I’ve gotten multiple questions on the topic of idols transitioning into respected celebrities, so I thought it would be worth addressing in Ask Asian Junkie.
Do you think it’s possible for a K-pop group to outgrow their idol image, like with Justin Timberlake, while simultaneously having their fanbase change as well?
Basically, this is a question about whether or not idols can ever reinvent themselves, and I don’t see why not.
In fact, I would say that current Korean idols are more likely to be proficient at transitioning than past Korean idols because: 1) they have bigger, more diverse, more dedicated fan bases 2) their personas and roles have become increasingly artificial 3) there’s a blueprint.
1) Idols today have much larger, more diverse, and more dedicated fan bases, and this inevitably will help the transition immensely. It’s natural for idols to lose fans as they go through career changes, but the more hardcore fans there are, the greater the chance that they remain relevant. Should the idol transition successfully due to having the requisite skills, they should then be able to add a different group of fans to supplement their loyalists from the idol days.
2) Idols have become increasingly artificial. By this I mean that their public and stage personas have become more and more coached. By most accounts, none of the idols have more or less swag than the other, nor are they actually any more independent or dependent. Rather, they are all relatively the same type of people in real life, but they come off extremely different because they are trained to do so by their companies in order to fit certain roles in groups or concepts. As such, I fail to see why they couldn’t transition their entire persona, especially when some groups switch up their concepts and personas with every comeback. Current idols have become increasingly adept at this part of being a celebrity.
3) Hyori is basically the blueprint for idols who want a celebrity career after their idol days are over, not so much because of her immense talent, but because she’s more popular now than she was before. She went from being a talentless but gorgeous member of Fin.K.L to a talentless solo star, sex symbol, animal rights activist, and host. I see many more idols in today’s K-pop world with star quality potential than I did in the previous generation, so I expect a good amount of them to transition into soloists or actors/actresses or hosts in the future.
As far as the groups themselves, whether they stay together or not depends more on their companies than the members. However, if the company sticks with them, then all of the reasons I just gave apply to a group as well.
I have nothing better to do, so send me your questions here: Ask Asian Junkie.