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THE concept of NCT Dream is not really new. One of the sub-units of the bigger group, NCT Dream follows an admission-graduation system where a member automatically leaves the mini-group upon turning 19 years old. Launched by SM Entertainment in August 2016, NCT Dream is currently comprised of Renjun, Jeno, Haechan, Jaemin, Chenle, and Jisung but following the membership rules, they will either soon return to the main NCT (which stands for Neo Culture Technology) fold, or possibly join some other sub-units such as NCT U, NCT 127, or WayV, the newest grouping.
MANY WONDERED whether Korean pop group Winner was just a flash after clinching the crown in a talent reality show in 2013. Now, more than five years since the group’s official debut, Winner — composed of leader Seungyoon, Mino, Jinwoo, and Seunghoon — is arguably one of the most formidable K-pop groups, performing in sold-out concerts not only in Seoul but in major cities worldwide.
WITH AT least two of Korea’s rock bands currently on hiatus, there is a clamor for musicians to fill the void. The members of CNBLUE and FTIsland are serving the military and audiences worldwide are craving for more talents to step up to the plate and provide the kind of music that these two established bands are known for.
KOREAN STAR Lee Seung Gi is one of the few celebrities who can really do almost everything. He is a multi-awarded actor, singer, host, and a favorite guest of reality shows and is also known in K-entertainment circles as a “triple threat.” The 32-year-old entertainer is also among the most bankable K-endorsers, selling almost anything from milk tea and ready-to-wear, to cosmetics and coffee. He was also at one point the face of Mercedes Benz, proving that while he can appear to be reckless in many television appearances, he also exudes class. He is a screen idol that appeals to almost all age groups, and his squeaky clean image has earned him the tag, “Nation’s Little Brother.”
KOREAN actor Lee Dong Wook is no stranger to the Philippines. He first came to Manila 13 years ago to promote his blockbuster K-drama, My Girl, which he top-billed with another celebrity, Lee Da Hae. During his first visit, he even guested in the noontime show, Wowowee, and gamely accepted a lei from the gyrating Luningning and held the hands of Mariel Rodriguez during an interview.
WHEN BENCH announced that Park Seo Joon was scheduled for a fan meeting in Manila last month, thousands of frenzied Korean drama addicts spent sleepless nights strategizing on how to get first dibs at the tickets that would give them the chance to meet the K-celebrity up close and personal.
THAT one iconic role can catapult an artist’s popularity to unimaginable heights and earn him a spot among the elites. In the world of Korean drama, there are only a few actors whose portrayal created such impact that they continue to be recognized years after their series have ended.
FANS OF 1990s boy bands died a little inside when Boyzone finally said goodbye after more than 25 years of performing and touring. But the group was not about to go out without a bang and delivered what was arguably a fitting finale show where they sang all their greatest hits, leading the entire SM Mall of Asia Arena to reminisce on the period that was.
EVEN WITH the deluge of Korean boy bands holding concerts and fan meetings in Manila, there is a dearth of K-pop girl groups performing in some of the biggest venues in the country. The last all-ladies team to stage a concert at the SM MOA Arena was the now-defunct 2NE1, with Sandara Park, in May 2014. Early this year, Momoland had a fan meeting at the Smart Araneta Coliseum while six-member GFRIEND opted for the more intimate New Frontier Theater for its own concert in August 2018.
WHEN Korean actor and singer Seo Kang Joon first appeared on the reality TV show Roomate five years ago, his quiet charm immediately caught the viewers’ attention, and early on pundits were confident that he had the makings of a full-fledged K-drama star.
In the hierarchy of Korean stardom, there are legitimate superstars, true celebrities, award-winning actors, and chart-topping singers. Only a few who can rightfully claim to belong to each class and 41-year-old So Ji Sub is one of them. So when he visited Manila for his first fan meeting two weeks ago, the Titas of Manila expectedly came in droves, beating their millennial K-pop counterparts to the box-office. Mr. So of Oh My Venus and My Secret Terrius fame is recognized, and rightfully so, as the total package, who has more to offer than those freshly minted, lip syncing teenage idols.
FILIPINO fashion brand, Bench, has mastered the art of fostering nationalism while keeping up with the trends. Its mantra, “Love Local,” has a unique twist in that while Bench is a homegrown line, it has partnered with Asian superstars to beef up marketing. The formula has worked -- and continues to work -- making Bench the brand of choice in its target segments.
AS THE dispute with Beijing over the deployment of a US anti-missile system in South Korea is still unresolved, the Korean music industry is constantly looking to expand its market to countries outside China. The two-year security-related spat has resulted not only in the dwindling of Chinese tourists going to Seoul but also in China effectively banning Korean artists and producers of Korean dramas and films from its territory. To fill the void, K-pop producers have trained their sights on Southeast Asian countries to sell their talents.
IN AN ocean of Korean pop idols whose main selling point is pulsating dance moves, an honest-to-goodness rock band is very hard to come by. One can only name a few — CNBLUE, FTIsland, and newbies N Flying and Honeyst. All of them are under FNC Entertainment’s umbrella and of these, only CNBLUE has performed in the Philippines. CNBLUE is on hiatus with all four members undergoing mandatory military service.
APPOINTING male ambassadors for Korean beauty brands is more common than ever. Customers strolling through the Seoul shopping district of Myeongdong can attest that they are often lured into stores by men endorsers of make-up and skin care lines rather than their women counterparts. The strategy may have seemed odd several years back, but today it has become the norm, especially for Korean cosmetics.
SOME KOREAN pop groups — no matter how popular — have performed in the Philippines only once and without an insistent demand, they never managed to return. Not so in the case of the 13-member group, Seventeen, which can now boast of a three-sold-out-concert streak in Manila, a feat that only equally phenomenal bands such as BTS, EXO, and Super Junior have managed.
KOREAN POP fans know Jung Joon Young as the wacky yet competitive member of the reality-variety show, 2 Days 1 Night (2D1N). Every Sunday evening, he — along with five other regular cast members — entertains audiences worldwide with various challenges as the show also showcases suburban Korea.
KOREAN POP idols are all the craze not just in Asia but worldwide — BTS headlined the 2018 Billboard Music Awards and even appeared on Ellen; Big Bang celebrated its 10th anniversary by guesting on CNN’s Talk Asia; and Korean music festivals featuring boy and girl groups are making the rounds of Europe and the Middle East. K-pop fame is indeed enticing — although the road to stardom is never easy.
YOOK SUNGJAE is only 1/7 of the Korean boy band BtoB (Born to Beat) but he is arguably the most popular member. Aside from his activities with the group, he has a flourishing acting career which shot up several notches when he joined the cast of blockbuster K-drama Goblin, and played the nephew of Gong Yoo from Train to Busan fame.
THIRTEEN YEARS after they were catapulted to stardom, Korean pop group Super Junior can still give boy bands half their age a run for their money. In their first solo concert in Manila in five years, the group — which is recognized as the catalyst that led to the worldwide K-pop craze — rocked the SM Mall of Asia Arena. Fans could only describe their performance as “walang kupas” (unfading).
THE PECULIARITY with male Korean pop groups is that at some point in their career, the band will go on hiatus. By force of circumstances — or more aptly, due to the mandatory military service required of able-bodied adult male Koreans — groups either go on an involuntary 24-month respite or perform as an incomplete unit or members pursue solo careers while waiting for their band to regroup.