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Top 10 Korean entertainment stories of 2017



The last 12 months saw the Korean entertainment industry experience a variety of events that made huge impact. These include weddings, dating, breakups, deaths, drug scandals to a K-pop group’s successful foray into the US.

(CENTER) SHINee’s Jonghyun and (clockwise from top left) Kim Woo Bin, BTS, Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo, Rain and Kim Tae Hee, Big Bang’s T.O.P, Wanna One, Lee Min Ho, Kim Soo Hyun, Super Junior, Kim Joo Hyuk, Wonder Girls and SISTAR (Photos: Jonathan Hicap, Instagram and Twitter) /

(Center) SHINee’s Jonghyun and (clockwise from top left) Kim Woo Bin, BTS, Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo, Rain and Kim Tae Hee, Big Bang’s T.O.P, Wanna One, Lee Min Ho, Kim Soo Hyun, Super Junior, Kim Joo Hyuk, Wonder Girls and SISTAR (Photos: Jonathan Hicap, Instagram and Twitter)

Here are the top 10 Korean entertainment stories of 2017:

1. Death of SHINee vocalist Jonghyunw

The K-pop world was stunned when Jonghyun, boy band SHINee’s vocalist, passed away on Dec. 18 which the police ruled as suicide. The 27-year-old star was found in a rented officetel and was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was laid to rest on Dec. 21. A week before his death, Jonghyun just finished his “Inspired” solo concert in Seoul. Jonghyun debuted in SHINee in 2008. He won a disk bonsang at the 2016 Golden Disk Awards for his 2015 album “Base.”

Other stars who died this year were actor Kim Joo Hyuk (45 years old), actress Kim Young-ae (65), comedienne Choi Seo In (34), model Lee Ui Soo (22), actress Kim Ji Young (79), actress Kim Bo-Ae (80), actor Min Wook (70) and actress Yoon So Jung (74).

2. Big Bang member T.O.P’s drug scandal

One of the biggest scandals of the year was Big Bang member T.O.P’s marijuana use case. He started his military service on Feb. 9 this year and was serving as a conscripted policeman when he was charged for using marijuana four times at his Seoul home between Oct. 9 and 14, 2016. He was dismissed from his duty because of the charges and apologized for using marijuana. On July 20, T.O.P was found guilty by the Seoul Central District Court of using marijuana and was sentenced to 10 months in prison suspended for two years and a fine of 12,000 won (about R557). He will serve the remaining period of his military service as a public service worker.

3. Rain-Kim Tae Hee and Song-Song couple weddings

K-pop star Rain and actress Kim Tae Hee surprised fans and colleagues when they got married on Jan. 19 in Seoul. The wedding was attended by only about 100 family members and close friends. Last October, Kim Tae Hee gave birth to their first baby.

Another surprise came in July when drama “Descendants Of The Sun” stars Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo, also known as the Song-Song couple, announced they were getting married after denying rumors that they were even in relationship. The wedding took place onOct. 31 at a Seoul hotel.

Other Korean stars who got married in 2017 were actors Lee Dong-gun and Jo Yoon-hee, Shinhwa’s Eric and actress Na Hye-mi, Joo Sang-wook and Cha Ye-ryun, and Lee Sang-woo and Kim So-yeon.

4. Dating and breakups

2017 saw Korean stars getting into relationships while others broke up. Those who were revealed to be dating this year are FT Island’s Minhwan and Laboum’s Yulhee, Ryu Jun Yeol and Girl’s Day’s Hyeri, UEE and Kangnam but broke up, Girl’s Day’s Sojin and Eddie Kim, Bora and Feeldog, Lee Jun Ki and Jeon Hye Bin, Seo In Guk and Park Boram, FT Island’s Jonghyun and Son Yon Jae, Sulli and Kim Min Joon, and Nam Joo Hyuk and Lee Sung Kyung (broke up in August). Those who broke up included Lee Min Ho and Suzy, Kang Sora and Hyun Bin, Joo Won and BoA, and Yenny and Jinwoon.

5. BTS’ success in the US

2017 became a banner year for K-pop boy band BTS. In May, they won the Top Social Artist award at the Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs), a first for a K-pop group. Their new album “Love Yourself: Her” released in September set K-pop records. It topped iTunes Top Albums charts in 73 countries, debuted at No. 7 on Billboard 200 while “DNA” peaked at No. 67 on Billboard Hot 100 and entered Spotify’s Global Top 50 chart, a first for a Korean artist. They became the first K-pop group to perform at the American Music Awards (AMAs) held on Nov. 19 in Los Angeles. BTS also appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and the “Late Late Show With James Corden.” As of press time, “Love Yourself: Her” has sold 1.42 million copies based on the Gaon Chart. They won Artist of the Year at the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) and Best Song of the Year at the 2017 Melon Music Awards.

6. ’Produce 101’ Season 2 and Wanna One

The highly successful survival audition Korean TV program “Produce 101” Season 2, which aired from April to June, launched the careers of boy band Wanna One and other new artists. Wanna One debuted in August and became one of the most successful K-pop groups this year. Other contestants who launched their career after the show include JBJ, Rainz, MXM, Jung Se-woon and Kim Samuel. The show also helped relaunch the career of boy band NU’EST.

7. Disbandments

K-pop groups which disbanded in 2017 included the Wonder Girls, SISTAR, Spica and M.I.B. Members who left their respective groups or agencies this year were Infinite’s Hoya, Day6’s Junhyeok, AOA’s Choa, ZE:A’s Dong-jun, After School’s UEE, Royal Pirates’ James Lee, Girls’ Generation’s Seohyun, Tiffany and Sooyoung from SM Entertainment and miss A’s Min from JYP Entertainment.

8. Super Junior’s comeback, album promotion without Sungmin, Kangin and Siwon

Super Junior made their comeback and celebrated their 12th anniversary with a new album titled “Play” released on Nov. 6. But their return was mired issues. Kangin and Sungmin did not participate because of personal issues including fans demanding that Sungmin be expelled from Super Junior because of his past actions toward them. Sungmin decided not to take part in the album. Siwon did not participate in the album’s promotions after his family’s dog bit a restaurateur on Sept. 30 who died days later due to sepsis. Siwon apologized for the incident. As a result, Leeteuk, Donghae, Eunhyuk, Heechul, Yesung and Shindong promoted the album. Siwon returned through the group’s “Super Show 7” concert.

9. Kim Woo Bin’s cancer

Actor Kim Woo Bin, who starred in “The Heirs” and “Uncontrollably Fond,” was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer, his agency announced in May. The 28-year-old star, the boyfriend of actress Shin Min-a, immediately started radiation therapy and medication.

10. Military service

Korean stars enlisted and were discharged from their military service in 2017. Among those who enlisted for their mandatory duty were Lee Min Ho, Kim Soo Hyun, Super Junior’s Kyuhyun, Big Bang’s T.O.P, 2PM’s Taecyeon, Joo Won, Seo In Guk (but was later exempted), Lee Joon, Siwan and JYJ’s Junsu. Stars who finished their military service this year were JYJ’s Yoochun, Kim Hyun Joong, Lee Seunggi, Super Junior’s Donghae, Siwon and Eunhyuk and TVXQ’s Yunho and Changmin.

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