Every year, more and more K-pop acts arrive on the scene, and 2019 is already gearing up to be a highly competitive 12 months, with some of the biggest entertainment companies in the Korean music industry putting their weight behind new acts. Whether it’s a new K-pop boy band or girl group formed through a televised competition, or a soloist’s long-awaited debut, we’re barely a week into 2019, but the year is already looking to be an impactful one in regards to new artists making their mark.
Here’s a look at some of the most intriguing rookie K-pop acts set to make their mark in 2019.
The initial plans and members of a new girl group from FNC Entertainment were released in August 2017, with members Yuju, Jiwon and Bora revealed, showcasing what looked like a pure and innocent image — but then silence. More than a year later, the girl group was revealed in full as Cherry Bullet with a fun and colorful vibe for a far more refreshing and intriguing look. Of the 10 members, K-pop fans are looking forward to seeing Produce 48 contestant Park Haeyoon as well as Yuju, who co-starred as a female lead in BTS’ 2017 “Love Yourself Highlight Reel” video, and see the latest project from the agency that crafted long-running acts like AOA, CNBLUE and FTISLAND. The act’s debut EP is titled Let’s Play Cherry Bullet and will be released on Jan. 21, led by the single “Q&A.”
JYP Entertainment’s Upcoming Girl Group
It’s been more than three years since JYP Entertainment introduced TWICE to the world, and now it’s time for the K-pop company to release the hit group’s successor. In the past, the company has put together some of Korea’s most prominent girl groups, like Wonder Girls and miss A, so expectations are high to see what JYP has to offer in 2019. Though the group’s entire lineup is yet to be revealed, JYP has stated that Shin Ryujin, who took the top female spot on last year’s MIXNINE competition show, will be part of the act.
The company is also set to release its first all-Japanese girl group, which is reportedly being prepared by the local branch of JYP.
Big Hit Entertainment’s new boy band
There’s a lot riding on the new boy band coming from Big Hit Entertainment, said to be launching sometime in 2019. BTS has been a world-renowned success for the Korean record label, but the company has yet to solidify itself past this one act. The new boy band will show us what the Big Hit brand is evolving toward (in the way other Korean superlabels like SM, YG and JYP Entertainment have created their own aesthetics and, as a result, followings) and if the BTS ARMY and their famously passionate support can extend to another group. No concept or number of members have been finalized for the agency’s first act in six years since BTS’ debut, but if lightning can strike twice with this new boy band, there’s no telling where Big Hit can take their company.
Despite being just 17 years old, it feels like Somi has lived multiple lifetimes in the K-pop world — all without an official “debut.” The bilingual singer (full name Jeon Somi) garnered a large following for competing on sensational shows like Sixteen (which created TWICE) and Produce 101 (the first season for which she landed in first place and spent a year promoting with I.O.I), as well as her solo activities that included television and musical collaborations. After announcing her departure from JYP Entertainment, Somi is said to make her debut as a solo star under The Black Label, a subsidiary of YG Entertainment headed up by BLACKPINK producer Teddy and also the home to R&B superstar Zion.T. We know she can shine in a group (see I.O.I, Unnies or Girls Next Door), but this new chapter of solo Somi should be all the more intriguing.
YG Entertainment’s new boy band
Best known for the likes of BIGBANG, 2NE1, and BLACKPINK, YG already has two pretty popular boy bands on its roster, WINNER and iKON, but that’s not stopping the South Korean entertainment company from putting out a new group. The company launched its competition show YG Treasure Box on Nov. 26, and featured 29 potential K-pop stars aiming for their spot in the upcoming YG group. There are some familiar faces appearing, like Bang Ye-dam who appeared on K-Pop Star 2 in 2013 and several who appeared on YG’s last show MIXNINE though no group ever came out of it, and the group’s final lineup is expected to be formed in upcoming weeks.
The “Big 3” K-pop company is also gearing up to form a new girl group this year, and is reportedly planning to host a female-focused competition series following the end of YG Treasure Box.
Along with these five, many other acts — like the soon to debut VeriVery, paired boy bands OneUs and OneWe, and groups associated with the Produce series — are also already gaining a lot of buzz.