Recently, one of the most controversial topics in the Korean fan community is when the 4th generation of K-Pop idols will officially emerge. By the standards of Korean netizens, the key factor for K-Pop gen 4 to emerge is the overwhelming growth of a new generation of idol groups – meaning some new groups must attract a certain amount of attention to the Korean public as well as the international fans.

H.O.T. – the pioneer of the 1st generation of K-Pop
g.o.d – the biggest boy group of K-Pop gen 1

Based on this standard, many netizens believe it is still too early for the 4th generation of K-Pop to start. In addition, at this time, groups of K-Pop gen 3 such as EXO, BTS, TWICE, BLACKPINK… are still dominating the scene – they are still representing K-Pop. To determine when the 4th generation of will begin, let’s look at how K-Pop gen 1, 2 and 3 formed and developed (based on male idol groups only).

TVXQ opened the 2nd generation.
BIGBANG became the King of K-Pop gen 2.

According to Knew, for the 1st generation, HOT opened the era and g.o.d is the most popular group to the public. For the 2nd generation, TVXQ created the era and BIGBANG is the most popular group to the public. For the 3rd generation, EXO created the era and BTS is the most popular group to the public. So, as you can see, it may take a long time before the new generation of idol groups really takes shape. But here are the top 6 groups that Knet claims to have the potential to skyrocket in popularity and lead the 4th generation.

EXO led the 3rd generation.
BTS is the biggest name in K-Pop gen 3.

According to their debut order, the groups chosen by Knet are: Stray Kids(G)I-DLE (debuted in March 2018), LOONA (debuted in August 2018), ATEEZ (debuted in October 2018), ITZY (debuted in February 2019), and TXT (debuted in March 2019).

Stray Kids

Here are some comments from Knet regarding this topic:

“The moment a group replaces BTS, EXO and TWICE, that’s when the 4th generation begins.”

“It’s still generation 3.5 right now.”


“If there already was a popular group that opened the 4th generation, everything would change a lot. Right now, we only have some seeds for the 4th generation to grow.”

“It’s still the 3rd generation. The 4th generation cannot start just because there are so many rookies right now.”


“Certainly, no one has been able to open the 4th generation yet. It is not necessary for a group to surpass BTS in order for the new generation to begin. But there must be a group prominent enough to attract huge attention.”

Let’s wait and see which group will start K-Pop gen 4.