This moniker is making rounds again
K-Pop, much like other celebrity industries, has a multitude of nicknames for its iconic celebrities. You’ve got the “Nation’s Little Sister,” IU and the “Nation’s First Love,” Bae Suzy. There's always this fondness laced in these monikers as they’re identifiers for those who move their audience and earn the love of the public.
The terms “it boy” and “it girl” are making a comeback often used to identify the K-pop idols who are considered icons in the industry. I know what you’re thinking. “No one even uses that term anymore!” Looking those words up in search engines would yield results that date to more than five years ago, but hear me out.
These titles are consistently being used to determine the top K-pop idols who have an extra allure to them. They’re meant to identify the ones cut above the rest, the leaders of their generations. Adults, teens and kids look to them in admiration or for inspiration. These it boys and it girls are not just measured by popularity and numbers but also by what they do that sets them apart.
The skills and charisma
K-pop fans always put a premium on these two qualities. Even if each group is made up of members with their own specialties, K-pop it boy and it girl candidates are the full packages. They’re jacks of all trades: stellar visuals, sharp dance skills, awesome vocals with a stage presence to match. The ability to transform and capture everyone’s attention in front of the camera or behind-the-scenes is one of the other makings of K-pop’s icons.
Just take a look at ITZY’s Ryujin and BTS’s Jimin. The two might be from different eras (or generations if you want to be technical), but they both have a way with how they carry themselves. Their presence is magnetizing yet endearing, whether they’re performing, goofing off in variety shows or just walking to their next activity. They leave people of all genders shaking in their boots and wanting more.
Fashion is and will always be the main identifier for it boys and it girls—even way before K-pop fans brought it back. They’re always decked in the latest designer pieces and dressed to the nines. “It people” set the trends that dominate magazine spreads and eventually, our social media feeds. But this time around a K-pop it boy or it girl dresses to express their personality, gendered clothing be damned. These idols have a distinct and unique style and are always ready to experiment and switch it up at any turn.
BLACKPINK’s Jennie is one of the biggest trendsetters in K-Pop. Her classy-yet-hi-teen style and fondness for Chanel led to her debut as a contributing fashion editor for Vogue Korea. Every time she comes up on the screen, everyone is entranced.
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From the younger ranks, Tomorrow X Together’s Yeonjun is also known for his androgynous sense of fashion. He dresses to express his style, maximizing it by finding the best fashion pieces and not minding if it’s mean for a certain gender. Yeonjun even made it to 2021 New York Fashion Week where he modeled for Korean streetwear brand ul:kin.
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What binds the hunt for K-pop’s next “it boy” or “it girl” is that they constantly challenge industry norms. If you look at others who are called those names, such as Hwasa of Mamamoo and Big Bang’s G-Dragon, that’s their common thread.
They’re challenging gender norms and beauty standards and put self-expression first. Some of them even dismiss the image of a picture-perfect idol who’s meant to sit still and look pretty. They’re bold, fierce and unapologetically themselves. These are the icons selected to inspire another generation of kids, teens and even adults to just be.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver