2017 has been a pretty tumultuous year in the wider world, and you could say the same for Hallyu as well. While we grapple with disappointments and sadness each week, there have also been moments that have brightened our years considerably. Just in time for Thanksgiving in the US, we ask our writers what they are grateful for in K-pop, K-drama, K-variety, and more, in 2017. Here’s what they had to say:
Qing: This year saw endings for a couple of girl groups that were at the forefront of the second- and third-generation K-pop wave as their contracts expired and they parted ways. I’m sad to see these familiar faces go, but at least the Wonder Girls and Sistar parted on great terms. More than that, though, these endings gave way to new beginnings—Sunmi’s “Gashina” capitalised on her personality and her strengths as a performer, setting a great direction for her solo career, and Ha:felt (Yeeun) came through with a pair of singles that were deeply meaningful. The girls of Sistar are still gearing up for their solo releases, but the little hints are already looking promising.
There are many idols who have either enlisted or will be enlisting this year, and I’m thankful for their final projects before they leave us. Namely all the solo projects from the members of Big Bang.
And of course, I’m so thankful to be part of this wonderful team!
Margaret: This year has seriously flown by so quickly, it’s difficult to remember what happened in the fast-paced Hallyu world!
I think there are several things that happened in the Hallyu world this year that I would consider myself to be thankful of.
Firstly, I’m glad that female idols have gotten much more recognition this year. While I was sad to see some of my favourite girl groups go (Wonder Girls, 2NE1), it’s definitely good to see other female artists get more attention. As mentioned by Qing, Sunmi’s “Gashina” has been appreciated by so many, and it makes me elated to see that. Artists such as IU, Heize and Suran have released such great tracks too!
I’m also appreciative of Epik High’s new album. I love their songs and it was super exciting when their album was finally released. Yunho and Changmin are back from the army too, and as a huge fan I am really thankful for that. Although they have not released a Korean album yet, it’s heartening to see them active in Japan and in their own dramas. BTS, too, have achieved so much and I’m so pleased at their progress and how far they’ve come. Their success in just the past year is really inspiring and motivating.
Also, like the other writers said, I’m really happy to be a part of Seoulbeats. I’m a new writer and I’ve a long way to go, but I’m thrilled to be part of a such a welcoming group of people. A shout-out to all the readers too! Your support means a lot.
Divya: This year has been extremely eventful and the Hallyu world has thrown up several pleasant surprises. I think what I was most appreciative of in K-pop this year, was seeing Red Velvet come to its own as a group. The girls were able to realise their potential through “Red Flavour” and “Peak-A-Boo”, and were able to establish a mature sound.
I am also grateful for having had the opportunity to see Exo live and have the most magical experience of my life. It was enlightening to see the sheer scale and effort of concert management, and of course, Baekhyun and Kai’s abs!
Teething problems are but obvious as a new writer but I certainly look forward to the coming year to see improvements in not only myself, but K-pop as well!
Kabejja: This thanksgiving, I want to pay tribute to the things that have given me hope and comfort. The comeback of IU was a delight this year. I loved listening to her talk about the songs on her album, Palette on MBC Picnic Live with Kim Eana. Also the lyrics of “Through the night” and “Dear Name” were very touching as well as the lyrics of “Spring Day” from BTS which also had a truly beautiful video. Tablo’s interactions with fans on Twitter, giving them encouragement despite the struggles of life really warmed my heart and so did the Dingo videos on YouTube particularly the Well Done Again Today Series.
Both the Goblin and While You Were Sleeping soundtracks have been calming, relaxing support, like a warm hot chocolate or blanket for me. Hyori’s homestay, Father is strange and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo were all a joy to watch, making me cry, laugh and smile a lot. Starting university, I found the webtoon, Cheese in the Trap and its female lead, Hong Seol and Should we have dinner tonight? incredibly relatable. There have been so many touching, meaningful and beautiful things coming from both K-pop and K-dramas this year. Most of all I am thankful to Seoulbeats for letting me write about the dramas and music I love.
Hannah: Although 2017 has been something of a roller-coaster both for society as a whole and the Korean music scene, this year I am most thankful for the friends I have made through my interest in K-pop, both at my home university and while studying abroad in Asia. Sharing a niche interest is a great way to bring people together, and I’m particularly grateful to a good friend who introduced me to the world of K-dramas and the compelling, often hilarious, stories I’ve discovered since then. As Qing said, I think I hopped on this bandwagon at the right moment, since female characters are being given stronger narrative arcs and more agency across genres than ever before.
I’m also excited at the way K-indie has begun to trickle into the mainstream of idoldom, with bands such as The Rose and Day6 bringing a fresh acoustic sound to music shows. I am inspired by KARD, for pushing the envelope with their brilliant co-ed performances and of course by BTS, who have gone from strength to strength. While I enjoyed riding the hype of their recent AMA performance, I’m still holding out hope that 2018 may finally bring their next tour to London.
Their collab with Steve Aoki and Desiigner is bridging borders between western and eastern music, but I’m also grateful to artists like Eric Nam and Gallant, who have been plugging away at the same goal with quieter, but equally stunning tracks like “Cave Me In”. I am thankful that Epik High chose this year to finally return and most of all to Seoulbeats, for giving me the opportunity to write about the music I love and make my small contribution to the world of K-pop.
(Images via B2M Entertainment, DSP Entertainment, SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment, Big Hit Entertainment, Cube Entertainment, Loen Entertainment, Starship Entertainment)