KNK: The Hidden Giants of K-pop
To give you a short summary, KNK (크나큰) is a Korean boyband that currently consists of 5 members: Jihun, Seoham, Dongwon, Inseong and Heejun. KNK debuted on February 29, 2016 with the song ‘KNOCK.’ They originally debuted with vocalist, Youjin, however he left in 2018 due to personal reasons, so Dongwon, a rapper and longtime friend of theirs, joined the team instead. Jihun, the leader, is 187 cm (6'1 cm), Seoham is 193 cm (6'3 cm), Dongwon is 185 cm (6'1 cm), Inseong is 185 cm (6'1 cm), and Heejun is 180 cm (5'11cm). Also, 크나큰 translates to giants. So, why are they the HIDDEN giants? I'll tell you why.
To start off, what drew ME to KNK was when I was doing what I do best, watching Youtube on my TV, and a video by Edward Avila was suggested to me. It was titled ‘This is literally why I don't let guys do my makeup (ft. KNK 크나큰)’ so I decided to give it a watch and I’m so glad I did because I will literally hollering the entire video. From start to finish, it was just so funny and I loved how funny and personable KNK seemed. It didn’t feel like they were reading off of a prompter or reciting versed lines when they were asked questions (which is what I see quite often when musical artists are interviewed). Also, they were very interactive and the way they were dragging one another was too funny. It was just a lot of fun and a great way to be introduced to KNK, so I decided to give their music a listen. Here’s a link to the video, so you can watch it and laugh just as hard as I did:
I wish someone had warned me that my ears were about to be anointed by God’s greatest angels. A lot of people can sing, but KNK can SANG! I’ve learned that if there is ONE thing that group is going to do, it’s hold a note!!! I was so surprised to listen to their songs and see how underrated they are. There wasn’t a single song in their discography that I didn’t enjoy which is so rare for me because there’s usually at least ONE song that I skip with ease, but not with KNK. Their music focuses more on ballads, contemporary pop, and R&B and less on hip-hop or upbeat pop songs, but I was totally fine with that because the talent is there!
me, listening to all of their songs, but especially Closer
If you’re looking for song recommendations from KNK, I would recommend:
RIDE - it’s their most recent comeback and it’s fun, house song that makes me feel like I’m the main character about to make a grand entrance on the dance floor
CLOSER - I wish I could blast this song in EVERYONE’s face at all hours of the day. This song is so POWERFUL. There was just so much passion and emotion in this song and the high notes almost sent me into another realm. These are SINGERS! We need more of this.
FADE - This is an r&b track for the gworls. 100%. It was giving 1990s/2000s inspired r&b. It was giving “singing in the rain outside of the house of someone you love” tease. It was giving “nayhooooo” era of r&b.
SUNSET - Something about this song belongs in a club. When you listen to it, you’ll know EXACTLY what I mean.
On top of how good the songs are, their performances are incredible too. They always have some of the best choreography with unique formations that I’ve never seen a group do before. From the ‘sitting in a car during the rain’ formation that Seoham and the backup dancers did for ‘Rain’ to Dongwon, Seoham, Inseong, and Jihun holding up Heejun with their feet to make it look like he was levitating in ‘Ride,’ they always spice things up for their performances. On top of that, their choreography is always full of fluid and smooth movements in contrast to the rapid and stiff, jerking movements that are popular right now.
I find it also interesting that almost all of them have acting experience under their belt, but especially Seoham who has signed exclusively with Main Ent. for his acting career. Considering how tall many Korean male actors are and how KNK have expressed interest in acting before, it would be great to see them take on more roles. They have the visuals for it too, so watching them take on more acting roles would be really exciting and I'm sure it would really help them gain more supporters, as well. They could easily be like 5urprise (서프라이즈) which is the famous, Korean acting group that sings which consists of Yoo Il, Seo Kang-joon, Gong Myung, Kang Tae-oh and Lee Tae-hwan, except KNK could be the idol group that all acts.
SO, WHY AREN’T THEY MORE POPULAR?
I think part of the reason why many people, especially international K-pop fans may not know about KNK is the fact that a lot of their content isn’t subtitled. Unless you are fluent in Korean, there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to fully access most of their content. I literally watch their Youtube videos and V LIVE operating on faith because I can only understand 25%. I have to assume the rest, so I’m sure it would be even more difficult for fans of K-pop who can not understand Korean or read Hangul. With the rise of K-pop being exported and accessed globally, it’s almost mandatory for there to at least be English subtitles which is something their company, 220 Entertainment really needs to work on. Most, if not all groups, are aiming to reach larger audiences outside of South Korea anyway, so to at least have English subtitles, especially with it being the most global language, would make a huge difference. It’s not like 10 years ago when having English subtitles was not even remotely a priority. When you have groups like BLACKPINK and BTS achieving huge accomplishments across the world and being global phenomena, many other artists are trying their hand at that too, but the key is to be ACCESSIBLE. Thank God for crack/fan edits though.
2. INCONSISTENT SCHEDULING
I absolutely love watching their videos, but I’ve got to admit, there’s really not a lot to watch despite them being active for 4+ years. There are so many things that they could do to remain active online, help showcase their personality and talents more, and still not be too over the top and excessive. KNK have their own variety shows like ‘웬만해선 크나큰을 막을수없다’ (which is actually HILARIOUS, but it’s not subbed) and ‘My KNK TV,’ however the last time they posted a ‘웬만해선 크나큰을 막을수없다’ video was 10 months ago and for My KNK TV, it was March 13, 2018. That was a whole 2 years ago. We are living in the digital age, and now more than ever, it’s important for companies to help their artists build a distinct and unique brand identity online, but it’s hard to develop that when you aren’t actively investing in that. KNK don’t need to rent out an entire mall or do anything expensive to showcase who they are to fans and potential fans. They could easily do a series called “Inside The Giants” (or something way better than that) and do things as simple as cooking videos, behind the scenes to events they are attending (ex. How many people knew Inseong and Seoham have been on Masked Singer recently?), or how they spend their time (without exposing too much of their personal life).
Or, 220 Entertainment could revive their variety show whilst still following the mandatory COVID-19 guidelines like:
Play hide-and-seek (or any fun, childhood games) around an area (ex. A park)
Visit a game and entertainment centre and go rock-climbing or bungee jumping
Try to find clues in a dark building while hiding from monsters (especially since everyone in KNK is scared of everything and a video of Seoham screaming literally has over 9+ million views on Youtube)
A cooking challenge amongst the members to see who can make the best dish as if they’re on one of Gordon Ramsay’s cooking shows
Going on a food tour across South Korea, discussing their thoughts on the dishes, and rating their favourite ones (this would be great with promoting South Korean tourism too). People LOVE food!
3) EVERYTHING IS ON V LIVE (including some subtitled videos)
Society has progressed past the need for V LIVE. V Live is a great tool if you just want to connect with fans you already have, but it should NEVER be the most frequented app. How many casual K-pop fans actually use V LIVE? How many dedicated K-pop fans actively check V LIVE? With so many new live, video streaming apps forming, there is even more competition for V LIVE which means less people are inclined to use it. This doesn’t really help with marketing or promotion because it’s not an application that a lot of people prioritize in comparison to Youtube or Twitter. I enjoy watching their V Lives because they usually seem more comfortable and at ease there, but it’s so hard to share those videos with other people. On top of that, a lot of their videos require a V LIVE fanship, so you need to pay for that? That is the OPPOSITE of access. That’s a huge barrier to entry and would deter thousands of potential fans from wanting to get to know them more, which is upsetting.
With all of that being said, KNK are such a well-rounded, talented, and creative group. They can sing, they can dance, and they're very personable. They really seem to love what they do and watching them doesn't make me feel like they're being held hostage to be in this idol life. They have so much to offer and I can only hope that 220 Entertainment helps them receive more opportunities and have the chance to expand their career because they truly deserve it. Whether it's getting involved in more musicals (besides the Tupac one PLEASE), getting roles in dramas and films, hiring a translator to make the content they have more accessible to wider audiences, and posting more engaging material online, they have the potential to grow in many areas, but I believe they can achieve it all. They're already the full package, they just need the push, promotion, and better marketing.
Thanks for reading this article! Make sure to check out their latest comeback, 'RIDE' here: