ALL THE TREND: Korea's next generation variety-dols

We round up the fastest rising idols on variety and track their progress thus far

We round up the fastest rising idols on variety and track their progress thus far
We round up the fastest rising idols on variety and track their progress thus far
06 Mar 2015

We round up the fastest rising idols on variety and track their progress thus far

K-Pop debuts are a dime a dozen these days – keeping track of the new kids of the block is enough of a challenge while remembering the individual members is close to impossible – unless, of course, you’re a die-hard fan.

Finding a way to stand out is more than just possessing superior visuals (alternatively, having amazing makeup artistes) or baring more skin than others before you. Talent alone is not enough to hit it big – just look at EXID, who debuted in 2012 but only recently gained attention after a fan-taken video of member Hani went viral.

Most of the time, idols resort to other fields in order to establish names for themselves – while some have chosen acting, others have chosen to show different sides of themselves through variety shows.

The first generation of variety-dols (variety idols) was the legendary Shinhwa, with subsequent others such as Super Junior’s Leeteuk, Heechul, Shindong & Eunhyuk, MBLAQ’s Lee Joon, 2NE1’s Dara and ZE:A’s Kwanghee making waves in the variety scene for their humour and wit.

As time went by, new shows sprouted from the minds of producers and a new generation of variety-dols emerged. Click on to check out some of the hottest variety-dols in the circuit.

GOT7’s Jackson & KARA’s Youngji – Roommate
GOT7’s Jackson & KARA’s Youngji – Roommate
06 Mar 2015

GOT7’s Jackson & KARA’s Youngji – Roommate

GOT7’s Hong Kong-born Jackson and the newest member of KARA, Youngji, were announced to be joining the line-up for Roommate’s second season without much fanfare, but have shot to become (arguably) the ones who stand out most on the programme.

As the two youngest fixed cast members (both are born in 1994), the two’s incessant bickering has given rise to a ‘love-line’ (romantic pairing) that has extended beyond Roommate.

Recently, the two went through a lie detector test on another variety show, Weekly Idol, where they were asked if they have ever liked one another. Having answered yes and passed the lie detector test, the hosts and other guests naturally teased the pair to no end.

Will the Jackji (Jackson-Youngji) pair bring their relationship to a whole new level? If they do, they might just be the first variety-ple (variety couple) out there.

M.I.B’s Kangnam – Hello Stranger, I Live Alone
M.I.B’s Kangnam – Hello Stranger, I Live Alone
06 Mar 2015

M.I.B’s Kangnam – Hello Stranger, I Live Alone

Kangnam has become a regular fixture on the variety circuit after he first caught attention for his candidness and positivity despite having a measly KRW3,422 (S$4.25) in his bank account on I Live Alone.

The half-Korean left his family home in Japan to fulfil his dreams of becoming a star but never hit it big with his band since its 2011 debut. His bright outlook and hopefulness for the future endeared viewers to Kangnam and the rest, as they say, is history.

These days, the 27-year-old admits that he’s thankful to have a packed schedule and his popularity has extended beyond variety – his solo track ‘What Do I Do’ secured the first spot on real-time charts in December last year.

With Kangnam receiving love calls from various programmes, one can only look forward to the smiles that he will continue to bring to the faces of viewers around the world. Getting more attention for M.I.B’s music would be an added bonus.

Super Junior-M’s Henry – Real Men
Super Junior-M’s Henry – Real Men
06 Mar 2015

Super Junior-M’s Henry – Real Men

Having caught eyes as the slick electric violin player in Super Junior’s ‘Don’t Don’ back in 2007 and debuting with Super Junior-M a year after, Henry was hidden from plain sight when other artistes from his label were given opportunities to shine.

His turn came when he had his solo debut in 2013 and subsequently proved himself as a natural at variety with his various appearances. What stood out most was his army stint in Real Men. Viewers praised him for his hard work and earnest attitude towards learning.

Henry has now been confirmed as the fixed cast for more variety shows, including We Got Married and Soulmates Return.


ZE:A’s Hyungsik – Real Men
ZE:A’s Hyungsik – Real Men
06 Mar 2015

ZE:A’s Hyungsik – Real Men

Hyungsik joined the cast of Real Men after MBLAQ’s Mir left the show and caught the attention of viewers right from the start with his lack of knowledge about the army. He thus earned the title of baby soldier and has become a much-loved variety-dols in the hearts of many.

He had to leave the show in August last year after being cast in a weekend drama What’s With This Family and focused on other activities, including musicals, afterwards.

Hyungsik recently confirmed that he will be joining Law of the Jungle’s Indo-China special, raising anticipation of his performance on the show, which brings its cast to primitive locations to experience life with the natives.

Girl’s Day’s Hyeri – Real Men Female Edition
Girl’s Day’s Hyeri – Real Men Female Edition
06 Mar 2015

Girl’s Day’s Hyeri – Real Men Female Edition

Hyeri became the object of the nation’s affection after her aegyo (cute display of affection) when saying goodbye to one of her instructors went viral in South Korea. That short display of aegyo in the regimented army caught the hearts of both male and female viewers, resulting in requests for Hyeri to duplicate it on other programmes.

She has guested on numerous other programmes after, including Radio Star and Star King. Though she has yet to become a fixed cast member on a variety show after, her personality seems to have caught on with the public and it seems like a matter of time before she is given an opportunity to shine through variety programmes once again.

f(x)’s Amber – Real Men Female Edition 2
f(x)’s Amber – Real Men Female Edition 2
06 Mar 2015

f(x)’s Amber – Real Men Female Edition 2

Reports that a large number of applications were received for the second season after Hyeri’s runaway success on the previous edition dominated Korean news portals when the second season was confirmed.

Many wondered who the second Hyeri would be but the standout star from this season was unexpectedly Amber. Having grown up abroad, Amber’s fluency in Korean was lacking compared to the native speakers, getting her caught up in situations where she could not understand certain instructions being passed down.

Despite the communication problems, she worked hard in the army, receiving praises and love for a different kind of cuteness displayed. Coupled with her solo debut earlier this year, we can only see good things ahead for Amber.

Super Junior’s Kyuhyun – Radio Star
Super Junior’s Kyuhyun – Radio Star
06 Mar 2015

Super Junior’s Kyuhyun – Radio Star

Much like his hyungs (older brothers) in Super Junior, Kyuhyun has become a fixture on the variety circuit with his sharp wit and variety skills.

Having hosted Radio Star since 2011, the talk show allows the fixed panel of four cast members to banter with their respective guests of the week or trade thinly-veiled insults (made in the name of variety, of course).

While witnessing his sharp tongue do its magic in the comfort of a studio makes for good television, we wonder how he would fare in the great outdoors. If his appearance on Running Man last year was any indication, we reckon we’d enjoy seeing him taken out of his comfort zones in shows such as 2 Days & 1 Night.

CROSS GENE’s Takuya – Abnormal Summit
CROSS GENE’s Takuya – Abnormal Summit
06 Mar 2015

CROSS GENE’s Takuya – Abnormal Summit

Six-membered CROSS GENE debuted in 2012 but never hit it big. Takuya, who is of Japanese descent, joined the cast of Abnormal Summit in 2014 as its Japanese representative. The talk show, which features a panel of foreign men, discusses trending issues in Korea as well as cultural norms as seen from the eyes of a non-local.

Following the success of the show, Takuya also received more popularity and even earned the nickname Mr. Seom Seom Ok Su (beautiful hands).

Following which, he has starred in Hyorin and Jooyoung’s music video, ‘Erase’ and clinched the International Exchange Daesang (top prize) in the Korean Hallyu Awards.

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