In 2012, K-pop went to mainstream consciousness led by a rapper dude busting his horse galloping moves. But there was more to K-pop than Psy-everything. The effort to cull all the interesting bits of 2012 proved to be nearly futile. And while growing the 2012 list for our readers' pleasure, 2013 is already bringing on the juiciest of Korean entertainment news.
So, without further ado, here we present 2012's noisemaker stories!
#1 Gangnam Style Took Over the U.S. and the World
With surpassing 1 billion views and being the first ever YouTube video to do so, there's no denying the fact that Psy's "Gangnam Style" has been a major hit in the 2012. Within 60 days of its release on July 15, 2012, Psy managed to sign with Scooter Braun's Schoolboy Records, appear on American television, feature in various advertisements, and mostly become the face of YouTube as his comeback single became a worldwide hit. From east to west and north to south of the world's hemisphere, everyone was listening and dancing along to the Korean song. Parodies and covers were uploaded and done by famous and non-famous YouTube users. As the song's radio plays started appearing, he rose to be a global star. From Justin Bieber to Bon Jovi and Queen, Psy met some of the top celebrities of our time and even got to befriend them. His ongoing popularity managed to snag nominations in the MAMA Awards as well as CNN's End of the Year polls such as "Person of the Year".
And what better way to cap an awesome year than Psy gracing the New Year's Rocking Eve festivities in Times Square New York for the last night of 2012, and the first day of 2013. We reckon this to mean that 2013 will continue on to be the year of K-pop.
#2 K-Pop Best Artists & Group & Song of the Year
As 2012 went by, we at KpopStarz, held polls that you and fellow K-Pop fans participated in. Winning 45.1% of the votes, the Wonder Girls won our February poll asking which K-Pop group or artists is the most anticipated in the US. JYJ, TVXQ, and Big Bang came right after the Wonder Girls in the poll. Proving their international wonderfulness, Wonder Girls once again took over our polls in June winning the Best K-Pop Song During the First of 2012 with 32.6% in votes. In that same poll, TVXQ snagged the title of being the artist that "Expanded Their Global Influence" with 12.5%, JYJ's Jaejoong was given the title as the "Artist that Best Represents K-Pop" with 26.6%, and Xia Junsu's "Tarantallegra" for "Best Song of 2012" with 28.33%.
#3 T-ARA: Can Queens be Bullies Too?
During the second half of the year, T-ARA caught the attention of the whole K-Pop fandom in what seems to be " scandal with former member Hwayoung. This scandal was titled to be the worse scandal since their debut. It all started with a few tweets from the members of T-ARA where they hinted a major sense of concern over someone. Fans and followers of the group figured out that these tweets were aimed towards Hwayoung as she was absent for an event or two due to her foot injury. As all these events managed to stir up within a day to a week, Hwayoung withdrew from T-ARA and at the same time, the fancafe T-JinYo was formed. T-JinYo took after the Tablo fancafe "TaJinyo" in which, they too wanted the truth from T-ARA members on whether or not they did bully Hwayoung. This was a reactionary move after what appears to be a communication breakdown brought about by official statements issued by Core Contents Media and what fans believe to have really happened. The fancafe managed to get 230,000 members, then led to giving the group a "black ocean" on their first group appearance after the scandal.
All seems well now as Hwayoung is in positive talks with acting agency MS Team for an acting career. The rest of T-ARA has returned to the performing circuit with their recent showcase in Japan in preparation for their Arena Tour in 2013.
#4 TVXQ's Continued Success and Reign as Gods of the East
Debuting in 2004 under SM Entertainment, TVXQ continues to be the most influential leader of K-Pop. From the hardships from being 5 to 2 members, TVXQ is still living up to their name as Gods of the East grabbing the hearts of fans in Asia and worldwide. They were the first non-Japanese artists whose singles placed No.1 on the Oricon Weekly chart in the 45 years of its history. Along with dominating Oricon's weekly chart, they also broke records with their albums 'rewriting the Oricon Chart History". In their 5th Live Japan Tour this year called "Tone", the duo gathered 550,000 fans to their concerts.
#5 YG Entertainment Artist's Quality Expansion
With Psy's strong influence taking over the K-Pop scene, there is no denying the fact that he helped open the doors for fellow K-Pop artists to step onto the global stage. As 'Gangnam Style' skyrocketed in popularity, so did fellow YG Family members 2NE1 and Big Bang. Both groups toured the world with U.S. being two of their stops in August and November. 2NE1 performed to the U.S. crowd in August landing an interview with Wall Street Journal and Facebook. Big Bang, also got the same treatment during their show time in the U.S. back in November and was featured on NYTimes. Big Bang, along with Psy, were featured on the hit show "Glee" as "Fantastic Baby" and "Gangnam Style" were played during parts of the show.
Lee Hi's debut towards the end of the year is also picking up steam, as internationally reknown media outlets have expressed interest for the solo artist and protege from Kpop Star.
#6 Girls' Generation's Debut in U.S.
Girls' Generation kicked off 2012 in New York, as they made their official U.S. debut with "The Boys". Korea's top girl group ran around the streets of New York, making their debut on American national television and holding a huge fansigning event in Union Square. The girls landed their debut appearance on U.S. TV on Late Night with David Letterman and continued on to appear in Live with Kelly. The nine members performed a remix of their first English single which received great feedback from K-Pop fans and non-K-Pop viewers. After dominating the U.S., Girls' Generation continued to expand their fanbase by performing on one of France's top talk shows "Le Grand Journal". From the looks of it, whatever country the girls land in and perform, they are welcomed with open arms.
#7 Enlistment of Forever Leader LeeTeuk
It all began when rumors speculated that Super Junior's Leeteuk was going to enlist in the army in September. In a fansign event in Seoul, Super Junior's forever leader gave a response to ELFs that a special announcement concerning his enlistment will be made on September 14th. On that said date, Leeteuk announced that his enlistment will take place by the end of October. Leading up to his enlistment date, the K-Pop variety star struggled to avoid sasaeng fans even on the night before he was sent into the army. Leeteuk is now currently a serviceman on active duty. He has finished the basic training for military, and will soon be appearing as a specially appointed entertainer for the military-sponsored musical 'The Promise'
For the year-end award shows, K-pop fans and Koreans got to see a glimpse of soldier Park Jung Su (Lee Teuk's real name) as he accepted awards from both MBC and SBS for his TV assignments in 2012.
#8 Super Junior Is Undefeated as the Album King
Back in April, Gaon Chart released that Mr. Simple surpassed the 500,000 mark in album sales since the release date back in August 3, 2011. The significance of surpassing with half a million album sales keeps Super Junior as the Album King for the third year in a row. Their album not only topped the Korean music charts, but also Taiwan, Thailand, and the Philippines. The Korean boy group dominated the Taiwan music chart for more than 110 consecutive weeks. Super Junior continues to prove and live up to their name as being the global hallyu leaders in album sales as well as sold out shows.
#9 K-pop Stars Enjoy Huge Success in Drama
The year 2012 consisted of many dramas to which some of K-Pop's top idols starred in. JYJ's Park Yoochun starred in one of the most popular dramas of the year "Rooftop Prince" which told the story of Chosun Dynasty's Lee Gak who time warped into present day. Along with the K-Pop idol, actress Han Jimin added on to the success of the drama. Other idols who sparked up in their own dramas were Girls' Generation's Yoona, miss A's Suzy, ZE:A's Siwan. K-Pop idols then dominated dramas as they were majorly casted in "To the Beautiful You, "Dream High 2", and "Respond 1997". These dramas became a success to not only the Korean audience, but the hallyu crowd worldwide.
#10 Other Scandals
There's no denying there were other scandals than the leading T-ARA "bullying" scandal. Block B officially apologizes to the people of Thailand after their very playful attitude towards the flooding disaster. The rookie group received so much criticism, even from 2PM's very own Thai member Nichkhun, that some fans decided to start up a petition for the group to disband.
On the topic of 2PM's Thai Prince, Nichkhun getting involved into a drunk driving accident worked its way into the headlines as one of the year's top scandals as well. His actions and statements received 4 different types of criticisms from the Korean media.
Big Bang's Seungri also fell into the scandal pot as photos of him sleeping and almost naked on a bed were published in a Japanese magazine. The photos in the magazine article came with an interview with a woman who says she has slept with the Big Bang maknae and claims his shocking behavior in bed.
Speaking of bed, the nation's little sister dropped the jaw of fans when she accidentally tweeted a photo of her and Super Junior's Eunhyuk. The photo consisted of what seems to be a topless Eunhyuk posing closely with bare-faced IU. The photo was soon deleted right away after she realizes her mistake. Her agency released a statement of apology saying that the photo was taken when the Super Junior member visited the little star when she was sick.
So, that rounds up the top noisemakers of 2012. And in 2013, the list will only get more challenging as the first week of the New Year already have Kpop fans reeling in intrigue with dating confessions (Rain and Kim Tae Hee; Jang Woo and Yeon Seo), artist-management discord (Block B and Stardom), TV program shakeups (We Got Married as a backlas from Jang Woo and Yeon Seo dating), and awaited comeback stages (Girls' Generation with "I Got A Boy"). It's really looking like 2013 will be another interesting year.