meta-script11 K-Pop Boy Groups To Watch In 2023: Cravity, Tempest, Verivery & More |
11 K-Pop Boy Groups To Watch In 2023
(Back) TEMPEST, VERIVERY (Front) Kim Min-Seo and Hwang Yun-Seong of DRIPPIN, Intak of P1Harmony, CRAVITY

Photos: JUNG YEON-JEAFP via Getty Images; Jun Sato/WireImage;The Chosunilbo/JNSImazins via Getty Images; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images; John Lamparski/Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust


11 K-Pop Boy Groups To Watch In 2023: Cravity, Tempest, Verivery & More

From rookies to more established acts, guys are taking the K-pop world by storm this year. Read on to learn about 11 boy groups whose recent successes have made them artists to watch in 2023.

GRAMMYs/May 24, 2023 - 01:59 pm

The complexity of Korean pop music is akin to an ocean of changing tides. Every year brings a stream of new elements that, in due course, become part of the fabric of the genre. That’s the part of the magic of K-pop: a guaranteed churning of trends and influences that continue to mesmerize millions.

While last year saw an awakening of girl groups, the current landscape of boy groups is reaching an interesting phase. Well-established ensembles are growing more soloists than ever, and different generations of performers exist side-by-side in a way previously unseen. At the same time, survival television shows (those similar to “American Idol” or “The Voice”) remain a cultural phenomenon in Korean music, serving as a vault for trainees and many in this new wave of boy groups.

Within this new wave, K-pop acts such as VERIVERY and ONEUS are experiencing long-awaited recognition, while the groups who debuted during the pandemic are finally performing in front of live audiences. Meanwhile, rookies like xikers are raising their hands with a desire to conquer, and yet-to-debut acts like ZEROBASEONE are hotly anticipated.

Here, get to know 11 rising boy groups
in order of debut consolidating their position under the bright lights of K-pop’s dominion.


Energy and precision are integral parts of Verivery’s identity. The group seems to flip a switch in the audience with their impeccable coordination and lively dance-pop sound. But they also embrace dualities in their music exploring the emotional highs and lows of life.

Hailing from Jellyfish Entertainment, the septet debuted in January 2019 with the new jack swing single "Ring Ring Ring," and continually sharpened their skills to drive impact. Verivery’s third single album, Liminality - EP. Love, and its title track, "Tap Tap," opened a new chapter, and the group captured their first-ever wins in MBC’s "Show Champion" and KBS’s "Music Bank."


If there’s one group that thrives on defying creative limits and building timeless narratives, it’s ONEUS. They’re called "stage geniuses" for a reason. 

Formed by music label RBW in 2019, the quintet have established themselves as versatile performers with intricate choreographies and vocal prowess. Each record reveals a new soundscape, and with it, there’s a seamless unpredictability that increases their public acknowledgement. 

Their eighth mini-album, Malus, released last September, proved to be a breakthrough. ONEUS earned four trophies from South Korean music shows, and they crossed the barrier of one million accumulated sales on the Circle Chart, one of the most notable music charts in their home country.


CRAVITY combines the words "Creativity" and "Gravity" to state their aura can draw you in like a magnet. They’re joie de vivre personified and may switch gears from "monster rookies" to K-pop dynamos at any moment.  

Since debuting in 2020 under Starship Entertainment, the group has displayed great adaptability when tackling different musical colors. But the arrival of Liberty: In Our Cosmos, the second part of their first full-length album, in March 2022, channeled a youthful approach that’s become their signature sound. This conceptual glow-up fully fleshed out CRAVITY’s abilities that shine the most in feel-good pop terrains, crafting a unique niche as a result. 


Backed by YG Entertainment (Blackpink, BIGBANG), TREASURE burst onto the scene in the summer of 2020 with the hard-hitting single "Boy." It was the crowning of sky-high expectations since they came together a year prior through the challenging survival show YG Treasure Box. However, in November 2022, vocalists Bang Yedam and Mashiho left, and TREASURE had to redirect their trek with 10 members.

TREASURE aren’t only known for their blistering levels of performance, as they also flaunt a diverse sonic palette and self-written material. Take, for example, the potent "JIKJIN," which contrasts with the zestful charisma surrounding "Hello," or the enchanting (and viral) "DARARI," composed by former member Bang Yedam. They’re creative powerhouses and this is just the beginning for them.


This seven-member group assembled by Woollim Entertainment demonstrates how it’s possible to mature a career without compromising brilliance. DRIPPIN boasts one of the most solid repertoires in the fourth generation of K-pop. 

When DRIPPIN debuted in 2020 with their EP, Boyager, their musical compass signaled lightness, but as time passed, the course steered towards a darker route. It was an organic and smooth transformation, exemplified by their fantastic Villain album series released throughout 2022.


The start of P1Harmony’s journey in October 2020 was literally a cinematic experience that laid the foundation for their exciting artistry. They’re adventurous and fun, so better be prepared every time they take the stage — because you’re in for a ride.

Of course, nothing of this would be possible without having a mesh of talents working in tandem. The voices of Keeho and Theo balance out the fierceness of rappers Intak and Jongseob, while Soul and Jiung are proven all-rounders. This blend and a penchant for electrifying tracks are the main propulsors behind P1Harmony’s international popularity.


Living up to the essence of their group’s name, up-and-coming stars TEMPEST are a force to be reckoned with. And contrary to the title of their debut song, "Bad News," their entrance into the K-pop realm was a harbinger of potential.

The septet comes from Yuehua Entertainment, home to Iz*One alum Choi Yena and girl group EVERGLOW. Several members participated in competition programs like "Produce 101" and "I-LAND" so their perspective, along with their collective strengths, indicates that these newcomers wield the confidence of veterans. Last year, the group won accolades across different South Korean music ceremonies as best new artists – including the New Wave Award from the Asia Artist Awards.


When exploring the vastness of K-pop, it’s always a pleasant surprise to discover captivating hidden gems. This is the case of TAN, a septet formed through MBC’s survival show "Extreme Debut: Wild Idol.

What makes TAN such an alluring act is its musical nostalgia, which is reminiscent of one of the most brilliant eras of K-pop. Press play on their first single "Du Du Du," and you’ll find yourself immersed in a second-generation revival layered with stunning vocals. Fortunately, the group is holding the line, and their latest record, "FIX YOU," continues with this evocative quality even a year after their debut.


Xikers are the freshest (and youngest) idols on this list, yet they’re threading a path that has many paying close attention. 

Formerly known as KQ Fellaz 2, the world witnessed the group’s onstage verve when they opened for labelmates ATEEZ during their 2022 North American tour. In March, they debuted with the double-punch "TRICKY HOUSE" and "ROCKSTAR," both singles from their first mini-album, HOUSE OF TRICKY: Doorbell Ringing. The seven-track project has sold more than 140,000 copies in South Korea. With their vibrant teamwork, aural intensity, and rapidly growing recognition, xikers are certainly a bunch to keep your eyes on.


At the end of 2020, K-pop giant HYBE announced the acquisition of KOZ Entertainment, a music label spearheaded by Block B’s leader Zico. The news was received with surprise, and fans wondered what kind of endeavors this business alliance could offer.

What followed has been a series of revelations that have created enthusiasm about their first project together: A group called BOYNEXTDOOR. The six members – Sungho, Riwoo, Jaehyun, Taesan, Leehan and Woonhak – were officially presented on May 12, and the concept is already striking as bright and juvenile. We will get the whole picture once BOYNEXTDOOR debuts on May 30 with their first single album, WHO!    


Although the story of ZEROBASEONE (shortened as ZB1) is yet to unfold, a promise of success is darting their presence in the industry. Word on the street says they will inaugurate K-pop’s fifth generation, but that will be a topic of discussion when they step into the spotlight next summer. In the meantime, we’ll see how many records go down before that happens.

This nine-member, multinational ensemble emerged from Mnet’s reality competition Boys Planet – a spin-off of 2021’s Girls Planet 999, which created their sister group Kep1er. It’s a well-rounded lineup that will allow for artistic agility and breathtaking stages, the same characteristics that attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers during ZB1’s formation process week after week. Worth mentioning that Zhang Hao, a music prodigy from Fujian, China, made history as the first foreigner to win a Korean survival show of this kind, and he will be the group’s center.

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P1Harmony Discuss New Album 'Killin' It'

Photo: courtesy of FNC Entertainment


On 'Killin' It,' K-Pop's P1Harmony Prove They're The Heroes We've Been Waiting For

P1Harmony's first full-length release celebrates their musical identity, proving that the sextet has been killin' it all along. The group spoke with about their aesthetic, touring dreams, and career milestones.

GRAMMYs/Feb 9, 2024 - 04:06 pm

K-pop group P1Harmony did not start with the odds in their favor. They debuted months into a global pandemic, without the resources of a huge company, at a time when live performances were nil. But the scrappy sextet persevered, and have now released six EPs, embarked on two tours, and headlined venues in five continents.   

Formed in 2020, the group's name is an amalgamation of "plus," "one," and "harmony," meaning members Keeho, Jiung, Intak, Theo, Jongseob and Soul can achieve endless harmonious possibilities as a unit. P1Harmony's latest album, Killin’ It, is their first full-length release. The album is both a confident celebration of their musical identity and a comprehensive introduction to any new fans.

Out Feb. 5, the 10-track Killin' It  features a minimalist, synth-driven title track with a catchy 808 base and masterful rap that pays homage to '90s hip-hop and K-pop. P1Harmony's catchy electropop permeates the sentimental "Late Night Calls'' and influences the freestyle chants on "Everybody Clap," and the anthemic "Street Star." The record's final track, "I See U," is a confession of love to their fans, known as P1ece.

P1Harmony have had a flair for drama since their debut teaser. In keeping with the K-pop trend of incorporating storylines into their visual releases, six EPs ended with the reveal that P1Harmony were hidden "heroes," facing the world fused as one. Killin’ It continues the "forgotten heroes" theme, with Keeho taking the conceptual reins on the album.

P1Harmony members have been contributing towards their releases since the beginning — a concept that has only recently gained popularity in K-pop. Killin’ It is no different, and Jongseob, Intak, Jiung, and Keeho are credited for lyrics and composition on several tracks. 

In a saturated industry, P1Harmony’s Gen-Z sense of humor gives them a leg up amongst their peers. In fact, they are known as much for their unfiltered personalities as they are for their music. In a particularly viral example, leader Keeho advised a fan to cut her friend's hair off because they were making fun of her curls. 

Ahead of the release of Killin' It, caught up with the group over Zoom, to chat about perfectionism, touring dreams, and career milestones.

**Tell us about the first full length album. What were you trying to go for with Killin’ It?** 

Keeho: This is an album where we could really cement what we're good at, what we like to do and what we want to keep doing in the future. I feel like it's kind of different from the EPs because those were more chances for us to experiment and filter out what does and doesn’t stick. 

We've created so many memories and experiences where we learned what things look good on us and sounds sonically good to us. It's a really good turning point as well. Our storylines from the previous EPs are wrapping up and it's a new chapter for us moving forward.

Jongseob: I wrote on all 10 tracks on this album, and that process was very exciting. I feel like I could fit more of my own style in this album than before. This was also like a playground for me because I got to do whatever I wanted with my own verses. 

Do you feel like it took more effort to make Killin’ It than with previous releases? Is there an added pressure because it's P1Harmony's first full length album? 

Intak: Because we were on and off tour, I always had to write on the move. As a writer it took me a lot longer and a lot more focus to write my raps than in previous albums. 

Keeho: Of course there is added pressure. Yes, I am confident and happy to show our P1eces what we’ve made, but even to this day, there's always that feeling of is there anything we could have done better? As perfectionists, we’re always trying to find the flaws so we can minimize them, but no matter how much we try they never go away. It’s not always bad though, because it’s also a way to constantly improve as artists. 

If we were always satisfied with everything we did, there would be nothing pushing us to go that extra mile. It gets stressful, but at the end of the day, if our fans love it then that’s all that matters. 

Where is the point when you realize you have to stop and let go of what you’re working on?

Jiung: It’s different for each of us, but as a team we also think that if we fix something too much, it goes wrong. We try our best to keep each other from going overboard.

Keeho: They say the first take is always the best take. And also, we have a deadline! [Laughs.] No matter how many times I want to do more, I have to send it across. 

I did a lot of contribution in the conceptual and visual side of this album, and I remember because of the deadline I was at the airport lounge finishing up the PDF and sending it over before I got on the plane. We were writing in hotel rooms, on planes, in the lounges —— there's always a deadline to be met. 

Visually, what was the creative direction for this album? What concepts did you draw inspiration from?

Keeho: The main story created for this full-length album was about P1Harmony being the "forgotten" heroes. Hence the theme I was very inspired by the movie Suicide Squad

For the "Killin' It" version, I really wanted to show off each member's identity through the outfits. I feel like a lot of the time when we figure out outfits we tend to play it safe and match a certain color scheme or silhouette, but I really wanted each member to have their own style. If you watch The Hunger Games, each member of Katniss' team has a matching gold emblem to signify they are in one team, like the Mockingjay pin. The one thing that brought us together was our matching necklaces, brooches, and pant chains.

For the "Maximum" version, I thought if we make the set in contrast a lot smaller than we are, we can give off the illusion of literally being bigger than everything. We came up with the amusement park idea because there's something fun and colorful but also eerie and dark about it. Maybe it comes from my fear of clowns and rollercoasters but I liked that difference in feeling. 

I would love to do something cinematic again like we did during our debut. 

What do you want your next milestone to be?

Jiung: I think the next tour, because I feel it would be even better than the one we just finished. I'm excited to fill up the setlist with the album that we're about to release.

**What would need to happen for you to think, okay, we've made it, I can retire peacefully?**

Keeho: We're very young. [Laughs.]  I don’t know about retiring yet. 

Jiung: I don’t think we're gonna retire. We're so passionate and we're so happy to show ourselves in every area. 

Theo: If we did a stadium tour, I would retire. 

Keeho: We’d have to get Beyoncé level. We’re talking big production, we’re talking Renaissance

I don't know how convincing it might sound but I feel like, as long as we have a reason and it's something that we love to do, we are so, so, so hardworking. It is almost violent and scary to see. We will sacrifice sleep, food, anything if it's really something we love to do. And if it gets to the point where we get the opportunity to do a stadium tour, I think it'd be awesome. 

**Some of that is a little alarming — please take care of yourselves! Your last EP, Harmony: All In, spoke a lot about the challenges that come with loving yourself. How do you experience self-love today?**

Theo: Nothing has really changed for me. I feel like up until the point where I pass away, I don’t think it will be a difficult task for me to love myself.

Jiung: For me, sometimes it's a roller coaster but I'm good now. It’s all good with my bros.

Five out of the 10 songs on Killin' It are about love. How would you explain what love is to somebody who's lost all their memory?

Jiung: I got the same question about two years ago at a fanmeet. I don't know how to translate it, but in Korean I said something like "love is when I'm thinking about you with my full energy."

Keeho: It’s a tricky question, though because I feel like love you is such a strong [phrase]  and it holds so much meaning. I would just answer like this [Keeho makes several heart shapes with his hands]. 

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NewJeans, Jung Kook, xikers, Jimin, VCHA appear together in a photo collage
(from left) NewJeans, Jung Kook, xikers, Jimin, VCHA

Photos: ADOR; Jason Mendez/Getty Images; Santiago Felipe/Getty Images; The Chosunilbo/JNSImazins via Getty Images; JYP Entertainment


2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined K-Pop

K-pop aims to appease the biggest crowds possible, but it’s also unafraid of trying new ways of making music and building fan communities. Read on for five trends in K-pop that marked the industry in 2023, from globally-based acts to new sounds.

GRAMMYs/Dec 15, 2023 - 04:00 pm

K-pop is a living, breathing organism. It’s way beyond just pop music from South Korea — more like a whole microcosm that includes culture, tech, fashion, other music genres, and even other countries. Its boundaries are increasingly blurry: there are K-pop groups releasing albums entirely in English and American groups being created under the K-pop business model. Where does it end, and where does it begin?

No one knows exactly. What we do know, though, is that the industry and all its adjacent productions remain one of the most experimental and innovative. K-pop aims to appease the biggest crowds possible, but it’s also unafraid to leap into new ways of making music and building fan communities.

These are some of the traits that make it so exciting — whether it’s a 24-member, NFT-based group like tripleS or a song about baggy jeans, you never know what awaits around the corner. As K-pop continues to expand and surprise, here are five trends that marked the industry in 2023.

Boy Groups To The Front

If 2022 was the year of girl groups in K-pop, 2023 saw a wave of boy groups rising up to the challenge. While female acts continue to thrive — with exciting names like Loossemble, Kiss of Life and tripleS joining the industry — it was this year’s male debuts that attested the beginning of a new era.

Monster rookies ZEROBASEONE broke all-time records by selling over 1 million copies of their first EP, July’s Youth In The Shade, on the first day of release. The nine-member group was formed through survival TV show "Boys Planet," and was marketed as the initiator of K-pop’s fifth generation. That statement is not as simple as it looks (many factors contribute to a change of generations in K-pop, not just debuts), but it pointed to a definite handing of the torch.

There were also fresh teams coming from some of the most well-established K-pop agencies this year. Xikers, the younger peers of ATEEZ at KQ Entertainment, debuted in March. In May, BoyNextDoor came forth from KOZ Entertainment, a subsidiary of HYBE (BTS, TXT, and more) founded by the singer, producer and leader of Block B. In September, RIIZE met the world as SM Entertainment’s first non-NCT-related boy group since 2016.

Other promising newcomers include Xodiac, 8Turn, Evnne, TOZ, and Ampers&One — many of whom are former contestants of "Boys Planet" — and it becomes clear that 2023 set the bar for a new generation of boy bands to come.

Living In The Age Of TikTok

"The ideal recipe for a great K-pop song would be a catchy hook/chorus — which is usually in English so more people can sing it — and a danceable song that can bring on a choreography that is infectious enough so people want to learn them and make TikToks," manager and A&R consultant Marion Van der wees told earlier this year. 

Van der wees’ statement rings true. While TikTok and Instagram Reels have been popular in K-pop for a few years, they became the norm in 2023. From rookies like Lun8 to industry veterans like Red Velvet, every release now comes with an obligatory video "challenge" for those platforms, intended to be replicated ad infinitum by the artist, their peers, and their fans.

As K-pop becomes increasingly fandom-focused, these challenges also serve as one of the main forms of interaction between artists of different labels, styles, and levels of experience who wouldn’t normally engage with each other. It’s less a question of going viral, and more of cross-promoting, exposing themselves to new audiences, and gifting fans with unique content.

Besides all that, newer groups like RIIZE are tapping into Gen Z’s online habits and reveling in their spontaneity: they gained buzz for replying to fans’ comments and for posting relatable (if a little unhinged) videos, just like any teenager would.

AI Dreams (Or Nightmares?)

While AI music and virtual artists have been on exponential rise since the COVID-19 pandemic, 2023 was the year where K-pop truly embraced them. Virtual girl group MAVE: amassed over 26 million views on their debut single, January’s "Pandora," and virtual boy group PLAVE, who also debuted this year, became the first of their kind to perform at KCON LA in August.

In May, entertainment giant HYBE launched Midnatt, the alter ego of singer-songwriter Lee Hyun. Although Hyun is a real person, his first single "Masquerade" was released in six languages (English, Korean, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese) through the utilization of Supertone, an AI audio company that HYBE acquired in January. Supertone modulated Hyun’s tone, pronunciation, delivery, and even shifted his voice from male to female.

AI is also shaping how fans interact with artists — you can even talk to the digital twin of GOT7 member Mark Tuan now. Created by New Zealand company Soul Machines, Digital Mark Tuan is available 24/7 via OpenAI’s GPT3, and aims to "connect with fans, share stories about the real Mark Tuan, and cement his presence in the metaverse," according to Soul Machine's website.

These projects have growing audiences, but there’s still plenty of discussion on whether K-pop and AI’s mix has yielded positive results. As best summarized by songwriter/producer Wonderkid on’s roundtable, K-pop’s relationship with AI "looks good on the surface, but we recognize what is missing in half a second. I think of it as falling in love with a robot: it may someday be possible, but it would take a very, very long time."

Softer Sounds And Chill Vibes Proliferate 

K-pop has always been known for shaping different musical genres into something of its own. This diversity — spanning from reggae to classic orchestra, sometimes all in one song — is part of K-pop’s DNA. Superstars like Stray Kids and NCT 127 often have their styles described as "noise music," and girl groups like BLACKPINK and ITZY rose to the top with hard-hitting beats, spawning a trend that is still followed by several rookies.

This bold, in-your-face style of K-pop will likely always exist, but a new trend has begun to emerge. Songs from rookie groups like NewJeans, IVE, and even Fifty Fifty (see their viral "Cupid") are softer and have the calming effect of putting on earphones in a busy office.

NewJeans’ December 2022 single "Ditto" was inspired by Baltimore club but also manages a more chill vibe. The year-round hit achieved the coveted PAK — Perfect All-Kill, meaning it  charted at No. 1 on real-time, daily and weekly charts on all major South Korean music streaming platforms. IVE’s disco-infused "I Am" was another PAK winner, and so was the duo AKMU’s bouncy ballad "Love Lee."

The trend toward more mellow sounds is also present in three of BTS’ solo projects this year: Jimin came forward with the synth-pop of "Like Crazy," V approached soul and jazz on his "Slow Dancing," and Jung Kook channeled Michael Jackson with the funky "Standing Next to You." Even the debuting boy groups of this year have chosen more laid back sounds. Zerobaseone sampled A-ha’s "Take on Me" for "In Bloom," and RIIZE’s synth-laden "Get a Guitar" is filled with nostalgia. As industry trendsetters veer towards pleasing melodies and chill vibes with retro inspirations, these sounds are certain to become even more widespread in the following years.

K-Pop Beyond The K

"For K-pop to truly become mainstream worldwide, the ‘K’ in K-pop needs to be removed, and it should just be ‘pop’ in itself," HYBE chairman Bang Si-hyuk said in a press release about the label’s latest endeavor: a trainee survival show called "The Debut: Dream Academy," which premiered on Sept. 1. In partnership with Geffen Records, HYBE embarked on "a worldwide search for the next global girl group," receiving over 120,000 applications from Argentina to Japan. The resulting six-member group, KATSEYE, will likely debut next year, followed by a Netflix docuseries.

A few months prior, JYP Entertainment (home to groups like TWICE and Stray Kids) also announced the reality competition show "A2K (America2Korea)", in partnership with Republic Records. Their goal was to create a U.S.-based girl group with members of diverse backgrounds, but who would be trained under the K-pop system. The resulting sextet, VCHA, released their first single album, "SeVit (New Light)," in September.

Add to that SM Entertainment, who helms groups like EXO and NCT, teaming up with UK production company Moon&Back in order to launch a boy band in early 2024, and you have nearly all of K-pop’s biggest players placing bets on Western-based projects. As K-pop has always been an export-driven industry, these moves are no surprise — but 2023 marked a year where companies were finally successful in applying the K-pop model to form artists in markets outside of Asia.

Whether VCHA, KATSEYE, and other groups will be successful remains a mystery, but their existence points to a shift. As THEBLACKLABEL singer and producer Vince mentioned in’s roundtable, "we don’t call pop music from America ‘American pop’, we just call it ‘pop.’" K-pop might be headed in the same direction.

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xikers q&a
xikers perform at KCON L.A. 2023

Photo: CJ ENM


Rookie K-Pop Group Xikers Aren't "Tricky" On New EP

Fresh off their U.S. debut at KCON L.A. 2023, the 10-member group discuss their new mini-album, 'HOUSE OF TRICKY: How To Play,' and following in the footsteps of labelmates ATEEZ.

GRAMMYs/Sep 5, 2023 - 06:05 pm

K-pop entertainment agency KQ Entertainment are proving that the boys are back in town. Five years after the debut of the agency's successful ATEEZ, xikers are making waves as KQ's first new boy group.

One of most discussed fifth-generation K-pop groups, the 10-member xikers have quickly risen to the genre's heights. Expectations were high for the rookie group, and xikers delivered. Less than two weeks after their March 2023 debut, xiker's first mini-album HOUSE OF TRICKY: Doorbell Ringing charted at No. 75 on the Billboard 200. 

Xikers developed an international following in their pre-debut days. Originally dubbed KQ Fellaz 2 as trainees, the group were featured on KQ Entertainment web series "Ready To One." The series followed the group's training journey in Los Angeles and their eventual debut.

By 2023, the group took on the moniker xikers, a combination of "hiker" for their love of travel and the unknown variable "x" as a coordinate. The group consists of Korean musicians MINJAE, JUNMIN, SUMIN, JINSIK, HYUNWOO, JUNGHOON, SEEUN, YUJUN and YECHAN; member HUNTER is from Thailand. 

Xikers' second mini-album, the six-song HOUSE OF TRICKY: How To Play, dropped on Aug. 2 and hit No. 9 on the Billboard World Albums chart. Accompanied by an alternative rock backing track, single "DO or DIE" encourages listeners to be fearless and take risks with confidence. With its hip hop influence, "HOMEBOY" simply enjoys the present without worry. 

"I get a lot of inspiration from dramas, and I tend to apply them to my lyrics," YECHAN tells

Xikers recently performed at KCON L.A. 2023, where they wowed audiences with a cover of ATEEZ’s “BOUNCY" along with originals from their new record. In October, xikers will embark  on their first U.S. tour, dubbed WORLD TOUR TRICKY HOUSE : FIRST ENCOUNTER IN USA, hitting six cities. Ahead of their KCON performance, the group spoke with about their training journey, debut and staying tricky. 

This interview has been edited for clarity.

HOUSE OF TRICKY: How To Play has two lead singles instead of the traditional one. Which do you like more?

SUMIN: I hope the fans will like both tracks. Personally though, I think "DO or DIE" really fits me. After I dyed my hair green this time, I seem to suit the concept of the title track well. It just feels like my hair change helped me get even more immersed into the track.

Do you feel like xikers has defined its identity since debuting or are you still figuring it out?

MINJAE: I think we learned about what we’re good at to a certain extent through our first mini album promotions, but there’s so much more that xikers as a group can show. 

We have so many charming points and concepts that we’re so excited to show everyone. I’d say we’re still in the middle of figuring it out.

MINJAE, SUMIN and YECHAN, you all have writing credits on both mini-albums. Did ATEEZ leader HONGJOONG, who assisted on both records, share any words of wisdom?

MINJAE: HONGJOONG said that he would like it if we just enjoyed the process of recording and allowed our personalities to shine naturally for this album. I truly focused on just enjoying the time spent working on this new album!

SUMIN: [On] our debut album, I really focused on the storyline to write the lyrics. For the second mini album, HONGJOONG and the amazing EDENARY [production] team, told us to have more freedom in our writing. They gave us advice [to try] whatever we wanted to.

YECHAN: They gave us the reins to take it in a direction we wanted to. I think this free direction allowed us to try something new!

Last year, you performed as KQ Fellaz 2, opening for ATEEZ’S Break the Wall US Tour. Did performing as a trainee group prepare you for your official debut as xikers at KCON L.A. this year?

SEEUN: Performing in the U.S. as part of ATEEZ’s tour in North America was really helpful. We were able to really understand and learn about the attitude and enjoyment of the stage through it. It’s actually going to be my birthday while we’re in L.A., so I'm looking forward to spending my birthday in the U.S.

Prior to your debut, did you have any turning points in your life as a group or individually?

JINSIK: As we were preparing to debut, we worked on audio recordings a lot. Both in terms of my mentality and my skills, I think I grew the most during this period because we got to experience so many things. 

What vocal techniques or exercises do you use to preserve your singing voice? 

HYUNWOO: I am trying my best to find a way to create vocal sounds as comfortably as possible. Since each person has a different tone, I practice vocalization of various tones to develop the tone that I can produce.

Some groups are asked about who they look up to as vocalists and rappers but not so much about the dancers. Who are some artists you admire for their dancing?

HUNTER: I really look up to ATEEZ’s SAN dance-wise. I believe dancing is all about expressing the song’s message through movement, and using your facial expressions can really help a lot with embodying the story. 

I remember watching his facial expressions on stage and being in constant awe of how he really gives his all for every performance. Ever since then, I’ve been working really hard on improving my ability to express myself on stage.

What movie title best describes your life as an artist so far? 

YUJUN: The Greatest Showman. I think there are similarities between xikers and the movie. They practice and work hard to create a grand show, just as we work hard and practice to put on an amazing performance.

Imagine 50 years from now, and you’re still making music. What stories do you want to tell the younger generation of artists? 

HUNTER: I’d like to think that we’ll have a lot of good memories and stories to tell to the younger generation of artists. Whenever we find ourselves struggling, we always try to find a positive outlook; something that we can take from the experience to learn from it. 

I’d like to be reminded not only of the good times, but also the difficult times that we’ve overcome. It’s a message I’d like to pass on to future younger generations, so that they can embrace both the lows and highs to cultivate a positive mindset.

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K-pop girl group aespa live
K-pop girl group aespa

Photo: The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images


TXT, Blackpink, Aespa & More: Here Are All The K-Pop Tours And Events You Can Catch This Summer

Whether you want to put your Head in the Clouds, free yourself at Outside Lands or be (re)born pink, plan out your summer with these K-pop events and tours in mind.

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2023 - 01:51 pm

2023 started off strong for K-pop events in the U.S. Household names like NCT 127, Kang Daniel, and Stray Kids all toured the country, while the Empire State Building was lit up in honor of TWICE's latest EP, Ready to Be. In April, BLACKPINK made history as the first K-pop group to headline Coachella, while  BTS' Suga (under the alias Agust D) began his first solo tour — the first out of all BTS members.

As summer starts to bloom, so do even more tours, festivals and conventions for lovers of Korean music and culture to rejoice. From mid-May to the end of August, almost every week will be busy with affairs that range from concerts by rising groups like WEi, to weekend-long celebrations like KCON, to trailblazing performances like Tomorrow X Together (TXT) headlining Lollapalooza, or aespa becoming the first K-pop group to play at New York’s Governors Ball.

To add some color to your summer, assembled a list of all the K-pop concerts and events happening in the next few months so you can enjoy the season at its fullest.


Suga: Agust D Tour

April 26 - May 17

The first BTS member to headline his own solo tour, Suga kicked off a string of performances in the U.S. on April 26 in Belmont Park, New York. The setlist included hits from his two mixtapes, August D and D-2, new tracks from his first solo studio album, D-Day, and even some BTS classics. Before heading to the Asian leg of the tour, Suga will play in Los Angeles and in Oakland, California.

Head in the Clouds Festival

Forest Hills, New York

May 20-21

88rising continues its mission of spreading the talents of Asian diaspora artists through their Head in the Clouds Festival. In addition to their usual Los Angeles edition, 2023 sees Head in the Clouds Festival expand to New York for the first time. The lineup includes returning acts such as DPR IAN and DPR LIVE, while K-pop sensation ITZY, global girl group XG, and rising rockstar LØREN will make their HITC debuts.

Tomorrow X Together (TXT): ACT : SWEET MIRAGE World Tour

May 5-27

Dazzling boy group Tomorrow X Together (TXT) grow bigger with each new release and their international tours follow suit. After last year’s ACT : LOVESICK, they return for a six-city stint in the U.S. with ACT : SWEET MIRAGE, kicking it off on May 5 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Members Soobin, Yeonjun, Beomgyu, Taehyun, and Huening Kai perform hits like "0x1=LOVESONG (I Know I Loved You)," "Good Boy Gone Bad" and their latest single, "Sugar Rush Ride."


May 16 - June 4

Vocal queens MAMAMOO will soon begin their first-ever U.S. tour. Hwasa, Solar, Moonbyul, and Wheein are set to perform in nine cities, starting with New York on May 16 and ending in Los Angeles on June 4. With almost a decade of classics under their belts, the quartet will likely perform songs such as "Um Oh Ah Yeh," solo songs by each member, and a slew of hits like "HIP" and "Egotistic."

WEi: PASSION World Tour

May 24-31

Boy group WEi also returns to the U.S. for their second world tour, PASSION. Each of its six members — Daehyeon, Donghan, Yongha, Yohan, Seokhwa, and Junseo — are known for competing in different survival shows, with Yohan finishing in first place on Mnet’s "Produce X 101" in 2019. Although Yohan himself will be absent from this tour due to conflicting schedules, the remaining quintet promises to have a blast from coast to coast.

Bang Yongguk: The Colors of Bang Yongguk US Tour

May 31 - June 16

As a singer/songwriter, record producer, and former leader of boy group B.A.P, Bang Yongguk is one of K-pop’s most wide-ranging artists. Through honest lyrics and a voice deeper than the Mariana Trench, Yongguk’s work is immediately identifiable and always innovative. After releasing a brand new album this month, The Colors of Love, he is set to perform 10 concerts across the U.S., beginning in Joliet, Illinois on May 31.



June 6 - July 3

Girl group TRI.BE have graced K-pop with effervescent singles and boundless energy since 2021, when they debuted with "Doom Doom Ta." This year, members Songsun, Kelly, Jinha, Hyunbin, Jia, Soeun, and Mire will embark on their first U.S. tour. The septet will play a massive round of 17 shows throughout the country, starting in Orlando, Florida and concluding in L.A.

aespa: Governors Ball Music Festival

June 10

In less than three years since their debut, aespa are already making history. The quartet — formed by Karina, Giselle, Winter, and Ningning — will be the first K-pop group to perform at NYC outdoor festival Governors Ball, held June 9-11. SM Entertainment’s latest girl group became known for their AI-filled lore that includes avatars and an avant-garde sound in the likes of popular singles "Next Level” and “Savage."

TWICE: 5th World Tour Ready to Be

June 10 - July 9

Unrelenting girl group TWICE return to the U.S. for their 5th World Tour Ready to Be. Named after their latest album, the performances will feature hits from their 8-year spanning discography, as well as solo performances from each of its nine members. After performances in Asia and Australia, they will kick off a 13-stop North American leg of the tour at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on June 10, and wrap it up at Truist Park in Atlanta on July 9.

CRAVITY: The First World Tour Masterpiece

June 16-25

Last year, rising boy group CRAVITY toured the U.S. as one of the representatives of KCON 2022 Rookies — a series of concerts organized by the All Things Hallyu festival with up-and-coming names in the industry. In 2023, the nine-member group are proving their growth as they headline their own tour through New York, Chicago, San Juan, Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles.


JUST B: Otakon

July 28-30

Held in Washington, D.C., Otakon is the place to be for lovers of Asian pop culture. After bringing names like AleXa and PIXY last year, this year’s edition of the festival will bring rookie boy group JUST B — Lim Jimin, Geonu, Bain, JM, DY, and Sangwoo — for a performance and some VIP experiences to get to know them better.

Lee Youngji K-PLAY! FEST

San Mateo, California

July 29-30

Rapper Lee Youngji rose to fame by being the first woman to win survival shows "High School Rapper 3" and "Show Me the Money 11." However, she gathered an even bigger fandom through the YouTube variety show "My Alcohol Diary," where she invites other K-pop idols to her home for drinks and hilarious conversations. On July 30, she will headline the Bay Area edition of K-PLAY! FEST, the "first ever K-pop festival for fans, by fans." Besides spitting fiery bars, she will also do a hi-touch event, a fansign, and take some selfies with fans who purchase VIP packages.


Tomorrow X Together, NewJeans, DRP IAN, DPR LIVE: Lollapalooza


Aug. 3-6

After last year’s success with performances from Tomorrow x Together and BTS’ j-hope, the Lolla 2023 features even more K-pop. For the first time in history, TXT will headline the festival on August 5, while fellow labelmates and current sensation NewJeans will perform on Thursday, August 3. DPR IAN, 6 and DPR LIVE bring their R&B, rock, and rap fusion to the last day of the festival on Sunday.

(G)I-dle: I am FREE-TY World Tour

Aug. 4-17

K-pop’s resident tomboys will bring their flair and authenticity stateside. After last year’s Just Me ( )I-dle World Tour, the quintet formed by Soyeon, Miyeon, Minnie, Yuqi, and Shuhua will perform in six cities throughout the first half of August. In addition to their attitude-filled setlist, fans can expect new songs from their upcoming sixth EP, I Feel.

Head in the Clouds Festival

Pasadena, California

Aug. 5-6

After their New York edition in May, HITC heads to the West Coast for another weekend celebrating Asian talents. While the lineup is yet to be announced, fans can expect it to hold some of the names who performed in past editions, as well as exciting newcomers. HITC will happen at Brookside at the Rose Bowl on Aug. 5 and 6.


Aug. 12-26

Headlining Coachella in April wasn’t enough for the unstoppable girl group BLACKPINK. Jennie, Rosé, Lisa, and Jisoo have just announced four stadium concerts in August as an extension of their ongoing BORN PINK World Tour, which also included U.S. dates in 2022. The quartet will perform at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Aug. 12, then follow to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Oracle Park in San Francisco, and wrap it up at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Aug. 26.

aespa: Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival

San Francisco

Aug. 11-13

Once again, the groundbreaking aespa hit the U.S. for another milestone: they will be the first K-pop group to perform at San Francisco’s Outside Lands. The quartet will play their futuristic set on Friday, August 11, along Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monaé and WILLOW, among others.


Los Angeles

Aug. 18-20

Known as the largest Korean culture and music festival in North America, KCON has a decade-long legacy of serving as a bridge for "all things Hallyu." Held at the Los Angeles Convention Center and Arena, the festival includes a two-night concert, fan signings, food and merch stalls, panels with professionals in the industry, and many other attractions. KCON hasn’t announced its official lineup yet, but attendees can expect it to maintain the same excellence of past years.

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