K-pop girl group SixBomb made international headlines in 2017 – but not necessarily for the right reasons.
Although SixBomb debuted in 2012, the group did not begin attracting attention until they bounced around looking like hot dogs in the somewhat viral music video for 2016 single ‘Wait 10 Years Baby’. After a short break, SixBomb announced plans in 2017 for a new concept under the name ‘Becoming Pretty’. The double A-side single celebrated the girls’ decisions to undergo major plastic surgery procedures exceeding over ₩100,000,000. The first part, aptly titled ‘Before’, documented their pre-surgery activities whereas ‘After’ revealed the changes in all their glory; “whoever sees me I am pretty, pretty” SixBomb belt out over the upbeat electro dance beat of ‘After’.
A concept as outrageous as that was obviously never going to go unnoticed. However, the exposure for SixBomb and their concept was possibly wider than any of the girls could have anticipated: SixBomb’s surgery was the subject of discussion at major global outlets like Billboard, BBC, Cosmopolitan, Idolator and Refinery29. Perhaps unintentionally, the coverage of SixBomb’s ‘Becoming Pretty’ surgery results opened up a larger conversation about beauty standards in South Korea; the small country is home not just to phenomenons like K-pop, K-drama and K-beauty, but is also the plastic surgery capital of the world. Regardless of their true intentions, SixBomb’s ‘Becoming Pretty’ polarized audiences. Are they a joke intended to be the laughing stock of K-pop? Or are SixBomb actually a genius girl group who have mastered the art of controversial PR?
Well audiences, prepare to feel polarized once again, because SixBomb have returned with yet another outlandish concept; ‘Hiccup Hiccup’, SixBomb’s latest bop, parodies the Japanese adult video industry in its music video by comically pixelating near enough everything in sight. Like all iconic masterpieces before it, ‘Hiccup Hiccup’ was also banned by KBS, who claim that the lyrics contain expressions resembling homosexuality and sexual intercourse. “It’s a song that is overfilled with SixBomb’s unique sexiness,” their agency Pacemaker Entertainment simply stated.
‘Hiccup Hiccup’ is yet another successfully risque, tongue-in-cheek effort which ascertains that SixBomb are somehow managing to carve out for themselves a niche as K-pop’s controversial, satirical girl group.
During our exclusive chat, conducted before ‘Hiccup Hiccup’ was publically announced, SixBomb continued to stand by the fact that they all made their own personal decision to undergo plastic surgery for their ‘Becoming Pretty’ concept. The SixBomb girls were candid and honest about their experiences in the Korean entertainment industry, shattering the glamorous illusions of K-pop idol life and instead exposing the realities: K-pop is oversaturated with girl groups who can barely make a buck, they agree. Soa, Dain and Leesol, SixBomb’s current members, made it clear however that they are determined to make a difference for females.
And you know what?
Good luck to all three of them.
Our interview proved that there’s way more to SixBomb than garish pink bodysuits and did-they-go-too-far-with-that musical concepts. They’re an ambitious group of girls who want to utilize their talents to challenge how people think. Audiences may not realize it, but SixBomb are working on making and seeing changes in the Korean entertainment industry for its female performers – one satire tinged dance bop at a time.
SheBOPS: What is your favorite musical style?
Soa: I mostly like exciting dance music and hip hop.
Dain: I really enjoy Ed Sheeran’s music. I prefer to listen to quiet and slow songs like ballads and R&B, because usually SixBomb’s music is fast and rhythmical dance music.
Leesol: I want to enjoy various musical styles, but I mostly play R&B and ballads.
Who do you represent in the group?
Soa: I am a leader in the group and rap.
Dain: I play the main vocal part in the team.
Leesol: I play the vocal part!
Is there a quote you consider your life motto?
Soa: He can do, she can do, why not me!
Dain: I always remember the sayings “time is medicine” and “nothing is permanent in the world” and I try to think about it when I get anxious about something. Breathe, and live a calm life.
Leesol: Life is one shot.
What is your reaction to the global spreading of K-pop and other elements of Korean culture, like K-drama and K-beauty?
Soa: It is very interesting and I am so excited, proud and happy to have a lot of interest and love all over the world. So we want to enjoy music together all over the world.
Dain: I think it is very good. I used to think that there is only the Hallyu Wave in Asia, but now I am very happy that many people in the Western world are interested in K-pop and K-beauty.
Leesol: I think that it’s good that now Korean culture is everywhere. I thought the Hallyu Wave was only famous in Asian countries but it makes me happy to know that now the Western countries are also interested in K-pop and K-beauty. I will try hard to get our culture and music spread more widely over the world.
Do you have anything you want international fans to know about K-pop?
Soa: I would like to let you know that there are more diverse genres of music and singers than idol music of large-scale marketing companies.
Dain: There are a lot of K-pop songs that are easy to listen and sing along to. These songs are the result of the hours of practice and efforts made by the members of both boy and girl groups. For that reason I’d like to let the world know that they put their hearts into each one of these songs.
Leesol: There are many different genres of music, and there are also some really cool pieces that are unknown. It would be nice to get those unknown cool songs more popular to them, me and SixBomb as well.
There are more diverse genres of music and singers than idol music of large-scale marketing companies.
Do you have a favorite SixBomb song?
Soa: ‘Getting Pretty’. I like ‘Before’ best. It is not a title song, but it is very interesting music and I took part in writing lyrics.
Dain: ‘Wait 10 Years Baby’ received much attention. I’m so excited when I perform because it is a song that everybody sings along and dances with me even when I perform!
Leesol: ‘Wait 10 Years Baby’. It is also a song that has introduced a little more of SixBomb, and I am so excited to sing and dance too!
Why did you decide to participate in the Becoming Prettier concept? What was SixBomb’s intention, and whose idea was it?
Soa: Many people said that the music video with pink tights in my previous album was very popular, and most of the comments said it was interesting, bizarre, and amazing. So I wanted to show not only the music, but also the appearance. So I thought not only was it a diet, but it was also a way to get plastic surgery to show the concepts more clearly.
Dain: I think that everyone wants to be pretty and cool. Because we are in the field of being seen by the public, I was always interested in my appearance. I wanted to see my image on the screen and not feel insecure and gain more confidence. I wanted to express my dignity and self-confidence by expressing myself honestly without hiding my plastic surgery. While discussing the concept with my team members, we finally decided to work on the concept of being beautiful and it was a decision that we all made together.
Leesol: I think that an outward appearance is the first thing to be seen in my job. I think it will be more synergistic if you come up with good songs with increasingly beautiful concept. I will come to you with my ability to grow more and more beautiful.
There are many controversies because SixBomb have always done what other people don’t do all the time.
How did the controversial reaction to the Becoming Prettier concept make you feel? Are you pleased with the results of the concept (not including your physical changes)?
Soa: There were some positive responses, such as cheering for our bravery in getting plastic surgery without hiding it, and some had a negative reaction. In the controversy, the responses were very interesting and I appreciate your interest in SixBomb. It was also good because with this as a momentum, our song could spread widely. I’m happy with the results.
Dain: Whether the reaction is positive or negative, I feel good with the fact that I get attention as a celebrity and an entertainer. And personally, I like my appearance after plastic surgery very much and am satisfied to see my appearance appear much better on the screen. There was no concept that did not involve actual changes.
Leesol: I was surprised to see a little more beautiful and slightly different appearance, but I’m still satisfied with how I look and how beautiful the results are.
Do you feel prettier Before or After?
Soa: I used to be satisfied with my appearance, but after making up for my lack of plastic surgery, I feel more satisfied and beautiful.
Dain: Needless to say, I think it’s a lot better after!
Leesol: I look pretty now.
One year later, are you proud of your Becoming Prettier concept? Or do you regret it?
Soa: I’m proud of my present appearance and don’t regret it.
Dain: I have never regretted it; in fact I am glad and pleased that I have never been more beautiful. And I don’t regret it because it’s not a random plastic surgery, but a tough one after a good deal of counseling at a safe hospital.
Leesol: I don’t regret my choice. I will try to keep myself in shape and be healthy.
What difficulties do you encounter being in an idol group?
Soa: There are too many idol groups and it takes too much time and waiting to do well in the upcoming idol market. So it’s hard to make a lot of money until it works. And unlike in the past, it is difficult to promote a group and music when there are only short periods of activity.
Dain: At first, I thought all I needed to do was dance and sing well, but it wasn’t true. I also need to be careful about my appearance; I need to be in shape; I need to be able to speak well during interviews. I also need to know how to communicate with the audience on stage. There are so many things to do.
Leesol: Sometimes I think what it would be like to be active in a variety of fields and to have more opportunities.
If you had the opportunity, which female musicians would you like to collaborate with?
Soa: I would like to work with Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, they are very powerful women. Psy is a Korean singer I would want to share a stage with.
Dain: Beyoncé? Hahah… As a female musician, I usually like the singer Kim Na Young in Korea, and the foreign female singer I like the most is Beyoncé. If there is an opportunity, I would be very honored.
Leesol: I would like to sing with IU and Gummy.
Which female artists have inspired you in your life?
Soa: Nicki Minaj’s imposing appearance inspired me a lot.
Dain: I think Beyoncé and Kim Na Young inspired me.
Leesol: Beyoncé and Insooni. I was inspired that they have continued with their music for a long time and their music always cheers and encourages people, so I would like to be a singer like them.
All that is visible is the appearance, but real music itself made by musician’s effort is on the inside.
As women, is there anything about the music industry that frustrates you? What issues do you think Korean female musicians are facing today?
Soa: I want to be a singer for a long time, but the problem is that it is very difficult in idol culture. I think it is necessary to have a culture that is capable of performing continuously rather than just being active for a few bright years.
Dain: I think the biggest problem is that it is difficult to survive in the K-pop market where so many girl groups are active and not even receiving public attention.
Leesol: I wish you would give even unknown singers an opportunity to be known. It’s a pity that there aren’t many opportunities for singers who are looking for ways and ways to be known.
How do you feel about the representation of female musicians, especially in Korea? Is there anything that you’d like to change?
Soa: Korean female singers are expressed a lot by the concept, but I would like you to pay more attention not only to the appearance but also to their musical features.
Dain: Now in Korea, most girl group idols are a very young age, so I’m worrying about my age. I think it’d be best if we can have a K-pop market where girl groups can continue to thrive in the long run.
Leesol: Although outward appearance for musicians is a part of it, I would like to see it as music first and the focus on listening to it. All that is visible is the appearance, but real music itself made by musician’s effort is on the inside.
Do you have any top tips for other female musicians?
Soa: If everyone strives for a variety of good music and performances from where they are, someday there will be a good day.
Dain: I wish you will not get hurt by the public’s malicious comments. Some people are even hurt by the fact that they don’t even receive such malicious comments and are forgotten due to indifference, so always think positively and be happy with the attention of the public!
Leesol: Rather than a tip, if you pursue and play music with confidence, someday you will see light.
What’s left to come from SixBomb in 2018?
Soa: I hope that in 2018 there will be new albums and more performances and activities. It will be the year when SixBomb and our songs will be known all over the world.
Dain: We are preparing a new album. There are many controversies because SixBomb have always done what other people don’t do all the time. There are a lot of negative opinions from the public, but there are people who support SixBomb so we can remain active for a long time. I think that I will work harder so that people of negative gaze will look at us positively! I hope that you will look forward to SixBomb’s exciting new album and hope that everyone will enjoy our song! And I want to show our stage and music to those in Brazil! Call us and we’ll be there anytime! Please be sure to call us SixBomb^^!
Leesol: SixBomb is about to make a comeback with our new album in 2018. We are working hard to deliver a good album, so please love our comeback album. In the future, we ask for your love, interest and attention. SixBomb will definitely return with good songs and good activities!