The concept of It girls and boys has been laid to rest by many since the label often connotated a mix of wealth and promiscuity. In the world of K-pop, however, the term persists. And perhaps it’s because it means something more PG in the Korean/K-pop context.
An It boy or girl in K-pop is an idol with visuals that appeal to all genders and an attractive personality. Yes, magnetism and trendsetting are still big aspects. But as idols, they also have to be inspirational and not just aspirational.
So who are the idols that have captivated the attention of the general public through K-pop generations? We listed them down.
Fourth generation (2018 and onwards)
As a member of BTS’ dongsaeng group TXT (Tomorrow X Together), Yeonjun already made waves when he was first revealed by Big Hit Music. He was a star rookie before debut, which makes sense if you watch his dance covers and listen to his fun rap style (like what he did for the line “feel like Cinderella naega byeonhae”). He’s also unapologetically confident. He’s like the “ooh, you want to kiss me so bad” meme. But his gender-nonconforming style is what really delights many. “Who’s to decide whether something is women’s or men’s clothing?” he told Vogue Korea.
Another standout is Stray Kids’ Hyunjin. The boy group is known for their intense songs and choreographies. “God’s Menu,” in particular, feels like it can power an entire city alone. We could say the same about Hyunjin’s visuals. He’s known as the most dramatic member and seeing him transform onstage is a sight to behold. His shoulder-length hair has been a styling inspo for many and it felt like his half-ponytail started a trend among guy idols. We wish all scissors a very stay away from Hyunjin.
These days, Astro’s Cha Eun-woo is also known as a beloved rookie actor. He’s gained even more popularity after starring in hit K-dramas such as “My ID is Gangnam Beauty” and recently, “True Beauty.” Though of course, he came on a lot of people’s radars with his group’s hits like the ultra-fun “Crazy Sexy Cool.” He’s pretty chaotic IRL so it’s interesting to see him playing tsundere roles. While there have been some who claim that he’s just a pretty face, we think he has the range to take on more complex but still kinda funny characters à la Park Seo-joon.
While Itzy as a whole is considered by many as an It girl group, Ryujin’s cool girl personality has made her a particular favorite. She’s suave and her dance style is powerful but understated. Before debuting, she trended for being the ace of reality show “Mix Nine” and dancing Troye Sivan’s “Youth” with BTS. Her style is pretty simple but the way she carries herself grabs attention.
In K-pop brand rankings, BTS’ Jimin has been topping the boy group category for consecutive years. He’s a master at choosing the type of energy to bring to the table. He can be mochi sweet or feminine/masculine seductive. He sports “women’s” clothing. He’s performed many iconic stages like the fan dance for “Idol” in 2018. When his stylist finally decides to put lip gloss on him, it will be over for everybody.
Blackpink’s Jennie is the idol with the top brand ranking in 2020. She’s also the most followed K-pop idol on Instagram. Her style is delicate, sophisticated and sexy—which matches really well with her visuals. It also doesn’t hurt that the Chanel ambassador knows how to drop really sick verses. She’s also had a relationship with Exo’s Kai and is rumoredly dating Big Bang’s G-Dragon.
Red Velvet’s Irene is regarded as one of the prettiest faces in K-pop and the “Irene effect” was a term created because of how effective a brand endorser she is. Shy but far from being a pushover, she has a strong personality that might be too much for some but something we really admire. Also, she’s got vocals and the moves.
Jackson Wang is one of the most popular and loved K-pop artists, primarily because of his bright personality. Sure, he’s super handsome and hot. But it’s his charm and funny antics that made him one of Korea’s variety show kings. Although he has said that he didn’t like being pigeonholed as GOT7’s funny guy, his sense of humor is still one of his charms. Now, he’s off doing amazing work with his very own Team Wang.
Big Bang’s G-Dragon is often called the idol of idols because he’s got a lot of fanboys in the K-pop industry (BTS’ Jungkook, for example). Not only has he contributed greatly to the Hallyu wave as an artist with more than 150 credits to his name, he also helped usher the start of K-pop idols being brand ambassador mainstays. With his brand Peaceminusone, he continues to have a hand in shaping K-fashion.
Girls’ Generation’s Yoona is considered one of the second generation’s visual goddesses. Before debuting, she already had multiple acting roles on her belt so it came as no surprise that she went on to continue being an actress. And really who can deny the global impact of her group’s tracks such as “Gee”?
After the success of “Start-Up” last year, it’s evident that Bae Suzy is far from losing her touch. As a well-regarded singer and actress, she has proved time and again that her visuals are just a plus. As a former Miss A member and solo artist, her stage presence and musicality are top-tier. And as a sought-after actress, she’s made us cry so many times.
As the reigning queen of K-pop, BoA’s impact can still be felt today. As the first Korean artist to be listed on a Billboard chart and one of the first K-pop artists known for powerful choreographies in the industry, BoA paved the way for many. She’s an all-rounder who could sing, dance, produce, act and, not to mention, she has impressive visuals.
Rain is K-pop’s OG bad boy. If the U.S. had Usher, Asia had Rain. From releasing tracks like “Rainism” (which has been covered by a number of idols including IU and BTS) to starring in K-dramas like “Full House,” he’s a lot of people’s first K-pop fave. No wonder he’s still dropping collabs with artists like Chungha and Zico. We love that even though he’s nearing 40, he’s still flashing those iconic abs.