Let’s Discuss: Sulli & f(x)’s Future

For some time prior to the actual announcement, fans were wondering where Sulli was. While idols sometimes miss a promotional cycle due to injury or illness, it is extremely rare for an idol to just disappear without any warning.

When Sulli stopped appearing with f(x) to promote Red Light, fans assumed that it was a temporary thing. But then it became apparent that f(x) was in an awkward position when, after winning first place, the members didn’t mention Sulli’s name at all.

After SM Entertainment announced that Sulli would be taking time off from f(x), a lot of rumors were flying: she’s pulling another “Kris,” she’s embarrassed by her rumored relationship with Choiza (her picture was found in his wallet, found by a fan), she was jealous of the success of the other members of f(x), etc.

The list goes on, as do the questions regarding Sulli’s absence. But one question is really at the forefront of everyone’s minds:

Will f(x) disband?

The simple answer?

Probably not.

Even if Sulli doesn’t return as an active member of f(x), f(x) will most likely still thrive. Five members used to be ideal for idol groups (TVXQ, SS501, g.o.d, NRG, Baby V.O.X, Big Bang, The Wonder Girls, SHINee etc.) but SM Entertainment proved with Super Junior and Girls’ Generation that size wasn’t everything. Even though four member groups are uncommon nowadays, it’s not unheard of- especially with four members like Amber, Victoria, Krystal, and Luna.


Each member of f(x), Sulli included, has their own unique set of traits that they bring to the group. Luna as the singer, Krystal as the actress, Victoria as the dancer, and Amber as the MC provide a well-rounded group of girls that doesn’t really need another. Add to the fact that Krystal, Amber, and Victoria are immensely popular overseas means that the group won’t really lose international popularity if Sulli leaves. (In comparison, if Amber or Krystal left, f(x) would suffer horribly abroad.)

In Korea, Sulli was definitely the most popular member of f(x) for a long time; she was a child actress and model. After deciding to become a singer, Sulli still acted, appearing in dramas like To The Beautiful You, and set to appear in an upcoming movie, The Pirates. But her fame as an actress hasn’t really spread to the rest of f(x)’s members – f(x)’s members tend to promote extremely successfully as individuals.

Which means that Sulli’s identity is more of her own than as a member of f(x). So if she decides to withdraw from the group, Sulli herself will be fine.

And the rest of the group, still filled with a lot of talent and personality, will also be able to function, especially since Sulli’s role in f(x) was never truly clearly defined.

Originally, Sulli was touted as the acting member of f(x), but since then, all of the members, excluding Amber, have appeared in dramas. Krystal’s success in The Heirs may have overshadowed Sulli’s own acting career, making Sulli’s role in the group a little bit less solid.

Sulli wouldn’t be the first SM Entertainment artist to take a break from her group in order to focus on acting – Super Junior’s Kibum took a “break” and never returned to the group. Although he never officially left the group, or even really took off on his acting career, neither Kibum nor Super Junior were extremely harmed by his absence from the group.

Based on the facts, that Sulli is good in f(x) but not entirely necessary, it seems unlikely that f(x) fans really need to worry about Sulli’s departure from the group.

The rest of f(x) was able to promote Red Light  without Sulli, and the only awkwardness was the fact that they didn’t mention Sulli’s absence.

So should f(x) fans really worry? Not really; f(x) can manage with or without Sulli. If she really is just taking a break, which could still be an option, then she’ll hopefully be welcomed back with open arms. And if she leaves, with minimal drama, it’s unlikely that f(x) will suffer.

In fact, it’s even unclear why SM stopped f(x)’s promotional cycle. Perhaps the biggest threat to f(x) right now isn’t Sulli’s absence, but SM’s desire for upcoming girl group, Red Velvet, to be successful…

What do you think? Will Sulli be missed from f(x)? Don’t forget to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

Let’s Discuss: INFINITE & The SM-Woollim Merger

Let’s go back a little less than a year ago in Seoul: INFINITE gets up on stage at the first night of their world tour, performs a bit, and then starts to talk. With tears on their eyes, they apologize and promise fans that things won’t change, and swear that INFINITE will always be INFINITE.

No, a member didn’t leave, but news broke that day anouncing that INFINITE’s company, Woollim Entertainment, would be merging with SM C&C. And yet, in that moment, sitting in the audience, and only picking up every few words with my limited knowledge of Korean, I thought that INFINITE was disbanding. Or, at the very least, a member was heading to the army. The way that INFINITE acted towards Inspirit (the group’s fanclub), seemed like the members had to apologize for practically killing someone. Why?

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In South Korea, SM Entertainment is both respected and feared. The first few days after the announcement of the merger, fans wrote articles saying things like, Did SM buy INFINITE’s company so that the group wouldn’t compete with SHINee and EXO? (Both groups are some of SM’s most popular).

Fans feared that INFINITE would be relegated to some backburner by SM and not be able to be competition. What many fans missed (but others pointed out) was that Woollim Label (no longer an entertainment company in its own right) would still have control over INFINITE and other Woollim artists, like Nell and Tasty. This meant that INFINITE would, hopefully, still have the artistic guidance that it had had since debut.

In Retrospect, Why The Merger?

First thing’s first: Money. INFINITE, almost singlehandedly, took care of Woollim. Yes, Nell is extremely popular in Korea, but it doesn’t rake in the income from various appearances on television, concerts, CFs, and more, that INFINITE does. The two Tasty twins also aren’t even close to being big enough to take care of an entertainment company. Woollim has always been amazing at what it does, but has been too small to really support several artists because only one group was bringing in constant funds.

Second: SM is bigger, which opens more doors in Korea.

Third: INFINITE really was competition for SHINee and EXO. The group filmed a $1 million blockbuster music video in the U.S., even though it was never released. The original video included a plane wreck scene, and due to the Asiana Airlines crash of 2013, Woollim decided it would be insensitive to release. Moreover,  they had embarked on a world tour, and had members debuting as solo artists (Sungkyu) and becoming incredibly popular actors (L and Hoya), to name a few.

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INFINITE was, and is, big. So when a big company sees a little company being successful, the typical response is, “let’s buy it out.” A merge helped both Woollim and SM –Woollim got the financial backing it may have been lacking, and SM got rid of competition by incorporating it.

A Year Later, What Happened? 

Pretty much, just that—INFINITE came back with Back, and it’s been well-received so far. Last Romeo also topped the charts, although fans’ generally thought that it wasn’t INFINITE’s best song. But, it meant that the group would still be active —which it had been doing since the merger occurred.

Since the merger occurred, other than releasing the album Last Romeo and its repackage Be Back, the group also released The Origin, a completely instrumental album of all of INFINITE’s best songs.

Moreover, INFINITE has held several concerts, introduced an upcoming subgroup INFINITE F (Sungyeol, Sungjong, and L), and appeared on the variety show This Is INFINITE.

Separately, the members have also been busy –Woohyun, Sungyeol, and L have all acted in dramas, while the other members have frequented variety shows.

What Did INFINITE Gain By The Merger? 

Well, for one thing, there was this little thing called ToHeart—INFINITE’s Woohyun and SHINee’s Key, who have long been known to be best friends, were able to have a project group now that they were both under the SM umbrella. And people really liked it!

Then, there’s the support from SM; while idols at different entertainment companies generally are civil, they rarely promote one another. But when Sungyeol appeared on Law of The Jungle – Caribbean & Maya, members of Girls’ Generation cheered him on. There have been several other cases now where SM artists and INFINITE have been seen together in a way that they never had appeared before.

[As a side note: Since the merger, SM artists and Woollim artists have been collaborating more in general – on We Got Married Global Edition, f(x)’s Amber and Tasty’s Soryong have worked together as MCs.]

Oh, and, of course, INFINITE (and other Woollim acts) now appear at SMTown concerts.

So… What Was The Freak Out About?

Pretty much? Nothing really.

So is SM still a threat to INFINITE’s integrity? Probably not.

There was definitely room to worry,  but then it turned out that INFINITE would still be INFINITE. The group pretty much has kept doing what it’s done in the past- make really good, retro-inspired music with perfect synchronization.

And continued to be the derps they started out as.


What do you think? Has INFINITE changed since the merger? Be sure to share your thoughts and follow us on FacebookTwitter,
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What I Respect About K-Netizens

Every time a given idol has a scandal, K-Netizens are quick to jump in, hype it up, and take it to extreme levels, whether it’s T-ara, Baekhyun and Taeyeon, or Park Bom. If K-Netizens feel wronged or that the idols wronged someone else, they will make a big deal about it. And while most of the reasons behind the different backlashes seem outrageous and extreme to I-Fans (international fans), there’s no denying that these fangirls and boys have a sizable amount of power over the artists that ultimately affect their careers, which is respectable. But are they wrong for doing so? No, not really.

A few weeks ago, as I read K-Netizen’s hate comments recompiled by different news sources on the Baekhyun and Taeyeon dating scandal, I struggled to understand their rationale: they opened their IG accounts for the fans and instead used them to deceive us by sending hidden messages to each other. They made fools out of us and must apologize to us. Crazy, right? Well, if you look past the obvious façade of the argument (I mean, you’re really just mad they’re dating, don’t try to falsely rationalize it!), it does have truth in its roots. The K-Netizen’s actual rationale for this particular scandal is that they feel entitled to these people’s careers because they built them up and got them to where they stand. It’s grim to think that the same people who willingly turned a person into a star could finish them, but this is actually not delusional, as some I-Fans call K-Netizens.

Yes, fans shouldn’t have a say in an idol’s personal life –but that’s not the point. K-Netizens raise a good point in saying that they, the fans and thus the consumers, should take a stand when they don’t like something and have the industry accommodate them. The Baekhyun and Taeyeon ordeal was not the best example of this because netizens made a fuss about their personal lives (which shouldn’t be meddled with), so let’s take the T-ara bullying scandal of 2012.

After attending a prestigious concert in Japan, now former member (then current) Hwayoung only performed one song because of a hurt ankle. Allegedly, this caused several T-ara members to tweet passive aggressive messages about determination and loyalty, which seemed to be directed at Hwayoung, raising red flags about them bullying her. K-netizens then started policing all of T-ara’s TV appearances and pictures to uncover instances of bullying, and they found an overwhelming amount of them. Because of this, Core Contents Media held a press conference and denied the bullying allegations, which only made people believe it was a cover up. From then on, things just kept escalating until Hwayoung was kicked out of the group, which was not well received by fans.

K-netizens felt upset that the original T-ara members were bullying Hwayoung and, what’s more, made her leave the group, so they took matters into their own hands. Thousands of fans left T-ara’s fan club, and tickets for their first solo concert were returned. Their biggest fan cafe closed, and an online petition for the group to disband started circulating the web. Furthermore, because of the controversy, Eunjung was pulled from We Got Married and the drama Five Fingers dropped her before production even started. Advertisers also began dropping T-ara as a group, such as Tony Moly. All this resulted in T-ara laying low for a while, only to return a couple of months later with Day by Day, but it’s safe to say that they didn’t garnish as much popularity as they once had prior to the whole incident.

Conclusion: K-netizens almost successfully destroyed T-ara’s career, and that’s respectable. They took a stand over something they knew was wrong, organized effectively, and managed to affect their careers temporarily. Imagine if people in the West and the rest of the world would do the same with “badly behaving” artists like Chris Brown, or Justin Bieber? People tend to forget that, as consumers, our buys count. If we stop buying products from artists who do shady things, we’d have artists with better characters and thus better role models. K-netizens understand this, and that is why it’s not delusional of them to feel entitled to their idol’s career (again, but not their personal lives).

This, of course, doesn’t mean that everything that K-netizens do on all scandals is right. Recently, K-netizens targeted Park Bom for her defunct 2010 case of “drug smuggling,” as yellow journalists have called it. Even though police dismissed the case, netizens are making a big deal over it and have even caused Bom to go on hiatus from SBS’ variety program Roommate.

Nevertheless, in its basic essence –consumers taking matters into their own hands and holding suppliers accountable– K-netizens have it right. It’s a shame how netizens have turned into these monsters who regularly affect idols’ personal lives. But if they were to get it together and focus on their idols as public figures and not private ones, they would be in the right.

What’s your opinion on K-netizens? Be sure to share your thoughts and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

Let’s Discuss: YG’s Luck With Damage Control

Park Bom of 2NE1’s recent drug scandal, and YG Entertainment’s handling of it, shows yet another time when YG Entertainment thought it was doing the right thing with its artists, but really only time will be able to heal the wound. Time and time again, YG Entertainment’s damage control is just hiding from the spotlight for a bit.

And that’s a problem.

Bom got caught trying to smuggle amphetamine in from the US to Korea in 2010, by trying to send the drugs through mail. YG’s ceo, Yang Hyun Suk, released a statement explaining Bom’s actions, and made sense of the situation- Bom had gone to school in the US and needed the medicine to help her cope with a traumatic event from her past. She didn’t know that the drug was illegal in Korea, just thought that it was unavailable and had it sent to her grandmother’s home because she would be doing her 2NE1 activities.

Then it came to light that the medicine was smuggled to look like diet aid. Obviously, someone from Park Bom’s family knew that what she was receiving was wrong, but sent it in care of Bom’s grandmother anyway–trying to keep the possible illegality being traced to Bom herself.

Since that news became public, YG and Yang Hyun Suk has stayed silent despite his previous lengthy response to Bom’s situation. In fact, pretty much everyone’s stayed silent. Bom has continued her 2NE1 activities, but recently stopped filming for the variety show Roommates. She will probably disappear for a bit, then come back with 2NE1 in a few months.

This is almost the exact same thing that happened with G-Dragon when he was caught smoking marijuana, which is also a drug that’s illegal in South Korea. He got in trouble publicly, then came back amazingly with Blue and then, possibly Big Bang’s most iconic song, Fantastic Baby. And all was forgotten because, well, it was a minor issue. Just like this one.

A minor issue, but a big public image mess. YG seems to try to handle things, and then let them go away, hoping (and knowing) that the public will forget. The same thing happened when Seungri had a sex scandal.

Even Daesung’s scandal, a car accident when somebody died, went away with some time.

But many scandals, something as simple as plastic surgery, causes the end of an idol’s career.  Even SM Entertainment’s Kangin of Super Junior had a hard time rebounding from a large scandal involving a DUI, and had to go to the army.

Yet,  YG has realized that if its idols go away, to reflect, it helps. It doesn’t actually matter what the idol does– as long as Bom doesn’t get caught, she could probably go to Hawaii and surf the waves for three months, then come back and act a little bit remorseful, and all will be well.

YG doesn’t need to control its artists that well because their fandoms are so intense that even murder could be forgiven. (Just clarifying, Daesung did not murder anybody–it was an accident. I’m just saying, they could be vampires and nobody would be annoyed because 2NE1 and Big Bang’s fans are so passionate.)

But, even though YG doesn’t need to control its artists, since they’ll be all right, does it mean that YG doesn’t need to? YG Entertainment is the only company right now that has idols actively promoting who have had numerous sex and drug scandals. Smaller companies can’t deal with the bad press, so members leave, but companies like SM and JYP get rid of idols when something happens (think about Jay Park and 2PM.)

YG Entertainment gives its artists free reign, and they kind of are out of control. The company is merely lucky that fans still adore the idols after they make their comebacks. Things could get pretty nasty otherwise.

Is it problematic that YG Entertainment isn’t very good at damage control and just lets fans forgive and forget? Or is that the way things should be in K-Pop? Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

Let’s Discover: NU’EST

I mentioned to one of my fellow KPOPme writers that I need to broaden my K-Pop horizons when I saw the teaser for NU’EST‘s comeback. She suggested I use that as a basis for an article (or many to follow in similar format). So here I am, about to write a Let’s Discover article about NU’EST.

Why NU’EST, you may ask? Well, for me personally, I really do not know much about them. I know Ren of NU’EST, because he is the most recognizable out of the group and he was the only one I ever really heard about. In all honesty, I thought NU’EST was a well established K-Pop group, thinking they have been in the industry for at least four years.

So imagine my shock when I found out they have only been together for two years! This was both shocking and a warm welcome to me. Shocking, because the way they were talked about online made it seem like they have been around longer. Now as I write this I realize that they debuted in 2012, which was the year that I really became interested in K-Pop, and that may be the reason why I heard so much about that at the time. The fact that they have only been together for two years meant there were only two years of music for me to discover.

NU’EST is a five-member male K-Pop group that debuted two years ago in 2012. One thing that I initially noticed is that there are only five members. It feels like the majority of K-Pop groups these days are made up of more than five members. I wasn’t sure I was counting correctly at first. I think five is a good number for a group. There aren’t too many rappers, main singers, dancers, etc. Everyone has a chance to shine and it’s easier to learn about each member.

The fact that there’s a Korean-American in the group, Aron, also shows that NU’EST wishes to appeal to international fans. I watched some of NU’EST’s videos online and there’s a lot of times that Aron speaks to his fans in English, which I really enjoy being that I am a native English speaker.

Before I listened to NU’EST’s older songs, I began with their Judgement teaser, which was what caught my attention in the first place. After watching the teaser I was intrigued. From there I began to watch their other music videos and naturally I have seen a few of them before, but they never left a lasting impression on me. I noticed that with K-Pop and other music genres for that matter, I have to like an artist at my own pace.

Judgement and their looks (let’s be honest guys) was enough for me to explore more. A quick side note, why are there four members born in 1995? They should be older!!!!! These boys, especially Baekho, have mature faces for 19-year-olds. Ok, back to the music.

I watched all of their music videos, at least most of them, and have come to the conclusion that I love Action. The chorus is what gets me. So good. I grew up in the 90’s with NSYNC and Backstreet Boys and this song’s beat and production remind me so much of those boy bands. I would recommend Action to any new fans of NU’EST. It’s upbeat and so catchy.

The five guys seem to work well together, based on their music videos and some behind-the-scenes videos I discovered. I would like more videos of them together though because a lot of the videos online are older. I did discover that on their YouTube page, they had a series of videos showing what the members were up to leading up to this comeback. It’s nice for fans to see their idols and for new fans, like me, who don’t know much about the group. Those types of videos make the idols more personable.

After watching Good Bye Bye, it’s clear to see that these boys (yes boys, they’re only 19 and 21!!) have come back with a more mature concept and look. Throughout the video, they look and act masculine, and Ren looks so different now! He looks much more mature and more handsome.

With each listen the song grows on me. At first I wasn’t really into the song, but while writing this article I’ve gone back and listened to it a couple of times and I like it more and more after each listen. Anyway, I absolutely love the instrumentals and the production of the song. They fit the tone of the song and video perfectly.

I hope NU’EST has a successful comeback with Good Bye Bye and their first full length album, Re:BIRTH. I listened to the album, and I love, love, love Big Deal. Based on the comments, the fans love it as well, and they hope for a music video (I’m totally down for a music video for Big Deal, it would be sooo good).

All in all, I’m glad NU’EST made a comeback this week so I can discover them even though they have been together for two years. That’s one of the beauties of K-Pop, there are so many groups (old, new, disbanded, still together, etc) for people to explore and a lot of them have their own style, which makes finding new music so easy.

Based on their comeback spoiler episodes on 1theK, the boys put A LOT of hard work into the new album and their comeback. They clearly love to sing and dance and are humbled by the support of their fans. For that, they have gained a new fan.

Are you guys new fans to NU’EST too or have you been a loyal fan from the beginning? What are some of your favorite NU’EST songs I should check out as I explore NU’EST’s music? If you have any ideas or topics you think we should discuss in these Let’s Discover articles leave your comments below! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr,and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

Let’s Discuss: Is Henry The Most Successful Chinese K-Pop Idol?

Yes. The answer, despite the fact that he may not be as popular as EXO-M or Han Geng, is a “yes.” Success and fame are completely different things. With Henry‘s upcoming comeback with Fantastic, it’s worth taking a moment to realize how successful he has become.

Canadian-born Henry Lau, who debuted in 2008 as a member of Super Junior-M, has become more and more popular throughout Korea throughout the past few years. Despite some rough times, when Super Junior fans resisted Henry and fellow SuJu-M member Zhou Mi (regardless of how Super Junior’s other members felt), Henry ended up coming out on top of just about every other artist of Chinese descent to pass through SM Entertainment’s doors.

Let’s look at where Henry is now:

Last year, he debuted as a solo artist, making him SM Entertainment’s first male solo artist in thirteen years. Since then, he promoted his first album Trap successfully, and ended up becoming a variety favorite by appearing on the military-variety show, Real Men. Even though he’s not Korean and doesn’t have to serve in the military, Henry’s shown Korean audiences that not only does he value their country’s military service, but he can learn from it. And do it with a smile on his face.

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When Henry joined Super Junior to promote as a Super Junior-M member with fellow Chinese singer Zhou Mi, Korean Super Junior fans protested. Super Junior was thirteen members, they claimed. Since then, Super Junior’s had a whole slew of changes to its line up, but fans still won’t accept Henry and Zhou Mi. Which, personally, I think is ridiculous. Not only is Henry talented, but the other Super Junior members have begged fans to accept Zhou Mi and Henry just like fans have accepted every other member.

But Super Junior’s fanclub, ELF (Everlasting Friends) claims that Henry and Zhou Mi are Super Junior, but only if they have M to their name. One would think that this would be an end of a career for the two of the idols, and for a long time, it seemed like both Zhou Mi and Henry would merely promote as members of Super Junior-M.

But Henry’s plunge into becoming a solo singer showed the K-Pop world that being a member of a subgroup isn’t a death sentence. While Zhou Mi’s pursued an acting career in China and is one of Super Junior’s resident composers, Henry’s done everything he can to make Korean and international fans recognize him as what he is, an extremely talented musician—he’s, in fact, an excellent musician, regardless of his training from SM Entertainment.

So he’s done well. Zhou Mi has also. Why do I say that Henry is the most successful of SM’s Chinese artists?

First, let’s look at other Chinese artists at SM. There are the three remaining Chinese members of EXO (EXO-M): Luhan, Lay, and Tao. They’re popular, because EXO is popular, and are each getting recognition, but as members of EXO rather than individuals. Kris, who has since left EXO, is trying to make a name for himself in China, but many fans think of him as a traitor and no longer favor him.

Then, in f(x), there’s Victoria and Amber. Again, popular, and they each have many, many fans, but because they’re members of f(x) and have done promotions representing not only themselves, but also the group. But Henry is generally just Henry, except when he’s Super Junior-M’s Henry.

Okay, so Zhou Mi. Zhou Mi is popular. But he hasn’t been able to gain the solo fame to compete with Henry, who is able to appear on Korean television and be recognized immediately.

Zhang Liyin was extremely popular in the late 2000’s, but her popularity waned due to a large period of inactivity- her last single was released in 2009, and her last album was released in 2008. She is a member of SM The Ballad and is rumored to be making a comeback soon, but it’s almost impossible for her to compete with younger idols like Henry.

And then there’s Han Geng. He is probably the most famous Chinese person to ever walk through the doors of SM Entertainment. He’s an icon in China, having been picked out of hundreds of other Chinese auditions to be the first Chinese trainee at SM Entertainment, and then when he left Super Junior, he became a star in China, both as a singer and as an actor.

Unlike Kris, who has evoked fans’ fury by immediately starting a career in China, Han Geng obviously was unable to work due to his contract with SM Entertainment. He’s now considered to be a world star, and recently appeared in the latest Transformers movie.

Okay, so he’s famous. And popular. But is that successful? Many would say yes. But is he as successful as Henry who, despite the hardships he faced for being an unwanted member of Super Junior, still waited patiently for his day to shine? Personally, as someone who values patience and loyalty, I don’t really think so.

Just to make this clear: I don’t think Han Geng should have stayed at SM. The company had no idea what they were doing with a Chinese idol. But, as awful as it sounds, Han Geng cleared the way for Henry, Zhou Mi, and all other of SM’s Chinese trainees.

Henry was a hated member of one of the most popular K-Pop groups ever. To this day, fans of Super Junior don’t accept Henry as a “true” member of the group, whatever that means. But rather than accept his place, Henry has overcome the rejection and started slowly. He accepted his own personal fans, known as Strings thanks to his violin skills, and never really spoke up about how much it must have hurt for ELF to reject him and Zhou Mi.

He worked hard, appeared on variety shows, promoted as a Super Junior-M member, and practically forced the world to recognize him as a hardworking, talented performer. Only then was he able to promote alone as a solo artist, Henry.

While SM Entertainment has struggled with Chinese members, Henry is the most successful one because he’s done the impossible- he’s practically convinced the Korean audience that he’s a Korean idol. Everyone knows that he’s not, and in fact that’s part of his charm. It’s because of this, the fact that Henry has been able to endure until he reached acceptance from the very audience that originally rejected him, why I think that Henry’s the most successful.

His name is 헨리 (Henry), and he appears on a show that emulates Korean army service and people accept it, he speaks Korean fluently. He is a Korean idol not only as a member of a group but in his own right.

He may not be the most popular, and he may not be the wealthiest, but he is the most accepted Chinese K-Pop idol. And because of that, Henry Lau is the most successful Chinese person in K-Pop today.

What do you think? Are other Chinese idols more successful? Share your opinion with us! Make sure to follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

Why Hyomin’s ‘Nice Body’ is Offensive to Women

For the past few weeks, Core Contents Media hyped up T-ara member Hyomin’s solo debut with Nice Body like it would be the song of the summer. They said the music video would be rated 15+, while the dance version would be 19+, making fans and the general public’s anticipation grow. Articles on different news sites revealed teaser pictures of Hyomin in a fat suit with prosthetics on her face to look the part. With this, and the song’s title, the first red flag glared. However, everything was still pretty hush hush, so criticism couldn’t surface without knowing the music video’s plot and the song’s lyrics.

But then the video for Nice Body came out last Sunday, raising more red flags than anything else seen in K-Pop in a while. Realistically speaking, the only reason why Nice Body should be rated for people over 19, with its distasteful plot line to its objectifying costume and its absurd lyrics, is because no impressionable youngster should be sold such an offensive message towards women.

I know what you, as a fan, are thinking: You’re wrong, Hyomin unnie is singing about her nice body and not trying to impose hers as ideal. There’s nothing wrong with loving your body and being comfortable in it. If it were a man singing about his body, this wouldn’t be a problem… No, Hyomin singing about her body being ideal nor being comfortable in her skin nor with her sexuality are not the issues in question.

The problem starts with the lyrics. While I may not know Korean, I know how to use Google, and Google found for me this English translation of Hyomin’s Nice Body. But where do I even start? The beginning seems to be the best choice:

All girls want to show some skin
All girls go on a diet at least once
All girls want to be loved
A prince of my dreams will appear for sure

Ok, ok. This is true. It’s because of the beauty standards and gender roles set by the patriarchal society we live in, but ok, it’s reality.

(Not eating what I want to)
I will be strong
(I will endure through the pain)
I will become pretty
I will fall in love, I will show everyone
I will change
You do deserve it
My body is a nice nice body
Long legs, sexy waist
(Give me love, give me love, give me love)

Obesity is a real problem — I get that. There’s nothing wrong with wanting and trying to be healthy. What’s wrong is when you bring beauty into the equation and say that if you’re skinny, you’ll be pretty and thus, deserving of love. Yes, because gender roles have long established that women’s sole purpose in life is to appeal to men, get married, and have babies. To make matters worse, people glorify these notions by making it news out of what Hyomin ate or didn’t in order to have that nice body.

While I may be getting ahead of myself with this one, it’s important to spot even the littlest references to these sexist gender roles to understand the larger picture. It’s never just about saying skinny is pretty or just about whichever example is the ideal body type, it’s about reinforcing destructive ideas that “put women in their place.”

All guys want a girl like this
All guys like pretty girls
All guys think dirty thoughts at least once
I want that to be me, I want that…
It was so hard for me
You have no idea how much I worked for you
Good style, feel good, smile
I am confident now

As previously stated, women’s purpose in life is not to serve men. It’s 2014, people! We work, and not just as teachers or secretaries; we go to school, where we pursue different sciences. We raise children, sometimes on our own. We lead countries like Argentina, Germany, and, yes, South Korea, for crying out loud! Women should not conform to be a certain way based on what men want.

And while women and men alike are shallow; again, that is only the surface of the problem. The deeper, more embedded issue is when you put it into context, which, up until now, is: “I need to be skinny so guys like me and that way I’ll be worth something.” Do I really need to go into detail about how a woman’s worth is measured? It’s certainly not over how many men fancy you or how small your waistline is.

Speaking of waistlines, let’s address Hyomin’s leotard with different numbers on it. These numbers (34 at the bust, 24 at the waist, and 36 at the hips) are actually inches representing her measurements. Furthermore, at the chorus, she uses a measuring tape as a prop for her little dance. Again, look at the bigger picture; this does not represent Hyomin being comfortable in her body and being proud about it. As if packaging women and selling them in the name of pop wasn’t enough, Hyomin is now reduced to three numbers –to an object — perpetuating the notion that women are sub-human and thus not equal to men.

Hyomin Nice Body MV

But things get worse with the music video. Hyomin has a nice body, we know that; she makes it very clear. What’s not so clear is her fat suit costume whose sole purpose is to body-shame. Girl, you can have the best, hottest body, have all the guys at your feet telling you you’re beautiful, but how will body-shaming and ridiculing someone who doesn’t look like you serve you?

The scenes were packaged as a joke, something cute and funny, imagine if Hyomin, who has a great body because her only job is to look hot all the time, were to look fat? Omo! That would be funny because she’s not really fat, and fat is funny… I feel like I’m reiterating myself over and over again, but here goes: Look at the bigger picture. A girl whose body meets the beauty standards set by society in a fat-suit singing about a woman’s worth depending on how good she looks like is offensive, to women and men alike.   

Hyomin Nice Body MV Fat

And then we have this little gem. Does the girl in the top picture seem familiar to you? That’s because she starred in the music video for the rape culture appreciation anthem known as Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. I would say this little tribute is the cherry on top of the sundae, one blatantly offensive music video and song to another.

Hyomin Nice Body Blurred Lines MV

In a world where idols are ostracized over who they date, how sexy their concept is, or if they left their company and bandmates hanging, it’s really fascinating how a song, music video, and concept that offends women and their struggle against sexism goes unnoticed. If netizens have proved something time and time again, it’s that they have the power of taking an idol down; even though I am not calling for this fate for Hyomin, I do wonder where the outcry is for something that actually matters.

Lastly, to take that sour taste out of your mouth, here’s a song by Sunny Hill with a message completely opposite to Hyomin’s. Please enjoy and pick better K-Pop songs.

What did you think about Hyomin’s Nice Body? Share your opinion with us! Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

Let’s Discuss: f(x), Liked But Not Loved?

With f(x) about to release Red Light, I couldn’t help but think about the group. Just about every fan of K-Pop fan knows at least one of their songs, or at least knows the names of Krystal or Amber.

But, are you actually in love with f(x)?

Many K-Pop fans are devoted in their fan worship, often directing their love at the hottest idol group. More often than not, this means that male idol groups get a lot of love. But Girls’ Generation, 2NE1, Miss A, A Pink, After School… They all have a lot of fans, and yet f(x) seems to have people who enjoy its songs, and people who like individual members, but nobody really seems to be a fan of the group as a whole. f(x) doesn’t even have an official fanclub name. Although, to be fair, neither does EXO.

But let’s be honest. Did you pay attention to f(x) other than the fact that Amber is cool because of her tomboyish attitude, and the fact that she speaks both Mandarin and English? Were you a fan of Krystal before she was in The Heirs? How about f(x)’s debut song? (It’s LA chA Ta, by the way).

Many fans will answer, “Yes, I do know those things.” But many, many people don’t.

They don’t know that Victoria is a classical Chinese dancer, or the fact that Luna not only is a singer but also acts. Sulli, once considered the most popular member, is hardly making headlines other the fact that she is probably dating Dynamic Duo’s Choiza.

Does that mean that f(x) isn’t popular? Not really. Many fans are looking forward to Red Light, because SM Entertainment has built up an exciting set of teaser images preceding the release of the album and music video.

Because f(x) is a good group, but it’s not ever really endeared itself to the fans in a long-lasting way. The group gains popularity with each comeback, with each variety show, etc. Compared to other idols, especially SM Entertainment idol groups, f(x) is a bit lacking.

Internationally, f(x) made headlines for performing at SXSW in 2013, and filming a Funny or Die video with Anna Kendrick. But then the international interest died down a bit.

The group’s songs Electric Shock and Rum Pum Pum Pum became hits in Korea, and Krystal became a huge fan favorite thanks to her role in The Heirs. But in between promoting those things and beginning to promote Red Light, it’s not as if fans have looked out for news of their favorite idol, and been waiting impatiently for a variety show. (Except about Krystal and her sister, Girls’ Generation’s Jessica.)

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Sulli’s dating scandal hardly compares to those involving the members of Girls’ Generation; fans barely even reacted to the news. Most Korean netizens seemed to respond more to the fact that SM Entertainment seems to be relaxing dating rules for its idols, rather than the fact that Sulli, in specific, was dating someone.

People think a lot of f(x), its members, its songs, etc., but nobody really passionately, fervently loves f(x). It is obviously a popular idol group, but it’s the music and concepts that are popular rather than the members themselves. People know f(x), and people like f(x), but the group doesn’t have the appeal that groups like Girls’ Generation, Miss A, Wonder Girls, 2NE1, KARA, etc. have had before them.

CJ E & M Poll

Of course, this is just my perception. In fact, f(x) beat out all other idol groups for global popularity in a CJ E&M survey in 2013, raking in 16.4% overall throughout the world. Shinhwa, Kim Hyun Joong, EXO, and SHINee followed after.

What do you think? Is f(x) more popular and beloved by many as a whole? Or are f(x)’s members and songs individually more endearing than the group as a whole? Be sure to share your thoughts and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

Idols & Personal Lives: There’s a Connection?

Privacy in South Korea for K-Pop idols has become a growing issue in the entertainment industry. Some argue that, as celebrities whose lives are always observed, idols shouldn’t be surprised at the attention; however, do they have a right to have personal lives?

Too many times have I seen and heard of horror stories about sasaeng fans stepping out of boundaries in order to pursue their unhealthy obsessions, but even some seemingly “normal” fans have developed an overbearing presence on their favorite idols. In comparison to the United States, in which privacy is a given to celebrities (and lawsuits be easily pursued against violators), it’s a shocker to international fans who find out about the lack of such an important human right in the South Korean entertainment business.

For those of you who see every “privacy infringement” case as sasaeng-exclusive, I have to disagree.

True, some instances of sasaeng activity seem a bit difficult to prevent, like fans getting ahold of idols’ private phone numbers and bombarding them with calls nonstop. Should celebrities have to face such harrassment? No. Is it still going to happen? Unfortunately, due to the high levels of fans paying large amounts of money to get such information, this practice will not disappear forever.

However, other problematic situations can and should be prevented. Last year, EXO’s Tao was recorded singing in the shower, in his private hotel room; the audio clip was then uploaded online and led to an angry Weibo response from the star. What’s worse? I witnessed so many international fans spreading around this audio clip on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media, attaching such comments like “his voice is so cute,” “this is so wrong but it’s too funny to ignore,” and other disturbing reactions to a creepy incident. We can spend all the time in the world talking about what could have been done, but that would never change the fact that this never should have happened.

What’s wrong with this scenario? Well, what isn’t wrong with it? If you were in Tao’s situation, how would you feel? Having a complete stranger somehow bugging your private hotel room is not only a scene from a horror movie, but it increases your anxiety and paranoia. If they managed to do this, what would stop them from doing something worse?

In the current society with unstable “fans,” the answer is simple: absolutely nothing. And that’s why this article exists. This unhealthy desire to control your bias needs to stop.

These situations are just once-in-a-while types, you say? Well, how about something that hits closer to home: the Baekhyun and Taeyeon dating “scandal.”

Is it immoral to ship your favorite idol with another? No. Is it strange to ship yourself with your favorite idol? No. What’s completely wrong is expecting that reality will follow through with a fantasy.

Fans frequently forget that their idols are manufactured, that they are trained to behave and look a certain way in order to bring about attention and build a fanbase. Outside of fame, idols have personal lives. Whether or not they choose to date someone should NOT be of any issue, because they are capable adults and have the right to seek companionship. It’s unreasonable to believe that they will maintain their single or “pure” status forever, and it’s also unreasonable to believe that they should only date someone that is approved by fans. If you were forced into such a box, you wouldn’t be happy; why would you force someone else to be unhappy, then?

What idols choose to do in their personal lives is their choice, not yours. Disapprove of their decisions, but do not set up petitions and rally to push them off a ladder that they’ve tried so hard to climb. Fans have no right to infringe on an idol’s private business, because that right belongs solely to that idol.

Should overzealous fans be the only ones to be blamed? Maybe not; many SM Entertainment artists have come across this obstacle, from Heechul‘s avoidance of public bathrooms because of fantaken pictures to a camera being installed in Luhan‘s room. This brings another complication to light: what exactly are the security measures being taken because of these instances?

Is it because SM artists are just too popular? Do they attract too many psychopaths? Or is the company choosing to stand by in order not to lose fans and, consequently, their income?

I can’t assume that it’s the company’s fault, but it’s a thought that comes into mind when I keep seeing such behavior. What remains imperative is that many fans need to keep their delusions in check.

Do you share the same opinion on this matter? Or do you disagree with some points brought up in this article? Be sure to share your thoughts and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

The English Club In K-Pop

Expats living abroad in the same country tend to bond with one another, and that’s definitely true about Korean idols who speak English. Whether because of similar work activities (like working at Arirang, Korea’s English language channel), or simply because they lived similar lives at one point, transitioning from Western society to becoming iconic Korean figures, English-speaking Korean idols are drawn to one another.

Even though these idols may not necessarily be the most popular ones in their group, fans from all over the world adore them and follow their SNS since English speaking idols are often more accessible than idols who only speak in Korean. With K-Pop growing popular around the globe, idols who speak English can play a real role in connecting directly with fans around the world. Imagine K-pop stars using the services of something like Effortless English Club to help improve their English! That would be so cool. There’s always that one member of K-pop groups that is fluent in English, so you see them speaking the most during interview.

And lately, many of them have been doing it in a very public way. English speaking idols have shown that they have friendships that cross company lines.

Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany and 2PM’s Nichkhun Dating

Do they speak English to each other when on dates? Not necessarily, but both idols lived in L.A. prior to becoming trainees at two of the biggest entertainment companies in Korea. Touted by their groups for their English language skills, both Tiffany and Nichkhun became some of the most popular idols abroad- they each have huge fan followings, partially due to their accessibility to international fans. At the time of their debut, a contact explained:

Since the two have known each other for a long time and are both from the States, it was natural for their friendship to go to another level.

Tiffany and Nichkhun

Eric Nam, Miss A’s Min, Ailee, U-KISS’s Kevin, BTOB’s Peniel, f(x)’s Amber, and Royal Pirates’ James Played On Twitter

Eric and Kevin were celebrating Kevin and the Royal Pirates’ Moon becoming MCs of the show After School Club, and some other people felt left out. Ailee and Amber joined in and convinced Kevin and Eric to get fat. Ailee invited the Miss A dancer along too.

Min only studied in the US for a short period of time, but her inclusion in the English club makes sense. Kevin faces James a shout out, and then James started correcting peoples grammar. After that, Amber initiated on shouting out Peniel and he was initiated into the group of English speaking idols.

(Credit: Soompi)

Eric Nam, U-KISS’s Eli, and NS Yoon-G Also Tweet Together

The two solo artists and U-KISS members have shown time and time again on Twitter that they are on very good terms. Kevin and Eric work together at Arirang, and Kevin had a cameo in Eric’s Ooh Ooh, and the two have promoted one anothers songs on social media. Eric, Eli, and NS Yoon-G gained attention earlier this year for a set of tweets that revolved around the boy’s commenting on Yoon-G’s sexy concept for Yasisi. They playful thread of Tweets showed how friendly they are.

Again, is it because they all lived in English speaking countries for a time? Not definitely, but the shared language and experience definitely seems to have a role there.

Celebrating Min’s Birthday

Several of the English-speaking group came together this weekend to celebrate Min’s birthday. Eric shared the pictures on Instagram, once again proving how language has bound the group together.

MIss A Min's Birthday

There are countless other idols who have lived in English speaking countries- Solo artist and Super Junior-M member Henry Lau, Girl’s Generation’s Jessica and her sister f(x)’s Krystal, Jay Park, 2PM’s Taecyeon, Nu’Est’s JR and Aron just to name a few.

What do you think, are English speaking idols more likely to get along? Are you more likely to like them because you understand their language better (I’m assuming you are reading this because you speak English just as well as they do)? Don’t forget to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.