The K-pop gods have, for some reason, granted you the opportunity to give a Valentine’s Day gift of chocolate to all the members of your Hallyu bias list. The gods have pulled out all the stops: a spotless industrial kitchen, state-of-the-art appliances, the best ingredients and access to the expertise of world-renowned pastry chefs.
Except… The gods haven’t pulled out all the stops. There is a restriction: you can only use your vast resources to make only three chocolates. And no, the chocolates cannot be shared. You now have a difficult task ahead of you:
To which three of your biases will you give your chocolate (and heart)?
1. At least one chocolate must be gifted to a non-idol Hallyu celebrity.
2. Only one chocolate per K-pop group; so only Seulgi or Joy, you can’t pick both.
3. You can’t give a chocolate to a whole group (Seventeen would be nice about it to your face, but you know they’re hurting inside.)
4. You can’t keep any chocolates for yourself: you are not a Hallyu celebrity.
5. You can change who you want to give your chocolates to during the game, but you must adhere to the above conditions.
6. Failure to adhere to the above conditions will result in your chocolates being confiscated and replaced with convo heart candies.
7. And this goes without saying, but no gender restrictions!
Lonnie: My first chocolate will go to Park Seojoon. I ended up crushing on Seojoon pretty hard after What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? and like a domino effect started watching all his variety show visits. Seojoon is an incredibly handsome man! He really impressed me with his acting as his role from Fight My Way contrasts Youngjoon immensely.
My second chocolate will go to Park Hyungsik, whom I also started crushing hard on this year also from a drama, Strong Girl Do Bong-soon. With Hyungsik I was led down a rabbit hole because I had no idea I already saw him in ZE:A performances AND he was in the variety show with Seojoon from Hwarang. I felt like I betrayed myself by not noticing him. It was really his character Minhyuk that grew on me. Hyungsik did a great job portraying such an adorable and devoted love.
Lastly! Jeon Jungkook of BTS! This needs no explanation. I love him. Jungkook, please love me? Thanks!
Pat: Hakyeon (aka VIXX‘s N) is enlisting
After much debate, I would give my second chocolate to Loona‘s Kim Lip. “Eclipse” was one of my most played songs last year for a reason. I haven’t watched anything outside of
Finally, my non-idol chocolate goes to Dean. Do I even need to elaborate?
Karen: I would love to give my first chocolate to Gugudan‘s Sejeong. From the moment I noticed her after her I.O.I activities till now, she has brought nothing but smiles to my face. Her bright personality is such a great encouragement to her audience. Candid on variety shows and also an excellent vocalist, there really is no reason not to offer chocolates to such a talented individual.
My second chocolate would go to Code Kunst for all the amazing songs he has produced both outside of and during Show Me The Money. From “rain bird” to “Good Day,” he is truly at the front of South Korea’s hip hop scene. In addition to his musical genius, his Instagram stories always tickles me with his quirky posts and comments. He might carry the swag that comes with being part of AOMG, but he is also such a lovable oddball (and one that really appreciates his fans).
My last chocolate would go to Giriboy for just being endlessly hardworking in producing and releasing way too many albums for me to even keep up. And it pleases me so much that he is finally gaining more recognition for his musical abilities by appearing as a mentor on more television shows. Seriously, how can one be on television, manage his own clothesline, organise endless crew and DJ activities, while also releasing albums every two months or so? He puzzles me, but I am also very respectful of his dedication. He deserves the chocolates.
Kaitlin: My first chocolate would go to E’Dawn. His style, high-tone rapping and clever wordplay are what first made me pay attention to Pentagon. The way he and Hyuna were ousted from Cube was rough, to say the least. I’m thrilled that my chocolate doesn’t have to be one of consolation but can be one of celebration! He can freely enjoy his relationship with Hyuna, and their careers are looking bright after both of them were signed to Psy’s new label. So his Valentine’s chocolate would fittingly be a tiny cheers to love as well as to his future career.
Another well-earned chocolate would go to one of my favorite people in all of K-pop, Amber. I know people have given her chocolates in the past because she’s such a unique and genuine soul, but I’m especially excited for her now. In the past year, she released an independent mixtape, she went on her first U.S. solo tour and was featured in an MTV documentary. She’s truly a role model of blazing your own trail and staying true to yourself. Just don’t let Jackjack try to take a piece of that chocolate!
My final chocolate is for someone whose work behind the scenes has shaped many boy groups’ aesthetics: choreographer Rie Hata. She’s behind Red Velvet‘s lethal attitude in “Bad Boy” and has also worked with BoA and CL, but to me, her swaggy, humorous and quirky hip-hop style really suits boy groups. She created the precise, aggressive point choreography for Ateez‘s “Pirate King,” the energetic and youthful dance for Stray Kids‘ “My Pace” and the powerful and sensual moves for VIXX‘s “Scentist.” Her other work includes “Anpanman” and “Idol” for BTS and “Boss” and “Regular” for NCT, which
Qing: My first chocolate–a really great classic milk chocolate–goes to indie rock singer Blue Lamb. I discovered her song, “Universe”, through one of Mirrorball Music’s playlists(which are great for listening to while studying/ working, by the way). Her voice is warm but light at the same time, giving off an otherworldly feeling that transports me to another dimension.
I’m giving my second chocolate to BTS’ Suga, on behalf of Pat who will never admit that she likes him (sorry RM, my ultimate bias–I’ll give you one next year). I’d love to see how they both react; I can already picture the look on Suga’s face. This chocolate would be 100% dark chocolate on the outside, with a small dollop of salted caramel on the inside. Because no matter how cynical and bitter Suga seems on the outside, he’s actually really sweet, but in a subtle way, so regular caramel doesn’t cut it.
The last chocolate goes to none other than YG. It’s an expensive, gold-dusted one… spiked with a magic potion to make him stop teasing comebacks that never happen, bring Lee Hi out of the YG basement, decide on a direction for poor conceptually confused iKon, and pull Winner out of the clutches of subpar tropical house tracks.
Pat: Qing, how dare you air my dirty laundry like this?
Anna: I would definitely give my first chocolate to DAY6’s
My next chocolate would go to actor Lee Sang-
My last chocolate would go to ex Wanna One member Park Woojin. The group is full of talented and charming members, but Woojin has always stood out for me with his amazing dancing and rapping skills, not to mention his playfulness and innate variety sense. The videos of Wanna One’s final concert really broke my heart, especially when Woojin broke down in tears, so I hope that this chocolate will be able to cheer him up and re-energize as he makes his debut in Brand New Music’s new boy group!
Chelsea: My first chocolate will go to
The second chocolate is
My final chocolate will go to Kim Yeonja, whose closing stage at the KBS Gayo Daejeon was everything. After all the petty drama of fan wars and year-end voting, her performance of “Amor Fati” completely reset the tone of awards season. Say what you want, but everyone secretly loves trot music, and she had all the idols dancing along. Also, I’m still not over those giant holograms of her dancing on the sides of the stage. She can have all my
Vivien: It was hard to choose, but I think my first chocolate goes to GOT7‘s Jackson! Since the days of making me laugh on Korean variety shows he’s gone on to become a big-time celebrity in China and beyond, while still impressively maintaining commitments to GOT7’s group activities. All these schedules come at a cost though, and I think his tendency to try and keep everyone happy is taking a toll on his physical health and energy. So my first chocolate goes to him as a thank-you for his hard work and a reminder to take it easy!
My second chocolate goes to Seventeen‘s The8, a.k.a Xu Minghao! It was a toss-up between him or Wanna One‘s Lai Guanlin, but The8’s recent stint on Qing Chun You Ni (or Idol Producer), the unofficial Chinese version of Produce 101, has fully converted me from a casual fan to a hardcore stan. His kind but assertive attitude on the show and willingness to teach trainees dance basics completely from scratch has put him not only in my good
Finally, my non-idol chocolate goes to the nation’s MC, Yoo Jae-suk! I’ve been a fan ever since I saw him on Running Man and Infinity Challenge (both of which I binged in my early Hallyu-convert days back in 2012-13), so it’s about time I gave something back for all the laughter he’s given me. Balancing humour with a kind, down-to-earth personality, it’s no surprise he’s won numerous Daesangs during his time as a TV host, and like the rest of the Korean population I dread the day he decides to retire. My chocolate is a big thank-you for his great work and a wish for a long and healthy career moving forwards!
Nisha: My first chocolate would go to BTS’s Jin. He’s had an amazing few years and along with the rest of his members has reached unbelievable new heights! “Epiphany” was easily one of my favourite songs last year and he’s come a long way with his amazing vocals – I’m really glad he’s getting to shine. By Valentine’s Day he’d be fresh from attending the Grammys so it would also be a way of saying 수고했습니다 (you’ve done well)! If I could get a classic Jin flying kiss in return that would be epic ;)
My second chocolate would go to my ult girl crush Song Ji-
My final chocolate would go to Yoon Jisung. He’s just finished up promoting with Wanna One and it would hopefully cheer him up! He’s been through a lot and debuted at an age that is considered late in the industry. He took Produce 101 in his stride and was totally genuine throughout and I’m glad his charm remains unfettered. I’m anticipating his solo debut later this month and would give him all the chocolates in the world for his positive, humble, and easy-going attitude!
Janine: I’m devastated that I only have three chocolates and will be breaking my heart in pieces to present to all my biases who are not mentioned here.
My first chocolate will be presented to solo artist and former BAP leader Bang Yongguk. The man escaped TS Entertainment and released his first single, tackling social isolation and mental illness, “Hikikomori” so at the very least he deserves some sweetness.
My second chocolate goes to Gong Hyo-jin. I recently rewatched Don’t Dare To Dream on Netflix and fell in love with her acting and the warmth of her charisma all over again. I love her style and how every role she plays is imbued with a very grounded likeability. I can’t wait to see her and Jo Jung Suk reunited in Hit-and-Run Squad
My last chocolate will be given to Shinee’s Taemin. Taemin is a unique bias of mine because I hardly watch any of his interviews or variety appearances but I consume every musical and dance item I can find. I am breathless with anticipation for his forthcoming mini-album Want and I can’t wait to listen and watch what he comes up with this year. So chocolate for Taemin and as always, I send love and my sleep-deprived
Semi: My first chocolate would go to Day6‘s Young K. Everyone in the group has a unique and beautiful voice, but
My second chocolate would go to Spica‘s Jiwon. She has had an incredibly difficult and turbulent journey in the industry, despite being so talented, hard-working and lovable, and
And my final chocolate would go to Yoon Si Yoon. I haven’t watched many K-dramas, but Flower Boy Next Door is one that stuck with me, maybe because it was winter at the time too, and I was an angsty teenager who would have loved an enthusiastic ray of sunshine like Enrique in my life! Something soft and sweet with a hint of spice would be a good match for the kind of feelings he got across with his acting.
Fernando: I have to agree with you Pat — my first chocolate goes, undoubtedly, to Hakyeon (aka VIXX’s N). VIXX basically made me fall in love with K-pop, and what else to do but repay my love in form of chocolates? As you said, it’s a shame that he’s leaving for the military; I think Hakyeon is a great leader and a multi-faceted idol: he’s a sweetheart who isn’t afraid to show delicacy nor masculinity, all while being a great leader. With that said, what really drew me in was his voice. The falsetto, the beautiful vibrato — just listen to the bridge in Shangri-La. This is my thank you to VIXX.
Now, I think more bands like HYUKOH are needed in K-pop. Obviously, my second chocolate goes to helm-man Oh Hyuk. Not only is his style incredible (as seen on the cryptic SkyWorld) but their music is introspective and unique. 23 will forever stand as one of my favorite albums. Its inquiry into youth’s hardships and audacity in the exploration of mature themes is refreshing precisely because of how distinctive it is. My chocolate here is in the hopes we can get another masterpiece. My love in the form of virtual candy in exchange for music sounds more than fair.
Coming back to K-pop in its very essence, there’s just no way I could leave out NCT’s Taeyong; my third and last chocolate goes to him. Where N got me into K-pop, the first song that ever caught my attention was NCT U’s The 7th Sense. In a way, it’s the hard-hitting bass, but it’s also the dance, the aestheticism of the video, and the charisma in their movements. Taeyong just drove many of those elements for me. Throughout the myriad of comebacks the multiple NCTs have had, he’s been an integral piece with his great ability to pull off distinct concepts. And his rugged voice tops it all. This third chocolate is in the hopes of more quality — and at times dissimilar — pop.
Note from the editors: The publication of this review was delayed due to server maintenance works.
What about you, readers? Who would you give your chocolate to? Let us know in the comments below!
Images via SM Entertainment, Big Hit Entertainment, Jellyfish Entertainment, YMC Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, B2M Entertainment, TS Entertainment, Blockberry Creative, GQ, Allure