A guide to telling Korean music stars apart

Kpop 101

A guide to telling Korean music stars apart
Here's a cheat sheet to the 5 Koreans killing it in the music scene, and how to tell them apart

No, they don't all look the same, you fool. Have you ever struggled to tell Korean music stars from one and the other? Confused by their bleached hair babes, acronyms and designer BBFs? You're not alone. For every K-pop obsessed, merch-wearing fan out there, there's a clueless soul who proudly claims that he or she's not into "that whole Korean thing". Wise up, buddy. The Korean wave ain't slowing down, and you best keep up. Here's a handy guide.

1. CL, a.k.a. the OG hypebae


Real name: Lee Chae-rin
Age: 26
Born and raised: South Korea, Japan, France, Hong Kong
Famous friends: You'll always see her at a Jeremy Scott and Alexander Wang fashion show, plus she's part of Wang's #WangSquad too
Claim to fame: Leader and rapper of Korea's most popular (now defunct) girl group 2NE1, before doing a Geri Halliwell and debuting her first solo, 'The Baddest Female', in 2013. She's since broken into the American market, collaborating with the likes of Skrillex, Diplo, G-Dragon and Riff Raff
Listen to: 'Lifted', a tropical number influenced by '90s hip-hop — Wu-Tang Clan's Method Man even has a cameo in the music video

2. Taeyang, a.k.a. The chameleon with swag 


Real name: Dong Young Bae
Age: 29
Born and raised: South Korea
Famous friends: We reckon he's pretty tight with Karl Lagerfeld — the Fendi for Taeyang collection of tees, hoodies, jackets, accessories and sneakers proves it
Claim to fame: He's the other dude from BIGBANG (the most well-known among them being G-Dragon, of course) who went solo. His third solo album recently went number one on Billboard's World Albums chart. His debut solo record, Solar, was released in 2010
Listen to: 'White Night', an electro-tinged R&B number

3. Taeyeon, a.k.a. the girl-next-door version of Beyonce


Real name: Kim Tae-yeon
Age: 28
Born and raised: South Korea
Famous friends: She and American R&B singer-songwriter Kehlani are pretty chummy on each other's Instagram account — the two have previously done shout-outs to one another. Randomly, she also shares the same tattoo artist as Kendall Jenner.
Claim to fame: She's known as the Beyonce of Girls Generation, a group that turns 10 this year. As the leader of the eight-member girl group, Taeyeon's most known for her powerhouse vocals. Her solo stuff leans towards an acoustic-led pop-rock sound, which you can hear on her first full-length album, My Voice.
Listen to: 'Fine', which is a masterclass in writing an emotionally-dripping K-pop song

4. G-Dragon, a.k.a. The creative force 


Real name: Kwon Ji-yong
Age: 29
Born and raised: South Korea
Famous friends: Karl Lagerfeld's into him as well — G-Dragon was famously spotted pulling off a Chanel womenswear look at the recent Spring/Summer 2018 show at Grand Palais. He's also rubbed shoulders with Skrillex, M.I.A. and Baauer musically
Claim to fame: We're certain he's the one dude who doesn't need much of an introduction. He's G-Dragon, plain and simple — but not quite so. The leader of boy band Big Bang, he's also gone solo in 2009. A talented songwriter, he's credited with writing some 160 songs. Even Jaden Smith and Grimes have spoken of his influence on their music. Can't get enough? He has a cafe on Jeju Island, too
Listen to: 'Coup De'tat' sees G-Dragon involve some trap into his hip-hop sounds

5. Yoon Mi-rae, a.k.a. The rapper that slays


Real name: Natasha Shanta Reid
Age: 36
Born and raised: United States and South Korea
Famous friends: She freaking married one. Her husband’s rapper Tiger JK, the Jay-Z of Korea. She’s also collaborated with Far East Movement
Claim to fame: Along with fellow rappers Tiger JK and Bizz, she's part of MFBTY (My Fans Better Than Yours). Prior to that, she's released five studio albums. She's also known as the queen of rap, and has even been praised for being the best rapper in Korea
Listen to: ‘Black Happiness’. As a half Korean and half African American singer, she addresses her struggles of fitting into both cultures and fighting for acceptance in Korea's entertainment industry

Check out other cool Korean stuff here.

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Text: Adibah Isa

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