2PM’s comeback, 2nd gen nostalgia, & breathing new life into older K-pop acts

By Fabiola Álvarez

2PM, one of the top 2nd gen boy groups, made their comeback on June 28 with MUST, their seventh full-album and their first after a five year-hiatus due to the teams’ military enlistments, individual projects such as acting or solo work, and even having a member leave JYP Entertainment – the company that created them – and sign with another label.

For many, male K-pop idols’ conscription once meant the end of the idol or their group’s career as we knew them. As time passed, fan loyalty became stronger and longer-lasting as entertainment companies found strategies to keep them engaged and entertained with other activities. A military reform also helped, turning what used to be a 24-month mourning period into an 18-month hiatus.

Being able to come back to a roaring fandom ready to support your next endeavors is a skill perfected by idols from the second generation — or 2nd gen as it’s commonly referred to. The precedent they set for creating solid fan bases around the world at a time when the internet wasn’t immediately accessible to us through our phones is undeniable. But it is their ability to adapt to the digitized world and connect with fans that crave an onslaught of instant online content what is affording them a second wave of popularity in their careers.

The return of 2PM is the newest addition to a small set of 2nd gen K-pop groups that are making remarkable comebacks after finishing their military services and placing high on the charts, just like they did 10 years ago during their beginnings. Maybe their fandoms aren’t as big as the ones currently dominating the K-pop industry, but they’re keeping up in their own ways and basking on the longevity they cemented years ago. 

The most evident case of the group’s relevancy as it relates to the general public was being invited for the first time as a whole group to JTBC’s Knowing Brothers, one of the top variety shows in South Korea. And when it comes to album sales, they broke their own sales records with MUST, with 79,000 units sold during the first week of release — an overwhelming surprise considering that the group returned from a long break from the stage.

Their lead single “Make It,” which was written by member Wooyoung and producer duo HotSauce, has helped reintroduce 2PM to the new K-pop environment. While many remember 2PM from the party anthem “Hands Up” or the theatrics of “Heart Beat,” with “Make It” they’re showing a relaxed yet grown-up image that builds on latter hits like “Come Back When You Hear This Song” and “ADTOY.” MUST is a 10 track album with several of them written by Jun.K and Taecyeon, and also includes an acoustic version of their very popular, now viral, song “My House.”

As the global K-pop fandom as a whole experienced considerable growth in the past couple of years, older groups that weren’t active, such as 2PM, are now hopping back into an even fiercer competition in the ever-evolving industry — and they’re completely owning it. Leaning into the mature charm that made Hottest, their fandom, fall for them in their beginnings, they are appealing and captivating new audiences by staying true to their brand. 2PM’s strengths prevail because of their relatable lyrics that go beyond the simplicity of everyday life, strong synchronized choreographies, and a varied vocal assortment among the members. Also, the fact that the group has kept a fun, strong, and even a sort of chevalier image throughout the years, which earned them the “beast idol” moniker, doesn’t hurt.

In 2017, as a farewell to their fans, 2PM held the 6NIGHTS concert series with over 30,000 fans attending the shows before going on hiatus. When the members were all finished with their military service, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, ultimately forcing people to confinement and making social media people’s only connection with the outside — or with their idols, in K-pop’s case. A year has since passed, but in-person activities such as concerts, fan signings, and other events that involve big gatherings have remained suspended.


It’s true that not all 2nd gen idols reach stratospheric numbers of virtual interaction like newer, more social media savvy groups like BTS, BLACKPINK, and TWICE. However, their other media appearances work as the appetizer for these groups’ long awaited comebacks: either acting in internationally broadcasted K-dramas via streaming, opening YouTube channels, jumping on newer social media platforms like TikTok, hosting variety programs, and appearing on different online modes like live streamings and podcasting. All of this further humanizes the idol’s image, expanding on what led them to fame in the first place. As more seasoned idols, being versatile and opening up to technology makes them accessible to younger generations who never had to hunt down a 10 part episode of Strong Heart on YouTube. 

But it’s not just nostalgia that’s boosting the comebacks of 2nd gen groups like 2PM, HIGHLIGHT, SHINee, and even Taeyeon from Girls’ Generation. It’s their ability to adapt and grow in an industry that thrives on youth and constantly demands more from the artists, not only with creative input, but also with fan engagement through their online presence.

2PM, who hadn’t been exposed as a group to this very online approach to fan connection, began engaging its loyal fan base by inviting them to join online activities such as streaming parties or reminding fans to stream the “Make It” music video. And doing so worked well: “Make It” hit 3 million views in the first 24 hours of being released, surpassing the fan goal set for 2 million. Then, just two days later, the music video reached 10 million views, making this comeback music video one of their fastest growing videos.

SHINee, with a more active career in the past years, has managed to have a constantly growing fandom while their oldest fans are actively supporting the group, becoming one of the veteran groups with great support in the industry. Their latest album Don’t Call Meand it’s repackaged version Atlantis were praised for showing a mature image of the group whilst still experimenting with various genres and staying true to the colorful personalities that has gained them recognition since their debut. And since variety shows are still a huge necessity to further artists’ profiles with the general public, Key’s weekly appearances as regular cast member on DoReMi Market (also known as Amazing Saturday), has seen his popularity grow with his infectious and sassy persona. This also ultimately helps SHINee’s profile, with many of the group’s biggest hits being frequently aired during the shows’ games and playlists. Also, Taemin’s solos and participation in SuperM kept SHINee adjacent to the current K-pop environment.

Then there’s HIGHLIGHT. After three years of turbulence, the group released their fourth mini-album THE BLOWING, their first comeback since concluding their mandatory military services and as a quartet. The title track, “Not The End” composed by member Gi Kwang, was a reminder to fans that, as the chorus says, they’re still here and it’s not the end, opening a new chapter in HIGHLIGHT’s history filled with the same determination they had during their many group struggles. Now under their self-funded company, Around Us Entertainment, HIGHLIGHT has been more active on social media, connecting with fans through photos and live streamings. 

A few weeks prior to HIGHLIGHT’s comeback, member Doo Joon was confirmed to co-star in his first drama since completing his military duty. Similarly, Dong Woon will finally debut as an actor starring in web-drama The Guys I Want to Catch alongside TEENTOP’s Niel, PENTAGON’s Woo Seok, and VICTON’s Se Jun, making HIGHLIGHT one of the few K-pop groups where all of its members have starred in TV and musical theater.


And though women aren’t required to serve in the military, few 2nd gen female idols have remained a staple in mainstream media as Taeyeon, who recently came back with “Weekend.In addition to her multiple solo releases, she has also been active on TV. After having three members out of eight not renewing their contracts with SM Entertainment, Girls’ Generation as a group went into hiatus — but that didn’t stop the members from standing out beyond music. The iconic 2nd gen female idol group has stayed in the spotlight over the years, with members being active in several fields in the industry. 

To name a few examples, Yuri opened her own YouTube channel to stay in touch with fans through Yuri’s Winning Recipe, a cooking talk show so popular among that was recently picked up to also be broadcasted on TV. Yoona, Seohyun, and Sooyoung have further solidified their acting careers with the first two mentioned leading in movies to be released in the next year, whilst the last starring alongside 2PM’s Chansung in the web drama So I Married an Antifan. Tiffany will be a mentor in new survival show Girls Planet 999 and just starred in the musical Chicago. Hyoyeon has released various singles, performs as DJ HYO, and even participated in the survival show Good Girl. Also, the members still under SM promoted as Oh!GG in 2018.

Of course, Girls’ Generation is a unique case for female groups. With most 2nd gen girl groups gone, the recent one-off performances by After School and 9Muses has shown that interest in these legendary groups is still alive. Hopefully these female acts, as well as other beloved 2nd gen groups like SISTAR, can have full-fledged comebacks like their male contemporaries are able to do so.

Before, groups were given an expiration date of around seven years due to various factors, such as creative or personal differences, military service, continuity of education, and contract terms. The once feared and hated so-called “Seven year curse” wiped out several K-pop groups that were huge names in the industry at the end of their contracts. But those who overcame that barrier were the idols who best adjusted to the times and conditions and did not close their vision to being a single thing or settled for what was offered by their companies. The ones that persist today are those idols and groups that worked in different aspects of being creatives to continue growing and reaching different audiences, not just leaning on their fan bases. Still having a solid company, like one from the Big 3 or your own, backing you helps too. 

Diversifying into various fields allows these older idols to appeal to fans and general public alike, once again setting an example for newer generations of how to stay active and welcomed in a business as competitive and demanding as K-pop continues to become.

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K-Drama Rating Underdogs: ‘Come Back Ahjussi’ & ‘Memory’


K-drama blockbuster KBS’s “Descendants of The Sun” ended its highly successful run after sixteen episodes with a nationwide viewership rating of 38.8%, a feat that has not been accomplished ever since 2013’s “The Moon That Embraces The Sun.” With its stylish cinematography, gorgeous cast and riveting storyline, it is no wonder that the drama attracted so many viewers, both in Korea and all over the world. For an industry that has not seen dramas with greater than 20% in a long time, “Descendants” has brought about a revival and perhaps even started a trend for pre-produced K-dramas. For all its success, however, there were dramas which suffered because of Descendants, such as SBS’s “Come Back Ahjussi,” which shared the same time slot, and other dramas who are severely underrated such as tVN’s “Memory”.

”Come Back, Ahjussi”

Although the drama featured familiar names like Rain and Oh Yeon Seo, “Ahjussi” suffered from dismal ratings which further deteriorated as “Descendants” became increasingly popular. While the drama cannot be seen as a commercial success, it certainly delivered in terms of its production quality and hilarious storyline. At times ridiculous and side-splitting, at times emotional and heartwarming, “Ahjussi” achieved a perfect balance and was a thoroughly enjoyable show, despite its slightly illogical plot.

While the show was largely advertised to be one about reincarnation and gender-switching, it was actually one big family drama. The main ahjusshis in the show came back to Earth from Heaven because they were not ready to leave their “families” behind. Their main motivation was love, and through the comedic hijinks and craziness this motivation always showed. Along the way, new relationships were formed both with these reincarnated characters but more importantly between their loved ones who were left behind. The characters learnt to move on with their lives and the growth in each character through the show was lovely to watch.

The main standout of the series would be lead actress Oh Yeon Seo. She’s always been recognised for her good acting but it was not until this drama that she displayed her full comic potential. Without regard to her image or dignity, she perfectly portrayed her role of Han Gi Tak, a middle-aged man who got reincarnated into a woman’s body, all the way from the gruff mannerisms to the awkward balancing on high heels. Oh Yeon Seo imitated original actor Kim Soo Ro successfully and created a beautiful character that stole the show. She was fearless, innovative and steadfastly loyal but yet remained so human that it was easy to sympathize with her. She also enjoyed a surprising winning chemistry in her part love part BFF relationship with Honey Lee, who managed to show off her humorous chops as well. Oh Yeon Seo really put on a stellar performance in this series and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.

via @banghae on tumblr

Her co-actor Rain did splendidly as well and it was great to see him embrace his comedic side once again in a drama (the previous comedy he did was “Full House” in 2004). From admiring his ass in a lift to spazzing about his own chocolate abs, his portrayal of Kim Young Kwon was flawless and totally believable. Young Kwon might have been narrow-minded and slightly frustrating but Rain’s portrayal helped to make the character more lovable, if not relatable. His relationship with Oh Yeon Seo defied all the K-drama rules of romance and was really refreshing to watch. This drama is a rare gem which got the gender switching right and used it to its full potential.

via @dalpengi on tumblr

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While “Ahjussi” did not pull in high ratings in Korea it did garner an international fanbase but there is another currently airing K-drama that has been floating under the radar ever since it started its run. This is none other than the drama, “Memory” which stars Lee Sung Min (known most recently for his role in “Misaeng” ) as a lawyer with Alzheimer’s. At first glance, this plot seems extremely similar to the recent drama Remember: War Of The Son,” which featured Yoo Seung Ho in the similar role of a lawyer who also suffered Alzheimer’s. At a deeper level, however, the dramas are inherently different, in terms of realism, themes, and even the focus of the drama. For one thing, “Memory” definitely gives a more accurate portrayal of Alzheimer’s Disease. With the disease striking a middle-aged character like Lee Sung Min’s Park Tae Seok, the symptoms and problems that he goes through as a result of his diagnosis definitely feel more real and recognisable in our current society.

Despite its title, “Memory” isn’t all about Alzheimer’s; it is a drama which has many important messages to convey whether it is highlighting social inequality or bullying situations in schools. The conflicts and tragedies in this drama are fleshed out and realistic and could occasionally make for a depressing watch but at the same time is trulycaptivating. There is also an undercurrent of hope that ties the drama together, a sense of optimism which is present in each character, even if it’s not explicitly shown. It’s the same optimism which drives Park Tae Seok to keep fighting his disease, the same spirit that keeps his colleague Jung Jin (Lee Junho) motivated to stand up for justice, the same courage that allows Seo Young Joo (Kim Ji Soo playing Lee Sung Min’s character’s wife) to keep smiling even as her family falls apart.

“Memory” is a beautifully produced drama, with poignant and relevant scenes at every bend. The character arcs of the various main characters are nicely drawn out, the best of which would be Park Tae Seok. He started out looking like a heartless and vicious lawyer but as his disease started to change him, both physically and mentally, his perspective on life shifted. Rather than dismissing him as a normal cliche character who turns over a new leaf because of a terminal illness, I would argue that Park Tae Seok was just reverting back to his original self – the self that would fight for justice even if he would not benefit from it, who valued his family and friends over money, the self that would not give up. Watching him evolve as a character and the transformations in his relationships with his family or the people around him is a gratifying experience, one which I can only credit to the tight writing of the drama.

Also on Kultscene: Why You Should Watch Korean Film ‘Time Renegades’ 

Lee Sung Min, of course, is killing it in his role. His ability to internalize and inhibit his character is astounding and is a big reason why Park Tae Seok has become so real in the drama. His every word and action is sincere and he really carries the show emotionally. He also has great chemistry with the other members of the cast like Jung Jin whom he has created an adorable bromance with. Their banters are natural and light-hearted which bring about some much needed humor in an otherwise melancholic story.

Speaking of Jung Jin, Lee Junho ( of the K-pop boy band 2PM) is doing a great job in his debut drama role. Granted, he has quite a lot of acting experience from the few movies that he’s starred in, but the natural way he presents the character helps to make the character more relatable and likeable. He’s holding his own well in front of veteran actors like Lee Sungmin too and I hope he’ll get more opportunities to act in the future.

The two underdog dramas I’ve mentioned above are underrated for different reasons, but here’s to hoping that they’ll get their due recognition soon.

Have you watched any of the dramas listed above? What is your opinion on K-drama viewership ratings? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Playlist Sunday: Worst Korean Singles of 2015

Worst Korean Songs of 2015

Now that 2016 is well under way, we’re definitely ready to say “goodbye” to some of K-pop’s
worst singles of 2015. For this week’s Playlist Sunday, KultScene’s staff members each picked their least favorite songs of the year.

[Disclaimer: These picks are based on individual taste, so feel free to disagree in the comments.]

I get it. “Lion Heart” is the epitome of what Girls’ Generation represents: The archetype for the perfect feminine and demure woman. The song’s beat and the overall styling of the music video takes us back to the ’50s and early half of the ’60s, when young women aimed to look like their older and glamorous mothers. When the sexual revolution and women’s liberation was about to explode and a woman’s value equated to her looks and how refined she seemed. But fine, it’s a pop song, and every woman can choose to be anyone they want and dress however they want. But. That. Chorus… If you want to torture someone, just play “Lion Heart,” it’ll make their eardrums bleed. Truth is, SNSD’s latest album and singles (with the exception of “You Think”) were largely disappointing compared to their previous work. Especially considering that the album had better bubblegum pop with throwback feel contenders like “Fire Alarm.” The whole concept behind “Lion Heart” makes sense for a group like Girls’ Generation, yes, and we all like them for their girly ways. However, musically, they don’t have the vocal chops to carry that chorus, no matter how nasally and high they make Yuri sing.

— Alexis

Girls’ Generation’s “Party” makes me want to dive into the body of water that they’re filming the music video on and stay submerged for as long as humanly possible (without dying, of course). Can someone please tell SM Entertainment and Girls’ Generation to stop it with their attempts at rapping? Oh, and for Tiffany to stop it when her random ass English segments in their songs. Yeah, yeah, we get it, it’s party time. “Party” had a lot of ups and downs (emphasis on the down) moments for me; I couldn’t figure out if they were trying to make this a summer anthem or if it was an attempt of them being sensually cute by experimenting with livelier beats and adding alcoholic beverages in their lyrics but either way, I was disappointed. There were too many transitional breaks throughout the song, too many moments that had me waiting for someone to hit a higher/lower note than they actually did. Sure the music video was semi fun to watch, also very scattered, but the song just makes me want to pull out every strand of hair on my head. Can they have more concepts like “Oh!”, “Run Devil Run,” and “The Boys”?

— Tam

JYP Entertainment had a great year in terms of music. miss A released a pretty solid album, Wonder Girls finally came back, and the company even debuted two new rookie groups, both of which quickly grew in popularity. They did everything right and more… Except for one disservice. I don’t know what they were thinking with giving the green light to 2PM’s “My House,” but the song is a far cry from their usual good releases. I get that they want to spice up their sound and want to show that they are more than party boys and sex icons, but something feels lacking. Where are the interesting beats? Where is the build-up? Maybe it’s because I have been babied by fast-paced songs like “A.D.T.O.Y.” or “Go Crazy,” but “My House” feels bland. It’s very forgettable, and doesn’t add much to their already remarkable repertoire. The only saving grace was the video, which contained an underlying fairy tale thematic.
Oh well, better luck in 2016, boys.


Maybe I loved “Can’t Stop” way too much to have realistic expectations for anything CNBLUE could offer for their comeback but I was woefully disappointed with their 2015 release “Cinderella.” They may have achieved a lot of commercial success (as usual) for this song but while the song isn’t horrible, I’ve definitely seen (and heard) CNBLUE do so much better than this auto-tuned track that seems to only have two lines and a bridge that hardly seems like part of the same song. To make it worse, their album “2gether” actually has some great B-sides such as “Roller Coaster” and “Radio” that overshadow this title track completely. Seriously, what was going on in the heads of the album producers? In a K-pop industry with more and more popular bands (both indie and idol ones) CNBLUE really has to step up their game in 2016 to show fans what they’ve truly got.


Let’s get one thing out there. Park Jin Young aka JYP is a great producer. But he’s a misogynist, and his hit song “Who’s Your Mama?” highlights that more so than just about everything else he’s ever said or done. The song’s funky, jazzy beat is good, and Jessi’s solo rap is nothing to sneeze at, but Park Jin Young is literally describing his perfect woman’s ass and saying that that’s all what he looks for when looking at women. I wish I could say that it’s satire a la Psy’s “Gentleman,” but that doesn’t seem the case. The song begins with Park asking a woman what her hip and waist measurements are before going into a song describing his love of big butts. “Shake that booty” is one of the most prominent lines of the song as Park diminished women as anything other than physical beings for him to oggle. “Who’s Your Mama?” is K-pop’s “Baby Got Back,” and the song did exceptionally well on charts, but that still doesn’t make it okay. 2015 was the year of the booty, but JYP took it to another level in a way that was blatantly sexist. We’re in 2016, let’s put an end to this obsession with equating women with their ass-ets.


I could have picked any song from the many iKon released towards the end of the year, but for sheer lack of imagination, I’ll go with “Airplane.” Apart from their whole shtick being based off what’s popular in K-pop right now (rap,) iKon also come across like Big Bang-lite (so like another WINNER but even less interesting.) “Airplane” has twee synth and piano sounds that are used to make their ballad sound less like a ballad. I’m all for ballads not sounding like ballads but this screams of trying too hard, “it’s not a ballad guys, we rap, we’re cool, I was on that rap show remember?” Speaking of Bobby, I’m also not one to care too much about line distribution but this is ridiculous. It’s unfair to both B.I and Bobby who should be in a duo or going solo and to the rest of the members whom might as well not exist. Mostly I hate how YG thinks he can put a bit more rapping into a song and that makes it good enough to be recycled over and over. It was great back in 2008, but it’s time to move on.


5 Underrated K-Pop Solo Debuts of 2015

5 Underrated Solo Debuts of 2015

2015 was a year chock full of K-pop goodness, both for groups and for solo artists. In particular, there were many idols who made their solo debuts this year. While some of them were well-received in Korea and on international charts, there were also some others who didn’t garner so much attention. As with most K-pop related things, album sales largely have nothing to do with the quality of the music produced, so here are five underrated solo debuts that deserve more love.

1. G. Soul

At the start of the year this soloist made headlines when he finally made his debut after 15 years as a JYP Entertainment trainee. With his album “Coming Home,” G. Soul thoroughly showcased his vocal abilities and charmed listeners with his silky emotive voice. His lead single “You” was also a strong track complete with wonderful composition and a catchy chorus. He even released an acoustic version of the song subsequently, which further highlighted his amazing voice, and it was this version that made me a fan of his.

Unfortunately, despite releasing three EPs and singles over this year (most recently in September), he is still relatively unknown in the K-pop industry. With almost zero promotions on music programs and variety shows, it’s not very surprising that he’s unable to compete in popularity with other idols who are very active in the entertainment scene. However, one of his newest songs, “Beautiful Goodbye,” has been gaining attention recently because of EXO’s Kai, who performed a cover of the song during their concert.

Hopefully this trend will continue in the future and he will become more well-known. With the quality of music that he’s been creating and his voice, he certainly deserves all the respect and more that he’s getting now. In fact, he recently made Kultscene’s Top 50 Songs List for the year with his latest release “Crazy For You.” 

2. Mckay Kim

I’ve watched this soloist since his early days on “K-pop Star Season 2.” Mckay Kim‘s voice was so charismatic that I fell in love with it (and him) almost instantly. From his wonderful partnership with Brian Shin and Kim Min Suk (Raccoon Boys) on the competition to his solo debut earlier this year, his music has always been amazing. He debuted with a collaboration with Jeff Bernat, a Filipino-American singer songwriter who is quite well-known in Korea, and their voices blended together perfectly through the song “Angel 2 Me.” Kim, in particular, has a soothing and smooth voice that is so comforting to listen to. Whenever I listen to this song, I feel relaxed even if I’m on a crowded public bus or doing math problems in my room. The harmonies and chill beat of this song are therapeutic but still alluring and charming.

Mckay also came back with another track in June, appropriately titled “Month of June,” but this release gained even less attention than his previous one. It’s a sweet song filled with the light-heartedness of summer and being in love. On his own this time, Mckay was able to show off even more of his vocal skills and musical ability, which is why it’s even sadder that this song wasn’t as well-received. Both in terms of natural talent and music quality, Mckay has the potential to become a mega star in this K-pop industry, he just needs a chance to break out now, and the sooner the better. I can’t wait for his future releases (he really needs an album) and I’m confident that he’ll continue releasing great music.

Also on Kultscene: 5 Underrated K-Pop Rookie Songs

3. Park Jimin (15&)

A member of K-pop girl duo 15&, Park Jimin made her solo debut in March this year with her title track “Hopeless Love.” Despite having amazing vocal talent and good songs, she has been an underrated singer ever since her debut in 15& and as a solo artist. Another alumni of “K-pop Star,” she won the first season of the show in 2012 but has been relatively low-profile since then. With “Hopeless Love” however, she brought something new to the table with this ballad that isn’t really a ballad. With her strong high notes and charismatic voice, Park Jimin brought out the various emotions that are presented through the lyrics of the song. In particular, one line that sums up the pain of having an one-sided love: “Even though it hurts I just can’t turn away.” It’s a great release and solo effort so it’s such a pity that she didn’t get more attention for it. As of August this year, she formed a project group called M.O.L.A with Seungyoun of UNIQ and another rapper Nathan with whom she released tracks showcasing her rapping skills as well. For a singer as talented as Jimin, she deserves so much more success in her career so I’m hoping that this won’t be the end of her solo efforts!

4. Minah (Girls’ Day)

Unlike 15&, Girls’ Day can’t be said to be unknown or underrated, not by a long shot. So what is Minah, the popular main vocalist of the girl group doing in this list? She has made her name as a soloist a long time ago with the various drama OSTs she has released and has already acted in several dramas herself but her solo debut earlier this year largely went under the radar of most K-pop fans. While she did debut at a time filled with several other hot comebacks like EXO and Miss A, I fail to understand how she received so little praise and attention from the public.. With “I Am A Woman Too” Minah showed off her impressive vocal talents and her ability to sing strongly and yet gently at the same time. However, her release received criticism in regards to the choreography, which netizens complained looked awkward. In terms of song quality however, this song was produced well and is catchy. While Minah does shine even within the rest of her group, her solo effort was a chance for her to showcase different sides to herself and in my opinion she managed that. I hope that this debut’s lack of commercial success would not affect her chances for a comeback in the future because I’m eagerly waiting for it!

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5. Lee Junho (2PM)

I’m not saying this just because I’m a Hottest but Junho’s solo debut was one of the best and yet most underrated debut I have ever seen. As the lead vocal of 2PM, Junho’s charming voice has been showcased ever since their group debut but he’s been continually improving his vocal skills over the years, something which is evident in their later releases. Apart from just working on his singing, he’s also been composing and writing songs for the group, the most recent of which is “Nobody Else” from their latest Korean album “No. 5.” As a solo artist, he debuted in Japan two years ago and has produced three Japanese albums since then. He only made his solo debut in Korea this year however, with his album “One,” which he promoted for a short period of music shows. This album, with title track “Fire,” displayed not just his amazing singing but also his compositions because he wrote almost all the songs on the album.

With an addictive chorus “Fire” isn’t just a good song it also thoroughly shows how self-aware Junho is as an artist. He knows his voice and abilities very well and is able to present the best side of himself through his songs. In this album he also tried more rapping to very satisfying results, as evidenced by tracks like “Pressure” (the rap starts around 3:12).

Thankfully for Junho it seems like JYP recognises his potential as a soloist so here’s to more amazing albums in the future!

What do you think of these underrated soloists? Who else do you think should have made the list? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Playlist Sunday: K-Pop Point Dances

Playlist Sunday In order for a performance to be memorable, the choreography has to be strong. Luckily, K-pop is never short of strong dance moves, given that most groups dance and, at least most of the members, kill it. But with so many songs, groups, and performances getting released every week, it’s difficult for anything to stick. That’s why choreographers tend to place a few point dances within the performance that will make viewers take notice and even emulate them. So for this week’s playlist, we’re listing some of our favorite K-pop point dances.

This is the song that started it all for me, both because of its unique use of chairs and because of the sensual dance choreography that fitted perfectly with the song. Though not the best song in terms of musicality, it’s certainly one that I love to dance and sing along to. It’s 2PM’s “A.D.T.O.Y” (All Day I Think Of You), and my personal favorite performance of this song would be during 2013 SBS’s “Gayo Daejun”, when the boys used roller chairs for the dance instead of their ordinary stationary chairs. It was definitely more dangerous but it made it all the more interesting and enjoyable.

— Anna

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A fast-tempo, synth-heavy track, SHINee’s “Lucifer” is one song which never fails to make me dance. The impressive sharp, almost robotic, choreography is very fitting for the processed song, and what I love most about the dance is how seemingly complex it is. It may not feature flips like a 2PM routine or fancy footwork like a Teen Top production, but the series of rather basic hand tutting of “Lucifer” might as well put this performance on par was them. After watching “Lucifer” performed live, SHINee definitely moved up in my books for best dance group.

— Shelley

I’m not that huge of a girl group fan, but one song that got me into Girl’s Day (or at least got me paying attention) was “Expectation.” Not only is the track really cool and infectious, but their choreography is all around on point as well. Never had I dug sexy girl group dances before this one. Because even if I found the suspenders tacky, I loved the point dance with them and without them. And that wasn’t the only one, the whole chorus and bridge are filled with a few key moves that make the performance memorable. Every time this song comes up, I dance along attempting to emulate them. “Expectation” is definitely my favorite song by this group, and the choreography is one of the reasons why.

— Alexis

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Out of the many dance focused music videos Korean artists are known for, I personally feel like B.A.P‘s “One Shot” has one of the most aggressive and catchy point choreographies. From their floor work, which includes some intense push up moves, to their floor air body thrusts, to their “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” fancy arm and leg work and mid air jump, B.A.P makes this all look effortless, but as a viewer it’s almost exhausting to watch. Hopefully we’ll be able to see B.A.P perform more impactful music videos in the future!


When it comes to point dances, there are a lot of really memorable K-pop dances, but I don’t think there is anything more iconic for a single K-pop group than INFINITE’s so-called scorpion dance from “Before The Dawn (BTD).” Most popular Korean songs have a dance move that is iconic, and performed during the chorus, such as Psy’s “Gangnam Style” horse-riding dance. INFINITE’s “BTD” has its own dance during the chorus, but it’s the dance move that comes at the end of the song that shot INFINITE to fame for being a group that tries incredibly complex dance moves. The scorpion dance brings all seven of INFINITE’s members to the ground for a second before kicking up and rising in perfect unison. The complexity of the dance, and INFINITE’s ability to perform the difficult move, makes this point dance from “Before The Dawn” one of my favorite K-pop dances.


What’s your favorite Korean song with a point dance? Let us know your picks in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

2PM’s ‘My House’ Music Video & Song Review

2pm album cover 2

Two weeks after their initially planned date of release, 2PM is back with their fifth full album, appropriately titled “No.5”. Written and composed by oldest member Jun. K, “My House”  marks the return of the group ever since their last release “Go Crazy” in 2014. 2PM is back!


It’s alright. Let’s go to my house
It’s alright. Just make it a secret
In 10 minutes I’ll be waiting for you over there
It’s alright. Let’s go to my house

Seemingly simple lyrics but have a subtle sensuality, which when placed in the context of the song and music video have a whole other meaning. The false assurances and confidence that we allow ourselves to believe in order to fulfill our own desires, these lyrics express it perfectly.

Also on Kultscene: EXO’s ‘Love Me Right’ Repackaged Album Review


Jun. K is well-known not just for his vocal abilities, but also his songwriting abilities, as can be seen by his composing the title track for this album and the album before this. He doesn’t disappoint with “My House,” which combines a series of seemingly random sounds like the ticking of a clock and into an addictive dance track. The track also showcases each of the members’ vocal and rapping abilities, and in true 2PM style, gives equal parts to each member, allowing them to shine individually and as a group. The smoothness of their vocals adds to the sensuality of the lyrics and enhances the song. The chorus is very repetitive, which creates a hook for the song and makes it easy to remember.


2pm mv review

The music video is fairy-tale like, with the setting of a ball and with the people in the video dressed up formally. The colour tone of the video is more on the dark side, giving it a more dreamy feel. There are constant appearances of a clock which strikes midnight, along with the female character tossing her slipper on the staircase towards the end of the video, which is a play on the classic fairy-tale “Cinderella”. Other fairy-tale references in the video can be seen in the red apple the female character is seen eating (Snow White), the claws that appear on Chansung’s hands (Beauty and the Beast), the bunny singing the high-pitched and auto-tuned notes (Alice in Wonderland) and Taecyeon’s appearance as a wolf during his rapping scene (Little Red Riding Hood).

via wooyoungforever @ Tumblr

via wooyoungforever @ Tumblr

via wooyoungforever @ Tumblr

via wooyoungforever @ Tumblr

via wooyoungforever @ Tumblr


As mentioned above, the video was set in a ballroom setting, hence explaining the extremely gorgeous ball gown the main female character is donning. The female character is played by none other than “Miss Korea” contestant Yumi Kim, who fits the role very well with her stunning visuals.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 9.01.25 pm

In the dancing scenes, 2PM are dressed casually while they don fanciful suits in the rest of the video. They do look good in their suits, but there are certain hairstyles that do not suit them and make them look overly stiff. Similarly, they look comfortable and natural in their casual attire, but there are some outfits that just make them look plain weird. Still, 2PM’s natural aesthetics make up for the occasionally bad fashion choices.

via vseoks @ Tumblr

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Overall Thoughts

The music video wasn’t perfect, and neither was the song, but it was a great title track in all and showed 2PM’s continuous growth as artists. The music video was more symbolic and artistic than normal, but it still carried 2PM’s unique flavor. I’m certainly looking forward to their live performances of this song. Check out the music video below!

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Playlist Sunday: YOLO

Life can get overwhelming real fast –that’s no surprise. But in the midst of it all, we shouldn’t forget to unwind, let loose, and live in the moment, you know, just say YOLO from time to time. That’s why for this week’s Playlist Sunday we’ve decided to carpe diem –seize the day– and compile a list of songs talking about exactly that.

2PM’s single Go Crazy! is the perfect example of living for the moment. The song is a party song accompanied by a party music video. Sometimes you just have to let go all of the stress and work and negativity and let loose. Their lyrics urge you to let it all go and enjoy yourself: “Go crazy, Tonight, We are determined to go nuts, Just for one night, go all out.” And if 2PM’s lyrics aren’t enough to get you in touch with your crazy side, then their music video will surely inspire you to have an unforgettable night complete with an arsenal of stories to tell for years to come. So go out and enjoy yourself and go crazy!

— Tara

JYJ’s In Heaven may seem a bit depressing, but along with being vocally beautiful, the message of the song and music video are really “live for the moment.” The music video is about a man, played by member Junsu, who is in love with a woman. But he is so wrapped up in his work that he doesn’t have time for her and doesn’t notice her enough, leading to her walking in front of a car and dying. But then time rewinds, and he is given a second chance. Things take an interesting turn, but at the end of the day, everyone is happy because they did what they wanted instead of what they did the first time around. We don’t all get second chances, so let’s learn the lesson from In Heaven and live our life to the fullest!

— Tamar

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BEAST is a group that brings us the best heart-wrenching break up songs; it’s like their staple or something. So of course a party song by them is a bit odd, but absolutely fantastic. And there’s no better message for a party song than to let loose and live in the moment like in We Up. Sure, the song is directed at a specific girl, but still, we can just imagine the boys are singing this to us personally, telling us to go wherever without thinking of manners and etiquette and be the night’s heroine. Moreover, BEAST also performed this song during Good Luck promotions, and their performance was always fun and infectious; they even interacted with the dancers in a playful manner (I’m looking at you, Doojoon!). Groups mostly always look almost robotic when performing, but with this song, BEAST let loose and actually had fun with it, and what’s more YOLO than doing your own thing at a music show?


Having fun with your friends and going all out with no regrets is one of the best feelings in the world. There’s nothing better than the feeling of letting go, we only live once after all and we have to live our lives to the fullest. The perfect track to go crazy with is G-Dragon’s Michi Go. BIGBANG’s leader is the king of crazyness and knows how to belt out a perfect party song. The crazy beats in the track create a very chaotic sound that fits perfectly with the feeling of the song. And who can forget that, “Dirty nasty as f***” that he spits out subtly throughout the song. As soon as you press play to this song it will instantly make you want to get up and dance like crazy.


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If you’re really going to go all out YOLO on a night, it is a priority to have some killer tracks at your disposal. Up and Down by Korean producer Smells is a perfect addition to this playlist. As was the trend last year Up and Down is a dance track by way of the British house scene in the 1990s. He mixes this with commercial synths, which sound straight out of Ibiza, to create an exciting, danceable, and euphoric track. Son Seung Yeon features to provide some typically generic but soulful, effective vocals. It all comes together to form something typically Korean in that it mixes old and new, west and east to create the ultimate modern club banger. As a bonus the video features a group of people in a bedroom, YOLOing it to the max, which you can take your cue from.


What are your dreams and aspirations? Have you thought about how you’re going to go about making it happen or are you too nervous at the thought of possibly failing? B.A.P’s One Shot is a reminder to us all that even if the high walls try to block you, jump over it all, even if you fall every time. How will you ever know what the outcome might be like if you’re too scared to give it a try? This is the present, you’ve got to grab that opportunity right then and there and seize the moment!


Share your favorite YOLO songs and moments with us in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

When K-Pop Lineups Change – 9 Muses

Since their debut in 2010 Nine Muses have gone through eleven changes to their lineup. Only three original members remain to this day and yet they continue to promote. The group’s latest single Drama is actually their most successful to date. Changes to group lineups are not uncommon in K-pop and have had varying effects on each group that have had to deal with it. The effects of these changes do not only affect the group though, as fans see their favourite group being dismantled and rebuilt within a short time. This can change their perception as they feel a loss of essence in the group.

First and foremost, losing a group member is always hard. Whether it’s the most important or least important member, their loss will be felt immediately in the live performances. K-pop performances are built around perfectly synchronized choreography where each person has their part to play. When one of these people is taken out, the system must be broken down and built up again with other members taking over. Whether the group leaves a gap in their dance like 2PM post-Jay Park or reboots it like EXO after Luhan and Kris left, the difference is palpable.

Fans watch their favorites perform but notice new movements or gaps in the dance. What was once one of the most fluid things known to pop music becomes jarring. The K-pop dance changes.

Of course, the majority of groups move towards replacing their lost member before they even have to think about rejigging their choreography or line distribution. Most companies have floods of trainees desperate for their chance to shine in the company’s flagship group. Each of these trainees will be as talented, beautiful and charming as the members that were chosen to debut in this group. Despite their readiness, plugging the trainees into an already established group has difficulties that have nothing to do with talent.

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2PM’s Music Video Evolution

2PM, the original Beastly idols, has graced the K-Pop scene for the past six years and fans have watched the members grow and mature into artists throughout that time. They debuted with a strong image that showcased their masculinity and mature song themes. As the years have gone by, 2PM has come back with stronger and more mature material that prove they are transforming into artists.

Who remembers 2PM’s debut song 10 out of 10 in 2008? The music video highlighted their acrobatic abilities as well as their masculine outfits to further promote the beastly image. The song itself is catchy, and the video is comical with an entertaining story that shows the members daydreaming about a woman. It’s a fun and upbeat song that only hinted at the dorky and fun-loving personalities of each member of 2PM.

Fast forward a year to 2009, when 2PM released Again & Again. The video, again, showed 2PM’s dancing skills and their masculine image with all black outfits and simple hairstyles. The song focused on the mature theme of ending a relationship and the longing to be with the girl one more time. Again & Again also showcases the vocal abilities of the group more than their debut song.

Later in 2009, 2PM made its comeback with Heartbeat. It wasn’t until this comeback that 2PM truly showed its beastly image. The guys were dressed in suits, wore minimal makeup, and stayed with their natural hair color. And how can we forget the live performances where they showed off their impressive muscles? The video is oozing with masculinity in the choreography and within the members’ facial expressions. This was also the first song since Jay Park left the group.

Next up is I’ll Be Back from 2010. It wasn’t until this single that 2PM’s members started to add their input and songwriting skills into their albums. I’ll Be Back continues with the dark concept and introduces heavy eye makeup for the group. The song also went back to their debut concept where they showed off a lot of acrobatics, which were not present during Again & Again and Heartbeat.

2PM’s second studio album gave fans the lead track Hands Up. The music video showed 2PM enjoying the lap of luxury, which included yachts, private jets, expensive cars, and of course, spending the evening at a hip night club. Hands Up was one of the first looks into 2PM as a fun and energetic idol group. The group’s previous singles were all about showing their manly images and dealing with the struggles of love. Hands Up was 2PM having a good time and sharing it with their fans (as well as a prelude to Go Crazy! perhaps?).

After promoting in Japan for a couple of years and doing other activities, 2PM finally made their Korean comeback in the spring of 2013. Come Back When You Hear This Song, although a long English title, introduced fans to a new version of 2PM. The mature, grown-up and manly 2PM.

The music video focuses on the seven deadly sins and how each member embodies those sins as they progress in their relationship with a woman. The song showcases the members’ singing abilities, their mature, gentleman style, and a different musical style than their previous promotions.

To add to the sweetness that was 2PM’s Korean comeback, JYP decided to release another music video from 2PM’s Grown album. A.D.T.O.Y. was the definition of beastly idols. The guys were dressed in everyday wear, their hair and makeup were the most natural of any of their promotions, and they all had intimate scenes with a woman.

A.D.T.O.Y. was 2PM’s declaration to their fans that they are now mature adults.The black and white video and chair choreography adds to the masculine and charismatic image 2PM showed with this comeback. Grown also showcased more of 2PM’s songwriting abilities with four out the six members contributing to the album’s lyrics.

Where do you go from A.D.T.O.Y.? Well, according to 2PM, the crazy, fun, party route! Go Crazy! at first watch and listen will more likely than not make you question what you just watched and listened to. But then you realize that Go Crazy! is a brilliant song with an equally brilliant music video.

Jun.K wrote the song and it shows that 2PM is comfortable being quirky, dorky, and eccentric. They don’t always need intense, manly songs to showcase their talent. Go Crazy! shows 2PM’s true personalities. The members always having a good time, and don’t really care what they look like or what happens while doing so. They are comfortable with themselves, as a group, and as artists to experiment with a wild and crazy song.

Go Crazy! is like a part two to Hands Up. Three years later, it shows the growth of 2PM’s experience with drinking and club culture. 2PM go all out for Go Crazy! Their glittery and crazy outfits, their motorcycle-inspired choreography, and the overall feel of the song and video create a carefree world where having fun is the only priority.

To further promote Go Crazy!, 2PM participated in 1theK’s #hashtag series where their honesty gets the best of them. Themes for discussion include Go Crazy!, drinking, and, naturally, hangovers.

2PM as a group has grown from beastly idols with catchy tunes, acrobatics, and intense themes to manly idols (with some beastly qualities thrown in) with mature, intimate, and wild & crazy themes. To see how much 2PM has evolved from their debut to now makes the anticipation build for their future comebacks.

Do you prefer the 2PM of the first half of their career (10 out of 10, Heartbeat, etc.) or the 2PM of the latter half of their career (A.D.T.O.Y., Go Crazy!)? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.