Within all K-pop groups, each member serves a specific role: leader, vocalist, rapper, dancer, visual, and of course, maknae. Reserved for the youngest in the group, the ever-lovable maknae often draws fans using winsome charms.
In most cases, the maknae exhibits a natural ability for aegyo, or extreme cuteness, which can induce cooing or cringing from both fans and their fellow members alike. Maknaes are also probably the only other members aside from the leaders to gain recognition for their tireless work ethic and multiple talents.
With Super Junior‘s Kyuhyun and Shinee‘s Taemin both making their solo debuts, 2014 has been quite a banner year for the youngest members of idol groups. They join the likes of Big Bang‘s Seungri and Brown Eyed Girls‘ Ga-in as part of the trend that is transforming the role of maknae from the adorable younger sibling to that of respected artist. Be it music or variety, there is no end to the possibilities of what roles the maknaes could play, so why not play with a few ideas on who could possibly carry out a solo debut successfully?
Minzy – 2NE1
Ask most fans which maknae is long overdue for a solo debut, and Minzy’s name usually comes out first. Not only is she a phenomenal dancer, but she has also improved vocally over the years. Many fans took note of the increased maturity of her voice that came out on 2NE1’s latest album Crush, noting that she is finally coming into her womanhood with a distinctive timbre that served their R&B songs well. The combination of her powerful dancing and soulful singing opens doors to possibilities as to what she could do on stage. As the only member of 2NE1 without a solo, fans wonder why YG has yet to give this dynamo even one single to her name. Hopefully, 2015 becomes the Year of Minzy, and she’ll descend from the sky on a golden unicorn, brightening our dreary existences with her luminous presence.
Taehyun – Winner
Before anyone brandishes a pitchfork for this nomination, please listen to the reasons. Yes, Taehyun is technically a rookie, but that does not mean he performs like one. The long, tumultuous journey of Winner’s youngest member is not lost on fans, nor Taehyun himself. Even before the group debuted, Taehyun worked diligently to improve his songwriting skills, which is something not a lot of idols do. On an episode of Winner TV, YG complimented his burgeoning talent and furthered that support by featuring one of Taehyun’s self-composed songs on Winner’s debut album. He is also a gifted singer and has toiled endlessly to hone his voice into the finely tuned instrument it is now. Given that this is only his first year, he is already showing signs he can take on solo stages with a level of maturity and professionalism that rivals some of his seniors.
Youngji – Kara
Another rookie to the scene, Youngji is in an unconventional position given that her group members have years of experience in the spotlight ahead of her. Joining an established group can be a daunting responsibility, yet Youngji fits in as if she has been with the members since their inception. Her eagerness to impress her seniors is especially evident on Roommate 2 as she does her best to lighten the atmosphere whenever possible. She loves to show off her Korean drum skills to the cast and never shies away from a chance to dance for her seniors. The other cast members have noticed she diligently performs without being prompted to do so, deepening their affection and admiration for her. Variety is clearly an avenue in which she would shine best with her bubbly personality, and it would be awesome to see her as a guest on shows like Running Man or Grandpas Over Flowers.
Mir – MBLAQ
Speaking of variety-dols, Mir would definitely be an asset on TV. He already has years under his belt with numerous appearances on various programs. Ironically, he was a regular on old favorite Maknae Rebellion, which showcased the youngest idols playing games as a team against their seniors. He held back nothing, allowing his idol image to be damaged for the sake of making fans laugh at his endless puns and body gags. Mir wields uncanny comic timing, making him a strong candidate for MC gigs. Imagine the hilarity that would ensue if he became a new member of Infinity Challenge. New blood with variety chops would definitely boost the show’s image in the wake of its most recent scandal. Considering the future of MBLAQ is unclear at this point, perhaps a journey into the world of variety is the proper home for one of K-pop’s most energetic idols known.
Jungkook – BTS
Rounding out the list is the cherubic ’97-liner with a devilish grin. There are few idols who hold multiple positions in their group, but Jungkook seamlessly fits into every role besides that of leader. Nicknamed by his members as the “Golden Maknae,” he lives up to his title by excelling in dancing, singing, and rapping. Anyone who has been following BTS could give you numerous examples of his talents, and this pre-debut video is a small sample of it.
Honestly, if this kid was a Pokemon, he would be a rare breed sought by everyone in the game. Whether it’s imitating girl group dances or covering songs by his favorite seniors, Jungkook works hard to maintain his reputation as the Golden Maknae.
This, of course, is all in good fun and not meant to be used as a ranking system for the World’s Most Outstanding Maknae. They are all special in their own way and should be appreciated for their charms. Perhaps some of the names mentioned above will get their chance to shine their talents upon the world as soloists. There may even be others who have hidden skills just waiting for a chance to express themselves. Whatever the case may be, let us all take a moment to enjoy the wonderment that is the maknae.
(YouTube, Images via BNT International, SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment)