That’s right, it’s our favorite roundtable.
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)?
Rimi: How could I pick only three! So unfair. That being said, I tore myself apart and finalized three.
First, BTS‘s Suga. You expected this — he’s been my unwavering bias since ~December 2017. Even aside from his break for his shoulder surgery, I haven’t followed his activities too closely this year. But~! The love lingers. Something as simple as this video of the recording of Song Request can make me smile. That’s how I know it’s love. Someone send help, please.
Other than Suga, my bias-list is fickle and fleeting. At the moment, on top of the list are Kim Young-dae, whom I loved in Cheat On Me, If You Can, and Golden Child‘s Y, whose voice shines in their recent comeback, “Burn It“, a song I love for its pretty melodies. They’re both exceptionally cute (sue me for being so shallow), but Y has the upper hand by also having a gorgeous singing voice. Music is the way to my heart so for chocolate #2, Y it is.
For the third and final chocolate, I considered Day 6′s Jae and Exo‘s Baekhyun, old favorites, but sorry Jae, Baekhyun — my fickle list has moved on for now. Instead, I’ll give it to an even older favorite, Jung Il-woo. I have no idea why I like this actor so much. Other than 2009’s The Return of Iljimae, I think he’s terrible at picking roles. But the heart did flutter once upon a time, so Jung Il-woo it is.
Gaya: I have loved Jung Il-woo since I first saw him on 49 Days, but I completely agree with you on his drama choices, Rimi!
As for my chocolates, you know I’m giving one to Minho. He was just discharged, I have to! I’ll listen to him talk for literal hours about his time in the Marines, let him hype himself up, then dare him to eat some Vegemite chocolate. He will love it. Or learn to.
Next up, Kai. He didn’t have to do THAT, but he did anyway. I almost forgive him for not performing “Nothing On You” live. Now, his singing about jasmines and Bharathanatyam-adjacent dance moves in “Mmmh” got me feeling some kind of way, so I’m going to feed him some Thirunelveli halwa instead of chocolate. The K-pop gods can deal.
The last choice is a tough one, because I have to give it to Johnathon. A Master degree-induced K-pop semi-hiatus meant that I only discovered NCT 127′s “Kick It” during SM’s free New Year’s concert. Rushing to search “NCT BRUCE LEE” on YouTube pulled up the glory that you all call Johnny. I am now a proud member of the Johfam and I just want to shower him with dark chocolate-coated ginger. Just don’t tell my actual NCT bias, Doyoung. Or Jaehyun. Definitely don’t tell Lucas.
Siena: It’s my first time participating in this Seoulbeats tradition and wow, it is rough, like being told to choose your three favorite children when you have 500 children. Through crumpled notebook paper and chaotic brain waves, my one constant pick was Ateez‘s Yunho. I have a lot of love for all the Ateez members, but Yunho has been blowing me away recently. He’s always been a spectacular dancer, and then came “Inception”, and suddenly his charisma shot to stratospheric heights. Yunho gets chocolate for being great already and then getting even better.
My second chocolate goes to Baek Yerin because she did the hardest thing ever: following up an insanely good release with another fantastic album. 2019’s Every letter I sent you is brilliant, 2020’s tellusaboutyourself is equally brilliant, Baek Yerin is disgustingly brilliant. I have nothing else to say. Chocolate for her.
My first two chocolates went to people who topped themselves because I’m a perfectionist, so I really vibe with stuff like that. After much reflection though, my final chocolate is going to someone for a reason that has literally nothing to do with his talent (though it is considerable) or his recent releases (though they are good). The lucky honoree is Baekhyun, and the reason is that I’m quarantining with my parents, I got my mom into K-pop, we’re watching tons of old music shows because there is literally nothing else to do, she nicknamed Baekhyun “Elaine” because she saw him with silver hair and was reminded of iconic Broadway star Elaine Stritch, and every time Baekhyun comes on screen now we both scream “Elaine!” and it is fun. Chocolate is the least I can do to thank Baekhyun/Elaine for providing some welcome levity during a tough time.
Sara: Like Siena, it’s my first time participating in this roundtable, and I’m simultaneously jumping in excitement and crying in agony. It’s unfortunate that I tend to like all the members of a group when I can’t choose a bias (I’m looking at you, Seventeen). But I’ll try my best.
The first chocolate definitely has to go to RM from BTS. He’s my only ultimate bias and for good reason. Not only do I love his solo work, such as Mono, but the beautiful complexity of his lyrics overall astounds me again and again. In addition, I appreciate his philosophical thoughts, his humor (see: DTS), and his endearing clumsiness that he whole-heartedly embraces.
I find that I’m usually drawn to the leaders, so Bang Chan from Stray Kids gets the second chocolate. Stray Kids is one of my ultimate groups (alongside BTS and Seventeen), so I had to include a member. His solo song for SKZ-Record, 인정하기 싫어, blew me away, and I’m so glad that I got to write about it! I might’ve cried the first time I listened to this song.
Picking the recipient of my last chocolate was nothing short of agonizing. I was conflicted because I wanted to mention Onewe, who are one of my favorite bands or someone from Hoppipolla, but I ran into the “I like them all” predicament. In the end, Seoho from Oneus captured the treat. This main vocalist caught my attention while I was writing my review of the “No Diggity” MV (his eye makeup is pretty cool), along with his incredible voice. Interestingly enough, I did watch Road to Kingdom, but, for some reason, Seoho ended up being the member I always missed. Happy to say that now I am very aware of his presence, and he gets a chocolate.
Gina: Wow, this roundtable is extra tough. While my heart goes out to a dozen recipients, I barely managed to narrow them down to fit the guidelines.
First off is Baek Yerin, the mystical musical fairy that’s currently churning out hits after hits. I agree with Siena in that Yerin proves herself to be brilliant yet utterly carefree with her musical color — and that’s the most charming aspect of her recent releases. A few tracks from tellusboutyourself will probably end up on my Spotify’s “most listened to” by the end of this year. She definitely deserves a chocolate for her bravado thus far.
Second is Crush, who I truly miss while he’s enlisted. At least he left off with a bang — creating the masterpiece that is with HER before leaving, and lending its production to be graced with diverse female artists. While he manages to consistently create something new, his productions are naturally embedded with his signature sound that never disappoints. Can’t wait to hear and see what he can offer once he returns, but for now here’s a chocolate for encouragement.
Last but not least, BTS’ V stole my heart ever since I first watched the group’s “N.O.” MV (from way back in the day). Fast forward to 2021 and he is still both adorable and charismatic, a teddy bear yet also a fierce performer who matches every concept, theme, and genre like a chameleon. I can’t help but be entranced by everything about Kim Taehyung, and it’s crazy to think we’re not that far apart in age. Frankly, he can deplete the k-pop gods of all their chocolate and I wouldn’t mind at all.
Denise: I thought I’d have an easy time with this until I realised the first picks that came to mind were the exact same 3 that I mentioned in last year’s Roundtable for Spring Cleaning — BtoB Eunkwang, Block B Park Kyung, and ONF U. So to spice this Valentine’s Day up, I’ll name some others instead.
One of my favourite K-pop vocalists recently became the most crowned idol in the history of King of Masked Singer. Do you think if I bribe Highlight‘s Yoseob with chocolate, I could get a new solo album sooner? I’ve been missing Highlight’s hopeful and emotional tunes (a beautiful contrast from Beast’s emo days) through the past two relatively darker years for K-pop, and with all the members home for the military, I’ll be waiting eagerly for their return.
Following the disbandment of the criminally underrated Gugudan, the girls have since been channeling their focus on a range of projects. Sally has been killing the game in China following her win on Produce Camp 2020, and Sejeong gave a brilliant acting performance in the raved about The Uncanny Counter. But my chocolate goes to all-rounded leader Hana, who made a daring acting debut in the surprisingly raunchy and dark webdrama My Fxxxxx Romance late last year. Nonetheless, Gugudan have always been a lot more multi-talented than what their people give them credit for, and I’m glad to see them individually thrive in own ways.
Day6 are my #1 group, so it’s been hard to see them go through a hiatus in 2020 due to Jae and Sungjin’s anxiety. They’ve been updating fans quite candidly about their recovery process, and I’d like to split my last chocolate between the two of them to cheer them on. Hopefully, we’ll get that first OT5 “Zombie” stage soon.
Esther: What a delightfully difficult roundtable this is! My ever-changing bias list is largely dependent on what’s showing at the moment, so here goes:
My first chocolate goes to Im Si-wan, who is such a sweetheart in Run On. I know him more as an actor than a member of ZE:A, although I was recently impressed that his singing is as sincere as his acting. His acting always carries a weight of vulnerability that makes me sympathise with him, as seen in Misaeng and Strangers From Hell. Hopefully, the chocolate will encourage a quick return to Dramaland because I’m already heartbroken that Run On is over.
I considered giving the second one to a bias from my favourite K-pop groups but ended up with another idol I know more through variety shows–P.O. from Block B. His husky rapping voice is such a nice juxtaposition with his beagle-like expressions, both of which always steal my heart. I love his bright personality and small acts of consideration to his cast members on variety shows like New Journey to the West and Great Escape. He just seems like a sweetheart who deserves all the chocolates in the world.
Last but not least, Sam Kim! He seems like such a down-to-earth artist, and I love, love, love the chill vibes he brings to his music. He has incredible talent in writing, composing, singing, and playing the guitar. (Quick confession: Sam made me fall in love with the sound of the guitar which I initially did not have much appreciation for.) Taking a leaf from Denise, this chocolate is overt bribery for another concert in Singapore when COVID-19 blows over. It’s also a Thank-You-chocolate for all the comfort his music brings.
Isabella: Like Gaya, my heart was stolen this year by someone affiliated with NCT. More specifically, Louis. One of WayV’s three pets. He’s a comically grumpy Siamese cat with luscious fur and adorable eyes, and as soon as Ten first revealed Louis to the internet, my bias list was left in tatters.
Sadly, I did some research and realized that chocolate is toxic (sometimes even fatal!) to cats. So, I guess I’ll have to give my 3 chocolates to humans. It seems only fitting to give my first chocolate to Changmin, who dropped the stellar Chocolate EP last year. And, of course, congrats to Changmin on his marriage! Enjoy your chocolate, Changmin; you’ve earned it.
My second chocolate goes to Hwang In Yeop, who stars as Han Seo Jun in the recent drama True Beauty. I must admit, I’m not much of a K-drama buff. As someone who’s always loved darker, bloodier C-dramas (any Chuang Guandong fans?), I never imagined I’d enjoy the fluffy and lighthearted True Beauty. But here we are — I’ve been reduced to a bundle of giggles.
And finally, I’d like to give my last chocolate to Jae of Day6. I’ve liked the band’s discography for a few years now, but have never become a true MyDay (Day6’s fandom name). Ever since joining a MyDay Discord server, though, I’ve learned more about Day6’s members and artistry. In particular, my newfound Discord friends showed me a stunningly vulnerable interview he did with Allure. It’s rare to see such openness in K-pop, and I’m heartened to see Jae’s courage in taking this step to foster discussions about mental health in the industry.
Elif: his is also my first time participating and choosing just three is tough, because I have approximately 5364 biases.
But after some intense thinking, I am giving my first chocolate to NCT’s Jaehyun, because it just fits too perfectly that Valentine’s Day also happens to be his birthday. This aside, Jaehyun has been my bias since “Cherry Bomb“, when he grabbed my attention with his amazing dancing. He is the allrounder in NCT, but tends to fly under the radar (people only care for his good looks). As one of the few barritones in K-pop, I find his voice to be very soothing and love his occasional solo releases. Lastly, I really love Jaehyun’s awkward personality and his subtle sense of humour.
My second chocolate goes to BTS’s Jungkook, because of his powerful stage presence. My BTS bias is actually V, but since last year Jungkook’s performing and singing skills have reached new heights and I find myself enjoying his fancams most of the time. The main reason I chose him is, however, because of how unapologetically true he stays to himself. He has been criticized a lot for his tattoos, his style and hair, but I love to see that he doesn’t care and proves people wrong with his talent.
Finally, I am staying loyal to my bias of ten years, queen Hyuna. If Hyuna hadn’t made a comeback, I would have gone for (G)I-dle‘s Soojin or Oh My Girl’s Mimi, but I am just really glad she continues to thrive after all these years in the industry. I have yet to stumble upon another idol, who can compete with Hyuna’s performance skills. She went through tough times after going public with her relationship, so it makes me extra happy to see her success.
Victoria: Like several other writers, this is also my first Valentine’s with Seoulbeats, and wow is it tough! I tend to be soft for idols that compose most of their own music, and it seems my bias list is no exception. I thought a lot about who I would want to share my Valentine’s with, but I finally landed on Hongjoong from Ateez, Han from Stray Kids, and Woodz (Cho Seung-youn).
Hongjoong is a multitalented rapper, producer, dancer, and leader with a love for reforming clothes. As of late, he has been doing more covers of songs for his new personal contents “By.Hongjoong,” flexing his producing and recording skills. I love the way he repurposes sound like he does his clothes and makes it his own, like his cover of Linkin Park’s “Numb.” Soft, responsible, and disgustingly multi-talented, he is my first choice (just don’t tell San.)
Another self-producing idol, and a member of the titular 3racha, is my second pick: Han from Stray Kids. He recently released a self-composed song with Bangchan titled “Alien” that expresses a desire to shoot for his dreams despite feeling like “an alien on this earth.” 3racha and Stray Kids’ lyrics often bring me comfort, and while I come for the music, his humor makes him stand out even more.
My last pick is the incredible soloist and producer Woodz. At this point in his career he has shown himself to be a wonderful rapper, singer, dancer, as well as an incredible producer, even self-composing much of his solo endeavors. However, in addition to his remarkable musical ability, he is also funny and relatable, even releasing a video called “I Live With My Mom” that captures his daily life via observation camera. His realness and musical prowess made him my perfect third and final pick.
Janine: It’s the most emotionally ruthless time of the year. I will ignore my inner voice shouting its ire and dole out my allotted sweets to people whose content has been a welcome distraction.
My first chocolate goes to an actor: Kim Seon-ho who played the genius investor Han Ji-pyeong in Netflix’s Start-up. I became acquainted with him through 2 Days & 1 Night‘s fourth season. Watching Seon-ho become more comfortable with the demands of variety performances was a bright spot in my evenings. The depth of his dimples and bumbling commitment to doing his best won me over completely.
The second person to receive a choccy treat is someone whose anarchic personality mirrors my own in many ways. The Boyz‘s Q, AKA “fighting chicken”, AKA “the man-biting squirrel” once said, “there are days when you just want the world to go crazy” and I felt that. His banshee wail is the sound of my frustration. His fondness for horror movie characters and creepy things in general (pigeons are weird, sorry) supports my habit of sending people unsolicited pictures of opossums. Opossums are not creepy: they are misunderstood. A young man with peculiar tastes and mercurial moods deserves a reward for giving me tacit permission to behave like an absolute nutter.
My third chocolate goes to “Nuna Nana” superstar Jessi. Her interviews on her YouTube show Showterview with Jessi are a sure bet for a good time. Her unaffected and frank manner with celebrities is refreshing and demonstrates the growing acceptance of idols who “cross the line”. Jang-jun from Golden Child, Lovelyz Mijoo, and (G)-Idle’s Yuqi are all fresh, interesting characters who have been given the opportunity to show the world their carefree spirits. I love seeing people doing their own thing and Jessi is a great example of that.
Who would you give three chocolates to? Let us know below!
(Images via Big Hit Entertainment, SM Entertainment, P Nation, JYP Entertainment, Blue Vinyl, Around Us Entertainment, Yuehua Entertainment)