What IS a Leader?

24 Aug

As you very well may know, in most KPop groups, there is a designated leader. The leader is supposed to generally be in charge of the group members, making sure they perform to the best of their abilities both on and off stage. We often see leaders encouraging other the members, asking whether the other members have eaten, and taking a lead role in interviews and greetings. Being a leader is a huge responsibility; they are usually the oldest in the group and/or the one who has the most discretion and work ethic.

However, I’ve come to notice that although the leader has a large role in the functionality of his or her group, they more often than not take a minor role in the actual singing end of things. The lead or main vocal is rarely the leader of the group.

I know that it’s strange, but I always feel bad when I listen to a song, and the leader has a part that lasts approximately 6 seconds. Though I am sure that all of the group members work hard, I think that the leader has to carry an extra burden. Here are a couple of examples of leaders in KPop.

Big Bang

I’m feeling that YG has the correct formula for their groups. Both 2NE1 and Big Bang have very prominent, recognizable leaders. Everyone knows that G-Dragon is the leader of Big Bang because of he is constantly putting himself out there for his group.

He writes and produces songs for his group members and supports them when there are down. He gets a large part in most songs which I appreciate (instead of his allotted 20%, he maybe gets 30%). During performances, GD brings a strong stage presence that complements each of the other members without overshadowing them.


As the second youngest member of 2AM, Jo Kwon is an unusual leader. As can be seen on his various TV appearances, he is comfortable with himself and is a general crowd pleaser (type in the keywords “kkap kwon” into YouTube if you don’t know what I mean).

Personally, I think he has the best voice in 2AM and fortunately, 2AM is one of those groups where each member generally gets an equal amount of voice time.


At the moment, 2PM doesn’t have an official leader since former leader Jay Park left. When Jay was around, he was an excellent leader despite his limited Korean skills.

He was constantly lifting the mood of his members with his jokester attitude and during multiple live performances, he was heard taking over for members when the slipped up (one time, he even performed Taecyeon’s rap for him when Taecyeon messed up). In most of 2PM’s songs, Jay’s distinct voice would only be heard during the second repeat of the chorus and during some ad-libs. I love Jay’s voice, and am glad that I get to hear more of it since he is now a solo artist.


Like I said before, YG knows what they are doing when they make leaders. CL is the leader of 2NE1 and everyone knows it. Age-wise, she is in the middle of the group (she is 20, Minzy 18, and Bom and Dara 27). Like GD, CL has remarkably stage presence.

Though not as outgoing as Dara, she seems calm and level-headed even in difficult situations. In a group, it is important for the leader to be able to remain cool and give advice to other members and CL exemplifies this well.

FT Island

Okay, quick question: who thought Lee Hong Ki was the leader of F. T. Island?? Exactly my point. Hong Ki is the main vocalist, and some dude called Choi Jung Hoon is actually the leader. I have neither heard of him nor seen his face which I think is a bad sign.

The leader should get recognition for their efforts to the group instead of being pushed to the sidelines.

Teen Top

I don’t love Teen Top and neither do I hate them, but one thing about them that makes me irate about them is the fact that Neil, one of their maknaes, legit sings 80% of each song. It sounds like I’m exaggerating, but check out their song Supa Luv.

Out of the other 20%, 10% is divided between the two rappers (one of whom is the leader) and the remaining 10% is given to the other vocalists.

Listening to that 10%, I can hear that the other vocalists are not bad, so why not give them a bigger role? **okay so this wasn’t necessarily about their leader, but I needed to get that off of my chest**


As the oldest member of f(x), Victoria is the leader of the group. Similar to Jay Park at 2PM, Victoria is not as fluent in Korean as her other members, but still manages to guide and direct her groups with tons of encouragement.

Her nickname is “Mom Victoria” as she is always taking a motherly stance in regards to her younger members. She always gets a minor role in their songs but in my opinion, makes up for it with dancing. Having trained in China, Victoria is an amazing dancer and is visibly on a much higher level than her other members during their performances.

So that’s my spiel. I don’t think the Korean music scene is going to make any changes to the system any time soon. What do you think?



5 Responses to “What IS a Leader?”

  1. Alice August 26, 2011 at 2:11 am #

    If you wanted to prove that Korea’s system needed to change, shouldn’t you have given MOSTLY examples of bad leader representation rather than good ones?

    • dramapop August 26, 2011 at 3:42 am #

      Hi Alice, thanks for commenting! Firstly, by writing this article, I was not trying to prove that the system needs to change, I was showing what the public perception of certain leaders of KPop groups are Secondly, out of the 7 examples given, 4 illustrate how leaders are somewhat placed on the back burner while the other 3 examples display how the leaders recognized for their hard work. All of the leaders fulfill their roles wonderfully, it is just the matter of whether they get the recognition for it. 🙂

  2. Sakina August 26, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    This is fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Brittany August 30, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    I never knew that Lee Hong Ki was not the leader of FT Island. This whole time I thought it was him. I don’t even know who Choi Jung Hoon is lol. Wow I never would have guess that Niel wasn’t the leader either. He sure gets the most parts.

    • dramapop August 31, 2011 at 2:09 am #

      Yea, I found it so strange that I had legit never heard the name Choi Jung Hoon until Clarence told me! =p

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