11 Surprisingly Common Misconceptions New Fans Have About K-Pop

Wait. What do you mean MAMAMOO and SONAMOO aren’t sister groups?

1. Believing that fan chants are created by fans

Wait, what? That’s right, fan chants are not chants created by fans but rather chants K-Pop companies create for fans. Many idol groups, like TWICE, even release “cheer guides” like this one that help fans learn the chants.

2. Thinking that a group with more than one name is actually multiple groups

New fans may not realize that DBSK, Tohoshinki, and TVXQ! are the same group.

The same goes for SNSD and Girls’ Generation

WJSN and Cosmic Girls.

3. Assuming idols are as wealthy as western singers/rappers

Although there are some very wealthy idols in the industry, particularly senior idols, it can take years for many idols to earn a decent living. This is partly because the Korean entertainment industry is, in general, less wealthy than the US entertainment industry, but also due K-Pop’s “break even” system. In many (but not all) companies, idols must earn back all of the money their company invested in them for training, food, accommodations, etc, before they can start making money. Repaying this debt can be difficult and often takes years.

4. Thinking you know how to pronounce a group’s name only to find out you were wrong

Group names aren’t always pronounced the way they’re spelled, so you might not have guessed that EXID is pronounced like an acronym, “E-X-I-D”, or that CNU is pronounced “shinwoo” not “C-N-U”.

5. Thinking groups are related because of their similar sounding names

Surprise! MAMAMOO and SONAMOO are not sister groups!

Even the words their names are based on aren’t related. MAMAMOO refers to the sound babies make, while “SONAMOO” means “pine tree” in Korean.

6. Not realizing that your favorite variety show hosts are actually idols too

If you are introduced to hilarious MCs like Heechul (Super Junior), Lee Seung Gi, and Hani (EXID), it may take you a while to figure out that they are famous K-Pop artists in their own right.

7. Not knowing that the “Big 3” companies are named after people

SM EntertainmentYG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment are all named after their founders, Lee Soo ManYang Hyun Suk, and Park Jin Young.

8. Not realizing that the “Big 3” founders are famous singers too

Lee Soo Man debuted as a singer in 1972 and released songs such as “Happiness” and “One Piece of Dream”.

Yang Hyun Suk sang and rapped as a member of Seo Taiji & Boys, one of K-Pop’s biggest boy groups in the 1990s.

Park Jin Young debuted as a solo singer in 1994 with the song “Don’t Leave Me”.

9. Getting confused about fandom names

Did you know that SHINee‘s fandom name “Shawol” is short for “SHINee World”? Not everyone does!

10. Misunderstanding the meaning of “comeback”

No, “comeback” does not mean that a formerly disbanded group had gotten back together, although that would be epic. In western pop music, the word “comeback” is usually used when a singer has been gone for an extended amount of time, but in K-Pop every new release is referred to as a comeback.

11. Not realizing this HyunA is that HyunA too

Many new fans know HyunA as either a soloist or a Triple H members, but she is also the same HyunA from 4MinuteWonder Girls, and TroubleMaker!

Common Misconceptions & Stereotypes