Busan One Asia Festival, 2016
On October 1, 2016, Busan Asiad Main Stadium was filled with yellow lights and loud fan-chants. Busan One Asia Festival’s strong line-up included well-known K-pop Idol groups and performers like Psy, Girls’ Generation, Infinite, Block-B and BTS. So then, who was the massive yellow wave for?
4 years ago, “Reply 1997”, a Korean drama depicting the 90s’ K-Pop idol fan-culture, caused the latest nationwide nostalgia for the 90s’ K-Pop, which then increased the demand for such music and cultural contents in the Korean entertainment industry. It is the music in the late 90s in Korea that marks the beginning of the K-pop culture within the nation, the Korean Wave around the world, and ultimately, today’s internationally recognized musical genre of K-Pop. brought back memories from the late 1990s to most viewers, specifically to those who grew up during that time. Since the TV series was aired in 2012, people have sincerely waited for the year 1997 to “reply” – to take them back to the time when they enjoyed the K-Pop idol fan culture as young girls and boys.
Sechskies [zεks kiːs], meaning ‘six crystals’ in German, took a major part in the theme of the drama . Although Sechskies had only lasted for 3 years since their debut in 1997, they remained as a legendary K-Pop idol group because they were the one of the 1st generation K-Pop idol groups and were also the pioneers of the idol fandom culture in Korea. For example, Sechskies’ fandom was the first to introduce the concept of using a specific color to represent their fandom identity, which led to creation of goods like balloons and raincoats with their distinctive color. On many TV shows like “20th Century Handsome Boys” (QTV, 2013), “WISH” (On Style, 2014), “The Capable Ones” (MBC, 2016), Sechskies was named as ‘the History of Idol Fandom’ or ‘the Beginning of Idol Fandom Culture’.
Sechskies in 90’s
As described in “Reply 1997”, Sechskies and their contemporary rival, H.O.T., led the era of the first generation idol culture. The uniqueness of the Sechskies fandom continued to be reflected well throughout each member’s career even after the disbandment of the group. “Sech-Sa Movement”, a korean abbreviation of the “I love you Sechskies movement”, was one of the activities that Sechskies fans carried out. Fans printed “I love you, Sechskies” on yellow paper and posted them on the streets to resist the disbandment of Sechskies. They also made a fan-produced album to show their continuous support to Sechskies.
20th Century Handsome Boys, 2013
The demand for the 90s’ K-pop culture gradually increased by the influence of TV shows like “Reply 1997”, “Reply 1994”, and “20th Century Handsome Boys” and reached its peak in 2014 with “Infinite Challenge – To.To.Ga Season 1”. Sechskies was initially invited to To.To.Ga Season 1 as a symbolic figure of the 1st generation idols, but circumstances did not allow them to reunite.
Top: At Infinite Challenge, 2016
Bottom: At Yoo Hee-yeol’s sketchbook, 2016
Finally, in April 2016, Sechskies miraculously reunited through “Infinite Challenge – To.To.Ga Season 2” after the long wait of 16 years. On the day of the concert, there was only one short line of notice on Twitter 5 hours ahead. Despite the sudden, surprise tweet, approximately 6,000 fans gathered at Seoul World Cup Stadium to support Sechskies. Sechskies, the long-awaited legend, achieved a successful return with their loyal fans who had missed seeing them on the stage.
After 16 years of hiatus, the story of Sechskies and their miraculous reunion was aired for 3 consecutive weeks. Regardless of age, gender, or familiarity with the 90s’ Kpop culture, all the audience was deeply moved by the story of Sechskies’ reunion.
Some worried that the heated attention for Sechskies would be short-lived. To put their worries to rest, Sechskies accomplished another record through their concert, “Yellow Note”, held on September 10 and 11, 2016. Inspired by the title of their former final album, “Blue Note”, leader Eun Jiwon named the concert to signify the new beginning. Over 20,000 seats were sold out just in 5 minutes and the two-day concert ended in a great success. It was surprising that a lot of new fans, in addition to their original fans, came to the concert.
At Yellow Note concert in 2016 Photo by G1_YEONG
Fans considered the “Yellow Note” concert as a gift from Sechskies after their 16 years of hiatus. In return for the love given by their beloved artists, both old and new fans decided to travel over 200 miles from Seoul to Busan to show their loyal support at Busan One Asia Festival. The celebrity line-up for the Opening Performance of Busan One Asia Festival was announced 3 months prior to the event. However, Sechskies was added to the line-up only 3 weeks before the event. Despite the last minute announcement, Sechskies fans managed to charter over 60 buses across the country to travel to Busan. More than 6,000 Sechskies fans dominated a quarter of the stadium, coloring the stadium with yellow flags, light sticks, and balloons. This was more than enough to impress not only Sechskies but also other performers, fans and foreign audience as well.
On October 7, 2016, Sechskies released a new song “Three Words” for the first time in 16 years. New songs are usually released on previously announced dates once music videos are filmed and teasers are dropped, but the release of was different. The announcement was given only a 14 hours’ guerilla notice.
At Yellow Note concert in 2016 Photo by Awesome_j_j
Despite such short notice with no other promotions, the group achieved an all-kill on Korean music charts. Sechskies’ accomplishment is particularly noticeable as they are the only boy band to hit #1 on Melon Daily this year. With the Gaon music chart, the group achieved the Triple Crown, hitting #1 on Gaon Digital, BGM, as well as Weekly Download Chart. This indeed is a meaningful record considering the competitive nature of charts, where rankings fluctuate every 5 minute.
With the tremendous support from their fans, Sechskies has been breaking many records set in the history of K-Pop and receiving media attention since their miraculous comeback after 16 years of hiatus. These accomplishments were to make up for the loss of time that Sechskies and their fans had to spend apart. They could only have been achieved with the earnest desire of the fans and Sechskies not to be separated again as they did 16 years ago and to be with each other for a long time to come.
Sechskies is no longer merely the symbol of K-Pop legendary idol, the reminiscence of the late-90s nor the ‘oppas’ who have made their comeback. Not only are they the on-going group at present, in 2016, Sechskies will continue to and forever be our superstar. If they could glow in the dark, we, Yellowskies, will illuminate our yellow light somewhere, so that the star that we have been waiting for so long could twinkle forever and ever.
I missed you
No single night have I ever slept well
Even though I looked fine,
I missed you
No single moment have I ever laughed from my heart
“Now”, “Here”, “Us”
Three words, that’s all we need
I just wanna be with you
You are the reason that I live
I won’t ever go far away again
I’ll always be here for you
Even as time goes by
Even if the world splits us up again
Forcing me to leave,
I won’t stay far away from you
-from Sechskies,”Three Words”-
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