Kim Jong-kook. Shinhwa. Super Junior. SNSD. Kwanghee. These are all idols that have made their mark in the world of Korean variety shows. In the case of Kim Jong-kook, he’s so proficient that many newcomers don’t even realize he’s a singer who debuted in a group 20 years ago. For their part, Shinhwa has long been regarded as the Idol Kings of Variety. As time goes by, different idols and groups become more involved in K-variety. So, who are the next generation of idol variety stars?
1. M.I.B’s Kangnam
While some of us don’t really regard M.I.B as an idol group, there’s no doubt that Kangnam should still be on this list: he’s taken over. Although he had various drama cameos and one-time variety appearances, Kangnam became a household name on I Live Alone, especially after gaining sympathy for having so little money in the bank. Since then, he’s managed to channel that into actually making bank. His blatant honesty and perspective from living in three different countries have made him a fixture on various shows, most recently Animals and Invisible Man.
2. F(x)’s Amber
It’s hard not to love Amber. She has a go-getter attitude and friendly personality that make people just like her. This likability means she’s a great addition to any variety show. With her solo release, she’s seeing more screen time via variety show appearances. Although more reality than variety, Real Men may be the show to launch Amber into superstardom – the same way it did for Hyeri. At the very least, people are seeing that despite her slightly tougher image, she’s a gentle soul with the same hang-ups as the rest of us.
3. Super Junior-M’s Henry
Although Super Junior is known as variety princes, Zhoumi and Henry are often left out of the conversation – likely due to them being members of a subgroup. However, since 2013, Henry has been having a surge in popularity. The affable foreigner, Henry is a multi-talented guy who wins people over with his skills (such as his cooking on Master Chef) and awkwardness (his Real Men stint is a source of great laughter). Rather or not this will be a good move fan-base wise, Henry is going to once again be in the spotlight by appearing on We Got Married.
4. Girl’s Day’s Hyeri
The maknae of Girl’s Day, Hyeri had her career skyrocketed thanks to Real Men. Her eating habits and aegyo won the hearts of viewers and soldiers alike. Up until then, she only appeared on shows with her fellow members. Now, she’s acting and has even won an award on her own: the Best Newcomer Award for the MBC Entertainment Awards. Despite her scandal with Tony An (and subsequent split), she’s managed to become even more popular since then.
5. GOT7’s Jackson
Jackson’s appearance on Roommate 2 has taken him to a level of popularity that exceeds that of his being a member of GOT7. He’s touched hearts with his love of his family. Also, his friendship with Youngji has lead to the sailing of the JackJi ship. With his handsome looks, athletic prowess, and openness regarding his opinions, Jackson knows how to make girls swoon. Swooning girls can lead to a very long career.
6. KARA’s Youngji
She won Project Kara. She’s part of the Hitmaker female project group. She’s in the Roommate 2 cast. The other half of the JackJi ship, KARA’s newest member is winning people over. Also, like Hyeri, her eating habits are drawing favorable attention. Youngji has the sweet, girl-next-door image, which makes her someone fans will like. It’s difficult to resist her big smile.
7. ZE:A’s Hyungsik
Until his acting ventures began to be noticed, Hyungsik was simply another member of an unpopular boy group. Not only that, he (and practically every other member) lived in the variety shadow of Kwanghee. However, Hyungsik is now shining bright. Like three others on this list, Real Men is playing a major role in making Hyungsik a household name. Most recently, Hyungsik has been tapped to join The Laws of the Jungle. It’s the year of the sheep, so this may just his year to explode in variety.
8. After School’s Lizzy
Lizzy’s variety tenure didn’t quite get off to a good start. Although she was cast as a regular member of Running Man back in 2010, she was cut out so often that she eventually left the show. Additionally, with her funny personality clashing with After School‘s charismatically sexy image and her comments regarding Apink’s Eunji and satoori, Lizzy wasn’t a crowd favorite. However, that cute personality has been gaining her attention lately. She most recently landed an MC gig for Tasty Road.
Hopefully, those on this list keep up the momentum and can join the legendary annuls of the top idol variety stars.
What do you think about the new up-and-comers of variety stars? Do they have a long career ahead of them or are they simply flashes in the pan? Does somebody else need to be on this list?
(images via International BNT, SM Entertainment, Lady Kyunghyang, SBS, Star Empire Entertainment, ize)