• http://www.facebook.com/kennedy.halstead.3 Kennedy Halstead

    I had to look up the term ‘maknae’ when I first got into Kpop. It seemed like an odd concept to me at first; I even thought it was some sort of mascot thing, but nowadays, it makes a lot more sense to me. I mean, Korea is a hierarchical society. It makes sense that being the youngest would have a particular significance (just as being the oldest does). Everyone has certain roles and responsibilities dictated by their age, but as noted in the article, these roles are rather fluid.

    MBLAQ’s Mir was my first introduction to maknaes, and boy, if he is not (one of) the worst to get introduced to! Visually, he doesn’t look like the youngest (something noted many, many times by his hyungs, especially Thunder, who, judging by looks alone, seems like the youngest), but in terms of behavior, he really plays up the baby card. In one episode of Idol Manager, Seungho was jokingly complaining about how Mir would tease him to get him to cheat on his diet, saying things like, “Doesn’t this chicken look good?” Seungho was having a hard time losing weight, and I’m sure it must’ve been annoying as all get out, but in the end, he smiled and was like, “Ah, but he’s so cute, I let him get away with it.” Mir is a twenty-year-old man, last I checked, but because he has this mantle of maknae, he can get away with annoying behavior because to MBLAQ, 20 = baby, since they’re all older.

    What’s fascinating to me is that in some alternate reality, Mir wouldn’t even have been the maknae! If Sang Bae hadn’t left the group, apparently, he would’ve been the makane. I wonder if Mir would still have been treated by the same as his hyungs if he just happened to not be the youngest anymore?

    So, in that case, I don’t think you can divorce ‘maknae’ from age. It will always be tied to that, I believe. I mean, Ga In is older than most in the Kpop sphere, but to her BEG unnis, I’m certain she’ll always be their maknae, the baby. Heck, the g.o.d maknae is in his 30s and has a baby and his hyungs still act like they can hardly believe it! It’ll be funny to see how the maknaes of today are treated in 5 to 10 years’ time.

    • http://twitter.com/silverukiss Silver

       I think when you grow up together taking care of someone because they are the youngest, it becomes hard to see them any other way. To this day I still look at my “baby” brother and try to deny the fact that he is now old enough to be married and raising his own kids. In my mind he is still a kid a need to help take care of. It’s a hard image to get rid of. So I think for the bands that debuted when the maknaes were still kids, it can be hard for the members to see them any other way once those maknaes grow up.

  • http://twitter.com/fah2ma Fatouma

    Oh my god, Gaya, that’s the cutest picture of Changkyu ever! Evil Maknaes <3 

    • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

      Kyuhyun posted it on his twitter sometime around TVXQ’s “Catch Me” comeback, I think. :P

      • Gaya_SB

        Yeah; he kept tweeting their comeback stages, too. It’s hilarious when they’re so nice to each other but mercilessly bully others.

        • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

          Yeah. Changmin says he doesn’t like men but I’ve seen him kiss Kyuhyun on the cheek at least three times. And don’t get me started on him and Minho (too cute!). 

          Ah…Kyuline. >_<

    • Gaya_SB

      Say what you will about KYHD, Changmin looked soooo good during that era.

      But yeah, they’re cuteness really belies their evilness

      • find_nothing_here

         Taemin’s kind of picking up that tradition now.

  • KrisMyStar

    And there’s Dani being added to T-ara. I honestly think her only purpose is to lower the group’s average age.

  • http://twitter.com/eliyshas Eliysha C. Saputra

    Maknae is an interesting concept that doesn’t necessarily translate to Western culture. I remember reading somewhere that maknae gets bossed around because of their age and it’s completely normal. Talking about out of the box maknaes, the first that comes to mind is Chansung from 2PM. Not only does he not possess the common baby face expectation of maknaes, he also behaves very maturely for a maknae. I’m not sure if it’s 2PM’s dynamic as a group that values brotherhood in the age is not a big deal or if it’s because Chansung himself is not very… maknae-like.

    This goes to say that I love love love the Chansung-type of maknae and Kyuhyun who holds their ground for being young and witty (and physically bigger than his hyungs for Chansung). It breaks out of the typical maknae shell and it reflects well on the groups’ dynamics.

  • Sentimental Muffin

    I choked when I realised LuHan and XiuMin were the eldest in EXO. I definitely lost my mind.

    The maknae and hierarchy emphasis in kpop wasn’t really new to me. Well maybe it’s new in the context of pop culture. Where I come from culturally speaking age is also very important. Just like in the Korean language and culture people don’t just address other people by their names without some form of honourific and it’s the equivalent in my mother tongue and other similar languages and cultures in Southern Africa.
    So initially I thought a maknae would be quieter and let their elders shine before they do despite possibly having a personality contradicting my rationalisation of the role but some maknaes have smashed that theory (Thank you ChangKyu and Ga In etc. ^_^). It has been interesting watching the role of maknaes in different groups. The concept of maknae doesn’t really need to be separated from age as long as the characteristics of a maknae is moldable like the out of the box maknaes mentioned in the article.

  • http://twitter.com/silverukiss Silver

    “Lee Taemin himself. Having debuted just months before
    his 15th birthday,he was often referred to as the maknae of K-pop
    itself, only relinquishing that title once the K-pop rookie flood of ’11
    happened”

    Taemin was certainly the most popular, but he wasn’t the youngest. Shin Dongho debuted the same year as Shinee, but he’s about a year younger. I thought that was one of the reasons why Dongho became so popular at that time, because he was the youngest idol, the maknae of the kpop bands. Dongho actually became popular enough that U-Kiss wasn’t even referred to as U-Kiss back then, But “Dongho and the boys” or “Dongho’s boys.”

    • Gaya_SB

      Wow, I didn’t actually know that before, thank you for telling me.

      • http://twitter.com/silverukiss Silver

         You’re welcome. I’m always here to provide random facts about U-Kiss, lol. :D

  • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

    Yookyung isn’t the maknae of A Pink…it’s Hayoung.

    • Gaya_SB

      Fixed it, thanks for the heads up, Michaela!

      • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

        Yeah, lol, Hayoung’s definitely still not too confident, I’d say. Can’t blame her, though. ’97 liner. Everyone kept on talking about how young Zelo is/was, but Hayoung’s younger and debuted 8 months earlier. :P

        • cherrytreexutopia

          Hayoung is the same age as Zelo. Both are part of the ’96 line. (She’s actually older than Zelo by a couple of months)

          • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

            Huh. I thought she was ’97. Whoops. :P

            Maybe Wiki was wrong when I was into A Pink. I remember thinking she was cool because she was only a little older than me. Eh, whatevs, thanks for the correction. :P

  • shannie4888

    I think the maknae concept is really cute, but I think for some members who are not naturally cute or full of aegyo, it can be very confining. If you’re in your twenties and have to act like a  little kid, it’s probably annoying. I know that when some of them shed that cute label, it allows them to be more of who they are if they are not the overly happy type. 

  • Streby

    A lot of these maknaes really grow in talent over the years, I think this is because they are very much still in training and they only manage to excel like the rest of the group in their later years, 
    like SHINee’s Taemin, though he was always a killer dancer, we have seen him taking on larger and more varied singing roles and even attempting Immortal Song in the recent years. Other examples that come to mind could be Kara’s Jiyoung and perhaps Wonder Girls’ Sohee (she cant really sing even now but she sounds a bit more bearable.)

    • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

      I think Sohee’s singing’s actually gotten pretty solid (as in…not great, but at least capable) lately. WG did an acapella performance of an English song called “Wake Up” and she sounded fine. Better than a few other idols, I think.

      • Streby

        Her voice is too whiny, I guess that isn’t really her fault but thats what makes her sound as bad as she does.

  • km313

    Taemin strikes me as such an inconsistent version of the whole maknae stereotype. He’s certainly not the same blank faced, blink-master teenager he was when SHINee debuted, and these days he does assert his masculinity whenever possible – his later Only One performances with BoA for the SMTown concerts really impressed me. Initially I thought he (and all of the other dance partners) lacked any chemistry, but eventually he got the hang of it. Between that and the Internet War performances, it seemed like the message was being sent that Taemin is not the cute maknae anymore.

    Yet…SM still milks the whole crossdressing thing with him, and it seems like he doesn’t like it. He’s one of the more popular maknaes but I still think he’s an atypical case. It makes me wonder if he’ll ever outgrow the title even if he himself has outgrown the role. He seems so unsubscribed to it these days.

    To be honest, all of SM’s maknaes are a little atypical. Changmin and Kyuhyun are just too snarky. Seohyun’s too mature. Krystal and Sulli are just confusing. And if we include EXO, the maknae title seems like such a nonfactor in the dynamic to me. I won’t say it’s a bad thing – I actually prefer it to the often awkward and forced role, but it is interesting.

    • Streby

      I have a feeling SM started preparing for Taemin to graduate the ‘Dancing Machine’ title for a while, because they wanted Kai to take that position in SM. Luckily, the boy can manage his singing and so they built him the rep of being a good singer and not just a dancer. 

      Now I don’t really know much about EXO but what I do no is that Kai is the face of the group and clearly the main dancer because he gets maximum centre-stage time. 

    • find_nothing_here

      I’m curious how you equate crossdressing with youth…I mean the members of Super Junior still do that and their definitely not young.

      I think it’s just cause Taemin’s pretty. :P He’s kind of horrible at crossdressing though, because he obviously has no idea how to move like a girl.

    • find_nothing_here

      I’m curious how you equate crossdressing with youth…I mean the members of Super Junior still do that and their definitely not young.

      I think it’s just cause Taemin’s pretty. :P He’s kind of horrible at crossdressing though, because he obviously has no idea how to move like a girl.

      • km313

        I definitely wouldn’t equate all crossdressing in K-pop as a youth-oriented thing. It’s played up much more as comedic with Super Junior, but with Junsu, it’s much more of an expression and artistic thing. With Taemin, it doesn’t seem to come off as either anymore (the Tie a Yellow Ribbon video is one example- it just kind of happens). Yes, SM has toyed with his waifish figure by making him dress up as a girl, but because he seems more uncomfortable doing it these days. Plus, he used to be more androgynous than he is now.

        He is very awkward when he does it, I agree!

        • find_nothing_here

           Really?  It seems like it’s less uncomfortable for him to me.  He just is kinda horrible at it, and they always give him such cheep wigs. :P  (I find it kind of funny to watch.)

          And I know everyone and their mother likes to blame it on SM, but I think MFK was Key’s. I don’t know about Changkyu.  But I think it was kind of unfair they made Taemin cross-dress and not Minho.  All or nothing, I say.

  • Matsujun_92

    From my point of view, Shinee’s Taemin will most probably be the “baby” in everyone’s eyes even long after he’s grown out off the role. For fans like me who got into Kpop during 08-09, Taemin was THE maknae .You can’t not think about him when the word maknae pops out. Although I admit he’s been getting really sexy and mature these days, it’s still hard for me to accept that the boy is finally grown up, no longer the baby he used to be. People like me are probably more sentimental since we feel like we’ve grown up with him and seen his growth as  both a dancer and a singer.

  • Skittles

    Speaking of maknaes,
     Happy Birthday Seungri~

    • Gaya_SB

      Yes!

      Did he end up getting any candles?

  • minty_chip

    One of the biggest shocks for me this year was that Tao was the maknae in Exo M. It’s as though they age the opposite way in that group, well besides Kris. 

  • minty_chip

    One of the biggest shocks for me this year was that Tao was the maknae in Exo M. It’s as though they age the opposite way in that group, well besides Kris. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/R5BKARJWK7NNOXYOIUSP76YJW4 Aj

    Kyuhyun got me into Kpop.Through him being bestfriends with Changmin that I got to know DBSK. I was used to magnaes pwning hyungs actually since the first two magnaes I knew are bullying their hyungs mercilessly. I found out what a magnae’s supposed role is when I came to know BigBang, and it’s Seungri who’s being teased and ordered around. He was and still is in my opinion the cute factor however manly he’s been dressing up lately.Seungri act as the magnae while Kyuhyun and Changmin do not but anyway I love the two versions. It’s funny how it’s Donghae and Junsu who were like the magnaes in their group.
    By being into Kpop, Kdramas and Kvariety I found out how age heirarchy is such a big deal for Koreans and they had to establish it first and foremost at first meeting. I find it cute that whatever the age, a magnae in a group of ”harabeojis” is still the magnae.

  • http://twitter.com/fah2ma Fatouma

    Biased, maybe, but I find Zelo to be the cutest maknae I’ve ever seen in K-pop.

  • http://twitter.com/mzjjae1626 azee_jaejoong

    i love how Jaejoong and Yoochun are always teasing Junsu^___^ that JYJ magnae so cute!

    • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

      My heart just broke a little, tbh.

  • VLF218

    I seriously just found out Sulli wasn’t the maknae a little while ago lol

  • http://twitter.com/Suki375 Jigyasha Pradhan

    I don’t usually care about authors but i just had to read “Considering that SHINee is my be all and end all when it comes to K-pop” to know that this was Gaya, lol

    • Gaya_SB

      Haha! Another clue is that I post all the SB Exchanges :)

  • lokifairy

    I’m sorry for all maknaes in KPOP but for me Taemin will always be THE maknae. He is also one of the most talented maknaes in Kpop. He can dance (he belongs to the top 3 male dancers in SM), sing, play piano and guitar and lately his voice is just amazing. His singing technique is sometimes even better than Jjong’s now and nearly as good as Onew’s. And he wants to learn how to compose (or he is already learning it).

    Taemin is amazing and I’m sure he will show us even more in the future (lol I didn’t even liked him some years ago and now I’m saying something like this…)

  • http://twitter.com/PhanTheHotness Jenny

    changmin and kyuhyun are the best maknaes ever! i love that they don’t fit into the cute concept. nowadays, the maknaes are taller, manlier, and cooler than their hyungs/unnies.
    i really think maknaes are outgrowing their “cute” concept put onto them, except taemin. SM seems to want him to forever be the maknae of maknaes.

    btw changmin of dbsk grew up quite well didn’t he?? from cute debut to tall, hot, and snarky :D

    • Gaya_SB

      Yes, Changmin did FINE :)

  • http://twitter.com/veria10 Veria

    “I believe the first time I figured out what the heck a maknae was was during my Kyuhyun obsession. And Kyu isn’t a terrific example of a maknae.”

    Ha ha I completely agree. I started out in Kpop with purely Suju for a good while and when I eventually branched out to other groups I was surpised to realise how atypical Kyuhyun actually is as a maknae. I mean, he plays the card up in variety a lot, but if you just observed the group you wouldn’t think he was the youngest. Apart from age I actually think Suju consider Ryeowook to be a makne much more – he just has such a ‘younger sibling’ kind of temperament that makes you want to dote on him.

  • http://twitter.com/veria10 Veria

    “I believe the first time I figured out what the heck a maknae was was during my Kyuhyun obsession. And Kyu isn’t a terrific example of a maknae.”

    Ha ha I completely agree. I started out in Kpop with purely Suju for a good while and when I eventually branched out to other groups I was surpised to realise how atypical Kyuhyun actually is as a maknae. I mean, he plays the card up in variety a lot, but if you just observed the group you wouldn’t think he was the youngest. Apart from age I actually think Suju consider Ryeowook to be a makne much more – he just has such a ‘younger sibling’ kind of temperament that makes you want to dote on him.