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[Star Encyclopedia 2.0] Shinhwa Rewrites Idol History Every Day

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2012.07.08 18:02 Mwave Park, HyunMin Translation Credit : Erika Kim

Who dare say idols can only last an average of four to five years in front of this group? Shinhwa, the longest-running idol group in K-Pop, has been dancing, singing and showing off its wit to explosive popularity for a whopping 14 years running without even one member replacement. The members’ ages average at 33.3, and all six have cleared up their military duties with the last member Lee Min Woo released from his in early 2012.

[Star Encyclopedia 2.0] Shinhwa Rewrites Idol History Every Day

The group debuted in 1998 under the SM label with its first studio album The Solver, and went on to become a legend in idol history with its one summer album, four winter albums, a best compilation album and 10 full-length albums including its most recent 10th album The Return. People say that ‘the strong don’t always last long; it’s the ones that last long that are the strongest,’ and this group proves it to be true. Enews took a look at how Shinhwa became the last group standing after surviving the fierce competition from the past and the present.

The origin of all idols

These days, idols are given titles such as ′beast-dols′, ′variety-dols′ and ′acting-dols′. If you look back, however, you can probably see that all of those titles have their roots in Shinhwa. These men were the first to burst out with their wild dances and shining six-packs, and pour out their variety skills on TV with no attempts to salvage their image.

Their real charms shone even brighter after their most recent comeback, when they had to compete with their junior idols. When asked about who was the better beast-dol between 2PM and Shinhwa, member Kim Dong Wan joked wisely, "2PM is the beast-dol. Their image is a mix of beasts and idols. We′re just beasts."

Shinhwa draws its charms from a brand of honesty that′s rarely found in idols, and a tendency to go all the way when the members start something. When they act, they′re not ′idol actors′, they′re just actors, when they′re in variety, they′re TV personalities and when bringing up juniors as producers, they pour all their abilities into producing. Thanks to this, all six members have individually garnered fairly impressive successes as solo singers, actors and producers.

[Star Encyclopedia 2.0] Shinhwa Rewrites Idol History Every Day

The ideal for all idols

Girls′ Generation′s (SNSD) Yoona once voiced her respect for Shinhwa, saying, "Like Shinhwa, I hope SNSD will stay together even if the members go from girls to ajummas (middle-aged women)," and 2AM said after receiving a no. 1 trophy on a music program, "We′ll become a group that is loved for a long time with a strong friendship, just like Shinhwa sunbaenims."

Junior idols can often be seen using the words "like Shinhwa" on TV and in interviews, as if it were a saying. Shinhwa is chosen by the most junior idol groups to be their no. 1 role model. Unlike other 1st generation idols like H.O.T. or Sechs Kies, which faded away into history after it became unable to continue their legacy, Shinhwa still stands onstage with other junior groups, competes with them and continues its story as a ′living legend′.

In the recent K-Pop scene, where idol groups are a dime a dozen, it′s hard to even be remembered by the public within a year or two after getting through the big competition. Shinhwa, however, still mingles with the top 14 years in a row and also manages to be successful in its members′ individual ventures, making the group truly worthy of being a destination for its juniors.

[Star Encyclopedia 2.0] Shinhwa Rewrites Idol History Every Day

Shinhwa′s still running

It is, of course, hard to become an idol group that′s lasted 14 years in the business, but that′s not the only merit Shinhwa can boast. It has shared a line of much beloved hits and karaoke favorites, starting with its debut single The Solver and continuing on into T.O.P., Yo!, Only One, Hey, Come On!, Perfect Man, Brand New, I Pray 4 U, its most recent 10th album single cut Venus and more.

The members and the group all won awards on music shows, year-end ceremonies and even from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and reached out to other areas such as fashion, acting and modeling to break records. The group and members are also hallyu stars who have performed across Asia in countries such as Japan, China and Singapore.

The real ′legend′, however, starts now. All of the members have shown a strong brand of friendship and a sense of great responsibility in protecting their group even while signed with different individual agencies. They also continue to answer questions asking them where′re they think they′ll be 10 years from now that they know they′ll "be a member of Shinhwa." This is what′s helped the group continue to write new history, stepping outside of its throne of the past and charging forward toward a new one.

Photo credit: Kim Byung Kwan, Hea Jung Min, Shinhwa Company

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