The Korean music industry has many talented female acts and girl groups that explore a range of concepts — from cutesy to confident and modern. However, there are female artists who are being vocal in their music and breaking out in their own way. In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, these are some of the female soloists and groups marking their territory and dominating the heavily controlled K-Pop industry.
1. Chung Ha
This year is shaping up to be a huge year for singer Chung Ha. After her stint with temporary girl group I.O.I ended in 2017, Chung Ha launched a solo career and showcased herself as an all-round performer in the fast-paced industry. The ‘Gotta Go’ singer kicked off the year with a bang, literally, when she dropped a darker, seductive sound.
Listen to: Gotta Go
Known by her stage name as HyunA, she is unapologetically herself as a musician and as a woman. She was a member of now-disbanded 4Minute and solidified a solo career with her distinct approach to music and bold character. For a micro-managed industry, she managed to break tradition when she publicly disclosed her relationship with former labelmate and now former member of boy group Pentagon, E’Dawn, who both are now signed under Psy’s label. I guess rules are meant to be broken.
Listen to: Lip & Hip
Though she recently released her first single as a solo artist, Hwasa of pop vocal four-piece act Mamamoo is slowly becoming one of South Korea’s most promising pop stars. She developed her own fierce sound with her first hit solo single, ‘Twit’, released last month. Born Ahn Hye-jin, Hwasa exudes confidence on stage and is considered one of K-Pop’s most dynamic singers. The singer and rapper lent her husky voice in a number of tracks with Korean artists.
Listen to: Twit
Sunmi has been on the forefront of pop domination since her solo debut. The singer is praised for her bold persona and sultry performances. Following her global success with girl group Wonder Girls, Sunmi has immersed herself in her music and is showing her true identity as an artist. Her solo single ‘Gashina’ established the K-Pop diva as one of the top female solo artists in 2017.
Listen to: Gashina
The K-Pop industry is currently dominated by cute, innocent-looking groups but not BlackPink. Their multinational identity, energetic choreography and dance-heavy beats have given them local and global appeal. The K-Pop queens had a girl-power moment recently by becoming the first Korean female music group to grace the cover for Billboard magazine and to be added to the 2019 Coachella lineup.
Listen to: Ddu-du Ddu-du
6. Red Velvet
When Red Velvet was introduced to the world, the all-female acts’ name was said to represent their two sides – sweet, bubbly ‘Red’ and sensual, mature ‘Velvet’ sides — which blend with each other while appealing to a co-ed fandom. SM Entertainment’s leading K-Pop act’s conceptual shapeshifting and lyrics have resonated with fans. They are undeniably K-Pop’s most musically interesting girl group.
Listen to: Really Bad Boy