Groups who had brought K-Pop to the international audience, where are they now?
2NE1, BIG BANG, Girls’ Generation, TVXQ,…are representatives of the 2nd generation idols. These groups have contributed greatly to bringing the Korean wave to the international audience.
Wonder Girls: Wonder Girls can be seen as an essential part of the way to the U.S market of later idol generations. At that time, their hits such as “Irony”, “Tell Me”, “So Hot” had been ruling the Korean as well as Asian markets. With “Nobody”, the girls even proved themselves to the U.S audience. Wonder Girls is the first Korean group ever to appear on the prestigious Billboard Hot 100. Their single “Nobody” appeared at #76 in 2009.
Wonder Girls debuted in 2007 as a 5-member group. After a short time, HyunA left the group due to health issues and YooBin was chosen to replace her. The groups had been through some more changes in their team’s line-up before officially disbanded in 2017. After their disbandment, ex-member Sunmi becomes one of the top soloists of K-Pop right now through hits like “Gashina”, “Siren”, “Lalalay”…SoHee turns to her acting career while YooBin and YeEun started their solo music but haven’t gained much attention. At the same time, HyeLim has decided to continue purchasing her study by enrolling in the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies as an International Conferences and Communication major while the leader SunYe got married and is now happy with 2 children.
Girls’ Generation: Girls’ Generation debuted in 2007 as a 9-member group and had received much attention due to them being from a major agency – SM Entertainment. After the scandal of being boycotted at Dream Concert 2008, the girls returned to the K-Pop industry with a series of hits: “Gee”, “Tell Me Your Wish”, “Oh!”, “Run Devil Run”…Slowly, they gained back the love from the Korean public and was even given the title “The Nation’s Girl Group”. The 9 girls from SM was even one among a few groups who were noticed in the U.S with the album “The Boys”.
After their prime time in Japan, China and the U.S, they went straight to a crisis after Jessica declared her departure from the group in 2014. This born-in-1989 vocal exposed that the remaining 8 members had boycotted and made her leave the group. Girls’ Generation took a short time to re-arrange their team before returning with 3 consecutive hits “Party”, “Lion Heart” và “You Think”. In 2017, 3 members Seohyun, Tiffany and Sooyoung left SM after their contracts expired. The remaining 5 girls – Taeyeon, Yoona, Sunny, Yuri and Hyoyeon – focus mostly on their solo schedule. Girls’ Generation still hasn’t declared their disbandment but fans agree that their reunion comeback is almost impossible now.
2NE1: This 4-member group debuted in 2009 and immediately became a star after 1 night with the hit “Fire”. Throughout their 7-year-long career, their music has taken entire Asia by storm with hits like “I Don’t Care”, “I’m The Best”, “Ugly”, “Come Back Home”…2NE1 is considered as one of the most popular idol group in K-Pop history as their fans were spread on every continent.
In 2014, the Korean media released articles about Park Bom being arrested after trying to traffick drugs into South Korea 4 years ago. This particular scandal has put 2NE1 and Park Bom herself on hiatus. Their performance at MAMA 2015 was their last stage together before they declared their disbandment in Nov 2016.
KARA: Not many people know that KARA debuted in 2007 as a 4-member group with a chic hip-hop concept. However, they didn’t receive any attention. After the main vocal Kim Sunghee left the group, their agency added 2 members Goo Hara and Kang Jiyoung to the group. They changed into a sweet, bright and bubbly concept which led them to A-list stardom after a series of hits like “Pretty”, “Honey”, “Wanna”, “Lupin”, “Mister”…
KARA was chosen as the most successful girl group in Japan – the 2nd hardest marker after the U.S. Thanks to their fitting concept and visual, KARA has made countless impressive achievements in Japan. At every event, the girls were always welcomed by supercars, red carpets and surrounded by security guards to escort them. KARA was also the 1st Korean girl group to finish a concert at Tokyo Dome – the Japanese music “Holy Ground”. What KARA has done in Japan deserved to be called a miracle.
In 2014, Nicole and Kang Ji Young announced their departure from the group after 7 years. KARA then added Youngji to continue their music path, but still, they couldn’t stay much longer. KARA officially disbanded in Jan 2016. The current life of the members is not as dazzling as their past. Youngji and Seungyeon are trying to survive among countless young 3rd generation idols. Goo Hara got into the assault scandal with her ex-member which resulted in her moving to Japan while their leader, Gyuri is dating the son of a chaebol family who is 7 years younger than her.
Big Bang: YG’s former CEO himself agreed: “It wasn’t YG who created BIG BANG, it was BIG BANG who created YG”. In fact, before BIG BANG’s debut, YG was just a small agency with poor facilities and very little investment in its artists’ music. Thanks to the huge success of the 5-member boy group, YG has risen to become one of BIG 3 while BIG BANG also became a legend in idol history.
At the moment, after a series of serious scandals, Seungri declared his retirement, T.O.P was charged due to buying and using marijuana while G-Dragon was exposed that he was receiving favoritism in the army. After 13 years of their career, BIG BANG is freefalling due to many serious scandals. Despite that, fans are still waiting and hoping that G-Dragon’s return will revive the name of BIG BANG.
TVXQ: TVXQ debuted in 2003, which means they have been in this industry for 16 years. If KARA is the most successful girl group in Japan then TVXQ is the most successful Korean boy group in the country of the rising sun. Japanese fans even considered TVXQ to be a Japanese group, calling them Tohoshinki and they were even given a different fandom name. TVXQ was the group that paved the path to Japan for later generation idols.
In 2009, 3 members Jaejoong, Junsu and Yoochun sued SM Entertainment for the slave contract and overworking them. After that, they left the group and create a trio named JYJ. The remaining 2 members, Yunho and Changmin, returned to the former agency and maintain the name of TVXQ. After many years, the power of these “Gods of the East” is not as glamorous as before. They are still doing well in Japan and other Asian countries. However, in their own home country, TVXQ rarely appears and doesn’t achieve much on charts anymore. As for JYJ, the members all somehow got into different scandals. Park Yoochun even has to retire due to the drug scandal.
Super Junior: Super Junior is one among some rare boy groups who are called the Kings of K-Pop. They are the pioneer of bringing the Korean Wave to the South East Asian, as well as Asian countries. With the legendary hit “Sorry Sorry”, this 13-member group has ruled music charts all around Asia throughout 2 years after its release. They are also welcomed and loved in European and Latin America countries. Super Junior still does a world tour each year and shows at European and Latin American are always sold out in the shortest time.
Debuted in 2005, Super Junior has been in this industry for 14 years. Different from idols of the same generation, these guys from SM are still working hard on releasing new music and going on world tours. After many changes in team members, they are currently promoting as a 9-member group. However, like TVXQ, Super Junior is welcomed in foreign countries but is ignored in their own home country.