As mentioned in this article, since the late 1990s, the popularity of South Korean culture has been steadily increasing around the world. This so-called “Korean Wave” has made Korean dramas and Korean pop music, also known simply as K-dramas and K-pop, popular on a global scale. Especially in the last decade, K-Pop has been conquering the world and with it, Japan. In 2011, it was reported that the total sales for K-pop artists’ in Japan had increased 22.3% within one year, some Korean artists being in the top 10 selling artists of 2011.
K-pop has a lot to offer, from talented solo-artists, such as BoA or Bi Rain, to popular girl groups, such as SNSD or Kara, to, of course, many sexy and hot boy bands. If you want to be able to keep up with the conversations of your Japanese friends and colleagues, you better start getting to know some of them! Here are three popular Korean boy groups big in Japan.
The name of this Korean pop duo alone already gives you a lot to write about. TVXQ is an acronym for Tong Vfang Xien Qi, which is the Chinese pronunciation of their name (東方神起 ); although in the Japanese market they usually are referred to as Tohoshinki, which is the Japanese way of reading their name. Sometimes, however, they also are called by their Korean name DBSK, which is short for Dong Bang Shin Ki, and roughly translates to “Rising Gods of the East.” But enough of names.
TVXQ started off as a five-member boy group, entering the Japanese market with their first Japanese album in 2006. After a slow start, they grew rather successful, but legal turmoil and internal conflict followed after three members attempted to split from their Korean agency in 2010. After a year-long hiatus, TVXQ returned, now as a duo, with its current members U-Know Yunho and Max Changmin, moving on more successful than ever. TVXQ is Japan’s best-selling foreign music act, with their 2013 concert tour being the highest-attended concert tour ever held by a foreign music act in Japan. With their intense and powerful dance style, and their imaginative and captivating stage performances, TVXQ have truly earned their title as “K-pop royalty.”
Big Bang debuted in August 2006 with its five members: G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Daesung, and Seungri. After starting to have success in Japan, the members branched out to also pursue their solo careers; Taeyang and G-Dragon stayed in the music scene, producing best-selling solo albums, while Seungri and Daesung acted in musicals and hosted variety shows, and T.O.P became a highly acclaimed film star, aside from also forming a sub-unit together with co-member G-Dragon.
Big Bang’s music started out as predominately hip hop, with some R&B songs incorporated into their albums as well. Later they started experimenting with EDM, which was a huge success and set a new music trend in Korea. As opposed to other Korean groups, Big Bang is known for being heavily involved in the production of their music. G-Dragon himself described the group as “an idol group not born of talent but through effort.”
Shinee is a five-member boy band formed in 2008. The band’s members are Onew, Jonghyun, Key, Minho, and Taemin. A Japanese version of their single “Replay” was released as their Japanese debut in 2011, selling over 91,000 copies, which at the time, had been the highest number of sales for a South Korean group ever recorded by Oricon.
Shinee is well-known for their fashion style, which features high-top sneakers, skinny jeans and colorful sweaters, to the point of being considered fashion icons. Their style even started the so-called “Shinee Trend” amongst students. They are further known for their highly synchronized and complex dancing, as well as their boyish charm, which later became more mature, while still containing Shinee’s unique image.
So, which one is your favorite K-pop boy band big in Japan?