By Kwon Mee-yoo
Idol groups such as the Wonder Girls, Big Bang and Girls' Generation dominated the pop charts last year. This power of youngsters in the Korean pop music industry will likely to continue this year, steered by the big entertainment companies.
Amid the overall slump in the K-pop industry, JYP, the entertainment company run by singer-producer Park Jin-young
, hopes for another successful year.
Referred to as "the jewel of JYP", Joo is certainly the most prominent new face of the year.
Joo participated in SBS's talent show "Super Star Survival" (2006) in collaboration with JYP. Though not the winner of the show, she got into the training program at JYP.
Since JYP has produced many hit singers such as G.O.D, Rain
and Wonder Girls, expectations on Joo were high even before her debut.
Joo finally debuted through KBS Music Bank, the only pop-chart program aired on network television, on Jan. 11. It is rare for such a newcomer to be on the show, especially one who had not even released an album yet.
Her title song "Because of You" shot up the music charts and took fourth place in two weeks.
Nonetheless, Joo already faced criticism when pictures of her smoking and drinking spread through the Internet. JYP admitted that Joo once smoked and drank out of curiosity when she was in middle school but emphasized that she is now clean and apologizes for her former mischief now. The agency also admitted Joo has had plastic surgery.
This excessive concern about Joo could be the evidence of her rising popularity.
In addition to Joo, JYP, reveals a not-yet-named boy band through a reality TV show on Mnet "Yeolhyeollama (Hot-Blooded Men)" on Jan. 25. The group currently consists of 12 members including Hwang Chan-sung
, who starred in the hit sitcom "High Kick!
", Lee Jun-ho and Ok Taecyeon
, another participants of the "Super Star Survival". Some members of the group are Chinese and Thai. The program will sort out the finalists to debut by votes from the audience.
JYP USA prepares Lim Jeong-hee, G-Soul and Min. Lim will go for the name of J-Lim in the States and work with Grammy-winning hip-hop group Outkast for her solo album.
Other entertainment agencies look forward to the ambitious year as well.
YG Entertainmnet, which introduced hip-hop music to the mainstream, prepared a powerful female singer, named CL, this time.
CL first appeared on the stage with other YG family singers at SBS year-end K-pop show, Dec. 29. She immediately stole the stage with her rapping and her online fan clubs sprang up like mushrooms.
However, YG Entertainment
did not confirm when CL is going to officially debut. If she is to debut, it is expected to be in the first half of the year.
DSP Entertainment, the producer of Lee Hyori
, unveiled their new project Sunha. Already having for hit soap opera "Surgeon Bong Dal-hee
" (2007), Sunha is named to be "the next Lee Hyori
She will release her first single "Chantey Chantey" on Jan. 25 and come into the spotlight at MBC's "Show, Music Center" on Jan. 26.