2000 - 2006

2000s Korean Pop Music History - THE YEAR OF 2006 ~ 2000

RIAK: Recording Industry Association of Korea

by Recording Industry Association of Korea

21st century is when the culture and new media are joined together, thus, the world can encounter (or share) new culture very easily. 

K-pop is one of the pop culture in Korea that has been spot-lighted. In the early 2000s, marketing on Korean drama and its OST as well as idols in oversea countries succeeded to grab their attention. Consequently, K-pop was known as Korean Idols Music at that moment.

The development of new media, such as social network services as well as streaming services, Korean ballad, hip-hop and other genres has introduced to the world. 

Spontaneously, the strength of K-pop such as, easy melody, showy performance, music videos with the stories that arouse audiences’ interest, etc. causes to grab attention from Asian countries. Not only the Asian countries. Since 2011, K-pop has been spread out to western countries and also grabs their attention easily.

Consequently, the interpretation of k-pop has expanded. 

The exhibition “2000s K-pop History” introduces the trend of Korean Pop culture by using k-pop contents from every year. “2000s K-pop History” would help people to understand Korean culture and Korean pop culture and expect people to enjoy it.


The year of 2006 saw the heyday of SM’s boy Idol groups, TVXQ and Super Junior. TVXQ’s 3rd regular album 《'O'-正.反.合.》 became the best selling album of the year, and the group won Main Award of 21st Golden Disk, the Best Artist at MAMA, Grand Prize at Seoul Pop Awards and Grand Prize at SBS Pop Awards, marking itself as the best man Idol group. Super Junior, 13 member boy group that debuted in November of 2005, was awarded New Star Award at Golden Disk with the song <twins>, and New Star Award at 8th MAMA with the song <u>.

YG’s boy group, Big Bang composed of G-Dragon, TOP, Taeyang, Daesung and Seungri debuted with the song <we belong together> in 2006. The group had a big influence not only on music but also on fashion, which broke the stereotype of stage fashion. It introduced the fashion that they want to wear every day. 《Bigbang Vol.1》 was its first regular album, and the group was awarded Rookie Of The Month at 《Cyworld Digital Music Awards》 with the title song <la-la-la> in October.

<snow prince> by SS501 of DSP, <because i love you> and <woman’s scent> by Seeya, and <i wouldn’t love> by Jiyoung Baek were popular. Among them, the song <i wouldn’t love> was ranked top at music charts and picked as the most sung song of 2006 in Karaoke, and Jiyoung Baek made a successful comeback with this song enjoying her second heyday.

In addition, some emotional ballad songs such as <looking for love> by McTheMax, <you don’t know man> by Buzz and <partner for life> by SG Wannabe were popular that year.


The year of 2005 could be summed up popularity of ballad songs with great singing ability including Jongkook Kim who swept grand prize of the three public broadcasting stations with the song <lovely>. Jongkook Kim established his solo singer status with the song <a man> in 2004 after his dance group “Turbo” was disbanded in 2001. In his third album that was released in 2005, <lovely> and <marching in place> written by Younghoon Joo, a song writer that used to work with him, got popularity, and he became the only solo singer who swept grand prize of the three public broadcasting stations first time after Yongpil Jo. 

The song <marching in place> was ranked top at MBC 《Music Camp Live》, top at M.net 《M Countdown》, and Mutizen song at SBS 《Popular Music》 for 3 weeks. The song <lovely> was also ranked Mutizen song at SBS 《Popular Music》 for 3 weeks, and awarded the album of the year at Melon Music Award and Main award at Golden Disk. He enjoyed the highest time after the group Turbo. 

Big Mama of YG gathered many music fans betting on the singing ability not on the beautiful looks. Its songs <resignation> and <woman> were ranked high at music charts, and the group was awarded the singers of the year at KBS Music Festival with the album 《It's Unique》.

A new ballad group SG Wannabe made prominence in that year. Its song <crime and punishment> in the album <<while i live>> was ranked high at music charts including first place at Melon Monthly Chart during March and April. Later the song <while i live> brought a big success. This group had a big year with Main Award/Grand Prize at Golden Disk(the second album <<while i live>>), Main Award/Producers’ Award at SBS Music Festival, and the singer of the year at KBS Music Festival.

Regarding hit songs by entertainment companies, SM had <rising sun> by Dongbangsingi and <girls on top> by Boa, YG had Big Mama, JYP had <a normal day> by GOD, and Star Empire had <super star> by Jewelry. In addition, <love is directed by heart> by Buzz, <smile again> by KCM, <love is one> by Tei, <fly> by Epic High and <i might have loved you> by YB were also popular.


The year of 2004 was the year of man singers including TVXQ, Rain, Seven and 1TYM.

A new Idol group TVXQ of SM had its debut stage at Special show of Boa and Britney Spears on December 26, 2003, and had an official debut stage at MBC Music Camp on February 7, 2004. The group ‘s name, TVXQ means “A god of Orient stands up”, and the group was composed of 5 boys who had been selected at SM Best Contest when they were kids. The members(Sia Joonsoo, Micky Yoocheon, Youngwoong Jaejoong, Choikang Changmin, Uknow Yoono) were trained systemically for 5 years, and each member had different talents such as a cappella.

As soon as it debuted, it gathered popularity by winning new star award and main award at the same time at Seoul Pop Music Awards first time after Seotaji and Boys. The band rose to stardom with a series of hit songs, a debut song <hug>, <the way u are>, <my little princess> and <i trust you>.

Rain of JYP welcomed his second heyday in 2004. The singer, who debuted in 2002, released his third album [It's Raining] in October of 2002, and at least 200,000 copies were sold with 1.1 billion won of offline sales, continuing a big success after his second album. Total sales throughout Asia reached over 1 million; 100,000 in Japan, 500,000 in China, 70,000 in Taiwan, 150,000 in Thailand, 50,000 in Indonesia, and 154,000 in Korea, total 1,074,000 according to the Korea Creative Content Agency. He won the main award and grand prize at KBS Pop Festival, the main award and the greatest popularity award at SBS Pop Festival, and the main award at MBC 10 Greatest Singers along with the popularity award, best couple award and excellence award at KBS Acting Awards. He enjoyed his best time in that year.

Other popular songs in that year were <my name> by Boa of SM, <passion> and <tatoo> by Seven of YG, <cry> and <without you> BY 1TYM of YG, <standing there> by Hyoshin Park, <long day> by Seungcheol Lee, <my friend> by Cho PD, <love left scent> by Tei, <whililili> by Sooyoung Lee, and <poem of love> by McTheMax.


That year was for Hyori Lee, bringing on “Hyori Syndrome”. Her first solo album <<stylish..e hyolee>> released in August of 2003 was ranked 1st place on album sales including 70,000 of preorder, and the title song <10 MINUTES> was ranked high at music charts, rising as the best trend icon. She won grand prizes at MNET Music Video Awards, KMTV Music Festival, KBS Music Festival, SBS Music Awards and Seoul Pop Awards gathering the most attention by the public. The ‘Hyori Syndrome” expanded the spectrum into the commercial, TV shows, fashion and other cultural areas. 

YG’s Seven and Big Mama were prominent that year. Big Mama’s song <break away> was ranked top at music charts, and the group, which was recognized as a group more for audio rather than video, won new artist awards and best song awards at many renowned music awards including 1st place at Melon Monthly Chart during April and May, new star award at SBS Music Awards, 10 greatest singers award at MBC 10 Greatest Singers Awards, New Group Award and Excellence Award at MNET KM Music Video Festival, Female New Singer award and best music video award at 18th Golden Disk Awards, New Group award at KMTV Korean Music Awards, New Star award at 14th Seoul Pop Awards.

YG’s Seven also gathered the public’s attention with the songs <one more time> and <come back to me>. He supported YG’s growth with his appealing voice and emotions. Rain of JYP also achieved a great success with the song <ways to avoid rain> winning many awards such as the singer of the year at KMTV Korean Music Awards, main award at SBS Music Awards, singer award at KBS Entertainers Awards and Main Award at MBC 10 Greatest Singers Awards.

Boa of SM also enjoyed a great success. She released her 3rd regular album 《Atlantis Princess》 and returned to the music scene. She continued her singing career until September with the title song of the album <atlantis girl> that contains fairy-tale lyrics describing the legendary Atlantis and the next songs 〈Milky way〉 and <tree>, a ballad song. Before releasing her second regular album in Korea, she released the second album <<valenti>> in Japan on January 29, 2003. The sales of this album reached over 600,000, and the album was ranked top at Oricon Weekly Album Chart. 

The final sales record of the album was 1,2 million, and the album was marked as her first million seller. It was ranked the 5th at Oricon Yearly Album Chart in 2003. She won various awards for her contribution to the Korean Wave in Japan; Proud Korean Award, Main Award/Special Honor at 2003 KMTV Korea Music Awards, Award by foreign press, and Korean Congress Award. She also won awards at music programs of Korean TV stations including Main Award at SBS Music Awards and Main Award at MBC 10 Greatest Singers. SM’s boy group Shinwha also got popularity with the song <your wedding>. 

Other popular ballad songs and OSTs of TV Drama were <accidentally> by Yoongun, <did we really love> by Brown Eyed Soul, <i did not know then> by Leejeok, <i miss you> by Beomsoo Kim and <jeomjeom> by Brown Eyes, <i did guess> by Hyeongjoong Kim.


Boa of SM started to be popular in 2002. She released her second album 《NO.1·always..》 in 2002, and its title song was <no.1>. According to total sales of musical recording by Music Industry Association of Korea, 540,000 copies of the album were sold within the year, which was 4th most selling album in that year. The song 〈NO.1〉 is light Euro-pop style dance music, and the lyrics reflect her dream to be the best singer in the world. Kangta of SM participated in this album, and sang two songs(〈always (Waiting)..〉,〈I..>) with Boa. Boa’s own song, <realize> was in the album. This is the most selling album in Korea among all of her albums. 

SM’s other man group Shinwha was popular with the song <i pray 4 u>, and SES, the first generation of Idol girl group, continued its singing career with the song <u>. Meanwhile, Rain made his debut in this year. Rain, who used to be Jinyoung Park’s backup dancer, debuted as a singer with the song <bad boy> of his first album 《Rain》 in May of 2002. Later, with the next song <instead of saying goodbye>, he won new artist awards at SBS Music Awards, MBC Music Awards and the 17th Golden Disk in December of 2002.

Other popular songs of various genre were <again> by Jewelry, <good person> by Hyoshin Park, <you are gone but you are still in my mind> by Seunghoon Shin, <never ending story> by Boowhal, <bimong> by Coyote, <aroha>by Cool and <sweet dreams> by Nara Chang. Shikyeong Seong was also popular with the song <we are quite good match> winning first prize at MBC Music Camp for 4 weeks, and SBS Popular Songs.


GOD, which became everybody’s singers beyond Idol group, sold 1.7 million copies of its 4th album 《Chapter 4》. The group debuted in 1999 with the song <to mother>, and became one of the most popular singers in 2000 and 2001 with songs <way> and <i don’t know>. It enjoyed its golden days with its moniker “band for everybody” by winning all the awards of 2001; Grand Prize at SBS Music Awards, Grand Prize at KBS Music Awards, the best singer selected by under 30s at MBC 10 Greatest Singers Awards, Main Award at Seoul Pop Awards, Grand Prize at Golden Disk Awards. The group spent the best year by singing from emotional ballad songs to hiphop with a fast, rhythmic beat.

 Popular songs by Idol groups were <wild eyes> and <hey, come on!> by Shinwha, <north star> by Kangta, <cuddling> and <looking for dream> by SES, <a-yo> by Jinusean and <you might not know> by Finkle.

Many new artists who had unique characteristics made their debuts that year. In January, Psy debuted with his first album 《PSY... From the Psycho World》, and in the title song <bird>, he sampled the famous song <venus> originally sung by Dutch Rock Band “Shocking Blue” and later remade by an English female pop band “Bananarama”. His unique “bird performance” gathered the public’s attention. However, his album was rated R in 4 months because of sensual pictures and lyrics in the album. 

Shikyeong Seong made his debut with the album <like the beginning>. The album released in April achieved a great success with 4 hit songs; <like the beginning>, <the way to me>, <angel with smile> and <missing>. He won new artist award at Golden Disk Awards. 

 Many ballad songs were popular that year such as <from far away> by Hyoshin Park, <another love is gone> by Kichan Lee, <reason to wait for you> by Changjeong Lim, <already one year>, <i love you> by Position, <correcting makeup> by Wax and <please> by Sora Lee. In addition, Jinyoung Park of JYP released his 6th regular album <<game>>, and the title song <i have a girl> was ranked high at music charts.


In 2000, both ballad music and dance music established themselves as the main trend along with Idol group’s prosperity. GOD of JYP, which debuted in 1999 with its first album <to mother>, released the second album, and the song <i love you and you should remember> was a big hit. It also released the third album, and with the song <lie> the group rose to stardom. In addition to the song <lie>, the whole songs in the album became popular such as <a candle> and <sky blue balloons>. The group enjoyed being at the top of Korean music scene by winning the best man group award at MNet Music Video Festival, Main Award at Golden Disk Awards, Grand Prize at KBS Pop Awards, Grand Prize at SBS Pop Awards and Main Award at MBC 10 Greatest Singers Awards.

In SM, Boa started her career as a future world star. Her debut album <<id; peace b>> contained bright dance and ballad songs with girly sensitivity, and she made a debut stage at SBS Popular Songs on August 27, 2000. She expanded her career to Japan, and she brought young Japanese’s attention to Korean wave, which was mostly for middle aged Korean drama fans. She contributed to introducing Korean pop culture to the world along with diversification of Korean wave.

The first generation of Idol groups, HOT and Shinwha were actively involved in the music scene with the songs <outside castle> and <only one> respectively. 

Finkle of DSP made a debut stage with the song 〈Blue Rain〉 at MBC Show Express in May of 1998, and the group won grand prize at music awards three times. It was regarded as the first generation girl group which held a big solo concert for the first time as a girl group. Between 1998 and 1999, it was popular with cute and lively songs such as <to my boyfriend>, <forever love> and <white>, and in 2000 the group made a comeback with the song <now> expressing the members’ warrior image. Another DSP’s boy group Jack’s Kiss, which had a hit song <couple> in 1999, achieved popularity with the song <bye...> in 2000.

Ballad singers were Seongmo Jo, Seunghoon Shin, Changjeong Lim and Sky. Seongmo Jo won Main Award and Grand Prize at 11th Seoul Pop Awards, Main Award and Grand Prize at Golden Disk Awards, and Grand Prize at SBS Pop Awards. His third album <do you know?> was ranked top at record sales by 1.9 million followed by his other album <thorn> by 1,657,000 copies. These sales reports confirmed he was the best man singer in Korea. 

Seunghoon Shin’s <like somebody in legend>, Changjeong Lim’s <my lover> and Sky’s <forever> were also popular ballad songs. Other songs by man singers were <shaky friendship> by Kyungmin Hong, <oh! are you leaving> by CountryKOKO and <first love> by Clone, and woman singers’ songs were <bruise> by Hyunjeong Kim, <you> by Jeonghyun Lee, < coming-of-age ceremony> by Jiyoon Park and <like yesterday> by J. Seotaji also made comeback with his sixth album <ultramania> first time in almost 5 years, and he showed his own music world.

Credits: Story

Curation — Recording Industry Association of Korea
Head Researcher — Hye Jee Kim
Researcher — Jungzoo Yoon

Credits: All media
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