It takes more than a single pop star to put on a truly epic performance. More often than not, our favourite K-pop idols rely on backup dancers who make their shows stand out with stunning choreography.
More recently, the success of Korean dance competition reality show Street Woman Fighter has brought some much deserved attention to the backup dancers of K-pop. We took a look at the dancers who might be on the way to becoming idols themselves – getting featured in their own commercials, showing up in magazines and making dance videos that go viral.
Kim Ji-hyang got attention when she performed with Exo’s Baekhyun in 2020. Photo: @sk8soxer/Instagram
Famously dubbed a lookalike of Blackpink’s Jennie, the 28-year-old dancer Kim Ji-hyang has been stealing hearts and shows alike with her doll-like looks and incredible performances. She caught the public's attention when she performed with Exo’s Baekhyun, appearing in his Candy music video in May 2020, as well as with Daniel Kang for his song 2U in the same year. As part of the dance crew Freemind, her career and popularity have been on the rise as she has also danced for former Wanna One member Park Ji-hoon and Somi.
Broadcasting outlets have taken note: Mnet’s YouTube channel uploaded a video of Kim dancing to Hyuna and Dawn’s song Ping Pong in September, which currently has 1.6 million views. With her Seoul Arts College background, she certainly knows what she is doing and even has a growing fan community of her own, according to Soompi.
Honey J led her team Holybang to first place on Street Woman Fighter. Photo: @__honey.j__/Instagram
Honey J is one of the most sought after dancers on the scene right now. She also led her team Holybang to win first place on Street Woman Fighter. The 35-year-old dancer has come a long way; prominent choreographer J Black praised her in his YouTube video, saying that her way of dancing, according to Korea’s street dance scene, is “not a popular girls’ hip-hop style, but it’s actually Honey J’s style, she’s her own genre”.
Proving her influence in the industry, she also recently appeared on top Korean entertainment shows such as I Live Alone, where she showed everyone what her busy schedule is like with photo shoots, teaching as a professor at the Educational Center of Kyung Hee University and much more.
So what’s next for her? On I Live Alone, she revealed that she’s about to launch her own brand in order to have a more stable income during a time where many performances regularly get cancelled because of the pandemic.
Noze gained attention when she danced for Exo Kai’s solo debut. Photo: @nozeworld/Instagram
When Exo’s Kai made his solo debut with the song Mmmh in November 2020, he ended up sharing the spotlight with the girl dancing next to him in the track’s music video. The viral video of Noze moving to the groovy beat while wearing cyberpunk goggles became the talk of the internet, with a fan-made video focused on Noze reaching 3.7 million views on YouTube, at the time of writing.
The aforementioned Honey J was actually Noze’s high school teacher. According to Koreaboo, Honey J used to always say to Noze: “You’re so pretty, why are you not trying to become a celebrity?” On the show You Quiz on the Block, Noze said that, although she was thankful for all the attention, she has more to offer than just her looks.
On Street Woman Fighter, Noze proved herself when she choreographed a dance to David Guetta’s Hey Mama, winning her the votes of her fellow dancers on the show. Her choreography went viral, with celebrities such as Shinee’s Key and Super Junior’s Heechul even doing dance covers of her choreography. According to Koreaboo, Noze’s fee per gig shot up from a modest US$1,680 before the show to around US$126,000 after it aired.
Moon Sung-hoon and Chungha. Photo: @a.ssa_wood/Instagram
While I.O.I. member Chungha certainly has enough stage presence to be one of the most successful K-pop solo artists, it seems like her dancers have star potential too. Moon Sung-hoon, who goes by the stage name Wood, is the man behind Chungha’s viral performance of Roller Coaster in 2018. Apart from being one of the three directors of the dance team A.ssa, Wood is also a model and choreographer.
The 24-year-old dancer set tongues wagging when he appeared on stage next to Chungha with his long hair and good looks. He’s featured in Chungha’s performances for her songs Snapping, Stay Tonight and more, and the pair seem to be good friends too.
In a Q&A video on his YouTube channel, Wood TV, he revealed that he is also close to idols like AB6IX’s Kim Dong-hyun, Stray Kids’ Bang Chan, Somi and the girls from Twice, as he also used to be a trainee at JYP Entertainment.
Cha Hyun-seung gained popularity after dancing with Sunmi. Photo: @502bright/Instagram
Cha Hyun-seung made media headlines after dancing next to Sunmi during the 2018 Waterbomb festival, where his muscular figure drew plenty of attention. He partnered with Sunmi many times since her solo debut with the song 24 Hours in 2014, as well as other top K-pop idols from Exo to Girls’ Generation.
Like Wood, Cha is also a model and he makes videos too. On his YouTube channel, he shares everything from casual vlogs to behind-the-scenes clips of photo shoots, dance covers and even his workout routine. According to Koreaboo, in his YouTube video with Edward Avila, Cha revealed that he originally wanted to become a singer but then became mesmerised by dancing instead.Internet Explorer Channel Network