Nahn ah-rah-yoh ("I Know") - Seo Taiji & Boys, 1992
A guy named Seo Taiji (pronounced "suh teh-jee") changed the future of Korean music when he formed a boy group called Seo Taiji & Boys in 1992. Not only did he set the standard for future K-pop groups, but he also convinced (more likely begged) a professional dancer to be part of his group. This dancer, Yang Hyun-suk, later became the founder of YG Entertainment, a record label with big names like Big Bang and 2NE1. Oh, I almost forgot to mention one more fact. Yang made Gangnam Style happen.
Ping-gyeah ("Excuse") - Kim Gun-mo, 1993
Kim Gunmo is one of the most well-known Korean musicians in the last few decades. In this song, Ping-gyeah, he sings about how a man lost his girlfriend to his good friend. I know, I know. How cliché. But it's actually based on a true story. Because, well, it happened to him.
Candy - H.O.T, 1996
Seo Taiji & Boys will always be the champion of Korean idol groups in terms of popularity. But if there were any challenger, that would be H.O.T. This boy group made S.M. Entertainment very profitable very quickly.
Uh-muh-nim-ggeh ("To Mother") - G.O.D, 1999
This was G.O.D's debut song, which made them popular enough to rival H.O.T. It took no time for them to become one of the most popular groups in South Korea at the end of the last century. My G.O.D, that sounds old. (Get it?)
I Believe - Shin Seung-hoon, 2001
Known as the "Emperor of Ballad," Shin Seung-hoon touched many young girls' hearts with his beautiful songs since 1990. Not only did he sing those songs, but he also wrote them himself. Later in his career, Shin gained international popularity with his new song, I Believe, which was played in a Korean movie called My Sassy Girl (2001). I Don't Want to Cry by All-4-One was also composed by Shin.
Uh-muh-nah! ("Oh My!") - Jang Yun-jeong, 2004
Jang Yun-jeong revitalized a Korean music genre called trot, especially among the youth, with this catchy song.
Fly - Epik High, 2005
Written by Tablo, Fly is still one of the most feel-good songs by Epik High.
Yuhn-yeah-een ("Entertainer") - Psy, 2006
Want to know what Psy was like before Gangnam Style and before he joined YG Entertainment? Well, this will do.
Guh-jeet-mahl ("Lies") - Big Bang, 2007
Speaking of YG Entertainment, here's a group that helped the company expand rapidly and make profits with astronomical figures. (Pun after pun...) And that's no guh-jeet-mahl.
Tell Me - Wonder Girls, 2007
Let's switch to girl groups. About a decade after female groups Fin.K.L. and S.E.S came out in the late 90s, Wonder Girls was a much needed new girl group for K-pop. Ironically, JYP Entertainment's Wonder Girls came out in the same year (2007) as Girls' Generation of SM Entertainment. Many considered the two as rivals, Wonder Girls initially blowing the "first punch" and having more popularity between them. Oh, how the tables have turned.
D.I.S.C.O - Uhm Jung-hwa, 2008
Even though she is not as young as most of her competitions, Ms. Uhm, the Korean Madonna, is still kicking it high. In 2008, she proved once again that she still got it with this elegant song.
U-Go-Girl - Lee Hyori, 2008
Lee Hyori was a member of Fin.K.L. before she began her solo career in 2003. Now her personal name rings even bigger than the name of her former group. Lee Hyori is also well-known for raising awareness on various issues such as animal rights.