super Junior 05’ in December 2005, Super Junior has continued to produce hit songs such as ‘Twin,’ ‘Don’t Don,’ ‘Sorry Sorry,’ ‘Bonamana,’ and ‘Mr. Simple.’ T he dance song "Mi In Ah," or "Beautiful Person," a single from its fourth album, has spent a record 54 weeks at the top of the Taiwan charts.
Choi Si-won — Siwon — is one of the central figures in Super Junior Ju-min Park of Reuters wrote: “Choi, who was scouted in his first year of high school, has some experience himself of the harsh training methods the industry uses to produce its stars. "Dancing all night and then vocal lessons right after was hard and not unusual — but I enjoyed it. The whole process to raise stars is very systematic," he said. Typical of this was the decision by his management firm to send him to Beijing in 2004 so he could learn Chinese — and broaden his appeal. Two years later, he landed a role in a film called A Battle of Wits with Hong Kong actor Andy Lau. [Source: Ju-min Park, Reuters, June 16, 2011]
“Like many other K-Pop stars, Choi is now making the transition to television and South Korean dramas, another format that has swept Asia. He will star as the main character in a Taiwanese soap opera, "Extravagant Challenge," a love and revenge story based on a Japanese comic called Skip Beat, which will start in November. Another band member will also take part. A devout Christian who wants to be a missionary later in his life, Choi appears to be relishing his band's leap to global fame, including interacting with fans. "I'm not a native English speaker but do post tweets in English. But, interestingly, our fans are now learning Korean," he said, smiling.”
See Separate Articles on BIG BANG and BTS
Super Junior Members
Leeteuk; is not just Super Junior’s reliable leader, he has also established himself as an MC for numerous variety shows and TV programs. He has contributed greatly to spreading Super Junior’s popularity through various activities such as DJing. Starting in 2006, he began hosting the KBS radio show ‘Super Junior’s Kiss the Radio,’ which has grown to become one of the most-listened-to radio programs in the country. Date of Birth: July 1, 1983; Height: 178 centimeters; Blood type: A; Talents & interests: Listening to music, singing, composition, piano. While he was doing military service his father killed himself and his parents (Leeteuk’s grandparents), boh of whom suffered from dementia.
Heechul: is nicknamed the ‘universal star’. He has captured the hearts of fans worldwide with his talents as a singer, actor, DJ, and MC and his roles in the teen TV drama ‘Sharp 2’ (2005), and the SBS drama ‘Love You Ten Million Times’ (2009). He is seen as a truly versatile entertainer. Not only one of the main MCs for the SBS music program ‘Inkigayo’ (2007) and host of the MBC variety show ‘Radio Star’ (2010), Heechul was also the DJ of his very own radio program, ‘Kim Heechul’s Young Street,’ aired on SBS Power FM from 2010 to 2011. Date of Birth: July 10, 1983; Height: 179 centimeters; Blood type: AB; Talents & interests: Writing poems and children’s stories, playing video games.
Siwon has striking looks and intense charisma which add yet another compelling element to Super Junior’s charm. In recent years, Siwon has been drawing attention as a rising new actor (not just for his acting skills, but also thanks to his gorgeous face). After his appearance in the KBS drama ‘Eighteen, Twenty-Nine’ (2005), he was cast in the SBS drama ‘Oh My Lady!’ (2010), ‘Atena: Goddess of War’ (2010), and the KBS drama ‘Poseidon’ (2011). He has also appeared in various advertisements and fashion shows. Date of Birth: February 10, 1987; Height: 183 centimeters; Blood type: B; Talents & interests: Watching movies, playing drums, Taekwondo, Chinese, singing, dancing, acting.
Yesung has wide fan appeal thanks to his versatile skills — performing upbeat dance moves onstage, singing heartfelt tracks on OSTs, and revealing his off-the-wall charms on variety shows. Yesung has starred in the musicals ‘South Korean Mountain Fortress’ (2009), ‘Honggildong’ (2010), and ‘Spamalot’ (2010) and has recorded the song ‘It Has to be You’ for the KBS drama ‘Cinderella’s Sister’ (2010) and the track ‘Waiting for You’ for the SBS drama ‘Paradise Ranch’ (2011). Date of Birth: August 24, 1984; Height: 178 centimeters; Blood type: AB; Talents & interests: Singing, listening to music, playing video games, watching movies, reading, sports.
Shindong is always bursting with cheerful energy. Known as the former MC of the MBC children’s program ‘BoBoBo’ (2007-2009), he has also gained recognition for his acting skills through supporting roles in the KBS drama ‘Single Dad in Love’ (2008) and in the SBS drama ‘Dr. Champ’ (2010). Since 2008, he has hosted the MBC radio program ‘Stop the Boring Time’ for which he won the Radio Award at the 2009 MBC Drama Awards. Shindong was honored again for his talents in 2010 when he received the New Star Award at the SBS Entertainment Awards. Active onscreen and in various media outlets, Shindong attracts fans of all ages. Date of Birth: September 28, 1985; Height: 178 centimeters; Blood type: O; Talents & interests: Making various facial expressions, making jokes, dancing.
Sungmin does singing, acting, sports — you name it! There is nothing that this multifaceted member of Super Junior can’t do. In 2009, Sungmin appeared in the MBC variety show ‘Oppa Band’ and captivated audiences with his superb guitar skills and stunning looks. Following his success onscreen, he was cast in the KBS drama ‘President’ (2010). Despite his young age, Sungmin is a seasoned professional on the musical stage, playing the main lead in musicals ‘Akilla’ (2009), ‘Honggildong’ (2010), and ‘Jack the Ripper’ (2011). Date of Birth: January 1, 1986; Height: 175 centimeters; Blood type: A; Talents & interests: Watching movies, playing musical instruments, Chinese martial arts, acting..
Eunhyuk is a phenomenal dancer. He puts the passion into the bands’ choreography with striking dance movements that are as powerful as they are fluid. Eunyhuk, along with Leeteuk, co-hosted the KBS radio show ‘Super Junior’s Kiss the Radio,’ and is loved by fans all over the world for the wit he let loose on SBS variety shows ‘Strong Heart’ and ‘Star King.’ Date of Birth: April 4, 1986; Height: 176 centimeters; Blood type: O; Talents & interests: Sports, listening to music, dancing.
Donghae enjoyed a fresh burst of popularity among Taiwanese fans after appearing in the music videos of Taiwanese singers Ariel Lin and Zhang Liyin and being cast as one of the main characters of the Taiwanese drama ‘Extravagant Challenge’ (2011) along with fellow band member Siwon. In 2010, he starred in the SBS drama ‘It’s Okay, Daddy’s Daughter’ and contributed to the drama’s OST, receiving recognition for his music composition skills. Date of Birth: October 15, 1986; Height: 175 centimeters; Blood type: A; Hobbies & Talents: Sports, watching movies, dancing, singing.
Ryeowook has contributed greatly to the spread of Super Junior’s popularity in China, Taiwan, and Japan as a regular member of the band’s two subgroups, Super Junior-K.R.Y. and Super Junior-M. Beloved for his exquisite vocals, Ryeowoook has contributed to several drama OSTs, recording solo track ‘Smile Again’ for the MBC drama ‘My Sweet Home’ and ‘If You Love Me More’ for the KBS drama ‘Spy MyeongWol’. In 2011, he was cast as the lead in the musical ‘Temptation of Wolves’ and showed a whole new side of himself to his adoring public. Name: Ryeowook; Date of Birth: June 21, 1987; Height: 173 centimeters; Blood type: O; Talents & interests: Singing, music composition.
Kyuhyun is a notable singer with a sweet and tender voice. He has released a number of solo songs that have been used as main theme songs for such popular TV dramas ( (‘Pasta’ (MBC), ‘Baker King, Kum Tak Goo’ (KBS) and ‘President’ (KBS)). In 2010, he played the role of D’Artagnan in the musical ‘The Three Musketeers’ and in 2011, he appeared on the KBS variety show ‘Immortal Classics 2.’ With each new appearance, Kyuhun received a fresh wave of love and acclaim from audiences everywhere. Date of Birth: February 3, 1988; Height: 180 centimeters; Blood type: A; Talents & interests: Singing.
According to ranker: A teenaged Kyuhyun was s photographed on multiple occasions being surrounded by and drinking alcohol (in addition to a drinking selfie, tsk tsk). This bad boy has done a good job transforming himself into the goodie-two-shoes of Super Junior.” In 2009, Super Junior's Kangin was arrested for beating up a gas station attendant while drunk. A month after this crime, he was arrested again for a hit and run while driving under the influence.
Super Junior Makes a Splash in Paris
Ju-min Park of Reuters wrote: “Choi Si-won recalls that even on a rainy day, the Paris venue was bedlam, with thousands of screaming fans packing the street outside a concert hall. They were all hoping to catch a glimpse of Choi, one of the most popular members of Super Junior, currently South Korea's hottest boy-band, in the band's first concert venture in Europe. While the "Korean Wave" has swamped Asia, winning fans from Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur and beyond, it has had little impact in Europe so far — but that is about to change, the 25-year-old Choi told Reuters in an interview. "It wasn't just a concert in Europe. It was beyond the border, which gives me so much confidence and pride," Choi said after his return to Seoul. [Source: Ju-min Park, Reuters, June 16, 2011]
“He has a right to his feelings. The band's June 10 and 11 Paris concerts attracted 14,000 fans each night in the first European event put on by SM Entertainment, South Korea's leading band production house. Tickets sold out within minutes. Although that's still small change by the standards of divas such as Lady Gaga, Choi believes that Super Junior, whose 13 young male members perform highly choreographed songs and dances, can break onto the broader global stage. "We do have lots of songs composed by Europeans. And our fashionable and powerful performances are appealing," Choi said. "Paris was a new road for us. I hope the entire Korean culture like films can be enjoyed by many others."
Super Junior Promotes Its Hit Single ‘Mr.Simple’
Park Min-young wrote in the Korea Herald: “Super Junior announced their comeback with a fifth album to some 200 international press members gathered at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Nonhyeon-dong, southern Seoul. The new album, containing the track “Mr. Simple,” was released in 11 countries. The teaser of the title track exceeded 1 million views on YouTube in just two days since it was unveiled, proving the long anticipation of the fans during the K-pop group’s more than year-long hiatus. [Source: Park Min-young, Korea Herald, August 4, 2011]
“The boy band has been leading the recent K-pop craze worldwide. Other than participating in the first ever “SM Town in Paris” concert in June, the group recently finished its third Asia tour concert “Super 3”in 13 Asian cities. Their last title song, “Miina” topped Taiwan’s KKBOX for 61 consecutive weeks. Mirroring the popularity, press members from many Asian countries including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and China as well as South Korea attended the press conference. “We realize that we are making a comeback in a much bigger spotlight than before. It is burdensome but also exciting,” said Eunhyuk, a member of the K-pop group.
“The new album includes 13 songs of various genres like dance, pop ballad and R&B created by acclaimed composers and song writers such as Yoo Young-jin, Yoon Jong-shin, Kenzie and hitchhiker. The music video of “Mr. Simple” premiered at the press conference. The song maximizes Super Junior’s strong points. Some may think that it is similar to ‘Sorry Sorry’ and ‘Miina,” but it has a different charm once you hear it all. The point of the song is its lyrics. Many scary and difficult things happen these days. We hope the song can give you positive energy and help you keep things simple,” said Lee Teuk, leader of the group.
The group said it is planning to hold more shows in different countries with the new album to get closer with its increasing number of fans.
“We are planning on a world tour this time, not an Asia tour. We’d like to hold a concert in South America where we recently almost went but failed, and also in New York, our final goal, not by the name of SM Town but as Super Junior. If we could, we would also like to hold a show in Pyongyang,” said Lee, adding that he feels as if the group were a member of the national team.
The press conference, which included a Q&A session with international fans that sent in questions through UCC and Facebook, was broadcast live online.
Th eboy’s band SHINee has toured the U.S. with other groups and by itself. On their performance during a 2012 show in Anaheim, John Seabrook wrote in The New Yorker: “The boys were fun to watch — heavily made-up and moussed male androgynes doing strenuous rhythmic dances. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there is no way that a K-pop boy group will make it big in the States. The degree of artistic styling is much more Lady Gaga than Justin Bieber. Perhaps there is an audience of ten-to-twelve-year-old girls who could relate to these guys, but there’s a yawning cultural divide between One Direction, say, and SHINee. Still, the fans loved SHINee, especially when the boys distributed themselves around catwalks set up above the aisles and began greeting audience members with winks and waves. Then the crowd sound turned from a baying into a sort of keening — I had never heard that exact tone at a show before. [Source: John Seabrook, The New Yorker, October 8, 2012]
On the first North American tour they headlined they stopped in Dallas, Los Angeles and Canada as well as Hong Kong and Taipei "It was a once in a life-time opportunity I knew I would regret if I didn't take," Grant, 19, told CNN in Dallas. "My friends and family thought it was crazy at first, but after some convincing they all said it was kind of amazing that I would fly across the country just to see a concert." "'The thought of going to see our fans that have been supporting us from so far away made my heart flutter a bit," said band member Lee Tae-min, 23, known as "Taemin." [Source: Marian Liu, CNN, May 22, 2017]
Marian Liu of CNN wrote: “In Dallas and Los Angeles, Lee and the rest of SHINee band members spoke English between the songs, sharing how much they appreciated fans learning Korean and their own love for American food, like In-N-Out burgers Unlike the now typical mercurial K-pop bands, SHINee has been around for almost a decade, constantly evolving their look and sound. Fans, known as "Shawols," are drawn to SHINee for their dance choreography, along with their unique mix of R&B, electronica, rap and rock
“In the last year, several K-pop bands disbanded for various reasons, including scandal. But, one of the reasons for SHINee's longevity, said Shekar, is the group's "zero controversy ... Every member has held a pristine reputation and have earned themselves an incredible reputation with Korean and international fans." Los Angeles-based production company SubKulture Entertainment was able to almost sell out SHINee's US concerts by targeting fans online, like Grant who discovered SHINee through YouTube "Our customer base, like most millennials are very Internet savvy and acquire most of their information about K-pop via social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), which is where we like to focus the majority of our marketing efforts," said Subkulture Entertainment CEO Derek Lee
“But now in their 20s, SHINee members are growing out of their "boy band" and "Princes of K-pop" monikers. They are also near the age of military enlistment for South Korean males, a destiny that threatens to tear other bands like Big Bang apart And while SHINee declined to talk about the military, they do plan to perform in the U.S. again sometime soon “"We hope that through our tour, K-pop and K-pop concerts will continue to leave a mark on a market as big as the US," said Taemin
In December 2017, SHINee singer Jonghyun, whose real name was Kim Jong-hyun, ended his own life after bouts of depression.. In a note left behind, he said he was "consumed" by depression and that "the life of fame was not for me." In his final message to his friend he wrote: "I'm broken inside ... I'm completely alone ... I wanted someone to notice but no one knew. They haven't met me so of course they don't know that I even exist." [Source: Taryn Ryder, Yahoo Music, October 14, 2019; Jake Kwon, CNN, May 30, 2019]
2PM challenge the overly boyish image of boy bands in Korea with their strong visuals and performances. The appearance of the relatively rough-looking 2PM members on the Korean music scene has even led to the coining of a new term: ‘jimseungdol,’ meaning ‘beastly idol.’ Still they are no Rolling Stones and are closer to BTS than Big Bang. 2PM’s single album ‘Again & Again,’ was released in 2009 and achieved No. 1 on Thailand’s Channel V Chart. In 2010, the band went on tour in Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore. In December of 2010, the band made its debut in Japan and in May 2011, went on tour in Sapporo, Fukuoka, Osaka, and Tokyo.
2Pm is another JYP band. Their name was given to the band by its producer Park Jin-young to reflect the members’ passion and charisma, as 2PM (2:00 in the afternoon) is the most active and hottest time of the day. 2PM is comprised of 6 members: Taecyeon, Nichkhun, Wooyoung, Chansung, Junho, and Junsu. The band released its first single ‘Hottest Time of the Day’ in 2008 and is known for hits such as ‘10 Jeom Manjeome 10 Jeom’ (10 Points Out of 10 Points), ‘Again & Again,’ ‘Heartbeat,’ and ‘I’ll Be Back.’ Jin Kiyokawa wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “They’ve been dubbed the “hunkiest idols” in South Korean pop music. Their tough guy image has set hearts racing among fans here inundated with a barrage of sensitive, almost feminine male idols. But their success is not simply the result of adding some beefcake to the mix. The six membersare all talented dancers, songwriters and actors in their own right, and their gentle, laid-back personalities add to the charm. 2PM debuted in South Korea in 2008 and made an instant splash. In 2009, the group was named “Artist of the Year”–the top prize–at the Mnet Asian Music Awards. [Source: Jin Kiyokawa, Yomiuri Shimbun, December 9, 2011]
HOTTEST is the name of the official fan club of 2PM. The name was taken from the group's single album "Hottest Time of the Day" and reflects 2PM's hot and active music. Overseas Activities: 2008:; Nov. 4, 2008 – Invitational appearance at Singapore Korea Festival 2008 ; Nov. 27, 2008 – Invitational appearance at Mnet Japan K-pop Zone ; 2009; Mar. 5, 2009 – Guest appearance at The JYP Tour 2009 LA.OC,NY; Mar. 10, 2009 – Special guest appearance at MTV Iggy; Jun. 19, 2009 – 2PM Again & Again No. 1 on Thailand Channel V Chart; Jun. 25, 2009 – 2PM Thailand Special Album on sale; Jul. 2-8, 2009 – Thailand album sales showcase; Aug. 31, 2009 – Press conference for first commercial overseas; (Thailand Snack HANAMI) (31, Bangkok); Oct. 2009 – No. 1 overseas artists with the most album sales from Jan. to Sept. 2009 by Thailand IFPI ; Dec. 1, 2009 – Special guest appearance in Wondergirls' concert; ‘The 1st Wonder’ (Shanghai, China); 2010; Jun. 2010 – Guest appearance in Wondergirls' US Tour concert; 'Wonder World Tour' (up to 9th concert); Aug. 21, 2010 – MULA Concert: Taiwan; Nov. 13, 2010 - MULA Concert: Thailand; Dec. 4, 2010 - MULA Concert: Singapore; Dec. 8, 2010 - Japan Debut Showcase ‘2PM 1st contact in Japan’ (3 times); 2011; May 6-13, 2011 - Japan Tour Concert ‘1st Japan Tour- Take off’ (Sapporo, Fukuoka, Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo)
Commercials : 2008 - Elite school uniforms Chansung, Nichkhun and later 2PM; December 2008 - Fashion brand EXR; October 2009 – Thailand Suzuki Jelato (Nichkhun); November 2009 – Thailand snack brand Hanami , Beverage brand Santa Fe, Snack brand Market O, Mobile phone Anycall Corby, Bakery Paris Baguette January 2010 – Spris, Korean beer Cass and Coca Cola; Hanbul Cosmetics It’s Skin, Calvin Klein Jeans, Caribbean Bay, Minute Maid (Nichkhun), DK (Taecyeon), Coca Cola Zero (Chansung), Seoul Municipal Government, Overseas PR model (Except Nichkhun), OPPO Movil (Thailand), Bodeulbodeul Cheese Noodle (Nichkhun), Customize (Nichkhun), Baskin Robbins (Nichkhun), Thailand beverage BRAND’S (Nichkhun), NEPA (Outdoor clothing)
Taecyeon (Ok Taecyeon) is one of the key members of 2PM. Known for charismatic stage performances in which he even rips off his shirt, Taecyeon is also beloved by fans for his unconventional and pure character. Following his first acting appearance in the KBS drama ‘Cinderella's Sister’ in 2010, he then joined the cast of the KBS drama ‘Dream High’ in 2011, receiving praise for his acting abilities. “I’m on a diet. I’m busy with work, but I want to go swimming at a pool,” Taecyeon told the Yomiuri Shimbun. Junho said: “He’s self-confident. Whatever the circumstances, he fears nothing. I sometimes think he’s a bit reckless, but I want to copy some of what he does.” Taecyeon Date of Birth: December 27, 1988; Blood Type: AB; Height: 185 centimeters; Weight: 76 kilograms; Hobbies: Listening to music, wakeboarding, skiing; Special Talents: Cooking; Nationality: Korean; Position: Rap; Education: Dankook University;
Nichkhun (Nichkhun Buck Horvejkul) is of Thai descent and is one of the most popular members of 2PM for his prince-like appearance and pure charm. His aristocratic looks also earned him the nickname ‘Thai Prince’ from his Thai fans. In addition to his outstanding rapping and dance skills, he has also starred in ‘We Got Married 2’ (2011) and a variety of MBC programs. Despite his awkward Korean, he is a fan favorite. “I like to encourage others. It’s the easiest way to make the world bright, beautiful and peaceful,” Nichkhun told the Yomiuri Shimbun. Chansung said: “When I make a mistake, he quietly calls me over and gives me gentle, polite advice.” Nickhun. Date of Birth: June 24, 1988; Blood Type: O; Height: 180 centimeters; Weight: 64 kilograms; Hobbies: Piano, sports, listening to music, watching movies; Special Talents: Piano, acrobatics.
According to Ranker: In 2012, Nichkhun was arrested for crashing into a car while driving under the influence. This came as a surprise to fans because he had lectured Victoria multiple times on "We Got Married" the importance of safe driving. 2PM's Hwang Chansung was a notorious partier. A photo of Chansung, taken while he was in high school, shows him having a good yet illegal time with his friends. With the stories of him clubbing and drinking 7 days a week, it is not surprising that he started young.
Wooyoung (Jang, Woo-Young): Both charismatic and cute, Wooyoung (Jang Wooyoung) has many attractive qualities. He was praised for his MC talents on the KBS talk show ‘Seungseungjanggu’ in 2010. In 2011 he appeared in the KBS drama ‘Dream High’ with Taecyeon, playing the role of a genius high school art student. “I’ve enjoyed dancing since I was a kid. I began to study dancing seriously when I was a high school student,” Wooyoung told the Yomiuri Shimbun. Chansung said: “He works really hard on his singing, dancing and performances. He’s always trying to become closer to his ideal.” Wooyoung Date of Birth: April 30, 1989; Blood Type: B; Height: 178 centimeters; Weight: 65 kilograms; Hobbies: Listening to music, surfing the web; Nationality: Korean; Position: Supporting Vocals; Education: Howon University
Chansung (Hwang Chansung) made his public debut in the Korean sitcom ‘Unstoppable High Kicks,’ which was aired on MBC in 2006 and 2007. A year after his acting debut he outgrew his boyish looks and took the stage with 2PM as a charismatic young man. Chansung enjoys sports like Taekwondo and Gumdo and he sometimes does pratfalls during variety shows to amuse the audience. “I’ve done taekwondo since I was a third- or fourth-grader at primary school, and hold a third dan in taekwondo. I also have a second dan in kendo,” Chansung told the Yomiuri Shimbun. Junsu said: “He looks well-built and reliable, but he’s easily moved to tears. He cried when we won first place on a TV show.” Chansung Date of Birth: February 11, 1990; Blood Type: B; Height: 184 centimeters; Weight: 75 kilograms; Hobbies: Listening to music, playing games and sports; Special Talents: Taekwondo, Gumdo; Nationality: Korean; Position: Vocals, Rap; Education: Howon University
Junho (Lee Junho) is such a mischievous joker that he even says that his ideal woman is "someone suitable to bear his child." His passionate charisma onstage disappears behind an innocent smile offstage. He was part of the KBS show ‘Dream Team 2’ (2009-2011), in which he let his athletic abilities shine. “Other members say nice things about the strong line of my chin,” Junho told the Yomiuri Shimbun. Junsu said: “He’s younger than me, but he is always joking around with me. We shared a room when we were trainees, so he depends on me too much. But he’s easy-going and honest.” Junho Date of Birth: January 25, 1990; Blood Type: A; Height: 178 centimeters; Weight: 67 kilograms; Hobbies:Listening to music, watching dance videos, studying music composition. Nationality: Korean; Position: Vocals; Education: Howon University
Junsu: As the lead vocals of 2PM, Junsu (Kim Junsu) has continued to study music and music composition. He participated in the making of the OST for the KBS drama ‘Dream High’ (starring Taecyeon and Wooyoung) and wrote the music and lyrics of ‘Don't Go’ under the name Jun.K. He was also cast in KBS ‘Immortal Music 2,’ in which young talented idols sing old classics. “Many people have spoken glowingly about my hands, especially the shape of my fingers,” Junsu told the Yomiuri Shimbun. Junho said: “He speaks in his home dialect of Daegu, so I feel like he’s a reliable uncle who acts naturally. As a main vocalist, he is an indispensable member of our group.” Junsu: Date of Birth: January 15, 1988; Blood Type: A; Height: 180 centimeters; Weight: 68kg; Hobbies: Composition, Collecting Fashion accessory and shoes; Special Talents: Singing, Writing; Nationality: Korean; Position: Lead Vocals; Education: Dong-Ah Institute of Media and Arts
2PM Training and Rise to the Top
In late 2011 Jin Kiyokawa wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “While 2PM is basking in the warm glow of success now, it was not always this way. The intensive training they underwent before making their debut also helped bring the members closer together. “We feel as if we’re a family,” Nichkhun said. They practiced singing and dancing at their agency from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. They used time cards, and if one member was even a second late for a lesson, they had to assemble at the practice room one hour earlier than usual the next day. “We were late a few times, so we ended up having to turn up at 6 a.m. for some time,” Nichkhun said. “On freezing winter mornings, when we were cold and hungry, we’d try to come to practice ahead of time and sleep until our lessons started,” Taecyeon recalled. “Those two years were like a constant winter.”[Source: Jin Kiyokawa, Yomiuri Shimbun, December 9, 2011]
“Junsu agreed the hardships had forged close bonds among its members. “When it seemed like we wouldn’t make our debut, one member quit, and when it got delayed, another one walked away. This was tough on the guys who were left, but we came through it all,” he said. After overcoming this adversity, the six-member group made their debut in South Korea, later thrilling fans in China and Southeast Asian countries. But perhaps Japan has been their most successful market: In the year since their debut here, all three of 2PM’s singles have ranked fifth or higher in Oricon’s charts.
“Sometimes inspiration for new dance moves comes at the most unexpected moment, such as when they are joking around. “In our song ‘Ultra Lover,’ we decided to change part of the dance choreography and make a heart shape with our hands. That was Mr. Taecyeon’s idea,” Nichkhun said. Their professionalism and boundless energy, despite their hectic schedule, has created a legion of loyal fans. According to Wooyoung, 2PM do not plan to slow down any time soon. “In our spare time, we write lyrics, read books and practice singing. We’ll make every effort to give excellent performances. Please keep believing in us,” he said.
2PM in Japan
In late 2011 Jin Kiyokawa wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “2PM are causing a sensation in Japan. In May, 2PM released their first Japan single “Take off.” They have also appeared on Japanese TV dramas, with Taecyeon starring in Boku to Star no 99 Nichi and Chansung in Kaito Royale. Nichkhun will appear in the movie Oran High School Host Club, which is due for release in spring 2012. But it is on stage that 2PM really come alive. At their first concert in Japan at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan hall on Dec. 8, 2010, they had 25,000 screaming fans lapping up every note and move. 2PM were not a household name here at that stage, but many female K-Pop fans felt the group had “at last” landed on Japanese soil. [Source: Jin Kiyokawa, Yomiuri Shimbun, December 9, 2011]
“The boy band lived up to its “beast” reputation on stage. With an average height of about 180 centimeters, they proudly flaunted their brawny upper arms in sleeveless shirts, and danced with passion and vigor. At one point, the thighs of crouching members were used as a platform for the others to stand on. After the last number, one member collapsed on stage for dramatic impact, apparently drained of energy.
“The transformation from hunks ruling the stage to courteous, pleasant young men–their average age is 22–when they spoke to the crowd during interludes was startling. One could be forgiven for wondering if they really were the same men who had been strutting and preening only moments before. Indeed, this mix of flashy, high-energy performances and gentle personalities has been a magnet for many 2PM fans.
In an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, the members charmingly introduced themselves in Japanese. “I’m Taecyeon. I want to steal all your hearts.”
“I’m Junsu, and I’m a nice guy.”
“Junho is my name, and I have a lot of charm.”
“Chansung likes you very much.”
“I’m Wooyoung. I’m a vitamin for you.”
“My name is Nichkhun. I want to make you all smile.”
This close-knit group obviously get on well, and mutual respect is never in short supply. When Chansung, who speaks Japanese well, gave a lengthy comment, the other members applauded him and peppered him with cheers of “Awesome!” On November 30, the group released their debut album REPUBLIC OF 2PM. All the latest hits on the album, including “Hands up,” were translated and sung in Japanese.” When asked “Was it hard singing in another language? “Yes,” Chansung said. “It was difficult to express emotions when I sang these songs in Japanese.”
2AM is known for its mellow ballads and sweet harmony. Their first full-length album, titled ‘Saint o’Clock,’ was released in 2010 in eight Asian countries including Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. Ever since then 2AM has been very popular throughout Asia, even winning the top spot on the weekly HMV K-POP album sales chart in Singapore.
2AM is part of JYP’s roster. The name ‘2AM’ was given to the group by producer Park Jin-young and is said to reflect the band’s sensitivity by capturing the feeling of the early morning (2:00am), a time when you can sit back and reflect upon your day. The four members of 2AM are Jo Kwon, Seulong, Jinwoon, and Changmin. After making their debut with their digital single ‘This Song’ in 2008, 2AM continued to produce hits such as ‘Confession of a Friend,’ ‘Even if I die I can't let you go,’ and ‘You wouldn't answer my calls.’
Jo Kwon is the leader 2AM. After he was spotted by producer Park Jin-young on SBS's ‘99 percent Challenge Project’ in 2001, he underwent rigorous training for eight years before making his official debut. He has made regular appearances in variety shows such as MBC's ‘We Got Married,’ ‘Life-changing Quiz,’ and the sit-com ‘All My Love.’ He is also one of the main MCs for SBS's Live K-Pop Countdown and Mnet's M Countdown, showing off his vocal talents as well as his hidden star quality. Date of Birth: August 28, 1989; Blood Type: A; Height: 175 centimeters; Weight: 55 kilograms; Hobbies: Listening to music, Watching Movies, Singing; Special Talents: Singing, Chinese, Japanese
IAM IAM (‘I AM here because 2AM is here’) is the official Korean fan club of the K-pop group 2AM. As of 2010 there were 50,000 registered members. Discography (List of 2AM Albums); 2008; July, 2008; This Song (Digital Single); 2009; February, 2009; Graduation (Digital Single); March, 2009; A Friend's Confession (Mini Album); 2010; January, 2010; Can't Let You Go Even If I Die (Mini Album); March, 2010; I Was Wrong (Mini Album); October, 2010; You Wouldn't Answer My Calls (1st Full-length Album); October, 2010; ‘You Wouldn't Answer My Calls’ release in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, & Thailand; July, 2010; PROJECT GROUP – Homme (Changmin, Yihyeon) ‘I Was Able To Eat Well’; December, 2009; Jo Kwon, Gain — ‘We Fell In Love’ (Digital Single); June, 2011; IU, Seulong — ‘Nagging’ (Digital Single)
Commercials and Endorsements: 2010; Dongwon Richam; BHC Chicken; Jambangee; Pepsi Cola; Samsung Green Tech Campaign ‘DugeunDugeun (pit-a-pat) Tomorrow’; Hite Beer; Lotte Chilsung ‘Tropicana Sparkling’; Maeil Dairies ‘Caffe Latte’; 2011: Jambangee; BHC Chicken; Blackberry; i. myss
Jo Kwon: Vocalist, Team leader After he was spotted by producer Park Jin-young on SBS's ‘99 percent Challenge Project’ in 2001, he underwent rigorous training for eight years before making his official debut. He has made regular appearances in variety shows such as MBC's ‘We Got Married,’ ‘Life-changing Quiz,’ and the sit-com ‘All My Love.’ He is also one of the main MCs for SBS's Live K-Pop Countdown and Mnet's M Countdown, showing off his vocal talents as well as his hidden star quality. Date of Birth: August 28, 1989; Blood Type: A; Height: 175 centimeters; Weight: 55 kilograms; Hobbies: Listening to music, Watching Movies, Singing; Special Talents: Singing, Chinese, Japanese; Education: Department of Post Modern Music, Kyung Hee University
Lee, Chang-Min: Lead Vocalist; Upon completing his military service, Changmin was chosen through a JYP audition and joined 2AM just two months before the group’s official debut. Despite his short training period, he is the lead vocalist of 2AM thanks to his appealing and powerful voice. In 2010, he organized the group Homme with Lee Hyeon of 8eight and performed Still Eating Well. He also made regular appearances in KBS's ‘Star Golden Bell,’ and ‘Immortal Song 2,’ showing off his abilities as an entertainer.; Date of Birth: May 1, 1986; Blood Type: A; Height: 180 centimeters; Hobbies: Computer games; Special Talents: Singing, English; Education: Department of Vocal, Dong-Ah Institute of Media and Arts
Lim, Seul-Ong: Vocalist: Loved by his fans for his prince-like face and charms, Seulong’s popularity skyrocketed after the release of the song ‘Nagging,’ a duet he recorded with IU in 2010. He also appeared in the MBC drama ‘Personal Taste’ and the movie ‘Acoustic,’ making his acting debut. Date of Birth: May 11, 1987; Blood Type: O; Height: 186 centimeters; Hobbies: Singing, Shopping, Watching movies; Special Talents: Singing, English, Chinese; Education: Daejin University
Jeong, Jinwoon: Vocalist: The youngest of the 2AM members, Jinwoon is known for his sculpted physique and has even graced the cover of magazines. Also known for his suave and attractive facial expressions, he has a wide female fan base, many of whom are older than he is. Date of Birth: May 2, 1991; Blood Type: O; Height: 185 centimeters; Hobbies: Basketball; Special Talents: Guitar, Bass, Drums; Education: Daejin University
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