Everybody knows the KPOP exposure has not been great since the advent of BTS at the Billboard Music Awards, and if you’ve seen pictures of Korean boy groups circulating Twitter or BuzzFeed with every girl calling them “daddy/zaddy,” you’re probably wondering what the hype is all about. But most American exposure to KPOP is PSY the singer of “Gangnam Style” and that was in 2012. So if you’re curious, here are some of the essential groups you should know:
Who they are: kind of the break-out group of KPOP. They debuted in 2005, and they continue to bust out bops and bangers. They’re currently on hiatus because they are all within the age of their mandatory army service, and some of the members are focusing on their solo careers. (All Korean males between the ages of 18 and 35 have to complete two years of army service.) Their fans are known as VIPs.
Most popular song: BANG BANG BANG
Members (left to right): Seungri, G-Dragon, Taeyang, TOP, and Daesung
Check them out on Spotify: This Is: BIGBANG
Who they are: this is the group that generated the hype. They recently dropped a remix of one of their popular singles,“MIC Drop,” (which was inspired by President Obama) featuring DJ Steve Aoki and rapper Desiigner. They won Top Social Artist of 2017 at the Billboard Music Awards getting over 300 million votes and beating top US artists like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. After their BBMA win, they appeared on Ellen. Their fans are known as Armys.
Most popular song: DNA
Members (left to right, top to bottom): V, Jin, Rap Monster, J-Hope, Suga, Jungkook, and Jimin
Check them out on Spotify: This Is: BTS
Who they are: They frequent KCON LA and New York. They had an American tour in 2015 for their album Fly. There is one member from Hong Kong, one from Thailand, and one from southern California. Their fans are known as Agasae, which is a play on words from their actual fan name IGOT7 (아가새, agasae), which means ‘baby bird’ in Korean. (cute, right?)
Most popular song: Just Right
Members (from left to right): Yugyeom, Jinyoung, Youngjae, JB, Mark, Jackson, and Bambam
Check them out on YouTube: GOT7’s Official YouTube Channel
Who they are: they became famous after losing a reality TV competition in South Korea. They are under the same company as BIGBANG, and many of the company executives think that their fame will eventually rival that of BIGBANG. Their January single “Love Scenario” is No.1 on the Korean charts currently. Their fans are known as iKONICS.
Most popular song: RHYTHM TA
Members (left to right): Chan, Song, B.I, DK, Bobby, Jay, and Ju-ne
Check them out on Spotify: This Is: iKon
Who they are: this group has had their fair share of ups and downs. Originally, EXO was twelve members split into EXO-K (Korea) and EXO-M (China). But three of the ethnically Chinese members left the group over mistreatment by their parent company, and some legal battles ensued. The OT9 is also shaky because China and Korea have had some strained relations as far as media and entertainment go, so Lay has often not appeared with the group. They were also featured as part of the closing ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Their fans are known as EXO-L.
Most popular song: CALL ME BABY
Members (from top left to bottom right): D.O, Lay, Chen, Xiumin, Chanyeol, Sehun, Suho, Baekhyun, and Kai (Kris, Luhan, and Tao complete the OT12)
Check them out on Spotify: This Is: EXO