K-pop started to grow in popularity in the 90’s, but I would argue that the songs that were released in the early 2000s clearly cemented the growing K-pop scene even more. Here are some of my favorite songs that were released during this period, welcoming the grand 21st century where K-pop grew into a world phenomenon.
- Lee Jung Hyun – Come
Okay… I might be pushing it a bit with this one. But hey, it was released in October of 1999. That’s very close to 2000 and this song was too iconic not to include. Lee Jung Hyun was the queen during this period. Known for her super eccentric fashion and singing style, she captured the hearts and attention of the Korean people. I would even claim that she was the original “Lady Gaga.” The little pinky microphone and the fan with the iconic eye painted on it are still remembered and copied to this day.
- Koyote – Passion
Koyote, a trio consisting of two male members and one female member, became the icon of techno music after this song was released. “Passion” was released in 2000 and Kim Jong Min debuted as the new member of this band through this song.
- Kim Hyun Jung – Bruise
The long-legged beauty sang this hit song of hers in 2000. There is not one person in Korea who has not sang this song in the karaoke rooms…
- 1TYM – One Love
Ah, looking back, the boys of 1TYM were so young when they released this song in 2000. One of the most successful hip-hop boybands during this era, 1TYM released this song that was more low-key than their usual songs, yet it became a huge hit. Papa YG did a great job.
- So Chan Whee – Tears
All women still try to sing this song in karaoke bars… The high notes are ridiculously hard to hit, yet So Chan Whee can still hit them to this day! She is still active as a singer and songwriter. This hit song was what brought her to fame.
- O.D – Lies
Seriously. The best song ever to be released by this band. Written and produced by JYP himself. These boys created a huge fandom that can still be remembered by so many older generation K-pop fangirls to this day. It was always G.O.D vs. H.O.T and the fandoms of these boybands were a precursor of the huge fandoms that present boybands, such as Big Bang and EXO, have.
- Yoo Seung Jun – Wish You Can Find
There are still issues surrounding Yoo Seung Joon currently in Korea, but people still admit he was one of the hottest Korean stars during the late 90’s and early 2000s. This boy from L.A. brought the West Coast swag to Seoul.
- Wax – Oppa
Wax was a “no face” artist, meaning an artist who has not revealed his or her face to the public. And so, the music video featured famous actress Ha Ji Won and she became the “mascot” of this song. Any time someone thought of this song, s/he would immediately also think of Ha Ji Won. This became Wax’s first hit song.
- BoA – No. 1
We can’t forget the young BoA on this list, can we? This song was also her debut song in Japan, and she became the first Korean artist to succeed there. This song is still one of BoA’s most symbolic songs.
- K.L – Now
The beginning of Lee Hyori’s reign starts here! FIN.K.L’s first-ever “sexy” concept was with this song and it became an immediate hit to boost their already souring popularity even higher. And sexy queen, Lee Hyori, continued on her sexiness apart from the group as well and made a name for herself.