2nd generation K-pop groups


Arguably one of the pioneers of the Hallyu wave, 2nd generation K-pop groups were immensely popular thanks to their songs with catchy hooks and simple point dances. Back then, one couldn’t help but love BIGBANG’s electronic beats, Girls’ Generation’s top-notch visuals, Super Junior’s addictive choreographies, and TVXQ’s powerful harmonious vocals.

To help you relive the nostalgia of early 2000s K-pop, here are 20 2nd generation K-pop groups that have withstood the test of time and continue to be popular today. 


1. Shinhwa (22 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - Shinhwa
Image adapted from: K-popped! and 신화컴퍼니 Shinhwa Company

Debut year: 1998
Fanclub name: Shinhwa Changjo
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

Shinhwa is a 6-member group that consists of Eric Mun, Lee Min-woo, King Dong-wan, Jun Jin, Shin Hye-sung, and Andy Lee. The group made their debut on 9th May 1998 with the track Resolver. The accompanying MV was inspired by the blockbuster movie Terminator (1984).

Shinhwa (신화) - 해결사 (The Solver/Resolver) MV Eng/Rom/Han
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Shinhwa (신화) - 해결사 (The Solver/Resolver) MV Eng/Rom/Han


While the group nearly disbanded
shortly after their debut due to a lack of commercial success, the track T.O.P (Twinkling Of Paradise) (1999), which incorporated Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, catapulted the group to popularity.

SHINHWA (신화) - T.O.P. (Twinkling Of Paradise)
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SHINHWA (신화) - T.O.P. (Twinkling Of Paradise)

 


Shinhwa topped the charts for the first time with
Only One (2000) and the members showed off their well-built bodies in the MV, surprising their fans.

SHINHWA (신화) - Only One
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SHINHWA (신화) - Only One


While Shinhwa is
technically a 1st generation K-pop group, their continued success in the industry during the time of 2nd generation idols warrants their inclusion on this list.

After leaving SM Entertainment in 2003, Shinhwa continued to thrive with highly successful albums such as Brand New (2004) and State Of The Art (2006). The group remains popular today and Shinhwa even performed their hit track, T.O.P, 17 years after its release at the 2016 MBC Music Festival.

2nd generation K-pop groups - Shinhwa
Image credit: 신화컴퍼니 Shinhwa Company

The veteran group is currently under The Shinhwa Company, which was started by the members themselves in 2012.

Shinhwa’s most recent group activity was their 21st anniversary concert, CHAPTER 4, held in April last year. They released the full live concert footage on 24th March 2020 to celebrate their 22nd anniversary. 


2. TVXQ! (17 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - TVXQ!/DBSK/Tohoshinki
Image adapted from: seoulbeats and THEKRAZE

Debut year: 2004
Fanclub name: Cassiopeia
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

TVXQ!, also known as DBSK and Tohoshinki, made their debut on 26th December 2004 as a 5-member boy group comprising U-Know Yunho, Hero Jaejoong, Micky Yoochun, Xiah Junsu, Max Changmin.

Their debut track Hug (2004) showcased the members’ innocence as they were only teenagers back then.

TVXQ! 동방신기 'Hug' MV
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TVXQ! 동방신기 'Hug' MV


TVXQ!’s
Rising Sun (2005) album and the international concert tour Rising Sun Tour (2006) that followed after were highly successful. The group’s push for global success from as early as 2005 cemented their position as the pioneers of 2nd generation idols who sought worldwide popularity.

TVXQ! 동방신기 'Rising Sun (순수)' MV
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TVXQ! 동방신기 'Rising Sun (순수)' MV


TVXQ! became immensely popular in Japan and was the first K-pop group to perform at the Tokyo Dome. The group continued to release Japanese singles alongside their Korean
tracks over the years.

2nd generation K-pop groups - TVXQ!/DBSK/Tohoshinki
Image credit: Amino K-pop

TVXQ!’s growing success in Japan was due to a string of hit singles such as Asu Wa Kuru Kara (2006), Summer Dream (2007), and Forever Love (2007). In 2008, the group’s 16th single Purple Line topped the Oricon charts in Japan.

TVXQ! 동방신기 'Purple Line' MV
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TVXQ! 동방신기 'Purple Line' MV


Their 25th single,
Bolero (2009), was used as the theme song for the Japanese film Dance Subaru (2009).

東方神起 / Bolero
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東方神起 / Bolero


TVXQ!’s
Mirotic (2008) marked the peak of the 5-member group, winning them 1st place on 9 music programs. It was the first Korean album in 6 years to surpass half a million sales in South Korea. 

TVXQ! 동방신기 '주문 - MIROTIC' MV
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TVXQ! 동방신기 '주문 - MIROTIC' MV


In 2010, Jaejoong, Junsu, and Yoochun officially left TVXQ! to form
JYJ, turning the group into a duo.

2nd generation K-pop groups - TVXQ!/DBSK/Tohoshinki
Image credit: 동방신기(TVXQ!)

The duo made their comeback with Keep Your Head Down (2011), which dominated charts and became 2011’s 3rd best-selling album in Korea.

TVXQ! 동방신기 '왜 (Keep Your Head Down)' MV
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TVXQ! 동방신기 '왜 (Keep Your Head Down)' MV


TVXQ!’s popularity in Japan remained strong
even after the split – their Japanese album Tone (2011) sold over 200,000 copies in a week and peaked on the Oricon chart at No.1. The duo’s Japan comeback concert tour, Tone (2012), drew in more than 550,000 people and set a new record for the largest audience in the history of TVXQ!’s tours.

Following their Still (2012) single, TVXQ! became the first foreign artist to release 10 chart-topping singles in Japan.

STILL / 東方神起
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STILL / 東方神起


On 24th May 2020,
TVXQ! held an online concert titled Beyond the T and performed 14 songs in total. Meanwhile, Changmin recently got married to his non-celebrity fiancée on 24th October 2020.


3. Super Junior (15 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - Super Junior
Image adapted from:
KpopCz Wikia and KULTSCENE

Debut year: 2005
Fanclub name: E.L.F
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

Super Junior made their debut with the single Twins (Knock Out) on 6th November 2005 as Super Junior 05 with 12 members, excluding Kyuhyun who joined in 2006.

There are various sub-units within Super Junior, such as Super Junior-K.R.Y (Kyuhyun, Ryeowook & Yesung), Super Junior-T (Trot), Super Junior-M (Mandarin), Super Junior-H (Happy), and Super Junior-D&E (Donghae & Eunhyuk).

The group’s 3rd single U (2006) was their most prominent release during their debut days. The track topped music charts for 5 weeks and crashed servers due to the high download rate. 

SUPER JUNIOR 슈퍼주니어 'U' MV
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SUPER JUNIOR 슈퍼주니어 'U' MV


Super Junior became popular globally through the track
Sorry Sorry (2009). The catchy dance beat and lyrics made their 3rd studio album the best-selling album of 2009 in Korea, China, Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand. 

SUPER JUNIOR 슈퍼주니어 '쏘리 쏘리 (SORRY, SORRY)' MV
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SUPER JUNIOR 슈퍼주니어 '쏘리 쏘리 (SORRY, SORRY)' MV


Other notable Super Junior tracks include
Bonamana (2010), Mr. Simple (2011), Sexy, Free & Single (2012), Mamacita (2014), Devil (2015), and Black Suit (2018).

2nd generation K-pop groups - Super Junior
Image credit: 슈퍼주니어(Super Junior)

Super Junior is currently a 10-member group with Heechul, Sungmin, Shindong, Donghae, Ryeowook, Kyuhyun, Siwon, Yesung, Eunhyuk, and Leeteuk.

The group recently released their 9th album Time Slip (2019), their 2nd Japanese mini-album I Think U (2020), and Super Junior-K.R.Y’s 1st Korean album When We Were Us in June this year. 

SUPER JUNIOR 슈퍼주니어 'SUPER Clap' MV
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SUPER JUNIOR 슈퍼주니어 'SUPER Clap' MV

4. BIGBANG (14 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - BIGBANG
Image adapted from:
sweetlovex13 and BIGBANG

Debut year: 2006
Fanclub name: V.I.P
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

BIGBANG officially made their debut as a 5-member group in late December 2006, through the album BIGBANG Vol. 1 – Since 2007 (2006). The album came after the pre-release of 3 singles – We Belong Together, A Fool’s Only Tears, and This Love.

Their 1st EP Always (2007) was a key shift in BIGBANG’s music style. The track Lies (2007) combined hip-hop elements with an electronic dance beat, and it became the new BIGBANG sound.

BIGBANG - LIES(거짓말) M/V
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BIGBANG - LIES(거짓말) M/V


BIGBANG is widely known for their hit single
Haru Haru (2018), a hip-hop ballad which remains popular even today. 

BIGBANG - HARU HARU(하루하루) M/V
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BIGBANG - HARU HARU(하루하루) M/V


The group also became successful in Japan with the tracks
My Heaven (2009), Let Me Hear Your Voice (2010), and Tell Me Goodbye (2010).

2nd generation K-pop groups - BIGBANG
Image credit: BIGBANG

BIGBANG’s 5th Korean EP Alive (2012) was popular internationally. Tracks like Blue, Bad Boy, and Fantastic Baby topped Korean charts and even entered the Billboard charts.

Bang Bang Bang (2015), an electronic-dance track, has 468.7 million views on YouTube and is the group’s most popular song to date.

BIGBANG - 뱅뱅뱅 (BANG BANG BANG) M/V
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BIGBANG - 뱅뱅뱅 (BANG BANG BANG) M/V


In 2019, Seung-ri left the group due to the Burning Sun scandal, making BIGBANG a
4-member group. The group has been on hiatus since 2015 but fans can rest assured that the group has not disbanded. All 4 members have reportedly renewed their contracts with YG Entertainment.


5. Brown Eyed Girls (14 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - Brown Eyed Girls
Image adapted from:
wallup.net and 브라운 아이드 걸스 Brown Eyed Girls

Debut year: 2006
Fanclub name: Everlasting
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

Brown Eyed Girls made their debut as a 4-member group in 2006 with the album Your Story and the title track Come Closer. The group was initially known for their unique R&B style but did not thrive in the industry due to the demand for dance music back then.

In 2008, the group shifted towards upbeat tracks such as L.O.V.E (2008) and How Come (2008), before dropping their signature dance hit, Abracadabra (2009). 

Brown Eyed Girls 'Abracadabra'
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Brown Eyed Girls 'Abracadabra'


Abracadabra’s tough concept became Brown Eyed Girls’ signature style. The group subsequently released strong hits such as Sign (2009), Sixth Sense (2011), and Kill Bill (2013). Brown Eyed Girls’ last release before their 4-year hiatus was Brave New World (2015).

[MV] Brown Eyed Girls(브라운아이드걸스) _ Brave New World(신세계)
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[MV] Brown Eyed Girls(브라운아이드걸스) _ Brave New World(신세계)


Brown Eyed Girls made their much-anticipated comeback last year with the album
RE_vive (2019).

2nd generation K-pop groups - Brown Eyed Girls
Image credit: 브라운 아이드 걸스 Brown Eyed Girls

The album features vocal covers of different Korean songs from the 80s, 90s, and the present

[MV] 브라운 아이드 걸스 Brown Eyed Girls - 원더우먼 Wonder Woman
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[MV] 브라운 아이드 걸스 Brown Eyed Girls - 원더우먼 Wonder Woman

6. WONDER GIRLS (13 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - WONDER GIRLSImage adapted from: onehallyu and WONDER GIRLS

Debut year: 2007
Fanclub name: Wonderful
Official links: YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

WONDER GIRLS made their debut as a 5-member group in 2007, before former member Hyuna was replaced by Yubin. Tell Me, the title track of their debut album The Wonder Years (2007), propelled them to fame. 

Wonder Girls
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Wonder Girls "Tell me" M/V


The release of
So Hot (2008) and Nobody (2008) both did well, the latter of which led to their entry into the US market. They became the first Korean group to enter the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. 

Wonder Girls
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Wonder Girls "NOBODY (Kor. Ver)" M/V

 

In 2010, Sunmi took a break from group activities to pursue her studies and was replaced by Hyerim. WONDER GIRLS then released 2 Different Tears (2010), Be My Baby (2011) and Like This (2012), before going on a 3-year hiatus.

In 2015, Sunye and Sohee announced their departure from the group while Sunmi resumed her participation in the group’s activities. This led to a 4-member group comeback with the track I Feel You (2015).

Wonder Girls
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Wonder Girls "I Feel You" M/V


WONDER GIRLS released
Why So Lonely (2016) and their last single Draw Me (2017), which marked their 10th anniversary.

2nd generation K-pop groups - WONDER GIRLS
Image credit: WONDER GIRLS

Although the group has officially disbanded, their retro sound still remains popular today. Sunmi, Yebin, and Ye-eun are actively promoting as solo artists while Hyerim recently released an essay collection titled Just Keep Swimming.


7. F.T. Island (13 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - F.T. Island
Image adapted from:
K-Pop and Channel Korea

Debut year: 2007
Fanclub name: Primadonna
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, VLive

F.T. Island, short for “Five Treasure Island”, debuted as a 5-member rock band in 2007. Their debut album was titled Cheerful Sensibility (2007). 

FTISLAND - 사랑앓이 M/V
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FTISLAND - 사랑앓이 M/V


Shortly after the release of their 1st album, the group ventured into the Japanese market.
The band released their Japanese debut album Prologue of F.T.Island: Soyogi (2008) and the single The One (2009).

FTISLAND - The One
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FTISLAND - The One


The One placed 9th on the Oricon daily charts and was F.T. Island’s final single with former member Oh Won-bin. Song Seung-hyun joined F.T. Island shortly after and the band released the hit track Bad Woman (2009). Despite having to compete among other dance-pop idol groups, the band stayed popular as they released their 3rd album, Cross & Change (2009)

FTISLAND - 바래 M/V
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FTISLAND - 바래 M/V

 


Over the years, F.T. Island
has been equally focused on promoting in both Japan and Korea. They consistently released Japanese singles such as Raining (2009), So Today… (2010), Distance (2011), Mitaiken Future (2014), Puppy (2015), Paradise (2017), and God Bless You (2019), which all placed fairly well on the Oricon charts.

2nd generation K-pop groups - F.T. Island
Image credit: Soompi

In 2019, Choi Seung-hyun left the group to focus on his acting career while Choi Jong-hoon retired from the entertainment industry due to a sex scandal.

F.T. Island is currently a trio with Lee Hong-gi, Lee Jae-jin, and Choi Min-hwan. They recently released a compilation album 10th Anniversary ALL TIME BEST/Yellow (2010-2020) earlier in May this year.


8. Girls’ Generation (13 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - Girls' Generation/SNSD
Image adapted from:
TsukinoFleur and Team SNSD

Debut year: 2007
Fanclub name: SONE
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

Girls Generation, also known as SNSD, debuted as a 9-member group with the track Into The New World (2007). The group was known for their pretty visuals and set a high standard of beauty for female idols back in the late 2000s.

Girls' Generation 소녀시대 '다시 만난 세계 (Into The New World)' MV
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Girls' Generation 소녀시대 '다시 만난 세계 (Into The New World)' MV


Girls’ Generation shot to fame through their hit single
Gee (2009), which claimed the top spot on KBS’s Music Bank for 9 consecutive weeks. 

Girls' Generation 소녀시대 'Gee' MV
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Girls' Generation 소녀시대 'Gee' MV


The group’s popularity continued to rise with subsequent releases,
such as Tell Me Your Wish (Genie) (2009), Oh! (2010), Run Devil Run (2010), and Hoot (2010) – all of which have Japanese versions.

Girls’ Generation’s 3rd album, The Boys (2011), was a milestone for the group as they moved away from cute and innocent concepts to more mature ones.

Girls' Generation 소녀시대 'The Boys' MV (KOR Ver.)
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Girls' Generation 소녀시대 'The Boys' MV (KOR Ver.)


Girls’ Generation’s popularity peaked in 2010 and
carried into 2011, making them the 1st girl group to win the “Artist Of The Year Award” at the Seoul Music Awards for 2 consecutive years.

2nd generation K-pop groups - Girls' Generation/SNSD
Image credit: 소녀시대(Girls’ Generation)

Girls’ Generation is now an 8-member group comprising Yoona, Taeyeon, Tiffany, Sooyoung, Hyoyeon, Sunny, Yuri, Seohyun, following Jessica’s departure from the group in 2014.

The group continued to promote with tracks such as Catch Me If You Can (2015), Lion Heart (2015), and Holiday (2017), before going on an indefinite hiatus.

Girls' Generation 소녀시대 'Holiday' MV
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Girls' Generation 소녀시대 'Holiday' MV


Girls’ Generation members are
now focusing on solo activities. Seohyun is currently starring in the drama Private Lives while Yoona and Sooyoung will be starring in the upcoming dramas Hush and Run On respectively.


9. Sunny Hill (13 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - Sunny Hill
Image adapted from:
u/pudding18 and kpopping

Debut year: 2007
Fanclub name: HːLLЁR/Sunshines
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

Sunny Hill was initially a co-ed trio when they released their debut album Love Letter (2007) and their 2nd single Love Is All I Know (2008). 

SunnyHill (써니힐) - 사랑밖엔 난 몰라 (Love Is All I Know)
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SunnyHill (써니힐) - 사랑밖엔 난 몰라 (Love Is All I Know)


After releasing their 2nd single, the group focused on soundtracks before
their move to a new label, Nega Network, in 2011. Kota joined as a new member of Sunny Hill and the group featured in Narsha’s digital single Mamma Mia (2011).

Sunny Hill’s mainstream breakthrough was their 1st EP, Midnight Circus (2011), which was released after Mi-sung joined the group.

SunnyHill(써니힐) _ Midnight Circus _ MV
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SunnyHill(써니힐) _ Midnight Circus _ MV


Their notable songs include
The Grasshopper Song (2012), Princess And Prince Charming (2012), Goodbye To Romance (2012), and Love Actually (2013).

2nd generation K-pop groups - Sunny Hill
Image credit: 써니힐(SunnyHill)

In 2019, 3 members left the group and 2 new members, Eun-ju and Geon-hee, joined to form the current 4-member group. Sunny Hill’s first release after the member reshuffle was Nom Nom Nom (2019), and their latest release was Adios Amor (2020). 


10. SUPERNOVA (13 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - SUPERNOVA/Choshinsung/Choshinsei
Image adapted from:
Hanryu archives and PODA

Debut year: 2007
Fanclub name: MILKY WAY (2009-2018)/ Milky (present)
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok

SUPERNOVA was originally known as Choshinsung when they made their debut as a 6-member group in 2007. In 2009, the group became well-known after collaborating with T-ara through the electronic hip-hop track T.T.L. (Time To Love).

T-ara & Supernova(티아라 & 초신성) _ TTL (TIME TO LOVE) MV
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T-ara & Supernova(티아라 & 초신성) _ TTL (TIME TO LOVE) MV


SUPERNOVA then made their debut in Japan
with the single Kimi dake o Zutto (2009), which was well-received by Japanese fans. 

[ENG SUB] Cho Shin Sung (超新星)-Only You Always(Kimidake Wo Zutto)(キミだけをずっと )
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[ENG SUB] Cho Shin Sung (超新星)-Only You Always(Kimidake Wo Zutto)(キミだけをずっと )


The group spent 2 years actively promoting in Japan before making a Korean comeback with the mini-album
Stupid Love (2012). From 2016 to 2018, the SUPERNOVA members were mostly serving their term in the army and releasing solo albums.

2nd generation K-pop groups - SUPERNOVA/Choshinsung/Choshinsei
Image credit: generasia

After the group’s contract with Maroo Entertainment ended in 2018, 5 members opened their own entertainment agency to continue promoting as SUPERNOVA while Sung-mo departed from the group.

SUPERNOVA’s most recent release as a 5-member group is the single Bang (2019), which marked the 10th anniversary of their Japanese debut

SUPERNOVA - 「BANG★」 Full Ver.
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SUPERNOVA - 「BANG★」 Full Ver.


There’s a sub-unit called Funky Galaxy consisting of the group’s rappers Kwang-su, Ji-hyuk, and Geon-il. Funky Galaxy made their comeback with
Cassette (2019) and Sketch (2020) in January.

Unfortunately, 2 members of the band, Yun-hak and Sung-je, were recently embroiled in an illegal overseas gambling scandal. Their management agency, SV Entertainment, has released an apology through a press statement.


11. SHINee (12 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - SHINee
Image adapted from:
kstarlive and The Kraze

Debut year: 2008
Fanclub name: SHINee World (Shawol for short)
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

SHINee made their debut as a 5-member contemporary R&B group with the track Replay (2008). The group included Onew, Minho, Key, Jonghyun, and Taemin. 

SHINee 샤이니 '누난 너무 예뻐 (Replay)' MV
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SHINee 샤이니 '누난 너무 예뻐 (Replay)' MV


Their debut album,
The SHINee World (2008), and the title track Love Like Oxygen, nabbed the group their 1st win on a Korean music show. SHINee also won the “Best New Male Group” award at the 10th annual Mnet Asian Music Awards in the same year.

SHINee 샤이니 '산소 같은 너 (Love like Oxygen)' MV
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SHINee 샤이니 '산소 같은 너 (Love like Oxygen)' MV


The group released a long list of hit singles such as
Juliette (2009), Ring Ding Dong (2009), Lucifer (2010), and Hello (2010).

SHINee made their debut in Japan by releasing the Japanese version of Replay. The group then released their 1st Japanese studio album, The First (2011), as well as original singles such as Dazzling Girl (2012) and Fire (2015).

The group continued to enjoy widespread success with tracks like Sherlock (2011), Dream Girl (2013), Everybody (2013), and View (2015).

SHINee 샤이니 'View' MV
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SHINee 샤이니 'View' MV


SHINee’s 5th Japanese album
Five (2017) is the last album that featured the late Jonghyun before his passing on 18th Dec 2017.

2nd generation K-pop groups - SHINee
Image credit: 샤이니(SHINee)

The 4-member group soldiered on and released their 6th repackaged album, The Story Of Light – Epilogue (2018), which included tracks such as Good Evening, I Want You, and Our Page.

Onew and Key were discharged from the army earlier this year while Minho is currently serving. Meanwhile, Taemin recently released his 2-part solo album, Never Gonna Dance Again (2020).

TAEMIN 태민 'Criminal' MV
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TAEMIN 태민 'Criminal' MV

12. U-KISS (12 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - U-KISSImage adapted from: K-Pop and Funcurve

Debut year: 2008
Fanclub name: KISSme
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

U-KISS stands for “Ubiquitous Korean International Idol Super Star” and the group made their debut as a 6-member group with the track Not Young (2008). 

[MV] U-Kiss - Not Young
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[MV] U-Kiss - Not Young


The group’s first popular track was
Man Man Ha Ni (2010), which was released after Kiseop joined as the 7th member.

[FULL HD] U-Kiss (유키스) - Man Man Ha Ni [hangul + romanizations + eng sub]
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[FULL HD] U-Kiss (유키스) - Man Man Ha Ni [hangul + romanizations + eng sub]


U-KISS’ popularity reached an all-time high after the release of
Bingeul Bingeul (2010). The track topped Hanteo Chart, Hot Tracks, Synnara Records, and Evan Records – all in one day. 

U-Kiss Bingeul Bingeul MV
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U-Kiss Bingeul Bingeul MV


In 2011, the group underwent a line-up change, with AJ and Hoon replacing Alexander and Kibum. U-KISS
subsequently released the tracks 0330 (2011), NEVERLAND (2011), and the Japanese singles Tick Tack (2011) and Forbidden Love (2012).

2nd generation K-pop groups - U-KISS
Image credit: 유키스(U-KISS)

In 2014, Dong-ho left the group and a new member, Jun, was added to U-KISS. The group released their 9th mini-album Mono Scandal (2014).

유키스(U-KISS) '끼부리지마' MV Full Ver.
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유키스(U-KISS) '끼부리지마' MV Full Ver.


The song garnered a lot of attention due to its 19+ rated MV – extremely rare for K-pop idol groups at that time. The choreography was so provocative that they became the first boy group to be temporarily banned from music broadcasts
on basis of their risque dance moves.

After the release of their 11th mini-album Stalker, AJ and Kevin announced their departure from U-KISS while Eli and Kiseop left the group after their contracts expired in 2019. U-KISS is now a trio comprising Soo-hyun, Jun – who has been actively releasing solo albums – and Hoon, who is currently enlisted in the army.


13. 2PM (12 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - 2PMImage adapted from: 2PM for Hottest and 2pm

Debut year: 2008
Fanclub name: Hottest
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

2PM debuted as a 7-member boy group with Jaebeom, Junho, Taecyeon, Wooyoung, Chan-sung, Nichkhun, and Junsu. The group was distinct for their acrobatic dance moves, as seen in their debut track 10 Out Of 10 (2008). 

2PM
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2PM "10 out of 10(10점 만점에 10점)" M/V


They were widely known for their beast-like image and started the
jimseung-dol (beast idols) trend in 2008. The group’s popularity soared when they released their 2nd mini-album, 2:00PM Time For Change (2009), with the title track Again and Again

2PM
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2PM "Again & Again" M/V


2PM’s former leader Jaebeom left the group shortly after and has been promoting as a solo artist ever since.
He’s now better known as Jay Park.

2nd generation K-pop groups - 2PM
Image credit: 2pm

The 6-member group continued to build a stable fanbase with tracks such as Heartbeat (2009), I’ll Be Back (2010), Hands Up (2011), Beautiful (2012), Come Back When You Hear This Song (2013), and Go Crazy (2014). A.D.T.O.Y (2013) was particularly popular for its mature theme and sexy concept.

2PM
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2PM "A.D.T.O.Y.(하.니.뿐.)" M/V


2PM’s most recent album release as a full group was
Promise (I’ll Be) (2016) before the group went on an official hiatus as the members had to enlist in the army.

2PM
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2PM "Promise (I'll be)" M/V

14. f(x)


2nd generation K-pop groups - f(x)
Image adapted from:
thesmeffect and 에프엑스 f(x)

Debut year: 2009
Fanclub name: MeU
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, VLive

f(x) made their debut as a 5-member group with Victoria, Krystal, Luna, Amber, and Sulli. Their debut track LA chA TA was released on 1st September 2009.

f(x) 에프엑스 '라차타 (LA chA TA)' MV
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f(x) 에프엑스 '라차타 (LA chA TA)' MV


A year after their debut, their single
Nu ABO (2010) topped the Gaon Album Chart and led them on a long path of commercial success.

f(x) 에프엑스 'NU 예삐오 (NU ABO)' MV
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f(x) 에프엑스 'NU 예삐오 (NU ABO)' MV


In 2010, f(x) released the single
Mr Boogie (2010) and went on their first SMTOWN Live World Tour. They subsequently released various hit singles, such as Pinocchio (Danger) (2011) and Hot Summer (2011). Electric Shock (2012) won the group the “Best Dance Performance – Female Group” award at the 2012 Mnet Asian Music Awards.

f(x) 에프엑스 'Electric Shock' MV
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f(x) 에프엑스 'Electric Shock' MV


The group’s second breakthrough came with the release of their 2nd full-length album,
Pink Tape (2013). The title track, Rum Pum Pum Pum, topped both Billboard’s K-pop Hot 100 chart and the Gaon Digital Chart.

f(x) 에프엑스 '첫 사랑니 (Rum Pum Pum Pum)' MV
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f(x) 에프엑스 '첫 사랑니 (Rum Pum Pum Pum)' MV


In 2015, Sulli announced her departure from the group, making f(x) a
4-member group. The group released 4 Walls (2015), All Mine (2016), and Cowboy (2016), before going on an indefinite hiatus.

2nd generation K-pop groups - f(x)
Image credit: SM Entertainment

In August 2019, f(x) reunited and performed as a trio without Victoria at the SMTOWN Live 2019 Tokyo concert. 

Sadly, former member Sulli passed on on 14th October 2019. While all f(x) members have left SM Entertainment, the group has not officially disbanded. 


15. B2ST/HIGHLIGHT (11 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - B2ST/HIGHLIGHT
Image adapted from:
Asia 24/7 and Soompi

Debut year: 2009
Fanclub name: B2UTY (former), Light (current)
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

The 6-member group first debuted under the name B2ST (pronounced as “beast”) with the members Doojoon, Junhyung, Yoseob, Dongwoon, Hyunseung, and Gikwang.

Their debut single Bad Girl (2009) and their 2nd single Mystery (2009) helped build B2ST’s strong fanbase. 

BEAST - 'BAD GIRL' (Official Music Video)
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BEAST - 'BAD GIRL' (Official Music Video)


In 2010
, they released 4 EPs, which included hit tracks such as Shock, Breath, Beautiful, as well as self-composed tracks in the My Story (2010) EP.

B2ST made their Japanese debut with a Japanese rendition of Shock in 2011. The track debuted 2nd place on Oricon’s weekly chart. The group then released their 1st full-length album Fiction And Fact (2011), with the title track Fiction, before embarking on their international tour in 2012. 

BEAST - 'FICTION' (Official Music Video)
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BEAST - 'FICTION' (Official Music Video)


In 2016, Hyunseung left the group
and the remaining 5 members left Cube Entertainment. The 5 of them rebranded themselves as HIGHLIGHT and released the track Plz Don’t Be Sad (2016).

2nd generation K-pop groups - B2ST/HIGHLIGHT
Image credit: 하이라이트 – Highlight

Their 2nd EP Celebrate (2017) was the last album to be promoted by 5 members. Junhyung left the group in 2019 due to a sex crime scandal. HIGHLIGHT is currently a 4-member group. Doojoon and Yoseob were discharged from the army earlier this year while Gikwang and Dongwoon are set to be discharged by year-end.


16. CNBLUE (11 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - CNBLUEImage adapted from: CNBLUE and CNBLUE

Debut year: 2009
Fanclub name: Boice
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

CNBLUE stands for “Code Name Blue” and is a 4-member band comprising Jung Yonghwa, Lee Jungshin, Kang Minhyuk, and Lee Jonghyun. They first made their debut in Japan with the EP Now Or Never (2009), which was recorded completely in English.

In 2010, CNBLUE debuted in Korea with the track Loner (2010), which topped the Gaon Album Chart for two weeks. They also became the 1st group to attain a win on a music show within 15 days of their debut. 

[MV] CNBLUE(씨엔블루) _ Loner(외톨이야)
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[MV] CNBLUE(씨엔블루) _ Loner(외톨이야)


CNBLUE’s 1st Korean full-length album
First Step (2011) helped the band clinch the top spot across the 3 main Korean music shows – MBC’s Music Core, SBS’ Inkigayo and KBS’ Music Bank. 

[MV] CNBLUE (씨엔블루) _ Intuition(직감)
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[MV] CNBLUE (씨엔블루) _ Intuition(직감)


The band remained popular in Japan and Korea
with hits such as In My Head (2011), Hey You (2012), Robot (2012), Blind Love (2013), Can’t Stop (2014), Cinderella (2015), You’re So Fine (2016), and Shake (2017).

After their CNBLUE 2017 Arena Live Tour: Starting Over ended, the group went on hiatus as the members enlisted in the army. In 2019, Jonghyun left the group due to his involvement in the Burning Sun scandal, turning CNBLUE into a trio.

2nd generation K-pop groups - CNBLUE
Image credit: CNBLUE

All 3 members have completed their military service. CNBLUE will finally make their comeback on 17th November 2020 and put out their 8th mini-album RE-CODE. The title track will be Then, Now, and Forever. They will also star in their own reality show on tvN. 

[하이라이트] 정체 발각되면 바로 OUT! 씨엔블루, 조금 특별한 '언택트 비밀여행'을 떠나다! #내이름을부르지마 #CNBLUE 비밀여행 | secretcnblue EP.1
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[하이라이트] 정체 발각되면 바로 OUT! 씨엔블루, 조금 특별한 '언택트 비밀여행'을 떠나다! #내이름을부르지마 #CNBLUE 비밀여행 | secretcnblue EP.1

17. INFINITE (10 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - INFINITE
Image adapted from:
Daily Kpop News and INFINITE

Debut year: 2010
Fanclub name: Inspirit
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

INFINITE made their debut as a 7-member group with L, Sungyeol, Dongwoo, Woohyun, Sungkyu, Sungjong, and Hoya. Their debut track Come Back Again (2010) showcased the synchronised dance moves that the group is known for. 

Infinite 다시돌아와 MV
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Infinite 다시돌아와 MV


One of INFINITE’s most popular songs is
Before The Dawn (2011), which features powerful choreography and the iconic “scorpion” dance move. 

Infinite BTD M/V
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Infinite BTD M/V


The group was set on the path of success after receiving their
1st music show award for the song Be Mine (2011). INFINITE’s popularity continued to rise with the release of singles such as White Confession (2011), The Chaser (2012), and Man In Love (2013).

The group’s popularity peaked during the release of the track Last Romeo (2014), an 80s-inspired song. The track topped the Billboard Twitter Emerging Artists Chart, making INFINITE the first Korean artiste to do so. 

INFINITE
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INFINITE "Last Romeo" Official MV


In 2017, Hoya left the group, turning INFINITE into a
6-member group. They subsequently released their 3rd studio album, Top Seed (2017), with the title track Tell Me.

2nd generation K-pop groups - INFINITE
Image credit: INFINITE

Sungkyu was the first member to enlist in the army in 2018. Besides L, all of the INFINITE members have either been discharged or are serving their term.

L has been focusing on acting, starring in dramas such as Ms. Hammurabi (2018), Angel’s Last Mission: Love (2019), and Meow, the Secret Boy (2020). Meanwhile, Sung-kyu, who was discharged from the army in January, recently starred in the musical Kinky Boots.


18. Girl’s Day (10 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - Girl's DayImage adapted from: SBS and Asian Junkie

Debut year: 2010
Fanclub name: DAI5Y (Daisy)
Official links: YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VLive

Girl’s Day made their debut as a 5-member girl group in 2016. After members Jisun and Ji-in left the group, Yura and Hyeri joined as new members. Girl’s Day then released Nothing Lasts Forever (2010) and their hit single Twinkle Twinkle (2011).

Girl's Day(걸스데이) '반짝반짝' Official MV
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Girl's Day(걸스데이) '반짝반짝' Official MV


In 2012, Jihae departed from Girl’s Day and the group shifted away from their usual cute concepts like in
Hug Me Once (2011) and Oh! My God (2012). The 4-member group released songs with a sexier vibe, such as Expectation (2013) and Female President (2013), both of which were well-loved by fans. 

[MV] GIRL'S DAY(걸스데이)_Expect(기대해)
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[MV] GIRL'S DAY(걸스데이)_Expect(기대해)


Girl’s Day took on an even bolder
concept in Something (2014). The track peaked at 2nd place on both Billboard’s Korea K-Pop Hot 100 chart and the Gaon Digital Chart.

2nd generation K-pop groups - Girl's Day
Image credit: Soompi

The group took a 21-month long hiatus in 2015. In 2017, Girl’s Day finally made their comeback with I’ll Be Yours (2017), but went on an indefinite hiatus right after that

[MV] Girl's Day(걸스데이) _ I'll be yours
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[MV] Girl's Day(걸스데이) _ I'll be yours

19. F.Cuz (10 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - F.Cuz
Image adapted from:
F.CUZ (포커즈) 공식 페이스북 and Kpop Wiki

Debut year: 2010
Fanclub name: For U
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter

F.CUZ, pronounced as “focus”, debuted as a 4-member group comprising Jinon, Yejun, Kan, and LeeU. Their debut track was Jiggy (2010).


The group released tracks with
tough vibes such as No One (2010) and Midnight Sun (2010), before attempting a cute concept with Wanna Be Your Love (2010). 

[M/V] F.CUZ(포커즈) - 친구졸업(Wanna be your Love) [Edit]
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[M/V] F.CUZ(포커즈) - 친구졸업(Wanna be your Love) [Edit]


In 2011, the group released their debut Japanese single
Never Let You Go (2011) before LeeU departed from the group. 2 new members, Raehyun and Daegeon, joined right after.

2nd generation K-pop groups - F.Cuz
Image credit: F.CUZ (포커즈) 공식 페이스북

The 5-member group made their comeback with the album For Century Ultimate Zest (2012). F.CUZ subsequently released a slew of singles such as Dreaming I (2012), Hello Again (2013), One Love (2014), Remind (2014), Two Of Us (2015), and Forever (2016).

F.CUZ(포커즈)[もう一度だけ~Remind~]MV
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F.CUZ(포커즈)[もう一度だけ~Remind~]MV


After the release of the Korean single
Don’t Touch (2015), F.Cuz focused on promoting in Japan. While there hasn’t been much group activity these days, Yejun recently made his solo debut with the single LOGOUT in April and released another single, After Shower, 5 months after.


20. TEEN TOP (10 years)


2nd generation K-pop groups - TEEN TOP
Image adapted from:
HELLOKPOP and TEEN TOP 틴탑

Debut year: 2010
Fanclub name: Angels
Official links: Official Website, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, VLive

TEEN TOP made their debut as a 6-member group composed of C.A.P, Chunji, Niel, Ricky, Changjo, and L.Joe in 2010.

TEEN TOP '박수' M/V Full Version
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TEEN TOP '박수' M/V Full Version


The group released tracks such as
Supa Luv (2011) and No More Perfume On You (2011) before their popularity soared with Going Crazy (2012).

TEEN TOP(틴탑) _ Crazy(미치겠어) MV
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TEEN TOP(틴탑) _ Crazy(미치겠어) MV


In 2013, TEEN TOP embarked on their first European tour and continued to release hit singles such as
Miss Right (2013) and Rocking (2013). Their 6th mini-album, Natural Born Teen Top (2015), topped the Gaon Album Chart.

2nd generation K-pop groups - TEEN TOP
Image credit:
TEEN TOP 틴탑

L.Joe left the group in 2017, turning TEEN TOP into a 5-member group. The group remains active, making comebacks yearly with tracks such as Love Is (2017), Seoul Night (2018), and Run Away (2019).

TEEN TOP(틴탑) Run Away M/V
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TEEN TOP(틴탑) Run Away M/V


This year, TEEN TOP decided to make a comeback with their old hit
To You, originally released in 2012, to celebrate their 10th anniversary. The song was renamed To You 2020 and was re-recorded by the current 5-member line-up. The group also released a dance practice video of said song, evoking nostalgia in Teen Top fans who have been supporting the band since their early days.

TEEN TOP(틴탑) To You 2020 안무영상 (Dance Practice Video)
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TEEN TOP(틴탑) To You 2020 안무영상 (Dance Practice Video)

Looking back at 2nd generation K-pop groups


We are currently in the 4th generation of K-pop groups and the intricate concepts, diverse music genres, and complicated choreography these days are a far cry from 2nd gen K-Pop. Looking back at veteran K-pop groups remind us of the simpler times, be it in terms of musicality and choreography, or just the K-Pop climate back then.

Despite its evolution, K-Pop continues to be super addictive and will remain so for years to come.

Check out other K-culture articles:

Cover image adapted from (clockwise from top left): KpopCz Wikia, seoulbeats, TsukinoFleur, and sweetlovex13