K-pop girl group StayC, Gen Z hitmakers, talk freedom, equality and working hard for their dreams

TikTok, fourth generation of K-pop, The group

Girl group StayC debuted in November 2020 with their single So Bad. This year, they’re one of the biggest K-pop successes around, winning fans and topping South Korean music charts.

“Throughout the year, so many good things have happened, and we’re happy and proud of what we’ve accomplished,” says StayC member Sieun, a former child actress. “We hope we can continue on with our good teamwork so we can become even better in the future.”

The group’s name is an acronym for Star To A Young Culture and in each of their releases, the six members of StayC – stylised in all capital letters – perfectly embody that.

Each of their songs is lively and sassy in a Gen Z-ish way, which has resonated with people around the world: they’re popular on social media apps like TikTok, and are considered female leaders of the fourth generation of K-pop acts.

So why exactly have StayC seen so much love in the crowded realm of K-pop? The members have some thoughts.

“All of us have different voices, personalities and singing methods, and I think we are able to express vibrant and colourful performances that people get a lot of energy from,” suggests Sumin. “I hope people really just think that we’re a cool, inspiring group.”

TikTok, fourth generation of K-pop, The group

K-pop girl group StayC are considered female leaders of the fourth generation of K-pop acts. Photo: High Up Entertainment

The group, managed by High Up Entertainment and produced by hit-making production duo Black Eyed Pilseung, was selected as Spotify’s “Equal Global Artist” in November 2021, which puts the spotlight on female artists across the world.

They’re up for some major awards at the Melon Music Awards on December 4. (Both High Up and the streaming platform Melon are subsidiaries of Kakao Entertainment, itself a part of internet company Kakao.)

Stereotype [released in September] was about trying to throw away stereotypes, and I think that sort of motivational song resonates well, and is something we want to keep doing,” says Sieun. “We hope we can go on to sing songs about freedom, equality – a whole wide range of values.”

Beyond their singles, Seeun says she hopes people check out B-sides, especially their song Slow Down. “‘The wind blows as the flower petals fly/you came into my heart just like that’,” she says, quoting the lyrics. “It’s so pretty, I hope people enjoy it too.”

The group admit they were initially surprised when they heard not just their name but also their tagline “StayC Girls, it’s going down” at the start of their singles.

“We were so confused and didn’t know what it meant,” says Yoon with a laugh. “Was it like people will watch us? ‘Stay and see?’ But then we found out what it means and we love it.”

“When we heard ‘StayC girls, it’s going down’, we were all confused,” adds Sumin. “Isn’t going down a bad thing? We want to go up in our career! But now we know it means that we’re going to start something amazing, so we feel confident now when we say the phrase.”

The StayC girls, Sumin, Sieun, Isa, Seeun, Yoon and J, were all born between 2001 and 2004 and live up to their youthful branding. They say they envision themselves to be role models of sorts for their peers.

“I’m happy that we can show that we can have a career where, even if you’re young, you can work hard for your dream,” says J, the youngest member, who turns 17 on December 9. “I hope we can inspire others that it’s OK to pursue dreams that you have since being young – you don’t need to give up those youthful desires.

“Obviously, there are things we’ve given up to pursue this career,” J adds. “But because I get so much happiness from what I’m doing now, I think it’s OK.”

Even though they’re stars and hope to inspire “a young culture”, the members of StayC are ultimately women trying to find their own way and working hard to get it.

For example, when they jump on a video call with the Post in mid-November, they are in stylish sweats and masks. The call was delayed an hour because of a busy schedule – the girls are in the middle of preparations not just for new music but also South Korea’s end-of-year award shows.

“We feel pressure, but we still are just trying to enjoy the ride,” said Sumin. “We hope everyone stays happy and healthy, both us and our fans, and we can travel to see all our fans around the world soon.”

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