Regardless of some fan’s feelings about a move like this, it was commercially successful for some as TWICE made their first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 with ‘The Feels’, while BTS broke chart records with ‘Butter’ and groups collaborating with top stars like Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Lauv, Megan Thee Stallion and David Guetta. This year BTS also made their return to the UN and delivered their third speech in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. The group also performed “Permission to Dance” in the UN Grand Assembly Hall which was a really proud moment for Koreans and fans across the world.
After almost two years of quarantine and lockdowns, K-pop idols were again able to perform in front of millions instead of a blank stadium only full of cameras. Two groups from the fourth generation of K-pop were able to achieve million-seller status this year which was really rare before. Enhypen sold 1,139,099 copies of their album 'Dimension: Dilemma' within a month while Stray Kids also achieved the same with their album, 'NOEASY,' selling 1.1 million copies in a week after its release.
Not only that, in September CL of 2NE1 and Rose of BLACKPINK both attended the Met Gala. Recently, the variety show ‘Street Woman Fighter’s "Hey Mama" choreography became a K-pop trend too. Now you know why K-pop is a global phenomenon, right?
Every year in South Korea an average of 300 idol groups prepares to debut when only about 50 can actually debut but generally only 1-2 groups get seriously recognised since their first year of debut. This year too many trainees were preparing debuts but only a few could actually debut. In those groups only PURPLE KISS, LIGHTSUM, MIRAE, JUST B, OMEGA X, EPEX, and KINGDOM could get enough recognition while IVE became the most famous among them with 51 million views in their debut song within 4 weeks.
Not only group debuts but this year's solo debuts were much successful too. GOT7 members Jinyoung, Yugyeom, Youngjae, BamBam, and JayB all debuted as solo artists while BLACKPINK members Lisa (Lalisa and Money) and Rose (On the Ground and Gone) also debuted solo. Kwon Eun-bi’s Door, Jo Yu-ri’s Glassy, and Do Han Se's Take Over also got really famous after their debut.
This year, all eyes were on BRAVE GIRLS, a female idol group who weren’t that famous for 10 years and was going to think about disbanding. And then suddenly their 2017 single ‘Rollin’ suddenly went viral, thanks to a fan-made video that collated the group’s performances of the track at various military barracks across South Korea. Not every group gets a chance like this one just like the rookie group SOLIA, which disbanded just five days after debuting.
Trainees give their all just to debut but only debuting doesn’t give them all the fame. That’s why they disband mostly after 5 to 7 years which shows how harsh and fickle the music business can be. We lost really talented groups like GFriend, IZ*ONE, and HOTSHOT in 2021 too. Among them, some are going to try to debut as a solo artistes or in a group or find their way in acting. Other artists, like GOT7 and MAMAMOO’s Wheein, left their labels behind for fresh pastures but still promised to remain with their respective groups, as well as explore alternative and individual creative paths.
In terms of Korean dramas, 2021 has been a wild ride. It brought us all a whirlwind of emotions. From rom-com to horror the K-drama world gifted us with all. Between the well-loved romance dramas like Nevertheless, the intense action-packed dramas like Vincenzo, and the gruesome dramas like Squid Game, K-dramas of this year was enough to keep you occupied.
Each drama brought more and more attention as the year progressed, and some have broken records that no other K-dramas have before. The most famous K-dramas of this year includes Mouse, Move to Heaven, Kingdom: Ashin of the north, D.P, Hometown Cha Cha Cha, My name, Happiness, Hellbound, Bad and Crazy, The silent Sea, Mr. Queen, Law School and many more.
Original sound tracks
K-drama original sound tracks or OSTs are one of the best parts of K-dramas. They are catchy, some are underrated and highlights the emotion moments in the drama. They represent the character’s emotions in the dramas, whether its happiness, sadness, romance, thrilling and action moments in the drama. Without OSTs dramas become boring as you need some songs that compliments the emotions and sequence of the drama.
Therefore, no K-dramas can be made without OSTs. This year K-dramas have given us beautiful and catchy OSTs like “Breaking Down” by Ailee, “Yours” by BTS’s Jin, “Starlight” by SF9’s Chani, “Tempest” by Huckleberry Finn, “Timeless” by BIBI, “Adrenaline” by MAMAMOO’s Solar, “My Name” by Hwang Sang Jun and the award winning “I Like You” by Jo Jung Suk.
With the global success of films like Parasite and Train to Busan, it’s no wonder why more and more audiences are interested in South Korean films too. From mystery thrillers like ‘Recalled’ to sci-fi action movies such as ‘Space Sweepers’, you'll find plenty of amazing Korean films of 2021 to put on your watch list. The best of the best includes; “Midnight”, “Sinkhole”, “Night in Paradise”, “Shark: The Beginning”, “The Book of Fish”, “Sweet & Sour”, “The 8th Night” and “Seobok”. Make sure to find your favorite one.
The Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) is a major yearly music awards ceremony presented by the entertainment company CJ E&M. Among every award in K-pop, MAMA is considered the most famous one. On December 11, this year the 2021 MAMA was held at CJ ENM’s Contents World in Paju City, Gyeonggi Province. BTS swept all four Daesangs (Grand Prizes) for the third year in a row: Song of the Year (“Butter”), Album of the Year (“BE”), Artist of the Year, and Worldwide Icon of the Year. In total, BTS took home nine trophies at 2021 MAMA. Other groups like Aespa, SEVENTEEN, STRAY KIDS, and ENHYPEN won Best New Artist as well as Worldwide Fans’ Choice Top 10. BTS also became the first Asian artist to win Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards also with winning Favorite Pop Song and Favorite Pop Duo/Group.
The 57th Baeksang award was held on 13 May this year where the drama “Beyond Evil” won the grand prize. The Seoul Drama Awards is also a yearly international drama festival that celebrates dramas from around the world. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, this year’s ceremony was held on October 21 at MBC’s Public Hall, without an audience, and without face-to-face contact. The entire event was live-streamed through YouTube. This year’s Grand Prize went to JTBC’s “Missing Child” by director Jo Yong Won, who also won Best Director, while the drama’s main actor Park Hyuk Kwon won Best Actor.
“Vincenzo” took home the Excellent Korean Drama award, with Song Joong Ki taking an award for his acting in the drama. And lastly on December 15, the Metro Best K-Drama Awards 2021 Special honored the dramas that have dominated our screens and captured our hearts for the entire year: Vincenzo, Squid Game, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, Start-Up, The Penthouse: War in Life, and more.
As we step into 2022, let’s hope the K-entertainment will grow more and more in the future to entertain us and keep us happy in good times and even when the going gets tough.
* Rumaiysa M Rahman is a 10th grader at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, Dhaka