Determining which idol groups belong to which generation of K-Pop is an issue that has once again created mixed opinions between Korean and international fans.

While some people believe that K-Pop is now in its 4th generation of idols, many others claim that the newly debuted idol groups still belong to the 3rd generation. This topic has been creating a lot of arguments, especially between the Korean and international fans, who have rarely found a common voice in many different situations.

Recently, Korean netizens have listed 12 idol groups in the “gray” area, whom overseas fans have soon called the 4th generation of K-Pop while Korean fans disagree. They include:

JYP Entertainment

ITZY

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Itzy (Korean: 있지) is a South Korean girl group formed by JYP Entertainment, consisting of members Yeji, Lia, Ryujin, Chaeryeong, and Yuna. The group debuted on February 12, 2019, with the release of their single album, It’z Different.

Stray Kids

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Stray Kids (Korean: 스트레이 키즈; RR: Seuteurei kijeu; often abbreviated as SKZ) is a South Korean boy band formed by JYP Entertainment through the 2017 reality show of the same name. The group is composed of eight members: Bang Chan, Lee Know, Changbin, Hyunjin, Han, Felix, Seungmin, and I.N. Originally a nine-piece group, member Woojin left Stray Kids due to undisclosed personal reasons in October 2019. The group released their extended play Mixtape in January 2018 and officially debuted on March 25 with I Am Not.

YG Entertainment

TREASURE

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Treasure (Hangul: 트레저; Japanese: トレジャー; stylized as TREASURE) is a South Korean boy group formed in 2019 by YG Entertainment through the reality-survival program YG Treasure Box. The twelve-piece group shares joint leadership among the eldest members, Choi Hyun-suk and Jihoon, and officially made their debut on August 7, 2020 with the lead single “Boy” from single album The First Step: Chapter One.

Big Hit Entertainment

TXT

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Tomorrow X Together (stylized in all capital; Korean: 투모로우바이투게더; RR: Tumoroubaitugedeo; lit. Tomorrow by Together), commonly known as TXT (/ˈtiː-ˈɛks-ˈtiː/ TEE-eks-tee), is a five-member South Korean boy band formed by Big Hit Entertainment. The group consists of members Yeonjun, Soobin, Beomgyu, Taehyun, and Huening Kai. They debuted on March 4, 2019 with the EP The Dream Chapter: Star. The album debuted and peaked at number one on the Gaon Album Chart and Billboard World Albums Chart and entered the US Billboard 200 at number 140, becoming the highest-charting debut album by any male K-pop group. The album’s lead single “Crown” debuted atop the World Digital Songs with TXT topping the Billboard Emerging Artists Chart, making them the fastest K-Pop group to appear in World Digital Songs and the second-fastest K-Pop group to appear in the Billboard Emerging Artist. The group’s commercial reception earned them several new artists of the year awards including Rookie of the Year at the 34th Golden Disc Awards and the 2019 Melon Music Awards, New Artist of the Year- Album at the 9th Gaon Chart Music Awards and Best New Male Artist at the 2019 Mnet Asian Music Awards.

Cube Entertainment

(G)I-DLE

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(G)I-dle (Korean: (여자)아이들; RR: Yeoja Aideul), stylized as (G)I-DLE, is a South Korean multinational girl group formed by Cube Entertainment in 2018. The group consists of six members: Miyeon, Minnie, Soojin, Soyeon, Yuqi, and Shuhua. The group debuted on May 2, 2018, with their first extended play titled I Am and its lead single “Latata”. A year later, the group debuted in Japan on July 31, 2019, under U-Cube with Latata.

Since their debut, the group has released three extended plays and six singles including “Latata”, “Hann (Alone)”, “Senorita”, “Uh-Oh”, “Oh My God”, “Dumdi Dumdi” and their promotional single, “Lion”, with all of them reaching the top ten on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart. (G)I-dle has also stood out for their direct involvement in their music, with their leader, Soyeon, and members Minnie and Yuqi writing and co-producing their material. In conjunction with the release of their third EP I Trust in 2020, the group signed with American record label Republic Records to pursue expansion into the U.S. marketplace.

Starship Entertainment

CRAVITY

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Cravity (Korean: 크래비티; RR: Keuraebiti) is a South Korean boy band formed by Starship Entertainment. The group is composed of nine members: Serim, Allen, Jungmo, Woobin, Wonjin, Minhee, Hyeongjun, Taeyoung, and Seongmin. They debuted on April 14, 2020 with their extended play Season 1. Hideout: Remember Who We Are.

Jellyfish Entertainment

VERIVERY

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Verivery (Hangul: 베리베리; stylized as VERIVERY and also abbreviated VRVR) is a South Korean boy group formed by Jellyfish Entertainment in 2018. The group debuted on January 9, 2019 with Veri-Us.

Blockberry Creative

LOONA

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Loona (stylized as LOOΠΔ) is a South Korean girl group formed by Blockberry Creative. Its twelve members were revealed in a periodic fashion, corresponding to their Korean name Idarui Sonyeo (이달의 소녀), which translates to “Girl of the Month”.

Loona commenced their pre-debut project in October 2016, with each member releasing a promotional single over the next eighteen months. The group has formed three sub-units: Loona 1/3Loona Odd Eye Circle and Loona yyxy. Their debut EP as a full ensemble, [+ +] (2018), was supported by the lead single “favOriTe” and the title track “Hi High.”

KQ Entertainment

ATEEZ

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ATEEZ (Korean: 에이티즈, pronounced “Ay-Teez”), is a South Korean boy group formed by KQ Entertainment. The group is composed of eight members: Hongjoong, Seonghwa, Yunho, Yeosang, San, Mingi, Wooyoung and Jongho. They debuted on October 24, 2018 with the extended play Treasure EP.1: All to Zero.

Yuehua Entertainment

EVERGLOW

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Everglow (에버글로우, stylized as EVERGLOW) is a South Korean girl group under Yuehua Entertainment. The group is composed of six members: E:U, Sihyeon, Mia, Onda, Aisha, and Yiren. Everglow debuted on March 18, 2019, with the single album Arrival of Everglow.

Once again, Korean netizens showed completely opposite thoughts compared to international netizens. Many comments confirm that the above groups are still gen 3 and resolutely refuse to accept the opinions of foreign K-Pop fans.

  • “These are all Korean idol groups, why should we care about the opinions of international fans?”
  • “I think (G)I-DLE is gen 3, not gen 4”
  • “BTS and BLACKPINK are still very popular, who cares about the 4th generation??”
  • “So if there are newer rookie groups, should they be called the 5th generation?”
  • “What is the standard, though?”
  • “But what are their standards? The 4th gen includes groups that debuted in 2018?”
  • “What about IZ*ONE? They debuted even later than (G) I-DLE.”
  • “Korean fans don’t admit it, but what are international fans doing?”
  • “There are a lot of groups I don’t know… Generation 4 is more popular overseas than Korea, isn’t it?”
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Do you think these groups belong to gen 3 or gen 4?