Most idols mold their mannerisms and behavior into something they and their companies believe the public would like the most.
Generally this persona is charming, graceful, friendly, and well-mannered. Their kindhearted and genteel attitudes allow them to be liked by nearly everyone, because how can a person hate someone so perfect? Someone that never does anything outrageous or says anything offensive? But not all idols are practically perfect. There are a handful that are feisty, outspoken, confident, and unafraid rather than amiable and safe. These are the divas, idols that are entertaining and inspiring, never afraid to speak their minds nor concerned with the opinions of others. Most groups have a diva, the one member that mocks the others or isn’t afraid to go all out on variety shows. But of all K-pop’s divas, four are the best of all: Infinite’s Sungjong, 2AM’s Jo Kwon, MBLAQ’s Joon, and SHINee’s Key.
What makes a diva, you ask? What criteria needs to be met? Well, to properly fill the diva archetype, an idol must dance girl group dances without shame. The slightest sign of embarrassment over sacrificing his masculinity cancels out his divaness. To be a diva, you must throw yourself completely into your roles. Embody them, become one with them. Show the world that it’s OK to be daring and outrageous, to put yourself up for scrutiny and ridicule. You must also have wit, be clever enough to mold yourself into a role that brings people joy and laughter while also causing them to admire you for your charm. Go your own way and don’t let social conventions define you. These divas didn’t.
Sungjong is the beloved diva maknae of Infinite and stands out among his hyungs through his wit and confidence. In a seven member group, it’s easy to get lost, and so Sungjong fits himself into the role of the sassy, fabulous maknae with a sharp tongue and tendency to beat stuffed animals. Sungjong is easily the girliest member of Infinite — a role he has spoken out against in the past and wished to be considered more “manly” — and it’s for this reason that he’s such a great diva. No, you don’t need to effeminate to be a terrific diva. The reason why Sungjong’s femininity makes him such a great diva is because he completely throws himself into it. Usually when you see a male idol perform a girl group’s song and doing girl group choreography, there’s a certain amount of humor involved to let you know that it’s just a joke. But it’s not a joke with Sungjong. As seen with his solo performance during Infinite’s “Second Invasion” concert, Sungjong doesn’t hesitate to throw himself into his performance entirely. His performance wasn’t funny, it was hot. Yeah, hot. There was no shame in what he did, and in that his performance was inspiring in its own way. For his confidence, Sungjong is definitely one of K-pop’s greatest divas.
An article about divas wouldn’t be complete without 2AM’s Jo Kwon, who is probably the first idol to come to mind when the word “diva” is brought up. Jo Kwon’s sass and flamboyancy is legendary — he’s a variety genius, able to make anyone crack up laughing, and displays nothing but confidence in whatever he does, whether it be impersonations or dancing. One example of Jo Kwon’s divaness would be solo debut performance for his song, “Animal.” Before the perf happened, the K-pop world was buzzing with the news that Jo Kwon would be wearing skyscraper heels during his perf. Could he do it? Of course he could, he’s Jo Kwon. 20 centimeter heels wouldn’t stop him from putting on a good show. Neither would skintight leather or a considerable amount of feathers. Jo Kwon’s performance was stellar, just like him.
Though not often referred to as a diva, MBLAQ’s Joon is as much a diva as the rest of them. Joon is entirely fabulous. Funny, witty, and charismatic, he’s also a fabulous dancer and great actor that crosses conventional lines for the sake of being entertaining. He loves ballet, and you need to have some serious balls to love a sport so commonly associated with femininity as ballet. Many men wouldn’t dare approach ballet in fear of being perceived as girly. As a matter of fact, Joon shows the world that you don’t need to be girly to be a diva. You just need confidence, with yourself and everything you do. Whether he’s acting, dancing, tearing off his shirt, or doing sketches on variety, Joon always has a certain level of confidence and sass to what he does to make you think one thing: fabulous.
The last diva on my list is SHINee’s Key. Like Jo Kwon, Key is synonymous with the term “diva.” Painfully blunt and forthright, Key never hesitates to state his opinion on someone or something. Like the other divas listed here, he lacks insecurity, giving him the freedom of doing whatever he wants onstage. Covering everyone from Ke$ha to Judas, goes all out in his performance. But the extent of Key’s greatness goes beyond that. Past interviews have revealed him to be a big fan of Beyonce and Kaya Scodelario, which hints at him having seen the BAFTA Award-winning show, Skins. Skins isn’t the show you’d typically imagine your idols watching. Furthermore, Key has been known to say things like this: “I think girls with style are more beautiful than ones with a pretty face. Small face, skinny, double eyelids…if guys keep going after that plain look, every girl’s face might look the same. It’d be a scary day.” In a society where one beauty standard dominates all, it’s refreshing to see an idol have a different and more uplifting opinion on how women should look, especially since millions of women everywhere look up to him for inspiration.
Outspoken, confident, inspiring — could these boys get anymore fantastic? For everything that makes them them, these boys are K-pop’s greatest divas.