Key players of K-pop's golden generation are returning to the music scene after a long hiatus, which is good news for the long-struggling local pop music industry.
Although there has not been an album surpassing the 100,000 sales mark so far this year, the situation was totally different 10 years ago. Four albums became million sellers in 1998 alone: Jo Sung-mo's "To Heaven (1.35 million)", Seo Taiji
's "Take 2 (1.1 million)" H.O.T'.s "Resurrection (1.1 million)" and Shin Seung-hoon's "A Promise That Can Never Be Kept (1.05 million).
Except for the now-defunct boy band legend H.O.T, the remaining three are preparing to break their long, self-imposed silence with new albums. This is expected to revitalize the industry. Kim Kun-mo, one of the biggest recording stars in the country's history of pop music, is releasing his 12th album later this month. Kim, who began his hit parade in 1992 with "Chot-in-sang (First Impression)", which sold more than 700,000 copies.
(Considering the total population of this country this is equal to quadruple-platinum sales in the United States.)
He racked up a record-breaking 2.8 million copies sold with his third album, "Jal-mot-den-man-mam" (Wrongful Relationship) in 1995.
For the upcoming R&B album the 39-year-old singer has collaborated with Kim Chang-hwan
, the producer of his top-selling albums during the '90s. The albums include "Jal-mot-den-man-mam" and "Excuse (Ping-gye)", the breakthrough second album that sold more than 1.8 million copies in 1993.
, the former leader of Seo Taiji
& Boys, almost single handedly reshaped the local pop scene with his musical experimentation based on American hip-hop. He will release his long awaited eighth album next month.
Also, on Aug. 15 he will host a rock festival named after him, "Eerie Taiji People Festival", at Seoul Jamsil Baseball Stadium, the lineup of which includes the cult rock star Marilyn Manson, Japanese hip-hop sensation Dragon Ash and of course, Seo himself.
, a pop star with a beautiful, high-pitched voice and a masculine body, recently finished his two-year mandatory military duty. His new album will come out sometime during fall.
The singer debuted as the vocalist for dance duo Turbo, back in 1995. He experimented with a new style of music when the duo was disbanded. He eventually landed back at the top of the major charts when his second solo album, "One Man (Han Namja)" came out in June 2004.
Jo Sung-mo, whose previous three albums released between 1998 and 1999 sold more than 5.6 million copies, total, also finished his military duty recently. A member of the "Year of the Dragon Club", a group of peers born in 1976, which also includes Kim Jong-kook
and Cha Tae-hyun, Jo became a star immediately after debuting with the movie-like music video of his song, "To Heaven".
A detailed schedule for his new album is yet to be determined, but Jo declared he will target the Japanese pop music market as well with his new songs.
Shin Seung-hoon, the all-time best-selling pop artist in the country, whose first six albums became million sellers, is working on his new album, due out in October. According to the "ballad king" who has long been an idol for many younger K-pop stars including Jo, the upcoming album will be different from his previous releases in terms of style.
Besides the '90s pop icons, sexy divas such as Lee Hyori
, Ivy and Uhm Jung-hwa
are planning to make comebacks this summer. They already got their fans excited about their brand new looks, as well as dances and melodies.
By Lee Yong-sung