Here in the west, we did not get our first true taste of K-pop, Korean-pop, until artist PSY exploded onto the music scene with Gangnam Style in 2012. While many of us still couldn’t name many K-pop stars, if any, it still manages to be a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide! And few groups in the genre are as hot around the globe at the moment as Stray Kids are. Though the group has lost a couple of members since its debut, original band member Hyunjin has returned to the fold! But should he have been allowed to? Let’s take a closer look at the artist, Stray Kids, and a bit about K-pop!
The Rise of K-Pop
Billions… when you talk about K-pop, the numbers will consistently reach the billions! Korean pop groups Bangtan Sonyean Dan, better known as BTS, NCT 127, Super M, Big Bang, Blackpink, and a host of other groups, contribute upwards of $10 billion a year to the South Korean economy. And with the groups literally pulling in several billions of online views when they drop new singles and albums, it’s no wonder sales figures are through the roof!
In fact, all things Korean seem to be sweeping the globe in a Hallyu, or Korean wave! The “wave” is bringing all things Korean around the world! Art, fashion, beauty, and music are gaining traction and becoming well known and mainstream in countries around the planet! With the generation of billions of dollars annually, this is one wave that doesn’t appear to be cresting anytime soon.
The Debut of Stray Kids
The group Stray Kids began life in 2017 on the JYP Entertainment reality show with the same name as the band, Stray Kids. The show was set up in a survival elimination format, with the winners getting a coveted spot in the band.
The popular K-pop group originally consisted of nine members; Bang Chan, Changbin, Lee Know, Han, Felix, Hyunjin, Seungmin, I.N., and Woojin. Band member Woojin would end up saying goodbye and leaving the group permanently in October 2019, citing personal reasons for his departure.
The band released an EP, extended play, titled Mixtape in January 2018 and officially made their debut a few months later in March with the EP I Am Not. Since the group’s debut, they have sold nearly two million album sales worldwide! Not bad for a group of reality show winners!
Despite their young ages, or probably because they are so young, the group works hard and releases catchy and enthralling music at a breakneck pace! The powerhouse K-pop group has to date released one video album, two studio albums, two compilation albums, 8 EPs, 17 singles, 54 music videos, and appeared on two soundtracks. With band member Hyunjin returning to the group earlier this year, it seems there is nothing that can slow the tide of this supergroup!
Hyunjin and Controversy
K-pop artist and Stray Kids rapper/dancer Hyunjin was born March 20, 2000, in Seoul, South Korea. The unarguably talented performer was a key part of the group’s success since they formed in the 2017 reality show. However, like many K-pop stars, fame may have gone to the young man’s head.
Shortly after the group rose to fame, allegations began to emerge accusing Hyunjin of bullying several classmates. One such accuser claims to be deeply traumatized and has contemplated suicide. The unnamed accuser released the following accusation on social media.
“He beat me up on campus because I didn’t block the ball during a soccer game. He cursed at me and picked on me because of my size. I became a loser all because I couldn’t block the soccer ball. My name became a joke. In a group chat, he would write things such as, ‘Are you ____? Why are you acting like him?’ He would use my name to joke around with his friends. I wasn’t able to do anything about the group chat room, and that made me fall into an even deeper depression. I became so fearful that at one point, I stopped going into the group chat room.”
JYP Entertainment denied the allegations for a time, but eventually, Hyunjin came clean and owned up to the bullying, posting the following on his Instagram account.
“First of all, I sincerely apologize to those who were hurt by my improper actions during my school years. Looking back on times when I was more lacking, I am embarrassed and have no excuse. Whether it was intended or not, I don’t think I can be forgiven at all for giving unforgettable pain to someone…”
Before we all pile onto Hyunjin, it is worth noting that the artist did remove himself from his celebrity world to “self-reflect” on himself and the things he had done. The artist was out of Stray Kids from the end of February 2021 to July 2021, a whopping five months! That seems like a reasonable amount of time to find one’s self and inner peace!