Before there was SNSD, 2NE1, Big Bang, Super Junior and Wonder Girls,
there was S.E.S., g.o.d., H.O.T., Fin.K.L. and 1TYM. Familiar with
these names? You must be an O.G. K-pop fan.
Today, the manufactured genre has flooded the global consciousness
(perhaps you've heard of a little video called “Gangnam Style?”), but
the roots were planted more than 15 years back, when the first crop of
fresh-faced boy and girl bands stepped onto the stage in Seoul and
captured the hearts (and charged up the hormones) of a teenage
generation. The was no autotune, no off-the-wall costumes and dizzying
special effects–just catchy tunes, fun dance moves and surprising
This Saturday, K-pop super-convention KCON comes to the Verizon
Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine. Before you get a glimpse of how far
K-Pop has come, take a look back at where it started by remembering
these 10 old-school bands.
*Here is What a Stereotypical K-Pop Fan Looks Like
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*5 K-Pop Songs To Prepare For The S.M. Town Live World Tour III
Considered by many as the original Korean idols, H.O.T. (which stands
for High-Five of Teenagers) connected with the nation's youth with
songs about society and teen angst. The five boys–Moon Hee Jun, Jang
Woo Hyuk, Tony An, Kangta and Lee Jae Won–debuted in 1996 and nearly
every album they released sold over a million copies. They broke up in
Debuting in 1997, the three-member group was considered the female
version of H.O.T. While their image shifted from cutesy to edgy, the
trio–Sea, Eugene and Shoo (S.E.S.)–always attracted legions of fans
who loved their ethereal songs and sweet voices. The group released
several successful albums before disbanding in 2002.
Sechs Kies (AKA 6kies)
A onetime rival of H.O.T, the hip-hop group debuted in 1997 with
members Eun Ji Won, Lee Jae Jin, Kim Jae Duc, Kang Sung Hoon, Ko Ji
Yong and Jang Su Won. The band was divided into “Black Kies” and
“White Kies” with the former doing most of the rapping and the latter
doing most of the singing. After releasing four albums, they split in
With a name that stood for “Fin Killing Liberty,” the all-girl quartet
took a stance against the oppression of freedom. (Fin means “ending”
in French). They were the antithesis of the bubblegum-pop groups of
their time, stomping onto the scene with R&B power ballads. In 2002,
the four members Lee Hyori, Joo Hyun, Lee Jin and Sung Yuri all went
onto pursue solo careers.
Debuting in 1998, Shinhwa is still around today, making it the longest
existing boy band in K-pop history. The boys–Eric Mun, JunJin, Shin
HyeSung, Andy Lee, Kim DongWan and Lee MinWoo–all have charisma and
killer dance moves. After a four-year hiatus, the group made a
comeback this year with their 10th studio album, The Return.
While the group wasn't an overnight success–it's Spice Girls-esque
style was considered too brazen in conservative Korea–the five girls
found fame with their third album Get Up, which hit the No. 1 spot on
pop charts. Baby V.O.X., which stood for Baby Voices of Xpression,
existed from 1999 to 2005.
Entering the scene in 1999 with the single “To Mother,” g.o.d. (Groove
Over Dose) nabbed the most prestigious awards, acted in a TV series
and sold out concerts nightly. The five boys members, fronted by lead
singer Park Joon Hyung (an OC native!), released seven albums before
their disbanding in 2006.
Rapper Kim Jung Nam and vocalist Kim Jong Kook were Turbo, a
supercharged duo that debuted in 1995 and swept the charts with its
second album, New Sensation. The title track “Twist King” was an
instant sensation that made the nation want to get up and dance.
Going way back into the history of K-pop, you'll find Roo'ra (“Roots
of Reggae”), whose songs were grounded in the beats of reggae. The
group debuted in 1994 with members Lee Sang Min, Go Young Wook, Kim Ji
Hyun, and Shin Jung Hwan, and their single “There Are No Secrets” was
their breakout hit. Controversy struck in 1996 when it was discovered
that a sampling of a Japanese track was included in their song, “Cheon
Sang Yu Ae.” The group broke up in 2001.
Diamond Bar buddies Teddy Park and Danny Im were two of the original
members of 1TYM (pronounced “One Time”), Korea's original hip-hop idol
group. The charismatic and energetic band, which also included Oh Jin
Hwan and Song Baek Kyung, debuted in 1998 with the album “One Time for
Your Mind” and released four more until going on hiatus in 2006.
Today, Im is the host of Danny From LA, a Los Angeles-based talk show