K-pop, or Korean pop music, is a phenomenon sweeping the globe. While it is popular worldwide, in America and especially areas such as our own bay area, it is gaining popularity at an increasingly fast rate.
If you are new to K-pop, here is a little bit of background information for beginners!
The Big Three
There are three main companies in the K-pop industry that represent a good majority of your favorite K-pop artists.
Girls’ Generation, Super Junior, SHINee, EXO, f(x), etc
2NE1, BIGBANG, BLACKPINK, PSY, CL, etc
Wonder Girls, 2AM, 2PM, Miss A, Twice, etc
A concept, also known as an image or style, is a theme chosen for a group or solo K-pop artist. It can last the length of one promotion or the artist’s entire career.
Sometimes the artists have a say in what their concept will be. Most of the time, however, their company chooses what they feel will be a suitable concept. Many companies, especially the big three listed above, have a typical concept that stays consistent between artists.
The “cute” concept is not just for the girls. Plenty of Korean boy bands have adopted the cutesy, innocent aesthetic.
This is an image that bodes well for groups that choose to tour in Asia outside of South Korea as well, since many other Asian countries favor a cute, feminine appearance and attitude from both male and female idols alike.
This also means keeping an innocent image off the stage, with scandals or innapropriate dressing outside of work running the possibility of ruining the image of the entire group.
Nearly every K-pop artist has adapted the “sexy” concept in some way. Even groups that have started off with the cutest and most innocent concepts have made their way to the “sexy” concept as they have matured.
While widely accepted in America, this is sometimes a controversial concept in South Korea with many acts that have been deemed too innapropriate being banned from airing on promotional television programs.
Also thought of as the “bad” concept, groups that can be described as focusing on a “cool” image usually rest on the cusp of K-pop and K-hip-hop.
This means a heavier focus on rap elements in their songs with a clothing style that is meant to make them look stylish without any focus on seeming cute or sexy.
This is a concept rising in popularity as rap music gains popularity. Nearly every K-pop song has at least one section of rap.
Mixing it Up
A lot of artists will change from one style to another at some point in their careers, but often times there are groups that choose to break the mold and mix common concepts into their own style.
The combinations are endless when you look past the three most popular concept examples.
It is not uncommon for a group to debut with one concept but end up being wellknown for another one. Often times, their image changes dramatically. This can come in the form of a change in song style or general concept and appearance as a whole.
This list is always growing and evolving. If you have any suggestions for an additions to this page, please contact us here.