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How To Learn Korean with Korean Dramas and K-Pop?

We always see this kind of advice on the Internet: “You should listen to K-Pop, it helped me to quickly progress” or “There is nothing better than Korean dramas without subtitles for learning Korean”.

How to learn Korean with Korean dramas and K-Pop?

Can you really learn a language without much effort by watching dramas and listening K-Pop?

Following this advice can bring many advantages:

  • Attuning your ears to Korean by listening to native speakers
  • Boosting your vocabulary
  • Boosting your dialogue-related listening comprehension
  • Letting you hear a language used in context
  • Learning passively while having fun

    At the end of the day, it seems like a great idea, but in reality it’s not totally true… Actually, it varies! We definitely recommend that you expose yourself to a lot of resources in their original language such as movies, drama, anime, music…for the reasons above. But you will never learn Korean like that.

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    Click here to download our free App and listen to native speakers for free!

    Dramas and K-Pop as a complement to your learning tools
    It’s best to see these videos as a Korean learning complement. You need to acquire a certain amount of vocabulary and grammar in order to better comprehend a Korean video or conversation.

    This is our approach: KoreanClass101.com brings you tons of audio and video lessons, from songs to dialogues and cultural insights, and each of these lessons has a grammar focus, a vocabulary list, a lesson transcript and notes so that you don’t miss any points. We give you the foundation you need to be able to understand dramas and benefit from watching it.

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    Here are the top 5 K-Pop songs to learn Korean!

    The myth of learning by only watching Korean dramas

    The “watch dramas and learn Korean” concept is just a myth. A lot of high school students improve their English level by reading books and comics, or watching dramas and movies in English with subtitles in their own language. You, meanwhile, might watch all episodes of Heirs or Running Man in Korean but still not make any progress!

    The difference? Those foreign students are not starting from scratch when they use this method to learn Korean. Even though they might still be at a low level, they were working on some solid foundations.

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    Basically, what you will hear after 6 months of watching dramas in Korean, while hiding the subtitles, would probably be something like:

    bla bla bla bla bla Hello bla bla bla bla Thank you bla bla bla bla You A**hole bla bla bla You’re so handsome bla bla bla bla bla It hurts! bla bla bla bla I love you bla bla bla bla bla bla really!?

    Still quite far from fluency, right?

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    Start learning Korean for free right now!

    The key to learning through K-Pop and dramas

    The key is the amount of passive vocabulary you already have. It’s all the vocabulary you understand when listening to or reading Korean, without having the need to search in the dictionary. Our brain has limited capacity and if it doesn’t recognize 70-80% of the words in a sentence, it will be incapable of filling in the blanks to give a sense to the unknown words based on the context.

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    Let’s look at these two cases:
    1. You are at a beginner level of Korean
    2. You are at an intermediate level of Korean

    In both cases, you must expose yourself to a lot of Korean media: podcasts, videos and so on…

    In the first case, your brain won’t be able to analyze what you hear when you’re watching dramas or listening K-Pop because you miss too many words. Of course we don’t forbid you from doing this, but be aware that you are only training your ears to become accustomed to the sounds of Korean. This is a good start, though. But you will also need to start learning grammar basics and vocabulary.

    Our Korean for Absolute Beginners series will offer you the resources you need to quickly understand the foundations of the Korean language, through entertaining topics.

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    If you are at an intermediate level, you will need to acquire a lot of vocabulary covering a large range of topics. Challenge yourself with our Listening Comprehension series on YouTube, listen to our podcasts and verify through the lesson notes and transcripts that you understood everything, from the grammar point to the explanation of the kanji used in the lesson.

    Access all the reading, audio and video resources you need to become fluent in Korean!

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    Korean dramas and K-Pop can be great learning tools because there are fun and there is a lot of it around. Just make sure to do a little extra work to optimize their use! Don’t forget to sign up for your Free Lifetime Account to access all our resources and be able to watch dramas without subtitles!

  • Super Girls, Ninja Assassins, and More Monsters

    I won’t even waste words with this one, when the video needs no words. At all.

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    Epik High should parody more movies. This was amazing XD

    So excited for their album [e], and very sad that it wasn’t on iTunes yet when I rolled out of bed this morning.

    I’m not normally one who favours subgroups more than the actual main group, but in the case of Super Junior the opposite is true for me. I love their Chinese subgroup, Super Junior M, so much more than I have been loving the main group in recent months.

    Super Junior M is made up of 5 members from the main group: 동해 (Donghae), 규현 (Kyuhyun), 한긍 (Hangeng, also known as 한경 (Hankyung)), 려욱 (Ryeowook) and 시원 (Siwon). The remaining 2 members, Zhou Mi and Henry, are members of only this subgroup and not the main group, although Henry has worked with Super Junior in the past as the violinist for the first single of their second album, 돈돈.

    They released their first album last year, a mix of Chinese versions of previous Super Junior songs, as well as new songs, and now they’re gearing up to release a mini-album. I’m quite excited about the mini-album, and I am loving the main single from it, Super Girl:

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    And last but not least, something that I meant to share a couple of weeks ago but everything else just kept on getting in my way and I didn’t want to make some hugely long entry …

    There are a lot of movies that have just come out or are coming out over the next few months that I am really really looking forward to seeing, and hoping that I can find someone to drag to the cinema with me since I don’t like watching movies alone. But if I had to pick just one movie to see out of all of them, and it was the only one I would be able to see, I would without a doubt be picking Ninja Assassin. It’s got ninja, it’s got badass fighting, and it’s got the sexy talented hunk of a Korean guy that is (Bi, also known as Rain, and 정지훈 (Jung Jihoon)). What other reason could a martial arts/ninja/action/blood-and-guts/Korean loving girl need?

    I’m certainly not convinced that the movie’s plot is going to be all that great, but when I watch a movie like this I watch it for the action, and the stunts, and all the crazy ass stuff that goes down in crazy ninja fights.

    And when the lego version of the trailer is pretty badass all by itself, call me crazy but then I think we’ve got a winner.

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    Need it. Want it. Now now now.

    Have another trailer:

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    Monsters, Netizens and Jabba the Hutt

    I’ve only recently found myself getting into JYP Entertainment R&B boyband 2PM. 2PM was originally part of the 11 member group One Day, but in the end JYP split them into two: the seven member R&B/dance focused 2PM, and the four member ballad focused 2AM.

    2PM is made of 재범 (Jaebum, also known as Jay), 준수 (Junsu), half-Thai half-Chinese 닉쿤 (Nichkhun), 택연 (Taecyeon), 우영 (Wooyoung), 준호 (Junho), and 찬성 (Chansung).

    Their debut single was 10점 만점에 10점, released in September last year, and although it was a decent enough song it wasn’t until earlier this year and the release of their second mini album, 2:00 PM Time For Change, that their popularity really took off. Again & Again was a definite hit, snagging the group their first Mutizen Song awards on music shows.

    I found Again & Again much better than their earlier songs, but it wasn’t until they started promoting 니가 밉다 that my attention was caught.

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    My friend soon got me watching MBC’s Idol Show with her, where 2PM were hosts for the third season, and that was pretty much what sealed the deal for me. 2PM were fun, crazy, and their personalities were everything that I look for when I want to watch something entertaining. And omg don’t even get me started on the lolz that was Wild Bunny.

    But it looks like I might have found a love a little too late.

    The beginning of this month brought about two things: the first anniversary of 2PM, and the revealing of some comments that Seattle-born leader 재범 made on myspace in 2005, when he was still a trainee. The comments were made to friends when he was 17/18 years old, and said he hated Korea, and that he wanted to come back home - which isn’t all that surprising if you consider the fact he had only just gone to Korea, and had left behind everything and everyone he knew in order to pursue his dream of being a singer.

    When the comments were revealed, 재범 issued an apology, explaining why he said those things but also taking responsibility for his actions. Netizens clamoured for 재범 to be removed from 2PM, but JYP issued a statement that he would not be taking 재범 out from the group.

    To the surprise and shock of many 2PM fans, 재범 announced the following day that he would be leaving the group. As of right now there’s still a lot of question marks about what’s going on. Has he left 2PM for good? Is he just taking a break? He has said that he is returning to America to study music, but there hasn’t yet been any word on what he’ll be doing after that.

    Fans of 2PM, known as Hottests, have been doing all they can to show their support for 재범 and their understanding.

    But this brings me to what I really wanted to talk about: Netizens.

    If there is one thing about Korea’s entertainment industry that I hate, it’s the netizens. Netizens exist in all cultures, for sure, but it seems that their voice is perhaps loudest in Korea. So many things are dictated by what the netizens are saying. Netizens see everything, hear everything. They are everywhere, and there is no tiny detail that escapes their notice.

    Netizens scare me (and BaekGa of Koyote feels the same way). I honestly feel sorry for anyone who is famous in Korea, who has to deal with such a vindictive bunch of people who have seemingly nothing better to do than hide behind their PC screens and pick at anyone and anything. And they get vicious, fast.

    Netizens have driven people to suicide before with their comments and accusations and rumours. They have no boundaries at all. This time around, they created suicide petitions against 재범, saying that he should kill himself because of things he had said.

    Seriously, who does that?

    And who digs through 4+ years of myspace comments just to find some dirt?

    The sad thing is that I’ve been into the Korean entertainment scene for long enough that I’m no longer even surprised by what the netizens do or say anymore. The disgust hasn’t yet worn off, but the surprise certainly has. And I wonder, sometimes, about the people behind the hateful comments. How old are they? What do they do? Why do they spend so much time on criticising people who work harder than they probably ever will in their life? Is it jealousy that drives them to it? Boredom? Are they too young to know any better, or bitter because they are too old to be able to turn their lives upside down and go chase a dream, too weighted down by regrets of missed opportunities?

    It is sad that such a vibrant and entertaining part of modern Korean culture can have such a dark side to it.

    On a much lighter note, hiphop trio Epik High (에픽하이) will soon be releasing their sixth album! [e] is going to be as much an overdose of awesome as their fourth album Remapping the Human Soul was, with 2 CDs packed full of 30 tracks. I am so excited.

    And look at this funny teaser they’ve done for it:

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    Anyone else seen the Korean monster movie The Host? XD

    GD Giveaway, f(x) Debut & 박효신 Returns

    Remember G-Dragon’s solo effort Heartbreaker? Well my favourite fanboy and good friend Alex has arranged a contest where he will be giving away several copies of the album. You can check out the contest here! There’s 4 copies of the album to be won from 4 different categories, as well as a copy of 2NE1’s debut album. The contest closes on October 1st and winners will be announced a few days later.

    SM Entertainment (the engine behind TVXQ, Super Junior, SHINee, SNSD) have recently unveiled their newest project - a five member girlgroup by the name of f(x) (에프엑스). f(x) consists of members 빅토리아 (Victoria), 크리스탈 (Krystal), 엠버 (Amber), 설리 (Sulli), and 루나 (Luna).

    Since I’ve been preparing to move away to go to university in London, I’ve been too busy these past few weeks to really keep up with anything that’s going on in the music scene right now. But I would have to live on a completely different planet to have not known about the existence of f(x), since they seem to have got a lot of attention leading up to their debut and everyone seems to be talking about them.

    I personally don’t see what all the fuss is about. Their debut song, LA chA TA(라차타) is alright; definitely not the worst debut song in the world, but I’ve also heard better. It sounds a bit like 주문 -MIROTIC- meets 소원을 말해봐 (Genie). And the girls themselves look alright too (and of course every teenage girl who claims to be bisexual has a huge girl-crush on the one that looks like a boy, whatever her name is - can’t girls like pretty girls? what is with this obsession of liking girls who look more like boys? everyone should just be in love with 이효리 instead).

    Check out the music video for LA chA TA(라차타) below:

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    So what do you think? Were you impressed? No? Me either. But it looks a little bit more promising than some of the other recently debuted girl groups, so I’ll keep an eye on them and see where it goes.

    In news that excites me WAY more, is the return of the husky, soulful voiced 박효신 (Park Hyoshin). You might remember 박효신 from back in December, with his Hwang Project song The Castle of Zoltar. Things have been fairly quiet since then, which sadness me a lot because 박효신 has such an amazing voice and I wish he had been more active since his 2007 album The Breeze of Sea: The Ballad.

    There’s a teaser floating around for his upcoming song 사랑한 후에 and album Gift, although since the teaser is really just the two main acting leads being emo, it’s not much of a teaser and doesn’t really give much of an idea what to expect. But since it’s 박효신 I think it’s pretty obvious that we can all expect one of his trademark ballads in that gorgeous voice of his, and that alone is enough to get me excited for his comeback.

    Gift should be released early this month, and there’s plans for him to hold a concert in October to celebrate his 10th anniversary since debut.

    G-Dragon’s a Heartbreaker

    Yesterday 빅뱅 (Big Bang)’s leader G-Dragon released his first solo album Heartbreaker. As one of 빅뱅’s two main rappers, G-Dragon has been praised before as an up and coming songwriter, having been involved in the composition process for 빅뱅 songs 거짓말 (Lies, which was the group’s breakthrough single), But I Love U, rock-rap 빅뱅-No Brain collaboration Oh My Friend, and Strong Baby.

    With some super catchy and pretty solid tunes under his belt, it comes as no surprise that all eyes were on this solo album and that expectations were pretty high.

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    What do you think of Heartbreaker, the titletrack of the solo album?

    There’s been some very mixed reactions. I, personally, find the song enjoyable and catchy, even though it’s nothing too amazing. I also really love his look, and the MV itself. My favourite fanboy likes the concept, although diehard G-Dragon fangirls who think the man can do no wrong go further and praise the song as being unique and different and inspirational (oh, fangirls …). By slightly more mentally stable fans and netizens alike, however, he has been accused of copying Lady Gaga’s style, and for ripping off the beats of Flo Rida.

    I think people need to stop taking pop so seriously. 90% of what floats around the pop scene is stuff that has already been done before, by one person or another. That’s the whole point of pop - it’s popular. Of course that isn’t an excuse to be unoriginal, but if it’s enjoyable and catchy then it’s enjoyable and catchy. That’s why pop is pop. What’s “in” is what sells. What isn’t “in”, is a risk - you’ll either set the next new trend, or be ignored.

    I would definitely however have preferred to hear G-Dragon doing something a little more like the tunes he’s written for 빅뱅. He can definitely write some awesome songs - Heartbreaker does not rank among them. Maybe there was too much pressure and too much work, since the solo album was already delayed for a few months in the first place, due to G-Dragon being overworked. I think it may have been better for the creative juices if it had been a digital single or a 4 or 5 track mini-album rather than an entire 10 track album.

    It is though nice to hear G-Dragon go solo, with collaborations with Jin Jung, Dara and CL from 2NE1, vocal legend 김건모 (Kim Gun Mo), 빅뱅 buddy 태양 (Taeyang), Teddy of 1TYM fame, and KUSH.

    Fingers crossed that the next time he releases something, it’ll be something a little more refreshing and different.

    I’m in love again (with fusion group Clazziquai)

    Clazziquai (클래지콰이) are a fusion group, blending together aspects of acid jazz, electronic, house and groove to create something very unique and very catchy. They have the sort of sound that’s very easy to love or hate, but whether you love it or hate it or are feeling pretty neutral about it it is still quite a breath of fresh air when compared to all the standard pop/dance/R&B styles floating around.

    I find that Clazziquai is pretty good “chill out music”. It’s the sort of stuff you can have on in the background while you’re doing other things, and it won’t be in your face and distracting you. That’s not to say it’ll put you to sleep - it won’t, because it’s definitely very upbeat music.

    Clazziquai was formed by DJ Clazzi, who was then joined by Korean-Canadian brother/sister vocal team Alex and Christina. Christina was soon unable to participate fully in Clazziquai as she was working in Canada, at which point 호란 (Horan) took over her place.

    Clazziquai’s first releases were in the form of three digital mini-albums, followed by their first album Instant Pig in 2004. Over the past five years they have released several Korean albums and remix albums, as well as some Japanese releases.

    One of my favourite songs of theirs is Flea, and the MV for it is one that I find very, very cool. It’s weird and kind of creepy, and I absolutely love it:

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    More recently, they released their latest album MUCHO PUNK last month. The main single from MUCHO PUNK is the song Love Again. I really enjoyed this song. Check out the MV:

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    And here’s Clazziquai grooving to it live.

    Pop-rock FTIsland have Hope & Brown Eyed Girls say Abracadabra

    I mentioned pop-rock group FT 아일랜드 (FT Island) back in January (check out that post if you want to know a little bit more about them!), when it was announced that guitarist 원빈 (Wonbin) was leaving them and that his spot would be filled by 승현 (Seunghyun). I was curious to see how things would go with the new member, as well as being quite sad, since I’d followed FT Island since they were preparing to debut and 원빈 had always been there. It was definitely going to be a change.

    But it’s turned out to be a change that I really, really like. 승현 fits in with the rest of the group really well, and he even looks like he belongs there.

    The change also didn’t see FT Island’s music changing in any ways that it wasn’t already - I feel that it has matured, and shifted focus slightly, but I think that was something that was going to happen regardless of what the line-up was.

    The group have recently released their third album, Cross & Change. It is by far my favourite of any of their releases, and I think they are going to have something really great going on if they continue in this direction. The sound is a little more mature than their previous albums, while still keeping their trademark style.

    The first single from Cross & Change is the upbeat 바래 (Barae).

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    It is everything that FT Island are - fun, colourful and feel-good.

    브라운 아이드 걸스 (Brown Eyed Girls) also released something new recently. They’re a four member girl group, consisting of 제아 (Jea), 나르샤 (Narsha), 미료 (Miryo) and 가인 (Ga-in). They debuted in 2006 with their first album Your Story, and have just released their third album Sound G. With the new release also comes a rather radical change in their image, aimed at making them seem more outgoing - probably to give them a better shot at grabbing attention, since they will be up against plenty of competition from girl groups like 2NE1, 4minute, 소녀시대 (Girls Generation), and 카라 (Kara).

    Abracadabra is the first single off Sound G:

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    What do you think? I think it’s kind of catchy but nothing too special. I do like the MV though.

    But I think this song is quite far away from the style that they originally started with. When they debuted, they had a soulful R&B type of sound, with the usual pop and hip hop infleunces to it. Now it’s electronic pop. Changing your style to better fit the current trends is simply what needs to be done if you’re a pop group and trying to survive - but I’ve always been of the opinion that the trick is to never completely let go of your own style, to find ways to make the current trends fit your style in a way that you are still instantly recognisable amongst everyone else. I’m not so sure that they’ve successfully done that, but then again I am not a Brown Eyed Girls fan so maybe I’m wrong!

    SNSD’s Genie & Big Bang’s GARA GARA GO!!

    Nine member SM Entertainment girl group 소녀시대 (So Nyeo Shi Dae, or Girls’ Generation) released a new MV recently. You might remember the ‘Gee Virus’ they spread at the beginning of the year, with their super catchy song Gee. Even if you didn’t like the song much, you probably had “gee gee gee gee baby baby baby~” stuck in your head for a while. (Did you live under a rock and never hear the song? Now’s your chance!)

    I definitely don’t think that they’ve necessarily done it again with 소원을 말해봐 (Genie), but the song is still cute, catchy, and I really enjoy it (and I love the outfits! Rawr~):

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    The original album cover caused a bit of a stir, because netizens have hawk-like eyes (and maybe not much of a life). This is the original cover. Apparently that’s a Japanese fighter plane. Oops. It caused such a stir amongst netizens that SM Entertainment actually delayed the release, so that they could make a new cover.

    What do you think? Too much fuss over something silly? Or was SM Entertainment careless in the first place, by allowing such a thing to be used? Or did they do it on purpose to get more eyes on them?

    Wearing a bit more clothes (sadly), is 빅뱅 (Big Bang), YG Entertainment’s 5 member hiphop/dance/pop boyband. For the uninitiated, Big Bang’s music is a fun concoction of pop, dance, hiphop and electronica, and they’ve enjoyed huge popularity with hits like 거짓말 (Lie), 마지막 인사 (Last Farewell) and 하루 하루 (Haru Haru), and have a successful career in Japan as well as in Korea.

    The members of Big Bang also dabble in their own things. G-Dragon is known for his slightly odd fashion taste and word has it that he’ll release a solo album this year, TOP is co-starring in the upcoming action drama IRIS, 대성 (Daesung) released an adorable trot song, 승리 (Seungri) had a taste of solo success with his song Strong Baby, and 태양 (Taeyang) released a very well received mini-album last summer (does anyone remember 나만 바라봐?).

    Big Bang are releasing their 2nd Japanese single at the moment, so here’s the MV from their latest Japanese song, ガラガラ GO!! (GARA GARA GO!!):

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    Is it the best song in the world? No. But like a friend of mine said, “It resembles everything I love about Big Bang: shamelessly upbeat and youthful, blazingly bright colors, and a hint of 90s pop.”

    New MVs from rocker Moon Hee Jun & R&B artist M

    Two excellent MVs and songs have been released since I last posted. The first is the latest from rocker 문희준. 문희준 used to be in an SM Entertainment boyband called H.O.T. Although they didn’t last as long as labelmates 신화 and Fly To The Sky, they are considered one of the most well-known and influential Korean boybands of the time. After H.O.T split ways, the members enjoyed themselves some solo careers.

    Personally, while I love me some old school k-pop, I hated probably all but two or three of their songs. I much prefer the member’s solo works. Their solo stuff ranges from ballads to hiphop to R&B, with 문희준 doing something a little different - rock.

    His stuff is a bit hit and miss with me. Some of it’s incredibly cool, some of it’s boring, but I have only good things to say about his latest mini-album, Last Cry. It’s great. It’s better than great. The main single off Last Cry is Toy, and it’s really so good. Check it out:

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    The other MV and song is from M (or 이민우)’s latest mini-album MINNOVATION. Unless I’m mistaken, this is M’s last release before he enlists to do his military service - and he made sure he went all out with this one. The thing I love about M is that he’s never afraid to experiment. He really mixed things up with his fourth album M RIZING, playing with a lot of different styles, and although I was a little iffy about the final outcome one thing was for sure: whether it was good, or whether it was bad, it dripped of something that we call ‘The “M” Style’. M made it his own. He’s done the same with MINNOVATION (the mini-album as well as the title track). He’s taken the popular electronica influenced dance style that’s hot at the moment, and made it his own. He’s set himself apart from everyone else who’s doing the same style. That’s what I love about him, his ability to do that, to actually use a style, rather than just copy it.

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    I love the song and I love love love the MV. It’s so fun!

    SS501 - a boyband’s comeback

    SS501 (pronounced as Double S five oh one, or Double S 오공일), are one of the boybands that I think are pretty underated. Signed under DSP Entertainment (A’ST1, Kara, and previously 이효리), this five member boyband has been around since 2005. I’ve often wondered if perhaps the lack of the spotlight has been due in part to the fact that they debuted in the same year as Super Junior, who kind of sucked up all the fangirls into this big black hole and didn’t let them back out for a long time.

    Consisting of 현중 (who played the role of 지후 in 꽃보다 남자 or Boys Over Flowers), 규종, 영생, 정민 and 형준, SS501 have had a fair amount of success in Japan as well as in Korea. Recently they’ve been getting more attention than usual, because of 현중’s participation in 꽃보다 남자.

    They’re set to make their comeback later this month with a 20 minute MV music drama, which comes in five parts - each part being a member’s solo. I really like the way they’re doing this, because it gives each member the chance to show what they can do on their own. So far three of five teasers have been released. I’m not too fussed about 규종’s Wuzz Up, but 형준’s Hey G sounds alright and he’s looking pretty fine.

    So far my favourite of the teasers would have to be 현중’s 잘해줘 제발:

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    I am really liking what I can hear of that song.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what 영생 and 정민 will come out with, and I’m definitely looking forward to hearing 정민 for an entire song, he’s got a lovely voice.

    But these teasers don’t do much to show who and what SS501 are. So, I bring you some good ol’ MVs.

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    Unlock is one of my favourites, and if they made music like this all the time, I’d be a pretty happy person. But they mix it up with cute tracks like 겁쟁이, and things like 4chance.

    Over the past several months though, I personally think that they’ve been bringing it better, hotter, and catchier than they have in the past.

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    널 부르는 노래 might not have matched 소녀시대’s Gee virus, but I think it’s a super fun and catchy song.

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    And despite only featuring three of them (현중 was doing 꽃보다 남자 and 정민 was playing Danny for the musical Grease), U R Man is one of my favourite SS501 songs.

    I’m hoping that they stick more to this smoother, sexier image, and I’m glad that although they might not have enjoyed quite as much as success and spotlight as some of the other boybands, that they’ve stuck around anyway and are still going strong.