In a world where idols here today are gone tomorrow, many wonder how Shinhwa has managed to not only outlast other first generation idol groups but remain at the top of its game.
Shinhwa’s rise to the top wasn’t quick compared to other idol groups of its time, but that may be the reason why it is going 15 years strong today. A look back on Shinhwa’s rich history reveals that the secret to the idol group’s longevity isn’t number one hits (athough it has plenty), but good old-fashioned persistence (it took Shinhwa three albums to reach number one) and patience (six boys, 15 years, you do the math).
Shinhwa has seen it’s fair share of highs and lows, and the task of summarizing Shinhwa’s 15-year history is no easy task, so we’ve decided to highlight five defining moments in the idol group’s K-Pop career.
1998: Shinhwa makes debut with Haegyulsa
Every story has a beginning, so it only makes sense to start with Shinhwa’s debut.Shinhwa entered the K-Pop scene in 1998 with debut album Haegyulsa.
Riding off of the K-Pop boom sparked by H.O.T, Sech Skies, S.E.S and Fin.K.L, SM Entertainment hoped to score big once again with Shinhwa, however, the timing only proved to draw accusations that it was copying H.O.T.
Despite promoting two singles from the first album and releasinga considerably successful second album, T.O.P, the following year, Shinhwa didn’t score a number one hit until its third album Only One.
2001: Shinhwa gathers 10,000 fans at guerilla concert
Shinhwa released its fourth studio album Hey! Come On! in 2001, but member Andy was visibly absent that year. The same year, Shinhwa’s popularity, which the idol group garnered with its third album, was put to the ultimate test when the group appeared on the now-defunct Guerrilla Concert, a popular show that challenged idols to gather a certain number of attendees to a pop-up concert. The catch was that the show could only go on if they drew the minimum number to the concert.
Shinhwa’s mission was to gather 10,000 people to its guerrilla concert in Suwon. After taking to the streets to promote the event, the members were blindfolded and led onto the stage to find out if they had met their goal and could perform. There wasn’t a dry eye at the concert as the members said a few last words before the big reveal, not only revealing the boys’ bond with their fans but with one another.
Lee Min Woo said, “Jin, Dong Wan, Hyesung and Eric, who are here now, and Andy, it would’ve been nice if he was here, I really want to spend the rest of my life with you. I love you.”
We could feel just how much the members had been through together as a tearful Jun Jin said, “Because of the hyungs, I think Andy and I were able to stick it our for four years. I never once said I love you to the hyungs, but hyungs, I love you from the bottom of my heart.”
Kim Dong Wan added, “I don’t say this often, but I’m so thankful to God to have met the members. I really think it’s luck. And no matter what happens, I hope you never forget the memories we shared until we die.
And to think that this was only three years after Shinhwa’s debut. We can only imagine the brotherhood shared by the members today, 12 years later.
Watch the emotional clip below!
2002: Shinhwa releases ‘Perfect Man’ and Andy returns
Shinhwa’s fifth studio album Perfect Man, which was released in 2002, was not only a commercial success (it also debuted at number one), Andy’s return, after being absent from the group’s previous album, made Shinhwa whole once again.
Andy belatedly revealed on KBS’ Win Win in 2012 that he was forced to bow out from Shinhwa’s fourth album because his mother was extremely ill at the time, making his return to the group all the more meaningful.
2004: Shinhwa wins Daesang
After six albums, Shinhwa left the SM nest and released its seventh album Brand New with Good Entertainment in 2004.
The members proved they could stand on the Shinhwa name alone and without the backing of the SM brand, taking home not one, but two Daesangs, the highest honor in music, at the year-end award shows that same year.
In addition to the Daesang, Shinhwa swept up numerous other awards at every msjor music award show that year.
2012: Shinhwa makes legendary ‘Return’
Two more albums later and following a four-year hiatus, the members regrouped from focusing on solo activities and serving in the army to make its grand return to fans with its tenth album The Return in 2012.
The previous year, Shinhwa formed its own company, Shinhwa Company, further bolstering its tight-knit image.
The promotional track, Venus, not only swept the music charts upon its release, Shinhwa took off on an Asia tour to celebrate its return and to get the wheels turning in time for its upcoming 15th anniversary.
These are but a few of the major moments that have defined Shinhwa′s 15-year history, but they have given fans assurance that the group will not go down without a fight in what, we hope, is many more years to come.
Photo credit: SM, Online community, Kim Byung Kwan