In honour of this occasion, the Seoulbeats team paused to ponder: What are some of your favorite stage names? What stage names do you find peculiar, interesting, odd?
Ree: Zinger’s was one of the few K-pop stage names I really loved.
Amy: Haha, I always thought her stage name was really dumb. Zinger?? I have teas named Ginger Zinger. Third graders yell that at each other when they think they just said something ToTaLLy KeWL.
Ree: I loved itttt. I thought it really suited her. I don’t know, it always stood out to me really well. Plus, KFC sells this really good burger called “Zinger” which I also love. Win-win.
Amy: Yeah I can’t like a stage name of a person when a burger shares the same name. Poor Zinger.
Dana: I thought that Zinger was stupid for much the same reasons as did Amy, but also because nobody else in the group has a stage name. It’s like…hey, here’s three girls with totally ordinary names and then…Zinger.
Amy: This is totally a TS disease. Look at B.A.P. Everyone has their own birth names and then Choi Jun-hong is……….Zelo. I mean in terms of coolness Zelo >>> Zinger, but still. (Oh hey, two rappers, two Z-stage names. Good one, TS.)
Dana: That’s a good point. I completely forgot about B.A.P.
Speaking of stage names, I only just found out yesterday that Hyorin‘s name is actually Hyojung. BUT WHY? Am I forgetting another super famous Hyojung in the industry against whom she’d have to compete?
Amy: No. You’re not. They’re like the same exact sort of name, so I dunno why the name change.
Let’s not even start with the dumbness of SM‘s stage names. Luna is a nice name, but there is nothing wrong with Sun-young. Jinki >Onew. Ju-hyun = Seohyun, no idea why they even needed a change on this one. All of DBSK‘s stage names are dumb as hell but at least they just served as modifying adjectives lol and they still are known to the world mostly by their birth names.
Dana: I always wondered if the change with Seohyun had to do with the fact that people might’ve associated Ju-hyun with Ok Ju-hyun (as I also imagined that Stephanie might’ve become Tiffany because there was already a Stephanie in The Grace) — but Onew is an odd choice, especially because I’ve only ever met girls with that name. In Korean, 온유 means gentleness/sweetness/tenderness, which…I guess suits SHINee‘s marketing for “Replay,” but not so much afterwards? Anyway, at least they chose to spell it Onew – one friend of mine spells her name On You Kim, which…well. Yeah.
Amy: Oh yes, the Juhyun thing totally makes sense now.
Other ones that don’t make sense and/or super bad stage names: Kangin, Shindong, Leeteuk, all of Shinhwa: all of SM, basically.
Non-SM ones: like all of Big Bang, FEELDOG (WHAT THE ACTUAL F*CK).
Amy: His real name is actually Kim Jong-woon, but close enough for people to confuse it. And ESPECIALLY Western journalists who just straight up used his photo for North Korean articles, ha.
Dana: I actually remember a friend of mine showing me some Northern European publication that used his picture — one from the “Don’t Don!” days, when he (and the rest of them, for that matter) looked generally ridiculous — and claimed he was heir to North Korea’s Kim family regime. Like, really? The guy with the black leather tank top, the spray-on tattoo, and the cross-shaped dangly earrings who is making his fierce face at the camera? Can you even find any of that in Pyongyang? Also, I’m sorry to say that his haircut didn’t make it onto the regime’s official list of acceptable male haircuts.
Miyoko: As for Big Bang… I actually like G-Dragon‘s name, because it comes from his real name and conveniently works with his personality (plus, dragons are cool.) But I don’t get the rest of Big Bang’s, especially the ones they use in Japan. Daesung in no way needs to be called D-Lite.
Gaya: Wait, Onew is a girl’s name? I think I like it even more now.
I’ve always liked how f(x)‘s stage names were all Western — not the actual fact they are western per se, but just that they are all cohesive and match — there aren’t any ones that stick out like a sore thumb. Zinger always stuck out to me in that sense (and I do not like KFC), so her name change is great news to me.
Amy: I don’t think Ravi is Korean… Sun in Korean is Taeyang…
Gaya: Oh wait, I remember — Ravi means “Sun” in Sanskrit. Sorry, I got mixed up!
Lindsay: VIXX has strange stage names in general. N, Ravi, Leo, Ken. Especially Ken, because combined with his face everyone just thinks he is foreign.
Hyuk and Hongbin seem like fairly normal names, so it makes the others stand out more.
Dana: I always wondered if Krystal‘s stage name (of…uh…Krystal) was purposefully stylized with the ‘K,’ or if that’s actually the way her birth name is spelled. Her Korean name, Soo-jung (수정) actually does mean “crystal” in Korean. Does anyone know?
Young-Ji: I always thought generic names such as Gummy, Sangchu (Mighty Mouth), Onion (Yangpa), Se7en, T.O.P, Byul, Haha, etc was just bad for business. Searching for just “Gummy” results in news about spiders, “Sangchu” and “Onion,” about the produce market, “Se7en,” a movie from the 90s. various “top” lists for TOP, etc. And it takes a long time to build new associations with a common adjective like that.
Dana: Weren’t TRAX’s stage names supposed to make up a sentence? Like…Typhoon of the Rose Attack on X-mas, if I remember correctly?
No worse than Fin Killing Liberty, I guess. Or High-Five of Teenagers.
Actually, yeah, it’s worse.
Gaya: Ha ha, didn’t Jay talk about that on Strong Heart once? About how Yunho was put out by the name Dong Bang Shin Ki and Jay was all “We have a guy named Christmas!”
Young-Ji: Yes, I think he did mention it! As much as we make fun of these names, I think this is what makes the world of K-pop that much more entertaining. Where else can you have so many “WTF” moments when you hear the groups’s introductions?
Gaya: You know what stage name I really like? Kris. Because I have no idea what his real name is.
Nicholas: Lay is seriously where all bad jokes start. Watching performers: “You want some Lay with that”. I never get bored of that joke, ever!
Gaya: Lay is really the most random stage name, I have no idea how they decided that was better than Yixing.
Nicholas: Yixing is way better, with some clever word play, it could mean “artistic star” in Chinese.
Gaya: They say (or joke, rather) that’s why his parents named him that, I think. And he was a bit of a child star, so Yixing’s been living up to his name for a while.
Mark: T.O.P’s original stage name was supposed to be Mark. I think he should have stuck with that.
Hitmakers have really intriguing names with Sweetune, E-Tribe, Shinsadong Tiger, Duble Sidekick, Kush and Daishi Dance being my favorites. Brave Brothers and Mordney Present — not so much.
Gaya: You forgot The Asiansoul.
Nicholas: *whispers* JYP.
Subi: There’s this one group, oh god, every time I say their name – it’s like breaking bubble wrap with your tongue.
Ugh, those people. Who do they think they are?
And their group members – don’t even get me started. What a bunch of empty coconuts.
But that Subi girl…yeah, she’s alright.
Ree: I guess I’m forever alone in how much I love the idea of stage names. I like the idea of having a separate moniker as a performer and a person. With the fact everyone thinks idols are the most artificial thing to come out of the entertainment industry, I always thought having a separate name for your ~stage persona~ was kind of meta in that way.
Obviously, I’m sure SM weren’t thinking along those lines when dishing out X-mas to Jungmo, but regardless.
Dana: I’m curious, Ree. What would YOUR stage name be?
Ree: I’m ashamed to admit I’ve thought about this a fair bit: R1, Shanti, Donna, Check, Ree Dizzle.
Any and all suggestions are welcome.
(Youtube. Images via: TS Entertainment, 1st Look, Singles, SM Entertainment, B2M Entertainment)