[OPINION] History of Kpop Boy Groups From 1990s

Kpop has come a long way over the years to become globally recognized in 2019. Looking back from the first generation of idols from the 1990s to now, Kpop idols have always had the burden of being adventurous and trend-setting icons.


With the current trend of older Kpop idol groups making a comeback to the Kpop scene, a lot has changed over the decades. In the 1990s when the first Kpop idol groups started emerging like H.O.T, Sechs Kies, Shinhwa and G.O.D, these idol groups experienced much criticism and love for their music while trying to solidify the upcoming genre, Kpop.

Taking a trip down memory lane towards one’s youth or childhood, there are some groups that can NOT be forgotten! The first generation of idol boy groups who not only created what is today’s Kpop fandom culture but also the foundation for the Hallyu wave! While there are many idols that deserve to be considered legends for each decade (1990s, 2000s, 2010s), these specific groups mentioned in this article were selected based on hours of research, personal memory, today’s popularity/activities and such! As a result, many may not agree with the listing or feel some idol groups should have been mentioned. Please note this is solely the opinion of the writer who may be biased with childhood memories of watching these groups in variety shows like SBS’s X-Men (2003-2007), SBS’s Love Letter (2004-2006) etc!

First generation of Kpop boy groups (1990s)

H.O.T (1996-2001, 2018-present)


Finding anyone who doesn’t know H.O.T would be rare in the Kpop scene. H.O.T is considered the first ever Kpop idol group that was formed by SM Entertainment. Even TVN’s hit drama series ‘Reply 1997’ (2012) has many references to H.O.T where the female lead is a die-hard fan of H.O.T’s Tony.


To signify how much importance H.O.T has in Korean culture, H.O.T had their reunion in 2018 through the famous variety show, MBC’s ‘Infinity Challenge’ (2005-2018).



After H.O.T made their comeback in 17 years on ‘Infinity Challenge’, H.O.T went on to hold their comeback concert in Seoul where fans and idols took a trip back to their youth in the 90s.

Secks Kies (1997-2000, 2016-present)


The second idol group in Kpop history, aka H.O.T’s rival, played an important role for shaping Kpop fandom. The power of Kpop fans gave rise to allowing artists to venture into other fields within the entertainment industry. Secks Kies was the first idol group to film their own movie, perform in a musical and perform at the Blue House for the president serving during that time.

Clip of H.O.T vs. Sech Kies fan war from Reply 1997 Kdrama


Secks Kiss also made their comeback in 2016 as guests on MBC’s ‘Infinity Challenge’ through a guerrilla concert. It was reported news of Secks Kies’s reunion was shared only 5 hours before the concert, which still managed to gather 6000 fans.


To really get an idea for what it was like in the 1990s during the reign of H.O.T and Sechs Kies, I HIGHLY recommend watching TVN’s Reply 1997. It is pretty accurate in depicting how severe or passionate Kpop fandom culture already was back then. Not to mention, this drama in addition to the rest of the Reply series (1997, 1994, 1988) are really great dramas to watch whether to understand Korean culture or to reminisce about your past.

Shinhwa (1998-present)


The role model of many idols, the longest active boy group in Kpop history, Shinhwa is the idol group who showed versatility to be possible for Kpop idols. It is common for idol groups to keep to their “color” or “style” but Shinhwa has proven the key to longevity to be due to the constant rebranding and continuous creativity among other things. Shinhwa formed their own company Shinhwa Company with Minwoo and Eric as co-CEOs managing their activities as a group confirming the brotherhood among the members.


Shinhwa members are well known for their talents in various areas in the entertainment industry. Not only are they immensely popular for their appearances on variety shows, each member has successfully proven their talents in various areas like dramas, movies, musicals, producing and much more!


Shinhwa is extremely talented and everyone has such a great relationship, it is no wonder the group has made history by being the longest active Kpop idol group! They spend infinite amounts of time and effort for fans, one of the most noteworthy would be that they have a concert every year. In 2019, it will be their 21st anniversary since debut.

G.O.D (1999-present)


JYP’s first idol group G.O.D has never disbanded, however they were previously on an extended hiatus as each member pursed their solo careers. G.O.D is known for their iconic songs that really reflected Korean culture in the early 2000s amassing fans from various age groups. Labeled as the “nation’s idols” that used lyrics described as  “storytelling,” many of their songs are still remembered as iconic Korean songs.



G.O.D is considered to be part of the legendary first generation Kpop idol groups among H.O.T, Seck’s Kiss and Shinhwa.


G.O.D’s songs are one of the best songs to sing in karaoke regardless of how old the songs are. The songs are still relatable and relevant amidst the 4th industrial revolution, simply “classic songs.”

Kpop Boy Groups of the 2000s

Super Junior (2005-present)


The iconic Kpop idol group that broke the stereotype by consisting of many members even 13 at one point. Super Junior can be considered to be one of the earliest hallyu idols that paved the path for Kpop to become globally recognized. Not only are they a household name today in 2019 but their everlasting popularity in Korea and abroad is something many idols aim for.


Super Junior can be considered one of the examples of successful subgroups that has proven to create more opportunities for the idols to showcase their talents outside of their group activities. After dominating Asia, Super Junior has proven their reigning power as iconic Kpop idols by their amazing success in Latin America even releasing songs in English, Korean and Spanish!


Super Junior was one of the first idol groups with so many members creating the opportunity to market to so many different preferences. Each member had their own unique remarkable characteristics that would appeal to nearly anyone. Frankly, it was a genius move by SM and now we have idol groups that follow this strategy! (Thank you SM!)

Big Bang (2006-present)


YG’s first idol group aka “Kings of Kpop” and the MVPs for setting the Hallyu wave ablaze internationally, especially outside of Asia, Big Bang is the group who continuously redefined what ‘KPOP’ is by experimenting out of the norm while expressing their individuality.


Big Bang is renowned for writing their own songs which plays a significant role for their success.


Not only is the group incredible for having so many No.1 songs but also their success promoting as subunits and soloists unbelievable that has become something to strive for the following generation of idols. Is there anyone who doesn’t know Taeyang’s Eyes, Nose, Lips or GD’s Coup d’etat?




Just thinking of Big Bang, the concept of swag, hip, fast beats, clubs and parties come to mind. While is it sad to see that most of the members are still serving mandatory military service, it won’t be long before they will be back!

SHINee (2008-present)


The boy band of SM aka the “Princes of Kpop” who set the standard for live performances with complex dance moves, Shinee contrasts crucially with other groups of the 2000s. Not only is this group experimental with their music exploring various genres, they are also considered the “aesthetic,” “artistic,” “beautiful” group through their choreography, concepts and wardrobes.


With the sad passing of member Jonghyun (RIP) in 2017, Shinee will never be the same. However, Shinee’s songs as a quintet, Jonghyun’s legacy remains as numerous fans continue to love and cheer for Shinee.


Shinee will forever be that scarred part of my Kpop love. They have had to regroup after the unfortunate experience of losing a member, however I fervently hope that they will be able to recover not only for themselves and fans but also for the legacy of JH to not be forgotten in the future.

Kpop Boy Groups of Today (2010s)

With less than 10 months before the end of the current decade, there are so many boy groups who debuted and deserve to be listed as THE boy group of 2010s. While many would want to nominate for their favorite group, I would say based on the past 110 months (2010-2019.2), EXO and BTS are the ones who will be considered the “legends” of 2010s in Kpop history years from now.

EXO (2012-present)


BTS (2013-present)


Is there anyone in the Kpop scene who doesn’t know EXO and BTS? EXO is the 3rd generation of SM’s beloved idol boy group taking on the baton from their seniors H.O.T, Shinhwa, Super Junior and Shinee. BTS is without a doubt the “titans of Kpop” if my 90 year old grandmother knows who they are because of the Korean news. So many records were broken and so much history was made by these two idol groups during this decade, I personally would like to bet some dough on whether BTS or EXO will show up in the history or business books in the near future. Having heard that UC Berkley is offering a DeCal class on BTS from a friend attending UCB, my odds of winning are very high. 

Looking back on Kpop idols from the 1990s, Kpop itself is still pretty young with so much potential for growth. As a passionate Kpop fan who grew up with the first generation of Kpop idols on my TV screen in the 1990s and 2000s, I genuinely hope that there will be a day when Kpop music can be heard on the radio (outside of Korean radio stations) abroad.


Disclaimer: The opinions or views contained in this article may not represent the opinions or views of Kpoplove, The Korea Daily, its employees, agents or affiliates.

BIGBANG G-Dragon Selected As Most Well-Rounded K-Pop Artist by Teenagers

BIGBANG G-Dragon ranked first in a poll as the most well-rounded K-Pop star with BTS Suga coming second.

Image source – OSEN News

On November 10JAM, a teen research institute conducted a poll operated by Genie Music for two weeks. The goal of the poll was to determine which K-Pop idol teenagers believed was the most well-rounded. Meaning an artist who can dance, sing, write, and compose music.

With 21% of the vote, BIGBANG member G-Dragon topped the list. Although he is currently serving in the military and has not released solo music since his self-titled album in 2017, is popularity and reputation remain in good standing. Moreover, he continues to be recognized as a talented idol.

In second place with 17% is BTS member Suga, who has participated in the production of the group’s albums. Further, he he also released a mixtape, showing off the range of his musicality. RM, the leader of BTS ranked fifth with 8%.

In third and fourth place are Zico and Jinyoung, former members of Block B and B1A4, respectively.



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Translated by O.C


Celebrating 12 Years with BIGBANG

BIGBANG has been making music for 12 years.

At midnight on August 19, YG Entertainment posted a congratulatory poster on its official blog celebrating group BIGBANG’s 12th anniversary. Included on the poster are the world “BIGBANG 12th Anniversary” and “2006.08.19 to 2018” as well as the images of Big Bang jumping against the blue sky. The youthful faces and style of the five members reminds fans of where the group started.

On August 19, 2006, BIGBANG made their debut at YG Family’s 10th-anniversary concert. The five-member team was a milestone for the entertainment label: they were the first teenage group that YG had nurtured. It took a few comebacks for the group to gain mainstream popularity, but once they did, it stayed.

The members’ rap, singing, and performance skills were praised both domestically and internationally.

As such, they quickly became global stars and a standout in the Hallyu wave. In particular, the group gained attention for their stylish, trendy, yet ahead-of-the-curve music that is commonly described as “BIGBANG style.”

Tracks like “Lies,” “Haru Haru,” “Fantastic Baby,” “Loser,” “Bang Bang Bang,” and “FXXK IT” all have a distinct sound, feel, and musicality that is instantly recognizable. Additionally, even with four members currently serving in the military, their 13 music videos continue to gain views. In particular, “Fantastic Baby” and “Bang Bang Bang’ both have over 300 million unique views on YouTube.

One of the reasons why the group has remained relevant for over a decade is due to not only the cohesiveness of the group as a whole but their individuality and talent of each member. G-Dragon and Taeyang’s unit song “Good Boy” has over 200 million views on YouTube. All of the members have released music in some way individually, with the youngest member Seungri making his solo debut this summer.

Although Seungri is set to enter the army by early 2019, the fans’ sendoff of the group points to continued popularity even as they go on a temporary hiatus. Earlier this year, G-Dragon, Taeyang, and Daesung enlisted — following in the footsteps of T.O.P who began his service in 2017.

Image source – iChart Korea

On the day that Daesung entered the military YG Entertainment released “Flower Road,” BIGBANG’s last group song for the next two years. Even without a music video, the song was incredibly popular, skyrocketing to the top of multiple music charts.

“Flower Road” is meaningful as it is written by G Dragon, the leader, and the eldest member, T.O.P. Through the lyrics, BIGBANG reminisces about their fans over the past 12 and wishes to see them again.



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YG’s Yang Hyun-Suk Says He Misses G-Dragon in Birthday Message

Yang Hyun-suk, the founder and CEO of YG Entertainment, sent a congratulatory birthday message to G-Dragon.

Image source – Yang Hyun-suk Instagram

On August 18, YG Entertainment’s CEO Yang Hyun-suk took to his Instagram account to wish BIGBANG member G-Dragon (real name Kwon Ji-yong) a happy birthday.

Along with a picture of the singer in his military uniform, Yang included a message that expressed his affection for Kwon. In both English and Korean, the CEO wrote that he is “missing GD.”

Kwon, who turns 30 today, will be celebrating in the military this year. Earlier this year, Kwon, Taeyang, and Daesung enlisted within a few weeks of each other. Further, the year before member T.O.P began his service. As such, the only member not enlisted is Seungri, the youngest of BIGBANG. However, he announced this month that he plans to enter the army by early 2019.



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G-Dragon Shares Warm Embrace With T.O.P Before Military Enlistment

The two BIGBANG members share one last embrace before separating.

T.O.P G-Dragon
Image source – via Instagram @phillip_paradise

On March 2, Phil-Lip Chun, the Chairman of Paradise Global CO., Ltd., shared some candid photos of BIGBANG members G-Dragon, real name Kwon Ji-young, and T.O.P on his Instagram. More, the pictures are from the Kwon’s military enlistment on February 27 and show a more intimate side to the event. While hidden from fans and media, Kwon revealed his short military haircut.

However, as interesting as his new hair is, particularly touching is the pictures of G-Dragon and T.O.P sharing one last hug. The two, while both serving their mandatory conscription at the same time, they will probably be in different divisions.

While G-Dragon will likely be serving as an active division soldier or police officer, T.O.P is a social worker. When he first entered the military, T.O.P was part of the police division, his indictment for smoking marijuana changed everything.

Due to the charge, a committee under the Ministry of National Defense determined the final status and position of the BIGBANG member. As a result of the committee’s review, they concluded that he would serve the rest of his military conscription as a social worker.

During their meeting, T.O.P and Phil-lip Chung gave G-Dragon a special bottle of wine. The vintage of the wine, 1988, is also G-Dragon’s birth year. On the bottle the words “My dear brother Ji-yong” and “Be careful. I love you so much” can be seen.

Meanwhile, G-Dragon entered the military on February 27 and is expected to be discharged late November in 2019. If you cannot wait until 2019 for the singer and rapper, you can visit his new cafe in Jeju, which opened last week.



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G-Dragon’s New Cafe on Jeju Island to Open on Sunday

GD Cafe, G-Dragon’s cafe in Jeju, will be opening its doors in just a few days.

GD Cafe
Image source – OSEN News, YG Entertainment

With less than a week left before BIGBANG member G-Dragon begins his military conscription, the artist plans to open the doors of his new cafe, GD Cafe, on Jeju Island on the 25th.

After BIGBANG concluded their concert at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seol, G-Dragon reportedly stayed in Jeju to work on the planning and design of the cafe. Further, this cafe will not only serve coffee and treats but will have a bowling alley as well.

Picture of GD Cafe – YG Entertainment

The addition of the bowling alley — along with other features — apparently holds a special meaning for the artist. This is because they are elements that G-Dragon conceptualized himself since the cafe’s inception.

Since G-Dragon wants to open the cafe before entering the military, all crew members are busy putting the final details in place for the opening. However, the bowling alley, located next to the cafe, will open in March.

Currently, the interior is in the final stage of completion. Reportedly, G-Dragon is painting aN image on one of the walls himself. More, there will also be an assorted collection of personal items.



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[BREAKING] BIGBANG Member G-Dragon Will Enlist on February 27

BIGBANG member G-Dragon will enter the military later this month.

Military enlist G-Dragon
Image source -OSEN News

According to multiple reports G-Dragon of BIGBANG received a draft notice for February 27 on Korea. He is expected to enlist without additional postponement. More, this means that the singer and rapper will join the army in precisely 13 days.

Last year YG Entertainment announced that both G-Dragon and Taeyang planned to begin their military service during the first half of this year. As a result of these plans, Taeyang wed his long-time girlfriend actress Min Hyo-rin on February 3, and G-Dragon postponed his educational pursuits.

The training center where G-Dragon will join is unknown.


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BIGBANG G-Dragon and Taeyang to Enlist in First Half of 2018

Unable to postpone their enlistment the two BIGBANG members plan to enter the military.

Bigbang g-dragon taeyang military enlist
Image source – OSEN News

On December 24 YG Entertainment (YG) reported that both G-Dragon (Kwon Ji-yong, 29) and Taeyang (Dong Young-bae, 29) plan to enlist in early 2018. Previously the two have been able to postpone their enlistment for professional reasons. However, according to YG, the two cannot apply for any more postponements. Further, a warrant will likely be issued next year should they fail to enter the military promptly.

It is unknown if the group’s remaining members, Daesung (28) and Seungri (27), will join the military at the same time. While the two can still postpone their draft into the armed forces, there is speculation that all remaining members of BIGBANG will begin their service together to reduce the duration of the group’s hiatus.

Moreover, although no enlistment dates have been confirmed for any of the members, they have hinted the group’s impending break. During the “BIGBANG Japan Dome Tour 2017 – Last Dance” concert on December 13, the members commented that “We’re very sad that when this tour is over, we won’t be able to meet for a while.”

Likewise, Taeyang and Min Hyo-rin’s upcoming wedding on February 3 also points to an early 2018 enlistment. Regarding the marriage, a source said: “the couple is trying to have their wedding before Taeyang joins the military.”

BIGBANG debuted in 2006 with BigBang Vol.1 which had a lukewarm response from the public. However, since then the five-member boy group has gone on to have a robust career, both together and as soloists. The group’s massive popularity and global impact have earned them the title of “Kings of K-pop” from the media.


Original article

Translated by O.C