Hallyu 101: The Big Three Agencies (Part 1 – YG Entertainment)

Whether you've been a K-Pop fan for a while, or you're just starting to get into it, all the news you read about this agency, that label, these entertainment groups, or those record companies can get confusing. Luckily Hallyu 101 is here to help break it down for you.

The Big Three

If you've been following any of the major groups, like Big Bang, Girls' Generation, or 2PM, you've undoubtedly come across the phrase "the big three" before. It is used to reference the three biggest, and most popular, entertainment agencies in South Korea - YG, SM, and JYP.

Part 1 - YG Entertainment

  • Founded: 1996 by Yang Hyun-suk (executive director)
  • Notable Acts: Big Bang, 2NE1, Psy, Epik High, Se7en, Lee Hi
  • Known for: emphasis on artistic freedom, integrity of the music, charity work
  • Official website (English): www.ygfamily.com
  • Official YouTube: YGEntertainment

YG Entertainment currently has some of the best-selling, most internationally recognizable acts - namely international dark horse, Psy.

When the company was first started, their unique philosophy made them outcasts in the industry. But it was only a matter of time before Yang Hyun-suk was able to turn his artists into some of the most famous Korean stars on the planet, and by the late 2000s (with the rise of Big Bang), YG Entertainment had cornered a large share of the market.

The musicians under YG are known for their individualism, diverse styles and for composing and producing a majority of their own music - a distinction that makes them very different from the other agencies.

The YG stars are also praised for their positive working relationship with each other. They are highly collaborative in their music, often helping to produce or write songs for their label-mates, featuring one another on tracks, and performing together on stage. Thus, they have been given the name, YG Family.

Like many other record companies, YG was founded by a former musician - Yang Hyun-suk was once a member of the legendary band Seo Taiji and Boys. The early beginnings of the label were heavily rooted in hip-hop and one of the first major acts, 1TYM, is credited with making the genre popular in the Korean mainstream. Former 1TYM member, Teddy, is still very active in the company, using his talents to help write and produce some of YG Entertainment's biggest hit songs.

Songs to know:

Big Bang - "Lies" (2008) Always

2NE1 - "I Am the Best" (2011) I Am the Best [Single]

Epik High - "Don't Hate Me" (2012) 99

Se7en - "Better Together" (2010) Digital Bounce

Lee Hi - "" (2012) [Single]

Psy - "Gangnam Style" (2012) Psy 6 (Six Rules)

Up next... Hallyu 101: The Big Three Agencies (Part 2 - SM Entertainment)

YG Entertainment
Big Bang
Epik High
Lee Hi


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