Difference Between K-Pop Generations Through the Years: Which One is Your Favorite?

Popular Style From Each Generation

1st generation

In the first generation, we can highlight groups like Sechs Kies, H.O.T, Shinwa, S.E.S as samples for the style that K-Pop used to be hyped about back then. According to the outfits they wore, there are several types of fashion styles: old school, informal, formal, and uniform. As we can see in their music videos, it’s not rare to see them wearing wide clothes including jeans and jackets, plus they tend to wear hats and caps more often than now.

The informal kind of style is almost similar to old school, but maybe more fashionable with the touch of leather jackets or with fit-sized clothes instead of wide clothes. This kind of style was somehow similar to the Backstreet Boys.

The other type of fashion is “formal” fashion. This was basically a different type of fashion consisting of suits in darker themes. There were also groups like G.O.D that went with black suits and also high school uniforms. In this era, the hairstyles weren’t much. It went with brown, blonde, and mostly stayed in the black.


2nd generation

The second generation did make a change in a lot of aspects including fashion and hairstyle. In this generation, we got Big Bang, U-KISS, SHINee, 2NE1, and many more. This is the moment when groups started to try different concepts for every comeback. In this generation, we still have groups like Super Junior and SHINee that follows the “formal” fashion from the 90s.

The hip-hop fashion started banging when Big Bang finally made its appearance. They probably were inspired by the US. They wore bandanas, chains, sleeveless dark clothes, and sometimes with different colors. We can see the evolution of the K-Pop fashion as Big Bang experimented with their style from time to time.

For girl groups, we can highlight Girls’ Generation and 2NE1 with their different concepts. They started their careers with all of them wearing the same clothes changing only a color. On the other side, 2NE1 took a braver and more eccentric style, similar to Big Bang.


3rd Generation

Brought by the second generation with multiple experiments in fashion and style, the 3rd generation can be considered as the best sense of style, thanks to the previous generations. In this generation, there is a mix of a lot of various styles but we can see that their concept of style of the particular group is organized well to match the theme of the song they are bringing. We can still see some hip-hop styles such as GOT7, BTS, etc., but we are still not losing all those formal, informal, yet uniform styles. What makes it better in this generation is that the hairstyles have reached perfection. You can see idols in different hair colors but they still manage to look casual.

Another good thing about this generation, as we’ve been seeing in many MVs from this latest generation, is the aesthetic touch.

Popular Actors from Each Generation


1st Generation

1. Lee Byung-hun in Beautiful Days (2001)

Byun-hun is one of the veteran South Korean actors known for his role in the dramas Beautiful Days, Happy Together, Iris, and many more. All of the dramas were marked with high viewership ratings. He also made his comeback in the drama titled Mr. Sunshine that was airing in 2018.


2. Song Seung-hun, Cha Tae-hyun, Kim Ha-neul, Jeon Ji-hyun in Happy Together (1999)

This six-disc series is such a tearjerker and a heartwarming family series. Most of the actors from the series have been top movie stars and popular celebrities in the early 2000s.


3. Bae Yong-joon in Winter Sonata (2002)

In the late first-generation K-Pop, the first episode of the KBS TV drama series Winter Sonata went on air. The sob-fest love story had been regarded as just another popular TV series in Korea. Thanks to its enormous popularity, its main actor, Bae Yong-joon rose to heartthrob status in East Asia, while its filming location, Nami Island in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, has welcomed more than one million visitors in the last decade.


2nd Generation

1. Lee Seung Gi in My Girlfriend is Gumiho (2010)

In this drama, together with Shin Min Ah, Lee Seung-gi became a man who dates a fox demon. The storyline of the drama isn’t only interesting, but also there are various comedy scenes that make it more enjoyable to watch. The chemistry between the two main characters was way too attached to each other, so when it came to the romantic scenes, they looked so natural that we could drown with the plot.


2. Lee Min-i in Dalja’s Spring

He started his popularity in the dramas Love Truly with Eugene, and Dalja’s Spring with Chae-rim, as his onscreen partners respectively. His handsome and strong charisma gives us this different charm making the audience unable to stop watching through all the episodes of the drama. Through the journey, he became more focused on doing movies, and he did make a dramatic comeback with the drama titled Because This Is My First Life together with actress Jung So Min.


3. Lee Min Ho in Boys Over Flowers (2009)

Lee Min-ho is definitely one of the most popular actors in Korea. He has starred in many dramas and movies including the drama Boys Over Flowers that has gone worldwide. He portrayed the lead character in the famous drama as Goo Jun-pyo, and he started to be known.


3rd generation

  1. Gong Yoo and Lee Dong Wook in Goblin

The world acknowledged the Ahjussi Duo in the drama Goblin that succeeded in stealing the hearts of many. The ageless Ahjussi has actually started on the track as one of the popular South Korean actors since the early 2000s. He became one of the main cast members in the early installments of the School series, then he gained more popularity when he portrayed the handsome barista in the hit gender-bender drama Coffee Prince together with Yoon Eun-hye. The movie Train to Busan also became a hit with his great performance along Goblin.

Lee Dong-wook himself used to be a male lead with a handsome face. His drama My Girl with Lee Da-hae became a hit in South Korea and in the Philippines. His awesome looks never failed to swoon the eyes and hearts of the viewers as he portrayed the Grim Reaper in one of the highest-rated cable dramas, Goblin.


2. Park Bo-gum in Reply 1988 (2016)

Park Bo-gum is known not only because of his good looks but also his acting skills and super friendly personality. He has starred in many drama series and films. One of the famous dramas in this late generation that he starred in is Reply 1988 which aired on the Korean tv cable TvN. In the drama, he played the role of Taek, a Korean baduk athlete. Although in the plot, Taek is a famous athlete and has many achievements, but he tends to be quiet. Different from the other characters, his friends in the drama, Taek doesn’t go to school and spends his time practicing baduk or just hanging out with his friends in his room. The storyline of the drama itself is quite interesting. It tells us a simple yet memorable story of friendships between 5 teenagers who live in one neighborhood.


3. Park Shin-hye and Lee Jong-suk in Pinocchio (2014)

Pinocchio is a fantasy drama that tells the story of a girl who suffers from a Pinocchio Syndrome that cannot be healed. Another thing that attracts audiences to this drama is that Lee Jong-suk also gives his best for his role as the main male character. The first two episodes of the drama are quite exciting. Along with Lee Jong-suk, Park Shin-hye was previously familiar with the role of a high school student also performed well in her character. A disease called Pinocchio Syndrome is the key to the drama that aired every Wednesday and Thursday on SBS. It’s quite unique, where the sufferer will experience hiccups if they lie. This is what made the drama become very popular, alongside the actors who starred in the drama.