On 11th of September 2015, UP10TION, the new 10-member South Korean idol group under TOP Media (the record label known for hosting now legendary idol groups Teen Top and 100%), debuted with their fantastically choreographed and theatrical pop dance track So, Dangerous. The logic behind their name is 10 members, who will cheer you up with their performances, and keep your tension high!
TOP Media has marketed UP10TION as their first Chinese-Korean boy band, following the 2015 trend of recently debuted bands like JJCC and SEVENTEEN, in the aim to widen their audience and create a bigger impact on the wider Asian music market.
They first appeared on a parody of MBC’s King of Mask Singer by NAVER TV named ‘Masked Rookie King’ on 20th July 2015, and their own TV broadcast ‘RISING! UP10TION’. TOP Media gradually introduced the 10 members of UP10TION to the public. They finally released their first EP ‘Top Secret’ (일급비밀, Ilgubbimil) globally on 11th September 2015, and soon after, released their second EP ‘Bravo’ on 27th November 2015.
Of course, a ten-member group only means a wider choice of biases, so onto the members!
The group is headed by UP10TION’s charismatic banjang or main leader Jinhoo, born Kim Jinhook (Chinese stage name Zhenhu镇琥). Born on 2nd August 1995, Jinhoo is the eldest member of the group and in charge of vocals.
Supporting Jinhoo is the group’s bu-banjang or vice-leader Kuhn, born No Sooil on 11th November (Chinese stage name Kun坤). As well as co-leader, Kuhn is also a vocalist and rapper, and claims to be the ‘ultimate manly man’ of UP10TION.
Next are the five ’96 liners: Kogyeol, Wei, Bitto, Wooshin, and Sungyoul.
Born Go Minsoo, Kogyeol was born in Bucheon on 19th May 1996 (Chinese stage name Gaojie高潔). He is one of the group’s vocalists.
Next is Wei伟, who despite his Chinese-sounding stage name, was born Lee Sungjoon in Seoul on 8th June 1996, and is ‘in charge of the ‘high tone’ rap’.
Bitto (Chinese stage name Bittu碧土) was born Lee Changhyun on 24th August 1996, and the group’s self-defined ‘low rap’!
Next is Wooshin (Chinese stage name Yuxin宇信), born Kim Wooseok on 27th October 1996 in Daejoon. He is both the vocal and visual of the group.
The final ’96 liner is Sunyoul (Chinese stage name Shanyu善燏), born 6th November 1996, he is also one of the vocal members. Sunyoul has named himself as ‘the mom of the group’!
Kyujin (Chinese stage name Kuizhen奎真), the next member was born Han Kyujin on 21st November 1997, and is the only ’97 liner. He is also one of the vocals of the group.
The final two members are the maknaes of UP10TION, the ‘husky’ voiced Hwanhee (Chinese stage name Huanxi欢喜), born 6th May 1998 in Daejeon, and Xiao (Chinese stage name Xiaowu), born 13th December 1998 in Busan, are both also vocals of the group.
Interestingly, none of the members are ethnically Chinese but all have Chinese stage names and debuted their first EP in both Korea and China at the same time. This is definitely part of TOP Media’s marketing strategy, giving them a strong foundation in Korea, whilst also creating ties with mainland China. In fact, they travelled to China prior to their debut of their first EP in their ‘RISING! UP10TION!’.
Apart from their two releases, they have finally appeared on live broadcasts and reality shows, such as two episodes of Arirang TV’s After School Club (Ep. 179 on 1st October 2015, and Ep. 193 on 5th January 2016), following both their EP releases. Then, finally appearing on Weekly Idol’s Ep. 233 on 13th January 2016.
Due to interesting marketing strategies, they are gaining momentum and have gained a big following with their strong performance on-stage, and their playful and fun-loving attitudes off-stage that they admit is part of their charm. This has definitely proven true through their two fantastically choreographed music videos, that in terms of dance talents, put them at odds with veteran groups like EXO (is that controversial to say?) and their own sunbae groups, Teen Top and 100%. Whilst on reality shows such as After School Club and Weekly Idol, they showed themselves to be just outgoing fun-loving young guys making it in the Hallyu Wave!
Having only recently come across the group, I admit to not knowing much about their likes, dislikes and their personalities just yet. However, they’re definitely a group that have made their mark on me as a Hallyu fan. What makes this group distinct on the K-Pop scene is their performance value: in the same vein as their sunbae group Teen Top, UP10TION are fantastic dancers and performers and will capture your attention from the word “Go!”.
Amongst the new generation of K-Pop rookies, UP10TION is a group I definitely want to see more of on the Hallyu scene!
Written by Tariq – February 2016