The Good, the Bad and the WTF of 2013 in K-Pop

Ah 2013, you’ve been an odd one. There have been just as many documented highs and lows this year but alas as we come to the end and look back we have to ask ourselves these few words: What the hell has gone on over the past year?! From the good to the bad to the plain old WTF of K-pop we take a look at some of the most prominent moments of 2013.

The Good:

The Return of Block B.

From crying non-stop to calling friends and family (and confusing the hell out of most) to remind them that I was feeling very good constantly for an entire week, the return of Block B was a firm highlight 2013 for me and, man, was it needed! Attempting to draw any BBC into a conversation about the group during the latter half of 2012/start of 2013 was a tough task even for the greatest of K-pop because nobody could say for sure that they would actually be returning as a group. With legal issues due to non-payment of earnings to members, leaving their company, Stardom Entertainment, and even, regrettably. the suicide of Stardom’s former CEO it seemed like it would be almost impossible for the group to make a real come back. But with a new company behind them and a new found strength they have come back better than ever, and the fans are certainly happy to have them back.


The hip-hop ‘beat down’ wars.

I know this is one that a few are likely to disagree with (and in many ways I would agree with you – it was a highly drawn out situation at points) but let’s be honest, this was well needed! It breathed some new life into the mainstream crowd of rappers and allowed them to step outside of the boxes a couple of them had been hiding in, whilst allowing some more underground talents to become highlighted as ‘ones to watch for 2014′. It also showed that in the world of hip-hop when you ‘fuck over’ the people you work with for too long there comes a point that they will begin to fight back with everything they have. Even if what they have is borrowed from others. It was a thumbs up point of the year for me!

The Bad:

Media disrespect towards the loss of life and matters surrounding it.

This year, as with previous years, there have been a number of losses within the Korean entertainment circuit due to untimely deaths; from natural and other causes. In most cases media and fan attention towards these deaths has been respectful and worthy of praise but in some cases it has been shocking. When it came to the media, everyone should recall that in May Son Ho Young, who had just lost his former girlfriend after she took her own life, was hounded to the point that it was difficult for paramedics to gain access to the hospital after he attempted to take his own life in a similar manner. Not that this mattered much to Entertainment Weekly as they had no issues with airing the footage on TV (even after angry responses from viewers).


Edgy concepts that failed.

The number of ideas used (and often reused) this year has been somewhat overwhelming – from the girls groups that dropped their cutesy personas and concepts for more sexy ones this year such as Girls Days, Tiny G and Dal Shalbet, to the guy groups whose concepts were so confusing that I still can’t actually work out what they were (Honestly no idea what SHINee were on about with Everybody – pretty catchy song though).

However it’s more the ‘quirky’ concepts that have been the problem this year. Failed attempts at intergrating ‘twerking’ into K-pop and even a shot at the what some might call ‘the Amber card’ with an all tomboy group failed leaving many companies rubbing their heads and wondering what they had done wrong and fans asking themselves what they had done to deserve so much shit in one year. Sometimes simply sticking to what works is not such a bad thing. The box is your friend K-pop. Own it.


The WTF:

‘Cool’ western celebrity interaction with K-pop idols.

Justin Bieber…Will.I.Am…Chris Brown…some of the many big names that have been seen jumping on the K-pop bandwagon this year. OK, Will.I.Am not so much… that man won’t get off the damn thing. But you get my point right?!? Every celebrity desperate to be seen with the latest ‘cool new thing’ has jumped on and off then on again. It won’t stop. Please make it stop 2014! Make them go away! It’s not cool. It’s awful. I like K-pop to escape people like the Bieber child.

*Stop! Around the time of writing this Bieber announced that he would be retiring from the music business. Never before have I been so happy to read his name on the internet. We know it won’t last long, but the break will be a nice one.


Tony An and everything he has done this year.

Tony An is really deserving of his very own special list for the amount of messing up he has managed to make of his life this year. If he wasn’t announcing his ‘serious’ relationship with the MUCH younger Hyeri of Girls Day, he was being revealed as having some very serious gambling problems after having been involved in the recent illegal gambling scandal (alongside Shinhwa’s Andy and MC Boom). If he takes anything away from this year it should be to stay away from the online poker and teenagers. Maybe 2014 should be the year of staying out of the limelight.

tony an

WTF this is BAD!:

Media representation of eating disorders.

Hi, my name is *insert name* and I suffer from an eating disorder.

One week later: Look at all my fried chicken; clearly I have overcome the very thing that could have killed me less than seven days ago. No need to worry about me anymore. Oh, also! Buy my new single!

I’m looking at you, Ladies’ Code. Nobody was impressed with the way the company handled the situation but let’s admit what impressed us less was the fact that the actual lady in question was less than willing to just admit just how serious her condition was. To stand up and admit that you have a eating condition is a tough thing to do, but don’t try to sweep it aside after less than a fortnight with less than convincing ‘miracle of food’ pictures shortly before your group’s comeback.


What were your best, worst and weirdest moments of 2013? Let us know in the comments.

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Co-founder and Editor at Beyond Hallyu
Lover of Korean hip-hop and indie music...and Unicorns.
  • Asela Cheung

    Best: The Return of Block B (definitely!), Lee Hyori, and Tae Yang (despite the MV, you have to admit his return was epic), U-Kiss’s return after Dongho’s departure (plus their clothing album AND US tour announcement), Zion T’s album, Younha’s new album, and, to be frank, sub-units
    Worst/WTF: Overwhelming saesang fans (especially EXO’s) (that’s really all I can think of… xD; )

    • sasha_BH

      Saesang fans will forever come up as a WTF I feel but I believe that overly ‘loving’ fans as a whole (what are international crazies called) need a fixed place. So let’s called it an invisible place for them.

  • Petey Rave

    I’m honestly never a fan of arguing for conformity and complacency. If an out-of-the-box idea doesn’t work it is the fault of the idea, not of out-of-the-box thinking as a whole. Stagnation in any medium is deadly.

    • sasha_BH

      Stagnation is deadly, thinking things out and ensuring it won’t all go tits up is good.

  • NyNy ♛ ナイナイ

    Great post you guys!

    • sasha_BH

      Thank you ^^

  • whitneykaboo

    I actually think Ladies Code did a good thing since the fans were worried and Sojung just wanted to reassure fans that she is okay now and better. I understand where you come from and how serious and eating disorders are and are not be joked around with :/ .

    • sasha_BH

      I think fans would have been much happier hearing of how she was after a few months and knowing she was actually getting the help she needs. It was all far too rushed which was a great shame :(

      Thank you for the comment and sorry for the late reply ^^

      • zeakyarteest

        Fans were upset about the way she was handling her own eating disorder?

  • silentmoon

    I don’t really know much about the issue but why should the girl in Ladies Code admit to her condicion?… its a private matter, if she is suffering from an eating disorder, she has the right to get treatment without everybody having an opinion. She probably posted those pictures so that people would leave her alone. Going public about it to make people aware of the issue is her choice, not something that should be demanded off her.

    • sasha_BH

      I think it was misunderstood what I had meant. She went public with the issue, something which was her own decision. Many respected this decision 100% and missed her luck in her search for strength to get better and return to her full health. This was quickly followed by the pictures of her eating chicken with words stating that she was ‘fine’ now. That is what I felt was wrong. She needed the time to heal herself, body and mind. Instead right away she was back claiming to be better. Perhaps I should have added that I felt this was forced by the company.

      Thank you for reading and your comment (and my apologies for the late response).