9 Times “Image-Breaking” Majorly Increased Popularity

It’s no big secret that K-pop idols have to be careful about their image. Especially in this age when anyone and everyone can whip out their smartphones to capture photos or videos on social media, K-pop stars just can’t seem to catch a break. Not only do they have to be all smiles onstage and off-stage, they constantly have to be on their best behavior. If there’s anything we’ve all learned from past scandals, it’s that even one mistake can instantly ruin any reputation, no matter how good it was before.

So it makes sense that girl groups in particular strive for a spotless reputation. However, recently, there seems to be a growing trend of female idols who consistently break out of the mold of having a “perfect angel” image and become even more popular for showing their personality and really, for showing that they’re human too. Let’s take a look!

hwang jung eum

While Hwang Jung Eum is a veteran actress rather than an idol group member, she has really made a name for herself by going all out to become her character, no matter how much it “ruins” the typical actress image of beautiful elegance. Rather than “ruining” her, doing so landed her well-deserved respect and even a bunch of awards at the end of the year. I mean, just look at her — you can’t say she’s not committed to her art.

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Real Men – Female Soldier Edition

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All the actresses, comedians, girl group members, and other celebrities who went out on these specials deserve a round of applause. The show creates this space for celebrities to show a more vulnerable side on screen whether it’s through stuffing their faces with food, being yelled at by a soldier, snotting everywhere after the gas chamber, or crying from the stress. Even their makeup comes off completely and body weights are revealed!

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There isn’t any room for fake performance on this show, and it seems to pay off for them in the long run.

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Girl’s Day’s Hyeri

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While previously already known for her crazy mokbangs and loud personality, Girl’s Day’s Hyeri rose to even greater popularity after her drama “Reply 1988.” Similar to Hwang Jung Eum, Hyeri really gave it her all to become Deok Sun with all the crazy dancing, ridiculous faces, food-stuffing, and straight up hollering.

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None of this typically fits with the “girl group image” that she could have tried to follow, but it was the perfect way to become the highly popular star she is now.


A Pink’s Bomi

Okay let’s be real. How common is it for a girl group member to admit any kind of fart stories or run like a gorilla on variety shows? There may be a few more these days but A Pink’s Bomi stands out as one girl group member who brought everyone to tears from laughter with her outrageous talent for being completely “unladylike” in the most endearing and goofy way possible. It’s the same goofiness that she channeled in her position as assistant MC on “Weekly Idol” as well.

“Who are you all to judge? We’re not a team. This is a competition.”


Jessi on “Unpretty Rapstar Season 1” was definitely 100 percent herself, and nobody messed with her because of that. Tough and talented, Jessi shines in the spotlight even long after this show, admired for being so brutally honest and real. Who knew that this rant would end up becoming one of the most popular catch phrases?

4Minute’s Jiyoon


Maybe it’s just the nature of the show to spotlight certain people, but 4Minute Jiyoon became the iconic figure for “Unpretty Rapstar Season 2.” Although at first, she was wrecked by her weak introduction rap and her reputation as a rapper hit rock bottom, Jiyoon eventually turned the hate around by steadily improving and then, using that same criticized rap hook from before in a new performance. Her good-natured wit and ability to laugh at herself eventually won her a place of respect on the show and in the general public eye.

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Jessica and Krystal


Both known by the nickname “Ice Princess,” sisters Jessica and Krystal (of f(x))had the opportunity to be completely real on TV with their show, “Jessica and Krystal.” They were both criticized many times in the past for their chilly and unapproachable appearances, and although this didn’t exactly hinder their popularity, it still came up every so often. But on their own show, viewers were able to get a closer look into their lives and understand their more withdrawn personalities better. In the end, this actually gained the sisters even more fans.



On a slightly different note, GFRIEND probably didn’t intend for a fancam of their performance on the slippery stage to go viral, and likewise, probably didn’t expect such a warm reception to their painful falls during their performance of “Me Gustas Tu.” Most girl groups don’t plan on boosting their image in this way, but the overwhelming concern for these girls has made them a more noticed rookie group. Yuju, in particular, fell around 7-8 times and incredibly still managed to finish the performance. Because their falls weren’t due to lack of talent or preparation, their perseverance shined through.



Although far from taboo, it’s not common for a girl group to film singing their newest release at a dinner party flowing with alcohol. And it’s certainly not everyday that girl group members promote their songs while slightly tipsy. But it’s no wonder that this video got so many views; Hani and LE’s cute antics using chopsticks to drum on the soju bottle, Junghwa’s softer voice perfectly balancing out Solji and Hyerin’s power vocals, and just the more casual atmosphere in general. The laughter and relaxed vibes only remind us of how chill and incredibly talented EXID really is.

sophfly finds inspiration from these (and so many more) celebrities who aren’t willing to compromise themselves for the sake of image. She finds such stars to be refreshing and more personable, which is why she had so much fun compiling this (far from complete) list. 

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