There are more than just a few famous pairs of good-looking, talented, and charismatic siblings who have taken the K-pop scene by storm. Sometimes they sign to the same company and are placed in different groups, sometimes they sign to two different companies and debut in groups with totally different concepts, and sometimes one becomes an actor and one becomes a singer. And then there’s always the extra-special case of the Jo twins in Boyfriend. I’ve always been baffled by the whole sibling thing in K-pop — personally, if I had an older sibling that went into K-pop, I would not want to follow in their footsteps and compete with them, not just in a joking sibling rivalry way, but in terms of rankings, awards, and popularity. As young adults, sibling relationships can get tense quite easily, and when idols competing with their siblings to be more successful at what they do, the professional and personal balance between them has to be carefully maintained. On the other hand, it’s definitely nice to have someone who understands all the hardships of K-pop idol life, supports you no matter what, and is just one simple phone call away at 3 AM when the loneliness kicks in. Korean pop culture boasts more than just a few of these talented siblings, but the relationships between them are definitely all unique.
Perhaps the most well-known and talked-about pair of siblings in K-pop is the one that is signed to SM Entertainment: the Jung sisters. Jessica and Krystal Jung were born in San Francisco, California before catching the attention of SM during a family trip to South Korea in 2000. Krystal was only five years old at the time, so Jessica was allowed to join as a trainee while Krystal had to wait a few more years until 2006, when she finally enrolled in dance classes at SM. Jessica also made her debut first as a member of SNSD in 2007. It’s interesting to look at Jessica and Krystal because they definitely seem pretty close in real life, even though SNSD is leading in terms of popularity over f(x). The fact that they are both parts of widely-recognized idol groups has also led to some awkward comparisons on television shows, including ones about their appearances. Kim Hyun Joong stated on an episode of Champagne in front of Jessica that he thought Krystal was prettier than her and then proceeded to say that Jessica’s prettiness was “only average” in SNSD. When he said that, it was easy to tell that Jessica was not comfortable with statements like that being made in front of her, but she brushed off the comments like a seasoned K-pop idol. Still, situations like that certainly cannot be pleasant for either sibling. However, disregarding those little tense moments during which we are reminded that Jessica and Krystal compete against each other on the K-pop scene, it’s pretty easy to see that the sisters maintain an easygoing relationship that can be spotted onstage during their joint performances as well.
Another surprising pair of sisters in K-pop is T-ara‘s Hwa-young and 5Dolls/Coed School‘s Hyo-young. The two are actually twins and labelmates under Core Contents Media and seem really close. Hwa-young frequently posts baby pictures of the two online and CCM has allowed the two to take on joint projects, such as their appearance in the music video for “Lovey Dovey Plus” by the male members of Coed School. Clearly, CCM knows how to strategically use a close sibling relationship as a marketing strategy. I’m definitely looking forward to more material in the future from this talented pair!
In terms of brother/sister relationships, Thunder and Mir from MBLAQ both have famous noonas (older sisters). Thunder’s older sister, Sandara Park, is a member of 2NE1 under YG Entertainment. Both of them have that cute factor in common and often flaunt their relationship on the internet since they don’t see each other very often during promotions due to their schedules and because they are signed to different companies. Thunder has stated more than once during interviews that he is quite protective of his older sister (especially when it comes to guys), and Dara posts pictures of herself with MBLAQ’s albums and mini-albums whenever the boys are promoting. Mir, on the other hand, has one of the goofiest sibling relationships I’ve seen in K-pop with his older sister, actress Go Eun-ah. The two frequently bicker when together, even on television. But both boys are clearly very devoted to their older sisters and their affection for one another is quite obvious.
Even though I’m not the biggest fan of Boyfriend out there, I still have to admit that Young-min and Kwang-min are the cutest twins in K-pop. In order to keep fans from getting confused (since the twins are identical), Starship Entertainment switches up their hairstyles in every music video. However, it’s become pretty apparent that the twins have very different personalities. Young-min strikes most fans as the “cool” twin, while Kwang-min is the cheery, happy-go-lucky one. The interesting thing about Young-min and Kwang-min is that since they’re signed to the same group, they don’t have to compete against each other in terms of group popularity. They can also support each other when they’re stressed since they live together. Because the twins are so different, it’s hard for fans to compare them with each other as well and create tension between the two. The Jo twins can also keep each other in check in terms of working hard to improve their skills — if there’s one thing all boys have in common, it’s the fact that they can get incredibly competitive, especially with their brothers.
One of the most surprising pairs of siblings in K-pop (to me, anyways) are Kim Hyung-jun, a member of the on hiatus SS501, and Kim Ki-bum, an ex-member of U-Kiss, who is now pursuing a solo career. The brothers set up HnB Company together, which supports actors and singers (along with a cute bear character named Piro Piro). It’s interesting how the two of them are also pursuing a career path outside of being K-pop idols together. I definitely see it as an intelligent choice, since Hyung-jun and Ki-bum are definitely old enough to be considering other options for their future. The fact that Zico from Block B and Tae-woon from Coed School are brothers also shocked me. The two rarely have activities together though, but they also post childhood pictures online, proving that their brotherly relationship is indeed a close one.
JYJ‘s Yoochun‘s relationship with his younger brother, Yoohwan, has also received a lot of attention recently because of their father’s death. Yoohwan is an actor, however, while Yoochun still focuses mostly on his career as a singer. Both brothers are incredibly talented and have a close relationship, which became clear as they had to deal with the death of their father together. As Yoochun takes on more and more roles as an actor, Yoohwan has been nothing but supportive of his hyung. I have no doubt that Yoochun has been incredibly grateful for his younger brother, especially in the last two months or so, during which he had to deal with the sasaeng fan controversy and his father’s death.
With all the pressure idols have to deal with every single day of their lives, it’s safe to say that having a sibling around in the industry is not a bad thing. Although many group members are close with each other, it’s hard to forget that they’re only together for professional purposes and sometimes idol life can get lonely. Idols who have a sibling to call when they’re down or to perform with onstage can draw on someone who will always be there for them for support, no matter what happens, because after all, blood ties are something that lasts a lifetime.
(Wikipedia, InStyle Magazine, Soshified, CCM, Twitter)