K-pop burn book: idol group names

Do you ever look at a K-pop idol group name and wonder what focus group they tested it on?


Manasa Gudavalli

Welcome to Alex and Joey’s K-pop burn book. Feel free to disagree but we stand by our opinions. (Staff Illustration by Manasa Gudavalli)

Joey Hung and Alexandra Chan

It’s the return of the Burn Book variety show, but we’re not creepy. This time, we’re taking you through some of the most bonkers acronyms of K-pop groups and offering our opinions on names and meanings in order of debut. You’re a hoe if you disagree. 

Baby V.O.X. (1997)

Baby Voices of Xpression may forever be remembered for the malfunctioning rotating stage flinging them off the podium. Call that an Xceptional Mpact.

Fin.K.L (1998)

Fine Killing Liberty means to stand against the oppression of freedom, with “fin” meaning end in Spanish and French. Apparently DSP Media polled Korean youth on this name prior to launch. I really appreciate the way that we can be conscious of the global fight for human rights while bopping to “To My Boyfriend.” Timeless and iconic.

M.I.L.K (2001)

The acronym stands for “Made In Lovely Kin,” and I guess words mean something. There’s nothing that could justify this name. Burn it. 

TVXQ (2003)

Tong Vfang Xien Qi is ostensibly taken from the pronunciation of the Chinese characters 東方神起, which mean “rising gods of the East.” But if pinyin were taken into consideration, they would be DFSQ. TVXQ is also known as DBSK from the Korean pronunciation and Tohoshinki in Japanese. In conclusion: this shit doesn’t make sense. 

SS501 (2005)

Pronounced “Double S five zero one,” the name represents “superstar,” “singer” and “five members united as one forever.” Looks like forever only lasted until their contracts ended in June 2010. 

KARA (2007)

As if this group couldn’t get any cuter, their name means “sweet melody.” It comes from the Greek word “chara,” meaning joy. 10/10, I miss the “Mamma Mia” era. 

U-KISS (2008)

Ubiquitous Korean International Idol Super Star has the fandom name “Kiss Me.” When the idols shout “Who should I kiss?” fans respond with “Kiss me!” Kill me. I promise that is a ubiquitous feeling. 

f(x) (2009)

NAUR!! F is for flower and X is the female chromosome, therefore the meaning is flower that reminds one of women. Let’s just … sit here … for a second and think about that. Krystal wasn’t even 15 years old yet when they debuted with that horrifying innuendo. F(x) doesn’t deserve this slander after all they’ve been through, but this name was my last straw. As if a math function wasn’t enough, they had to bring in the weirdest parts of biology too. I love women in STEM.

2NE1 (2009)

The name means “New Evolution of The 21st Century” and is pronounced “to anyone” or “twenty-one.” 2NE1 is the group of the century — I dare you to watch that 2015 MAMA stage and tell me I’m wrong. They knew exactly what they were doing with the name and they’re so right for it.

TEEN TOP (2010)

“Teenage Emoboy Emotion Next Generation Talent Object Praise” is giving me that one tweet of that girl with all the random-ass smoothie ingredients who then got bullied for it. Emoboy??? Help. 

B.A.P (2012)

“Best Absolute Perfect” had the confidence necessary to debut with “Warrior.” The absolute gall of TS Entertainment to create B.A.P and thoroughly undermine them — worst, partial, defective.  

MFBTY (2013)

“My Fans [Are] Better Than Yours” is the cutest name for the most iconic K-hip hop trio. You will stan MFBTY if you have taste. That is not a request.

JJCC (2014)

Representing “Jackie Chan Joint Cultures” and pronounced “double-JC,” this was Jackie sunbaenim’s attempt at making a K-pop group. The members were hand-selected by JC himself and trained in tricking as well as singing and dancing. I have a hunch that JJCC was meant to exploit the chokehold that K-Tigers had on me. Unfortunately, their paid promotions with K-Tigers just made my tunnel vision even stronger. 

MONSTA X (2015)

The name refers to monsters conquering the K-pop scene and “my star” — “mon” meaning “my” in French — while the X symbolizes an unknown existence. The fandom name “Monbebe” also corresponds with the French. I don’t hate it. It’s kind of a wholesome cringe. Remember when they made a dick joke about the group name on a variety show? I like that meaning more. 

BgA (2016)

“Boys generally Asian” was inspired by Girls Generation and the individual stage names of Big Bang during the peak of Asian American YouTube. Why do I see myself stanning them if they were an actual group? I wouldn’t mind calling myself a k-pooper for R.O.P. oppa <3.

EXP Edition (2016)

Short for “experiment,” the non-Korean group was created by a Columbia master’s student, and their claim to fame is whiteness. I personally always try to avoid second-hand embarrassment for my K-pop group, and their ICSYV stage made me break out in stress, so please stop thinking about me.

Weki Meki (2017)

Their name means “eight unique girls (MeKi) that hold keys to know one another, and the girls together, hold keys that open to another world.” Weki Meki is one of those names where you think it’s so stupid that you keep repeating it out of disbelief, then end up liking the name. She’s cute. Also, it’s pronounced “wee-key” not “wecky.” 

(G)I-DLE (2018)

I still don’t know how to pronounce this group’s name. The parentheses confuses me — I’m sorry, I was never good at math. Guy-dle? G idol? Idle? I think at one point the G was supposed to be silent? The second part is a homonym for “idol” and the Korean word for child, but even the girls themselves don’t know what it means

IZ*ONE (2018)

So I thought it was pronounced “eye-zone,” then a friend told me that it was pronounced “I see one,” as in I see one team. However, I have just been informed that it means “twelve-one” like twelve members in one team… I like my explanation much better.

AB6IX (2019)

“Absolute Six” is also an abbreviation of “Above BrandNew Six”. It’s like I found a meme my friends sent that was funny while I was on the toilet, so I smashed random numbers and letters on my phone. 

SuperM (2019)

The “Super” references the synergy between the members while the letter “M” stands for both “matrix” and “master.” Y’all already know what we’re thinking — no way that the fandom name isn’t “spermies.” The “Avengers of K-pop” was not the crossover event of the century. Give it a rest, SM Entertainment.  

aespa (2020)

“æ” means “Avatar X Experience” and “aspect,” which means double-sided. This name was ugly until I saw Karina. Now I understand the importance of the face of the group.

Tri.Be (2021)

“Tri” for triangle means perfection and “Be” for “being.” Combined, they mean “perfect existence.” You CANNOT debut a group named “tribe” in the year 2021, especially with this intro instrumentation. What the HELL are you thinking?

Kep1er (2021)

“Kep” means catching dreams, the number one means the nine girls coming together as one to be the best. The name also refers to the planet “Kepler.” They’re only one degree away from Kaplan SAT test prep. You’re gonna need some Kevlar vests to protect the girls from the mess of the Produce show series — I don’t know who’s still a fan. 

NCT Hollywood (2022)

White men. Imagine five Justin Biebers in one boy group. Worse, imagine five Kevin Nguyens in a K-pop group singing and dancing in formation with their ear piercings, dragon tattoos and Air Jordans squeaking on the M COUNTDOWN stage. I can see some of y’all already simping over them. STOP IT. He was probably in Lambda Phi Epsilon before auditioning because his not-as-cute, but more talented friend wanted support in his audition to become an idol. Then, upon giving a half-assed performance of Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire,” he was asked to stay behind while his friend got shuffled away. He passed all the auditions in one day, got sent to L.A. and now he’s in this K-pop idol group cruising his way through his career and life because of — say it with me folks — pretty privilege.

Contact Joey Hung at [email protected] and Alexandra Chan at [email protected].