Allkpop Blending breaking news, press releases and gossip, this New Jersey-based, English-language authority on K-pop launched in 2007 and quickly established a veritable monopoly on American K-pop coverage. Mashable named Allkpop the “Best Breaking News Site” of 2009 and a “Must-Follow Brand” of 2010 in their Open Web Awards.Gangnam Posh district of Seoul populated by trust fund heirs, celebrities and the nouveau riche. 531 million people and counting have watched Psy’s cartoonish portrayal of a typical Gangnam resident (expensive cars, garish fashions … horses) in some very un-Gangnam locations (a playground, a tour bus, the subway). Even Beverly Hills can’t quite compare in its moneyed influence: The neighbourhood mocked in “Gangnam Style” is an open-air vault of $84 billion in wealth—7% of South Korea’s entire GDP.
Girls’ Generation With distinctly cultivated personalities and a kaleidoscopic wardrobe, these nine women can’t be reduced to a single style, and they’re neither so cute as to be cloying nor so sexy as to stir a fuss. What they do have is hypnotic tunes and chorus-line dancing, plus Tiffany’s lethal eye smile. They’ve got South Korea, Japan and Bill Murray entranced. Surely the rest of the world will follow.
H.O.T. This boy band kick-started the youth-focused idol obsessions of today’s K-pop as teenagers in the ’90s, when teen pop was exploding in America. (They disbanded for still undisclosed reasons in 2001.) Controversies around plagiarism and salty lyrics aside, the group is remembered for their synchronised energy and singles like “Candy,” “I Yah,”and the internationally-recognised “We Are The Future.”
Park Jin Young JYP has been a major force in K-pop since his early-’90s debut as a slick R&B singer. He has produced for American acts like Will Smith and Mase, but more importantly, in 1997 he created JYP Entertainment, a leading force in contemporary K-pop. With acts like the Wonder Girls and 2PM, JYP invests heavily in crossover appeal. (In 2009, the Wonder Girls hit the Billboard Hot 100, toured with the Jonas Brothers, and collaborated with Akon.) JYP was also behind Rain’s rise in K-pop.
Uhm Jung Hwa Elder stateswoman of K-pop who channels Madonna‘s authority and Kylie Minogue‘s knack for reinvention. From a fruitful acting career to a multimillion dollar fashion and lingerie line, she’s held the country captive since her debut as a sultry popster in the early 1990s. Her 2006 single “Come 2 Me” was a bold and wildly successful foray into electronica, inspiring women to adopt her iconic bob hairdo. Still minxy at 43, this Queen of K-pop shows no signs of relinquishing her reign.
Teddy Riley Riley had mixed success as one of the first American producers to focus on K-pop. He founded the rookie girl group Rania, who were explicitly positioned to break down cultural barriers between Asia and America, releasing Korean and English versions of “Dr. Feel Good”—a track whose sexual lyrics and choreography then had to be toned down. (Riley also considered adding an African-American member to the group.) After parting ways with Rania, he produced Girls’ Generation‘s first international single “The Boys”—and ran afoul of Wonder Girls fans, a notable misstep given the mutual support K-pop groups like to emphasise.
Sasaeng Fans K-pop lovers whose obsessions morph into a freaky lifestyle centered around breaking into their idols’ homes, taking their clothes, leaking their schedules,stealing their personal information and generally acting stalk-y, sometimes even dropping out of school to focus on it. Stars have been assaulted, and fans hurt by overwhelmed celebrities. There are even expensive taxi services that help Sasaeng fans chase acts on the go.
Jeremy Scott This music-inspired designer, who made a name for himself cozying up with the likes of M.I.A., Bjork, Katy Perry, and Nicki Minaj, is also a household name in East Asia thanks to his collaborations with the likes of Big Bang, Lee Hyori and Girls’ Generation. 2NE1 may be his ultimate muse: In 2011, they launched an Adidas shoe together, and in 2012, Scott designed for the group’s international tour.
Uncle Fans Term, often used derogatorily, referring to older male fans of the youthful, female-led K-pop genre. Derived from the word “ahjussi,” which loosely translates as an elder male family friend who is affectionately called “uncle.” Obsessive male stans over 30 are typically relegated to the “uncle fan” subgroup, one that carries with it, deserved or not, a strong whiff of “To Catch a Predator”-esque sexual perversity.
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