Moon Hee-jun, Eun JI-won, Danny Ahn, Tony An and Cheon Myeong-hoon pose in a press conference for their show titled "Pretty Boys of the20th Century" in this file photo. / Courtesy of QTV
The first generations are usually revered for paving the way.
In the fast-moving music industry, that hasn't been quite the case as newer and latest boy and girl-groups have taken over from their predecessors, leaving not much stage room for the first and second generations.
First generation K-pop stars have been struggling to re-establish their presence on stage as differences have led to disbandment, expiration of contracts and male stars being called to perform compulsory military service. A rare exception has been the six-member Shinhwa who came out with their 11th album, "The Classic," in late May. The single "This Love" briefly topped local charts, and the group also successfully launched a tour through Asia.
However, some first-generational K-pop stars are slowly breaking through the trend. Comprised of Tony An, formerly of H.O.T, Moon Hee-joon also formerly of H.O.T, Eun Ji-won of Sechkies, Cheon Myeong-hoon of NRG and Danny Ahn of g.o.d., the five showed they haven't turned rusty while appearing on a popular music program "Classic Songs That Never Die" on KBS.
The fivesome performed their version of "Days Passed with Rain," a hit-song for singer/dancer Park Nam-jeong. Their performance stood out as the five now all in their mid-30s demonstrated raw talent that is sometimes amiss among the myriad of pre-engineered K-pop girl and boy groups.
In an interview held before their performance, Eun Ji-won said that they got together at the urgings of Moon, and that they share commonalities as they were all born in 1978.
The five belonged to top-of-the-line groups that were active in the 1990s and enjoyed a broad "fandom" that idolized these stars.
Now they have a program that they host titled "20th Century Idols" aired on cable channel QTV, where they get together and disclose anecdotes from their heydays in the 1990s through early the 2000s. Alongside this program, the five released the song "We Can Do It" as a group
Their grouping as "HotSechgotalji" (a combination of syllables from their previous group names) suggests that first-generation K-pop stars can regroup musically.
Netizens wrote after watching their performance that "The first generation still lives on" and "Oh the memories......."
Alongside activity with the five, Tony An released his fifth E.P. "Up to Here," containing four songs of the ballad genre added with strong beats and trendy electronic sounds. Fellow "HotSechgotalji" member Eun Ji-won features on one song. An is also preparing a full-length studio album that is expected to follow soon.
They are not the sole "first-generation" K-pop groups active. Another former H.O.T member Kangta is currently starring on a reality program dubbed "Living Alone." He disclosed his personal living quarters for the first time in his 17 years in the entertainment industry.
Han Seong-ho, chief of FNC Entertainment had forecast in a previous interview that retro will be the theme of Korean popular culture this year.
Kim Gogeunpyung, a popular culture critic said retro is always part of Korean pop cultural trend.
"It's a refreshing attempt to be sure, because the five members at one times were top stars, almost idolized by fans. Singers like Moon Hee-joon kept himself viable by endlessly communicating with his fans, even his anti fans. But they need to do more to survive in this cut-throat music industry, " said Kim.
He noted how another ‘90s solo singers including Kim Won-jun and three others grouped as "M4," only to disband just three years after formation.