Meet the First Generation K-Pop Idol Groups From the ’90s Era

seo taiji and boys

Learn more about First Generation K-Pop Idol Groups

Who knows K-Pop has been around us from the ’90s. The picture you see above is Seo Taiji and Boys. As the first K-Pop group ever, they are considered as the pioneers of the K-Pop industry. The following years, a lot of K-Pop groups started to appear. Their music and style are not that different from the ones we saw in the days of the past. Here is a list of idols from the ’90s that you have to check out. Stay tuned and scroll down!

Idol Groups That Debuted In 1992

seo taiji and boys

If you don’t know the man on the right, then you are still new to this genre. From left to right, they are Lee Juno, Seo Taiji, and Yang Hyun-suk. In 1992, Seo Taiji and Boys debuted with the release of their first song titled “Nan Arayo” (난 알아요, “I Know”). The group was formed after the breaking up of the South Korean Heavy metal band called Sinawe in 1991. Seo Taiji as the main vocalist with his dancers and backing vocalists, Lee Juno and Yang Hyun-suk.

Seo Taiji and Boys introduced the new generation of music in South Korea by mixing rap with some elements of western music. They didn’t intend to make it as a group, but they quickly became famous album after album.

After the members’ sudden retirement in 1996, they all went their separate ways. Seo Taiji went to the United States, while Lee Juno and Yang Hyun-suk established record labels. The news of their disbandment left fans shocked and sad. Later, Seo Taiji and Boys made a compilation album titled Goodbye Best Album in hope of catering their fans. Now, Seo Taiji is a successful solo artist, also a songwriter, and a record producer. While, Lee Juno, the dancing expert, is a lecturer at one of the South Korean universities. Lastly, Yang Hyun-suk is the founder of YG entertainment, where talented K-Pop groups like Blackpink and Big Bang were formed.

Idol Groups That Debuted In 1993


Before debuting as members of a K-Pop group, Lee Hyun-do and Kim Sung-jae were back-up dancers for the Korean rapper Hyun Jin-young. Their first album was titled Deux and the song “Turn Around and Look at Me” became a big hit. The group disbanded in 1995 in order for the members to pursue their solo careers. Unfortunately, Kim Sung-jae was found dead in his apartment after his solo debut, as a result of a drug overdose.

Idol Groups That Debuted In 1994

dj doc

In 1994, there were four K-Pop groups that debuted one after another. They are Cool, DJ DOC (picture above), Roo’ra, and Two Two. These groups’ genre is mostly hip-hop music. The good news is two of them are still active. Roo’ra disbanded in 2001 and DJ DOC is on hiatus as a result of the members’ pursuit of a solo career.

Idol Groups That Debuted In 1995


In the next year, there were two K-Pop groups that debuted; they are R.ef and Turbo. The picture above shows members of Turbo. Yes, you are right, Kim Jong-kook of the show Running Man (in the middle) is a member of this group. The other members are Kim Jung-nam (left) and Mikey (right). Turbo’s first album titled 280 km/h speed was released in 1995.

At that time, Turbo was competing against Deux. Following the death of a member of Deux, Turbo quickly raised to the top of the charts. Unfortunately, their fame only lasted for a year. The duo broke up due to problems with management. Mikey joined two years after Kim Jung-nam left. He was a fan of Seo Taiji and Boys for a long time and after that, he decided to enter the audition for Turbo.

R.ef established in early 1995 with their first album Rave Effect, released in March. After some time, R.ef decided to change their music genre from rave music to hip-hop music and changed their name to REF (Ruff Eazy Flava). The group disbanded in 1999, but then they released a single in 2004 titled “Love is Hard.”

Turbo and R.ef have won many awards ever since their debut. Although they might not be popular now, they inspire the next generation of K-Pop.

Idol Groups That Debuted In 1996


As the years go by, K-Pop groups keep competing against each other. The most popular band that debuted in 1996 is H.O.T., followed by the not so popular Uptown and Goofy. Unfortunately, little is known for Goofy except that they released the single titled 옛날 노래의 역습 (Old Song). You should check it out, the song is pretty fun to hear. While Uptown, originally had four members, they were Chris Jung, Carlos Ricardo Galvan, Steve Kim, and Tasha Reid. Sadly, they disbanded due to drug-related problems, leaving Tasha alone and pursuing a solo career.

By the time Uptown made a comeback in 2006, they did not include Tasha in it, instead, Jessica H.O joined. In 2009, Chris Jung, as the only original member, made a comeback with three new members: Maniac, Snacky Chan, and Swings.

Back to H.O.T., the group was made by polling in high school targeting students preference on what a boy band should look like. It turned out great, SM Entertainment made the right choice and H.O.T. won many awards throughout their career.

Idol Groups That Debuted In 1997


There are seven idol groups that debuted in 1997; one of them is the rock/glam band called Eve (picture above). They are still active until today, though the members are leaving one by one due to different musical preferences.

The other groups are typical duo or trio K-Pop groups. They are Baby Vox, Diva, Jinusean, NRG, S.E.S, and Sechs Kies. Only Jinusean rap duo, Sechs Kies, and NRG are still active until today. Most of the groups disbanded between 2005-2006, though the groups that are still active changed their member several times. Each of them has their own uniqueness and are deemed as the pioneers of something.

Idol Groups That Debuted In 1998


In the year 1997, there were six idol groups that made a debut. It seems that every year, there are more and more idol groups. This makes the competition among the groups get more difficult and soon, one by one, the groups will disband due to the tight competition.

4Men, Fin.K.L, Koyote, Sharp, Shinhwa, 1TYM are the groups that debuted in 1998. Only 4Men, Koyote, and Shinhwa are still active until the present day, while 1TYM is on hiatus. Fin.K.L is not officially disbanded yet, but they have become inactive after signing a contract with another company. For Sharp, it is really unfortunate for them. They disbanded because of their inability to work together, also their bad attitude towards one of the members a.k.a bullying.

 Idol Groups That Debuted In 1999

fly to the sky

In the final year of the first generation, there were seven idol groups that debuted. They are As One, Chakra, Cleo, Click-B, Fly to the Sky, g.o.d, and T.T.Ma. These groups are as talented as the older groups but unfortunately, some of them have already disbanded or are inactive. Their disbandment is either due to change in members or management, financial difficulties (Chakra), and so on. It is very unfortunate as they are really talented but could not compete with other groups.

Idol Groups Who Are Still Active Until Now


There are lots of groups that are still active until now. They are DJ DOC, Cool, Turbo, H.O.T, Goofy, Eve, Jinusean, NRG, Sechs Kies, 4Men, Shinhwa, Koyote, Fly to the Sky, and g.o.d. Most of them either have a side job as an actress or actor, a TV presenter, even they have some reuniting concert on television. Let’s look forward to the new works of these first-generation groups.