Let’s Talk About: U-KISS’s Comeback & Its Member Changes

U-KISS has been around for several years, but it has gone through numerous member line-ups. As of today, only three original members are still part of U-KISS. But in spite of these line-up changes, the group still has a loyal fanbase. Let’s take a look:


2008: U-KISS debuts with Soohyun, Kevin, Eli, Xander, Kibum, and Dongho.

not young

2009: Let’s add in Kiseop!

Man Man Ha Ni

2011: Bye Kibum and Xander. We’ll miss you!

2011: Oh, hi, AJ and Hoon. You guys seem pretty good!


2012: AJ will randomly be going to Columbia University once in a while? Okay!


2013: And now Dongho is leaving because of his health.

2014: But we have Jun joining now!


So What’s Going On?

U-KISS debuted in 2008 with a goal of being the most approachable group for international fans, with members like Xander, Kevin, Dongho, Kibum, and Eli who spoke multiple languages.

But the problem is that U-KISS never really gained popularity in Korea before going to other countries, like how most groups do that. Even though U-KISS has loyal fans throughout the world, in Korea and outside of it, it isn’t considered to be one of the most popular K-Pop acts. Members may be in variety shows, dramas, movies, etc. but they, unfortunately, are simply just not gaining the love that they deserve.

Let’s go over the facts: The group may go around the world touring, but Korean fans didn’t love U-KISS automatically, and the group hasn’t won any major awards over the years. This means that something is a bit off, since U-KISS still isn’t appealing to the average Korean K-Pop fan. Even among international fans, U-KISS lacks the numbers of groups like EXO and INFINITE have.

So how do you fix something that’s a little bit wrong, but is still working to some degree? You try to change things up.

First, Kiseop was brought in, an ulzzang (best face), who was popular among ulzzang fans. It was an obvious attempt to gain Korean fans, since Kiseop was already pretty popular.

Furthermore, Kibum and Xander’s contracts were terminated, apparently because U-KISS’s company believed the two of them to be lacking.  Fans were disappointed and worried that U-KISS may be dissolved.

Instead, two new members, Hoon and AJ, replaced the two positions. Both Hoon and AJ had already debuted, one as a solo artist and the other as a member of former idol group Paran. Like Kiseop, this also seems to be an attempt to bring in an already-built fanbase for U-KISS.

When Dongho left, fans all over the world were really sad, considering that Dongho left due to health issues. But because Dongho was not only a rapper but also the youngest member (and AJ is away at school for half of each year,) U-KISS had a void- every group needs a resident maknae (youngest member). So Jun came in. He’s still a wild card, but there’s some speculation that it’s U-KISS’s attempt at once again reaching out to a new fanbase.

Hopefully U-KISS will get all of the attention that they deserve not only because of Jun but also because of:

The Amazing, Sexy Concept!

Yup, I love it and everyone else should too. My first reaction when I saw the Mono Scandal video teaser was: Wow. U-KISS is really trying hard this time, coming out with a sexy concept that’s a bit different from what we’ve always seen from them in the past.

The group has definitely done sexy, but their song style has generally been the same, synthopop, dance sound. 0330 was a sharp change for them, and gained a generally good response, but since then the group returned to the type of sound that has treated them best.

But Mono Scandal seems to be a song that incorporates flamenco-style elements, opening up a whole new variety of music for U-KISS. Considering that the group has an extremely large Latino fanbase, and was the first K-Pop group to tour South America, this may be a conscious decision.

The music video will also be rated 19+ for it’s sexy concept, hinting to U-KISS’s maturity as an artist. And, of course, the members. Moreover, the group released extremely sexy teaser images, showing off the member’s bodies and not a single fan around the world is disappointed.

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I, for one, love the sound and can’t wait for the full video. This may be able to turn around everything for the group, launching them to stardom in their own country!

U-KISS is an extremely hard-working group that has persevered despite the fact that it’s not gaining the recognition that it’s worked so hard for.

What do you think? Does Mono Scandal suit U-KISS? Or should they go back to synthopop? Don’t forget to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

K-Pop: Korean Music or Music From Korea?

K-Pop is definitely a distinct genre from Western music, but it’s not exactly Korean music either.

Obviously, K-Pop is created in Korea, but it’s not like there’s anything unique about it. It may not sound like mainstream Western music (meaning American music), but Western producers write many K-Pop songs. SM Entertainment in particular makes use of Western producers. There are even trial versions of Girls’ Generation and f(x) songs recorded by Ke$ha and Ariana Grande:

Most K-Pop songs incorporate lyrics in English or some other language. Numerous songs have English titles rather than the Korean ones, which new fans often get confused by,  so why does Korean music have English titles?

Mostly because K-Pop is now an international phenomenon, and while everyone may not be able to read Korean writing, just about everyone can read English. Another reason is because Koreans think that if someone speaks English they’re more educated and successful.

There are also K-Pop idols who aren’t Korean, and K-Pop groups that primarily promote in China or Japan, and yet those songs are still called K-Pop.

That’s not to say that every K-Pop song is created by foreign producers or even contains lyrics in another language, but the sound of most K-Pop songs don’t sound remotely Korean. There is a very distinct sound to traditional Korean music, but that is typically lost in K-Pop.

Anytime a K-Pop singer attempts to sing traditional Korean or trot songs, it’s almost like the singer must be joking. Only a few idols have attempted to incorporate traditional Korean elements into their songs, like Super Junior-T, a Super Junior subgroup where the members sang trot songs, and ToppDogg’s song Arario, which incorporated Korean pansori music.

Moreover, the real reason why I question whether K-Pop is truly Korean is because it doesn’t really appeal to the average Korean. K-Pop is aimed at teenagers and young adults, and is very popular abroad, but most Koreans don’t care about it half as much as international audiences do. Some K-Pop songs do become popular, because they’re catchy, but not because they are K-Pop songs.

The most popular songs in Korea are actually typically indie songs, like Busker Busker’s Cherry Blossom Ending, Junggigo X SoYou’s Some, etc. Coffee shop songs have a unique genre in Korea, and are generally more popular than K-Pop, since the calming style suits more people’s listening palate.

Urban Zakapa, Nell, and even IU are generally better accepted in Korea than K-Pop idols, since they’re generally considered to be unartistic pawns of entertainment companies. Also, calmer sounding songs are more attractive to older listeners. This is why Akdong Musicians, AKMU, is also increasingly popular in Korea. Although AKMU is run by an idol company, YG Entertainment, the duo doesn’t sound like typical idol acts.

Now, that’s not to say that Koreans aren’t proud of K-Pop and don’t listen to it –I have many Korean friends who like EXO, BIGBANG, Girls’ Generation, etc. But there’s very little in most K-Pop songs  that appeal to Koreans because it doesn’t evoke Korean values and culture.

What do you think? Is K-Pop Korean or just music in Korean? Don’t forget to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

Let’s Talk About Kris, EXO, & SM Entertainment

Ever since Kris, a member of EXO and the leader of EXO-M, moved to nullify his contract with SM Entertainment, there has been a lot of mixed feelings flying around. Hopefully, I’ll lay things out in a way that makes the entire situation simpler for fans to understand.

This is going to be long, so bear with me. Here is the timeline of facts:

On September 15th, it was revealed that Kris had his lawyer file a suit to terminate his contract with SM Entertainment. Within twenty-four hours, EXO’s leader Suho made a comment, calling Kris irresponsible and asking Kris publicly to apologize and return to SM Entertainment and EXO.

Other members also took to SNS and posted confusing messages, which many fans assumed were aimed at Kris’s departure. Other fans claimed that the members, including Suho, were being forced to say these things.

Netizens caused a storm, rallying support for Kris and accosting SM Entertainment, accusing the company of forcing EXO into a horrible situation. There were even calls for Kris to reach out to YG Entertainment, generally seen as the “good” agency in comparison to SM Entertainment, which is reviled because of its contract disputes and lack of artistic freedom.

There have also been rumors flying that Kris has heart issues that SM disregarded, or that Kris was offered an acting career in China. Kris’s legal representative has also reportedly said that Kris wants to end the situation quietly. So what’s going on?

The Difference Between SM & YG, and Why Fans Think What They Think

First, I just want to say: It is entirely unfair to request that YG pick up Kris, when YG may not even want Kris. He doesn’t have unique vocal or dance talent, and is just one rapper among many – YG picks extremely talented artists, so calling for YG to pick up Kris just because SM may have mistreated him is ridiculous. Kris is good enough to be an idol, yes, but he’s not really YG’s type. They go for unique, and while he’s definitely a unique, funny person, he’s not YG’s style.

Now back to SM, YG, and business. SM Entertainment has definitely been embroiled in more lawsuits than YG Entertainment. JYJ and Hangeng are the most prominent ones; JYJ’s was because of income and slave contracts, and Hangeng was because of both income and improper treatment, as SM Entertainment hadn’t prepared adequate arrangements for foreign artists (his contract was worse than the Korean members, and he originally wasn’t allowed to appear on television because of visa issues).

Because of these prominent legal suits, SM Entertainment has earned a reputation as a company that treats its artists badly. It puts money before idols, and that upsets fans, who see YG Entertainment as a friendlier, more open company — the idols have some ability to create their own music, they have their own personality, and are generally able to say whatever they want.

The difference may be because SM has a more business-like organization, which leads to the idols being simply employees rather than artists; therefore, they are bound entirely by their contracts. As a large company, it is not in SM Entertainment’s benefit to sign contracts that will overly favor the idol trainees.

Idols are invested in, and then they have to earn back their money to pay back the company; this is not very different than companies in the United States that hire people and help pay for their graduate degrees, taking the payment out of the employee’s paycheck.

YG Entertainment does the same thing, but on a smaller scale – SM has 12 acts to manage under the SM Entertainment label alone, but numerous other acts including actors and Woollim artists. At the same time, YG Entertainment currently has 6 acts to manage, with WINNER rumored to debut any day now.

With more acts, SM Entertainment makes more money than YG, each entertainer on average is worth less because there is a wider distribution of wealth – if one idol group is making less money, SM is able to still allow them to promote since other groups are bringing more money to the company. With fewer acts at YG Entertainment, the highly successful acts bring in enough revenue for the entire company- at SM, even the most popular acts like Girls’ Generation don’t bring in enough to pay for the company’s expenses.

Disclaimer: I know nothing about the companies’ income, but this is common sense – the bigger a company, the more revenue you need each department to bring in. Departments that do poorly end up being cut.

Because SM Entertainment has more holdings than YG, it makes everything about the money – SM’s idols have often spoke about how grueling their life is, while at YG the idols generally don’t publicly address how difficult their company has made life for them.

This business-oriented company has generally garnered unfavorable impressions from the fans in comparison to a more artistic company. But at the end of the day, each company is aiming to make a profit – they are both companies and all idols suffer for their dream.

Speaking of Dreams, Let’s Get Back to Kris.

Kris has reportedly left EXO before. There were rumors that the delayed comeback after EXO’s debut (a year between MAMA and Wolf) was due to Kris leaving to Canada for a variety of reasons. Whether Kris left EXO for family issues, or because he didn’t want to be part of EXO, doesn’t matter – I’m not judging Kris, and nobody should either. That said, nobody should judge EXO’s members either. But I’ll get back to that in a minute.

Kris filed his lawsuit for any number of reasons – time will tell if he continues his career as an idol in some capacity (either as a singer, actor, or whatnot), or if he returns to Canada and to a normal life. Idol life may have worn Kris down, or he felt that SM wasn’t offering him the right opportunities, or some other crazy reason that I can’t think up.

But why are so many fans sure that SM treated him horribly? The general consensus is that SM practically tortures its idols during training and their career. But if you step back, and realize that K-Pop idols have been around for long enough that trainees know what’s in store – JYJ and Hangeng’s contract issues were in 2009, but H.O.T and Shinhwa’s issues with SM were several years before then.

I do not know Kris personally, but at the time he started down the path towards idol-dom, he probably thought it was what he wanted. It may still be what he wants. But if he ducks out of the industry, how is that any different from someone else who thinks they want one career and then, after getting their dream job, they discover that it’s not for them?

Anybody who wants to be a doctor knows that the path will be hard, and that it won’t be an easy job. Even so, they do well in college, taking the hardest science classes so that they can go to medical school. After passing four years of college with top marks, fighting their way into a medical school, and then going through three years of medical school, they finally become doctors. But being a student who wants to be a doctor and being a doctor are two very different things. While rare, it’s not unheard of for doctors to leave their medical career and pursue something else.

Kris may very well be interested in pursuing something else, and his exclusivity clause with SM Entertainment may be stopping that so he moved to terminate his contract.

There are also rumors, as mentioned earlier, that Kris has a heart condition. If that’s the case and SM is disregarding his health, then he is definitely in the right. Idol companies often put promotional activities before the health of idols, because of how rigorous the lifestyle already is, and how much companies invest in these idols.

If that’s the case, then SM is definitely in the wrong – heart conditions are not to be taken lightly. However, it is also unlikely that SM would want one of EXO’s members to drop dead on stage from a heart problem.

The story also is shady, since it came from a Chinese source, Sina, which has had sketchy reporting throughout the Kris affair – Sina reported that it interviewed Kris’s lawyer, but the law firm, Hankyul, denied giving Sina any statement. Again, I’m just an outside observer, and I know nothing of Kris’s thought process. This is all conjecture.

But fans should not immediately think that EXO has been treated poorly and Kris has been forced down this path – there are eleven other members of EXO, and they’re not filing contracts to leave.

EXO’s Members

They’ve expressed sadness and pain over Kris’s departure, and fans have claimed that this isn’t really what they’re feeling. Suho was forced to say what he did during the interview; the member’s Instagram and Weibo accounts were taken away and SM representatives posted instead. So what?

Idols are fake. As much as fans like to say that they know what idols are like, everything about idols is just about perception, not what they are actually like. Idols are molded to be idols – people to be worshipped because they’re perfect.

You should always assume that companies are, at the very least, okaying what idols are saying, Tweeting, posting, etc. Older idols may be freer with their words, but EXO only debuted two years ago; of course SM is going to keep the group under control and teach the members how to act.

SM is extremely successful – many of SM’s groups are some of the most popular acts in Asia. If people go to SM, accepting its standards of what idols are like because they want to be SM idols, then SM Entertainment will do whatever is in the company’s best interest – if the EXO members said that they understood Kris leaving, it would admit that SM’s methods, to some degree, are wrong.

But that’s going with the assumption that yes, EXO says things that SM wants them to – but why can’t EXO’s members be hurt and mad towards Kris? Working with a team is one of the hardest things in the world. Ask anyone who has ever had a group project at school or work. Getting everyone to do their job is so difficult, and then the different personalities come into play. It’s hard.

Not to mention that EXO had twelve members to deal with, some of whom hardly spoke the same languages. Even now, some of EXO-M’s members struggle with Korean. Yet they managed to work together, and debuted and promoted as one of the most popular groups in Korea and Asia.

Imagine working together, towards the same goal, sweating day and night, and then one of the team members ditches the project before the due date? Sure, idols don’t have “due dates,” par say, but EXO just released Overdose, and then the news broke that Kris was departing from the group. Suddenly, instead of six members for EXO-M’s performances, there are five; EXO is having a concert soon and now they’re missing one of the performers.

Other idol groups have lost members or added new ones, but it’s rare for something like this to happen at the start of a promotional period – maybe in the middle, or right after one, but Kris has now caused EXO and SM Entertainment to scramble to try to keep this promotional period active. If EXO stops promoting Overdose, it will cost the company a lot of money, and the members’ efforts will have gone to waste. So EXO is still promoting, and persevering, and I understand why the members would be upset.

So Why Are Fans Saying It’s Not Them Feeling This Way?

Like I said before, it may very well not be how they’re honestly feeling (remember, idols are fake). But it could be their honest opinions and fans won’t listen. Most fans are siding with Kris, saying that the other members should also follow suit. Everyone likes the little guy going up against the big man, and that is what this is. Kris’s lawsuit is about one person leaving a large company, so of course people want him to be in the right rather than the company. If EXO’s other members support the company, it means that there may be something wrong with what Kris is doing. I think that when it comes to right and wrong, you can’t really point fingers here. SM’s done bad things and Kris’s decision will affect all of EXO, having a ripple effect.

This situation may lead to EXO’s popularity in China to decrease because Chinese fans will most likely side with Kris, or the Chinese fans may say that Kris should have stayed so as to represent EXO-M. The EXO-M members may be seen less favorably in Korea, since they may be seen as less loyal than their Korean counterpart, as their leader left the group. Thousands of other scenarios may ensue, including EXO ending up as an eleven-member group rather than twelve, or even adding a new member. For all we know, Kris could come back, although that is highly unlikely.

Whatever it is, the fact that people are calling SM out as evil and calling for Kris to go to YG is ridiculous – they are both businesses, and this is a business matter. Until Kris finishes his business dealings with SM, namely the lawsuit, he will be unable to really do anything else in the entertainment industry.

What’s your take in this whole ordeal, is Kris in the right or wrong? What’s your theory? We want to know! Don’t forget to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.