Top Ten Fashion Icons in Korea and Japan

At least, according to me. I bet some of you were expecting this and I bet most of you don’t really care – perhaps, you came here out of boredom or you’ve found this from the fresh posts page. That’s okay, I won’t take it to heart.

This list will compile musicians, models, idols, and combinations thereof who are from Japan and Korea. These are my opinions so take this with a grain of salt but if you absolutely disagree with me, please link to this article. I like traffic.

 Number Ten (Japan): Kyarypamyupamyu

She sees you.

First, she started out as a blogger from Harajuku, then she became a model for the city’s magazines like Kera! and Zipper. Eventually, she decided to debut as a singer. It wasn’t until the summer of 2011 when she released the song “PonPon”. People were really fascinated by how weird it was (although it was a tribute to the kawaisa and Decora styles). There was the inevitable comparisons to Lady Gaga. I’ve been a fan of hers since “PonPon” debuted and even I’m tired of hearing the same joke over and over.

It gets old rather fast.

As weird as Kyary is, she still retains a very cutesy and sweet style that I’ve always admired. I mean, there’s the inevitable dark side to the cute style which may be obvious in her video. The fact that she uses Decora in her videos as well shows that the style is still around the streets of not only Harajuku but Tokyo in general.

I hope her autobiography, Oh! My! God! Harajuku Girl gets translated because I certainly would like to take a look at that.

Number Ten (Korea): Amber of f(x)

Yes, yes, I get it already.

Okay, I know you’re going to take one look at her and head straight to the comment section to leave a tasteless joke about how she looks like a man. Go ahead and make the joke. I’ll wait.

Out of your system? Good.

Anyway, when f(x) first debuted under the SM Entertainment label in 2009, a lot of fans were really surprised to see Amber. They were naturally confused but very soon accepted the androgynous Chinese woman. Yep, she’s also Chinese and she certainly won’t be the last one on this list because these people have contracts in Korea, so they count to be part of this list, at least on the Korean side of things.

However, there are many men and women who are quite androgynous so I’m sure you’re wondering why she’s on this list at all. The answer is very simple: she has the confidence. Most people tend to be androgynous because it’s cool and hip and because each idol group in Korea seems to need one especially after Amber came on to the scene. Amber doesn’t seem to me as those manufactured androgynous people at all. In fact, I’m even surprised that SM Entertainment allowed her to keep her style the way it is. Either way, no complaints here. The only reason why she’s on this list is because she has the confidence and as we all know, confidence is key.

Number Nine (Japan): Tsubasa “MILKY BUNNY” Masuwaka

This is her most recent look. Gotta say, I love her with dark hair.

Despite the fact that in almost all her pictures, she may have a permanent duck face – this lady is awesome. While she was a model up until 2008 for the Gyaru magazines (especially Popteen), she had a beautiful son with her husband Naoki Umeda. Well, that’s not entirely true. She didn’t give up on her modeling career – apparently, the company that produced Popteen announced they were going to release an “older sister” magazine called Popsister, Tsubasa joined up the model line up as soon as she could. So even after giving birth to a son, she’s still modeling!

Not only is she a model, but she’s quite the accomplished woman as well.

Funnily enough, she even has her own brand of makeup called Candy Doll, as well as a false eyelashes line called Dolly Wink, and circle lens called Bambi Princess Mimi. She appeared in a lot of Japanese commercials and those who help focus on the Gyaru image.

Wow.

And not only that, she released a single under the pseudonym MILKY BUNNY. The song title is called “Bunny Days” which is a lot less weird than Kyary’s for sure but it still contains the kawaisa and arguably Decora as well

Just wow. I hope she gets enough sleep! I would probably crumble under pressure for just being a mom and a model.

Number Nine (Korea): CL from 2NE1

To be quite honest, this is extremely tame.

Honestly, I wasn’t all that sure if I wanted to put CL here on this list because simply: her style isn’t for everyone. She’s not like the traditional Korean bad girl where she just don’t care – her apathy reflects on her fashion as well. Once again, I can hear the comparisons to Lady Gaga coming from a mile away and very well, she could have been inspired by her.

However, her fashion is mostly urban mixed with punk and her individual style. Even for me, it took me some time to get used to CL and her unique taste. In fact, Yang Hyun Suk, the CEO of YG Entertainment (the label she and the other girls of 2NE1 are signed under) called her ugly quite often. I certainly don’t think she’s ugly and I hope that Master YG (as he’s more commonly known amongst fans and the fanclub known as Blackjacks) has changed his tone.

Part of CL’s inspiration for urban style clothes is due to the fact that she does the majority of the rapping in 2NE1’s songs. She actually found inspiration from Madonna and Beyonce so at least we know where her ideas are coming from.

Her fashion isn’t just unique but CL is also quite intelligent too. She knows four languages: Korean, Japanese, French, and English. Currently, 2Ne1 are collaborating with legendary producer will.I.am. and with fashion designer Jeremy Scott. I would imagine that he’s letting CL and the other girls help him out when it comes to his latest designs.

Number Eight (Japan): Reina Tanaka from Morning Musume.

Don’t let the outfit fool you. She’s actually quite silly.

This spunky girl is from the rotation group Morning Musume. She’s been part of the group since 2003 and is the only one who had to audition twice. When Reina auditioned in 2001,  the officials found out that she was underage so they disqualified her but when she tried again in 2003, she passed along with Eri Kamei and Sayumi Mischishige (whom we’ll get to later in this countdown).

In the song, “女子かしまし物語” (or translated as “The Story of Noisy Girls”, according to Project Hello), the girls tease her about having a Yankee fashion (which is a gangster girl who started out the fashion revolution of Gyaru) and saying how she’s a bad kid. Of course, they don’t really mean that – it’s a song about introducing members and seeing what type of girls they are.

Anyway, I have managed to go to a Morning Musume. concert in Los Angeles, California at an anime convention called Anime Expo 2009. Not only did I manage to see them in concert and know the girls who designed their video and won, but I managed to get their autographs! I’d add a picture but then I would seem more sad than I already am. Ironically, the above picture I used is her outfit for the video. Anyway, I’m getting off track.

When I was waiting to get Reina’s attention, she was really air headed and ditzy. She’s quite spirited and even though she did get into a couple of mild scandals, she’s a really sweet girl. She was really friendly and after meeting her in that moment, she became one of my favorite members of Morning Musume. in general.

Number Eight (Korea): e.via

Don’t let her sweet look fool you – she’s actually quite hardcore.

e.via may look sweet but she’s probably one of the most controversial and fastest female rappers out there. Her first single from her debut album, “Oppa! na Haedodwa?” (“Older Brother, Can I Do It?”) actually got banned from Music Bank because the lyrics were suggestive.

Despite the banishment, the song and album actually received overwhelming responses from online communities. She’s also notably a lyricist, composer, and pianist who’s represented by Dline Art Media. Before she picked the name e.via, she used to go by Napper but in one of her later releases, she combined both the e.via and Napper persona in the song, “My 약” (“My Medicine”).

As for her style, it’s extremely simple (after all, her energy in concerts from the videos that’s available tends to get pretty intense) but it’s sporty and cute. In her video for “Hey!” she lures people in with her in a school uniform until it gets until it gets to the 1 minute mark. It’s still a simple and sporty look but it has a very urban feel. She doesn’t over glam herself that other female rappers have a bad habit of doing – her makeup is as simple as her outfits.

Number Seven (Japan): Meisa Kuroki

From her “Unlocked” album.

Half Brazilian and half Japanese, Meisa is simply gorgeous. Not only is she  model but she’s also an actress and singer as well! She was born to a Japanese mother and a Brazilian father of Japanese and Portugese descent and she’s also the youngest of four sisters. She was discovered by a fashion scout while she was in her second year of junior high in Okinawa. From there, she became a popular model although she modeled initially only for the magazine JJ.

Although she debuted in a play, Meisa eventually made her way to the small screen in 2004 (the same year she made her theater debut) in the Fuji TV drama Medeka. She’s pretty popular for her acting skills which eventually landed her a role opposite of idol legend, Takuya Kimura, in the live-action film Space Battleship Yamato as Yuki Mori.

Eventually, she debuted as a singer in 2008 under the Sony Music Japan subsidiary label, Studioseven Recordings. Her success as a singer was pretty mild and she even sang the ending song, “Wired Life”, for the cartoon, Blue Exorcist.

But obviously while her accomplishments are vast, we’re talking about fashion here. The other magazine she modeled for was 25sans and she released two photobooks. She released one by herself entitled Love Mesia and another one with close friend and fellow actress, Maki Horikita, with the photographer Kishin Shinoyama entitled Missmatch.

In 2009, she was chosen as the Japanese face for the international brand Emporio Armani and in 2010, she was chosen as the international face for the French cosmetic and may be known L’Oreal.

Recently, it’s been announced that she married ex-KAT-TUN member and current career bad luck charm, Jin Akanishi, and is currently pregnant. From what I understand, there has been some companies who dropped her although I’m not sure if L’Oreal had done so – same with Emporio Armani. She has a very girl-next-door vibe but hopefully she will come back over to the fashion world after she has her baby. But there’s one thing I know for sure: that baby’s going to be beautiful.

Number Seven (Korea): Minzy of 2NE1

Believe it or not: she’s only 18!

With Minzy, it was easy for me to determine that I wanted her to be on this list. Unlike CL, a lot of fans took notice of her right away and got attached to her. A lot of people speculated if she was the oldest in the group because of her mature urban and punk style (similar to CL’s look but a lot less innovative) but instead it turns out that not only she was 16 years old but she also dropped out of high school to join YG Entertainment.

Minzy is more known as the dancer of the group so because of that, she would be wearing sport inspired clothes along with the urban and punk style. She was actually discovered by YG Entertainment after she posted a video of her dancing online. Because of all the rising popularity she was getting, that’s when the company contacted her.

It’s said that she knows the following: Amber and Luna from f(x), Yoona, Tiffany, Sooyoung, and Hyoyeon from Girls Generation, Siwon from Super Junior, IU, and even the famous Japanese soloist Koda Kumi. That’s quite a star-studded list! I wonder if her fashion influence comes and goes to those particular idols and singers…

Since she is part of 2NE1, she’s also part of the collaboration with producer will.I.am and fashion designer Jeremy Scott.

Number Six (Japan): Goto Maki

Pictured: Hard core gamer

Originally in Morning Musume.’s 3rd Generation (and only one in that particular Generation too), Goto Maki was an insanely popular member of Morning Musume. The first song she sang with Morning Musume, “Love Machine” sold over a million copies and still Morning Musume’s highest selling single. Eventually, it was remade into a cover by the Korean group, After School, and called it “Dream Girl”. On its tenth anniversary, Avex Group posted a “RIKI version” by actor Riki Tekeuchi on the offical YouTube channel.

Anyway, in 2001, Goto Maki launched her solo career under the Upfront Agency label  with the song, “愛のバカやろう” (“Love’s Fool”). She was also in other subgroups and temporary groups such as Petitmoni, Gomaato, Nochiura Natsumi, and Def.Diva. Eventually in early 2007, she was the leader of the 10th anniversary group, Morning Musume Tanjō 10 Nen Kinentai along with Natsumi Abe, Kaori Iida, Risa Niigaki, and Koharu Kusumi. However, she shocked fans when it was announced in 2007 that she not only she was graduating from Morning Musume., but she’ll leave Upfront Agency as well. She wanted to go into a different direction than what the agency wanted (you can really tell where she wanted to go based on the evolution of her solo singles from cutesy to very mature and adult).

But they let her go and soon signed with the Avex label. Soon she disappeared when her brother had to face trial for theft but opened up a blog in March 2008, which stated she was in Los Angeles getting dancing and singing lessons. Fans were curious and wondered what she was planning. The rumors soon dispelled of anything negative when she revealed to be part of the Avex crew and even released a few solo albums.

However, tragedy struck her when her mother committed suicide in 2010. Almost a year went by and she announced an indefinite hiatus for the 2012 year. Even though she signed up with Dream Morning Musume, it seems that she’s taking it easy for right now.

She still appears on fashion magazines and is even known to be a gamer. Maki even adopted a stage name, “Sweet Black”, which was supposed to reflect the “positive and negative” side of life in today’s women. She even launched it as a cross-media project collaboration between J-Wave, Avex, and Mixi.

Maki even modeled at Japan’s biggest fashion event in 2009, Tokyo Girls Collection (a semiannual fashion festival which started out in 2005). Her look is extremely sexual and erotic. She uses a lot of the glam look and has a very glam feel to her outfits. Although she’s mostly known as a singer and dancer (also as an ex-member of Morning Musume. with a tragic past), her cds usually include a photoshoot of her suggestive outfits although not nearly as suggestive as Koda Kumi is (and we’ll get to that in a bit).

Number Six (Korea): Henry Lau of Super Junior-M

Don’t get me started on this one.

Okay, if you weren’t close to me, this is how you can tell this is a list made by me: it has Henry Lau in it. Needless to say, I’m a bit biased when it comes to him but this is my list.

Anyway, the Chinese-Canadian is from the boy band Super Junior-M (the Mandarin sub group of Super Junior also under SM Entertainment). He was born and raised in Willowdale, Toronto, Canada and is extremely talented and humble. He’s a violin and keyboard player as well as a pianist on top of being a dancer and singer. He auditioned for the 2006 SM Entertainment Global Audition in the Toronto and Ontario category for it. His first appearance was in Super Junior’s hit, “Don’t Don” in September 2007 as the wonderful violinist (he even wrote that part for the song).

Even though he and Zhou Mi (the second added Chinese member of Super Junior-M) received a lot of initial hate from ELF, Super Junior’s fanclub, he has a lot of devoted fans who supports him in all his endeavors.

His style is mostly inspired by the casual clothing that Canada and the United States share although he seems to lean towards the, again, sporty look with a slight hip-hop flair. He does participate in photoshoots but usually with Super Junior-M as a concept. He’s not very flashy with his clothes and tends to want to blend in more.

Number Five (Japan): Sayumi Michishige of Morning Musume.

“How nice to be young…” “Yep!”

As I mentioned before, Sayumi Michishige is from the 6th Generation along with Reina Tanaka and Eri Kamei. She was only 14 at the time when she joined. Like Reina, in the song “女子かしまし物語” (“The Story of Noisy Girls”), she was introduced as someone who has natural good looks – and it shows.

She’s very self-aware of her bad singing but she does complain about the minimal amount of lines that she has. She also portrays herself as extremely narcissistic and she often calls herself the cutest member in Morning Musume (citation needed, Sayumi). However, after JunJun, one of two Chinese members at the time, dyed her hair – Sayumi was the only one who has yet to die her hair of any color and haven’t cut her hair since she joined.

She was Koharu Kusumi’s mentor when she was a part of Morning Musume at the time (even though she later admitted she hated it because Koharu had to  be taught everything) and even collaborated with her on the mini album 7.5冬冬モーニング娘。ミニ! (7.5 Fuyu Fuyu Morning Musume Mini!) with the song “わ~ MERRYピンX’mas!” (“Wa~ MERRY Pin X’mas!”) as Shige-pink and Kohappink as well as “レインボーピンク” (“Rainbow Pink”), again, as Shige-pink and Kohappink on Morning Musume’s seventh album レインボー7 (Rainbow 7).

Currently, she has done 8 solo photobooks and 2 group photobooks.

Number Five (Korea): Jia of miss a

Jia with her trademark pink hair!

Meng Jia (or known as Jia) is part of the JYP group, miss a. She’s a Chinese singer, actress, and model. Along with Fei, she was part of the Chinese group, Sisters, a Chinese version of the Wonder Girls. JYP Entertainment actually had auditions at her school in which she auditioned for. She was chosen along with others for a the group in 2007.

Jia is known to post various selcas on her Twitter (as well as the other girls) and eventually revealed that she has piercings on her ears (multiple holes too), her belly button and even beneath her bottom lip. Her look is usually glamerous as seen in her photoshoot in the August 2011 edition of VOGUE GIRL Magazine Korea.

She also seems to prefer the punk look as well which fits rather well with her personality and pink hair.

Number Four (Japan): Yamada Yu

It’s only going to go up from here!

To put it simply: if Meisa Kuroki is the girl next door, then Yamada Yuu must be her beautiful and elegant older sister. Yamada Yu is a well-known model, actress, and singer. She’s mostly known for her modeling work in CamCam magazine though she did quite a few and notable dramas. She’s a very popular actress and a very popular model.

When she was starting out in modeling for CamCam (under an exclusive contract), she joined two other students from the Okinawa Actors School, a school that she herself graduated from, and formed the group y’z factory. They released a total of six singles and one album but only lasted until 2002 before they disbanded.

After the breakup of y’z factory, Yu made her television acting debut in the 2001 drama Kabacitare! which really opened the door for other drama roles to come pouring in. She even appeared in movies along with Ryuhei Matsuda, Hiroki Narimiya, and Shugo Oshinari.

As well as dramas, Yamada Yu appeared in many advertisements. She appeared in commercials for Nissin instant foods, Vodafone cell phones, Kenebo’s line of cosmetics, Canon, and most recently Fujitsu Ten navigation systems.

Her look is extremely elegant looking and, as mentioned before, does exclusive model work for CamCam magazine. She seems to be keep growing popularity, thanks to her appearances in dramas and commercials.

Recently, she had announced her marriage to Oguri Shun, an actor, anime voice actor, and film director, whom she’s been dating for four years (even though he’s cheated on her before) in March 2012. Hopefully she’ll still be modeling and acting in the near future!

Number Four (Korea): Sunny of Girls Generation

Ugh, probably the cutest one out of all of the girls in Girls’ Generation.

Born in Los Angeles, CA, Sunny moved to Kuwait as a baby and moved to South Korea right before the Gulf War. She’s actually the niece of Lee Soo Man, the founder and main shareholder of SM Entertainment. Even though she’s one of the lead vocals in the group, she’s also a TV hostess, radio jockey, dancer, and model.

She originally entered the Stralight Entertainment label in 1998 and became a trainee for five years before she transferred to Starworld. That’s where she became a member of a duet called “Sugar”, who never debuted. However, one of her older sisters was the manager for the duet – and when it was disbanded before debut, she helped Sunny get active in other parts of the industry.

Before Girls Generation debuted, Ayumi, a singer, recommended that Sunny should be transferred to her uncle’s label and it wasn’t until after several months of training that she debuted with Girls Generation.

Sunny has quite a lot of solo work (although she has worked with some of the girls from the group) under her belt for numerous dramas. It’s said though that, along with SHINee’s Taemin, she will be in an animated film entitled: “Koala Kid: Birth of a Hero”. And she was part of the Korean version of the Broadway musical, “Catch Me if You Can” as Brenda Strong.

As for her model work, like many idol groups, she and the other girls of Girls Generation often get endorsed from companies and do photoshoots. Every time Girls Generation plan to make a comeback, they always do a photoshoot and teaser of each member before whatever goods are coming out.

Personally, my favorite photoshoot of hers was when Girls Generation released concept photos for Mr. Taxi. She was revealed to have short hair and usually, she has very long hair with cute accessories, dyed, or in different hairstyles. But when she came out with short hair, I think it made her look extremely mature. It seems that the Korean fans agree with me since she hasn’t changed it since.

Number Three (Japan): BENI

Classy lady alert!

BENI was born in Okinawa, moved to California, and then to Yokohama. She’s actually half white and half Japanese because her father is an American of White and Amerindian descent and her mother is Japanese. Her influences are Namie Amuro, Alicia Keys, and her father’s favorite singer, Janet Jackson. Because of these influences and from moving to Japan and America often, she picked up the musical influences from both respective countries. Even at a young age, BENI knew she wanted to be a singer. With the help of her musical parents, she took up piano.

However, when she was in Japan, she took part of the Kokuminteki Bishoujo Contest, the largest talent contest in the country. She actually made it all the way to the finals even though she didn’t have any formal training. When Avex Trax got a hold of her demo tape, they were extremely impressed with her clear voice, natural beauty, and English pronunciation. So they signed her up and gave her the means to debut but they placed her in the group, Bishoujo Club 31.

It didn’t take long for BENI to pursue a solo career, especially since she’s the first one to do so while being active as a member.

In July of 2010, BENI released a fashion line of wedding dresses called “Rouge de BENI”. Not only did she design the wedding dresses but she modeled in them as well. In August of that same year, she released a single entitled “Heaven’s Door” which, if you’ve purchased the first press edition, came with a photobook of her in her wedding dresses. You can visit her “Rouge de BENI” website here.

There’s actually some rumors that BENI may actually be quite stuck up. While she’s not exactly the most popular Japanese R&B singer quite yet, she still thinks extremely highly of herself. Not only that, she supposedly dated Jin Akanishi as well (he does love his foreign women, that’s for sure) but I honestly doubt it because she knows she’s a woman of high caliber.

I mean, that’s not to say it’s impossible but the chances of the two dating each other is pretty low.

But anyway, her fashion is extremely urban and seems to be fit for the clubbing scene. I’m not one for that particular scene but that doesn’t mean I can’t admire her clothes, right?

Number Three (Korea): G.Dragon of Big Bang

Behind that adorable smile lies a true artist.

Ever since he was 12 years old, Kwon Ji Yong, or more commonly known as G-Dragon, he’s been in the YG Entertainment label. He debuted as a child hip-hop artist before in 2001 and participated in the album 2001 Daehanminguk Hip Hop Flex as “2G-Gon” and “G-Gon”.

G-Dragon, along with future band mate Taeyang, performed together as “G-Dragon & YB Taekwon” at concerts as rappers and back up dancers.

When making the selection for Big Bang, G-Dragon was quickly chosen as the leader. Since their debut in 2006, he composed, wrote, and even produced many of their songs.

It wouldn’t be long before G-Dragon embarked on a solo career. When he released an album in 2009, entitled Heartbreaker, it was quite successful – but there was controversy surrounding the album. The title track sounded suspiciously like Flo-Rida’s “Right Round” and G-Dragon’s song “Butterfly” was similar to Oasis’s “She’s Electric”. Sony sent the company warning letters about the plagiarism. YG responded by saying that nothing had been decided since the letters weren’t technically about any legal actions Sony wanted to take.

Instead, in an effort to cover his behind, G-Dragon invited Flo Rida in a remixed version of the song, “Heartbreaker” which was released on G-Dragon’s first live album.

Aside from the controversy, the album itself really shows off G-Dragon’s taste in music and fashion. Fans speculated that he was inspired by the manga Death Note and the character, Near.

G-Dragon has always been a fashionista though. He always tries to find a new innovative way to present himself. In fact, when 2NE1 first debuted, he let his stylists help them with their fashion.

Not gonna lie, G-Dragon is high on his list not only because his fashion is really out there and unique – but because when they fail, oh boy do they fail. There’s some outfits out there that he has done that makes even the biggest fans cringe. G-Dragon’s fashion has the same effect CL did for me, and many other people, except when it comes to mainly his fashion tastes: it grows on you.

He changes his style extremely often. Usually he would keep it for a concept and after he, Big Bang or GD&TOP (a duet between him and Big Bang rapper, TOP) but soon he’ll cut his hair or get a new weave and come up with something completely brand new and totally G-Dragon.

Any day now, we’re going to be hearing about his new fashion line.

Number Two (Japan): Namie Amuro

At 34 years old, Namie can seriously keep up with the young idols of today.

It is undeniable Namie’s influence in the fashion world. Even though she’s 25% Italian and 75% Japanese, she is always one to be a trendsetter. Like Tsubasa Masuwaka, Namie also has a son from a result of a marriage between her and label-mate, SAM from the avex dance group TRF.

After her one year of hiatus, Namie came back stronger than ever but soon she would go back on hiatus because of a tragedy. On the day of the single, “RESPECT the POWER OF LOVE”, when her mother Taira Emiko was brutally murdered by her step-uncle, Taira Kenji. Emiko had raised Namie, her two sisters, and her brother as a single mother after she had divorced their father. She had remarried again and she was walking with her second husband when Taira Kenji repeatedly ran them both over and “assaulted” them with an axe. The only survivor was Namie’s step-father. Kenji later killed himself.

Namie contemplated on retiring from the music industry period (and had left a message on her website saying so) when her fans posted message of comfort and support. She changed her mind and released “toi et moi” and “SOMETHING ‘BOUT THE KISS” marked her first real step towards the R&B feel.

For the fashionable side of things, there’s rumors that Namie Amuro started the Kogal trend (tanned skin, dyed hair, loose socks, & school uniforms being part of the fashion) but she did influence the Amuro style – which is a style that follows whatever trend Namie Amuro sets.

I would love to follow in her style but I don’t exactly have the confidence to where I think I could pull it off. That’s why I have this blog and I have the Internet – I can look at pictures and then project myself on to them.

And as long as Namie keeps producing music and setting trends, I’ll always be here.

Number Two (Korea): TOP of Big Bang

One of the biggest dorks YG has to offer.

Before he joined Big Bang, TOP was actually a well-known underground rapper. Instead of “TOP”, Choi Seung Hyun was known as “Tempo”, as in the tempo of the beat. He performed in clubs from 2003 to 2005 with popularity growing.

TOP was the fourth member chosen for Big Bang (G-Dragon, Taeyang, and Daseung being the first three). Even though he’s the oldest of the group, the leadership role went to G-Dragon instead.

TOP is not just a rapper and certified dork (who only eats lunch with people that has five gold medals), he’s also a model and actor.

When he was a young child, he was quite fluffy and he’s worked hard to lose all that weight. To this day, he does not lift up his shirt to show off his skin while everyone else in the group does. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s actually quite admirable.

Because he chose not to do this, TOP’s fashion is extremely cool, hip-hop inspired, and urban. Again, his clothes are more for the clubs. I like the idea of GD&TOP (the name of the duet between G-Dragon and TOP) because it shows that while the two of them are part of two separate fashion worlds – they can still work with one another and bounce off of each other’s energies. Their clothes are ridiculous and they tend to have a humorous aspect to it but again, it fits them and their personalities really well.

Number One (Japan): Koda Kumi

There’s too much feelings involved with this woman. I can never articulate them. ♥

It’s hard to believe that this woman is not only a vocal powerhouse but she once auditioned to be part of Morning Musume. along with Goto Maki when she was 17 years old. In the end, Koda Kumi didn’t advance because her voice was too deep.

In 1999, she participated in “avex dream 2000” , a singing competition where those who audition would get a chance to become part of avex’s next idol group. She placed second i the contest and she was signed onto rhythm zone, a sub-label of avex.

Because she was umable to chart her first single, “TAKE BACK”, Koda Kumi became depressed and she overate to help comfort herself. When asked why she wasn’t promoted as much, Matsuura Max, the CEO of avex, replied that she was too fat and it wouldn’t help her image.

Once Koda Kumi got out of her depression, she put herself on a strict diet and worked out vigorously – and it worked.

Sadly, Koda Kumi wasn’t able to meet any success and there were rumors flying around that she was going to get dropped from her contract. But when the single, “real Emotion / 1000 no Kotoba”, was released in 2003, it became a huge success. The songs were for the Playstation 2 game,Final Fantasy X-2.

Soon, her releases became popular and her popularity picked up speed.

However, once she released the “Crazy 4 U” music video, fans noticed something different about her. From teen idol to a more mature image that featured her sexual appeal, Koda Kumi became another person with this transformation. She and avex came to an agreement that this was the best move to improve her image and sales.

This fashion style is known as ero-kakkoii, which translates to erotic-cool. Basically, it’s extremely sexual and she danced proactively as well. Because of this sudden image change, her image sky-rocketed.

Even now, Koda Kumi seems to be pushing the limits on how sexy is too sexy. Right now, though, she had recently had gotten married to BACK-ON’s guitarist and vocalist KENJI03 and was pregnant with their first child. In the meantime, she’s taking a one year hiatus.

Although Koda Kumi may seem provocative, she’s actually more well known for her outrageous nail art. She’s been dubbed the nail art queen many times and has won awards in it. Here’s a short documentary about it where they feature them. You can also see her nail art in almost all of her music videos.

The reason why Koda Kumi is so high on this list is because, again, confidence is key. She carries herself so well and she always puts a smile on my face. Behind closed doors, she’s actually one of the sweetest girls you’ll ever meet. When she made a song with Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie, Koda Kumi gave the R&B American singer a kimono from Koda Kumi’s kimono line (I cannot for the life of me find an official website).

Even though she’s been through a lot, she definitely has my admiration and she’s always been a favorite of mine.

Number One (Korea): Lee Hyori

Probably one of the most confident and fiercest soloist on this side of the ocean.

She once was part of an idol group called FinKL, in fact she was the leader and sub vocalist for the group (and also the last to be discovered).

The group was successful but it wasn’t until their fourth album that the members decided among themselves to pursue solo activities without any word on whether or not the group would be disbanded.

Lee Hyori isn’t a stranger to scandal. She’s been hit with at least one scandal almost every release since her second studio album, Dark Angel, has been released. Needless to say, she knows how to take things in stride.

Because of the scandal with Dark Angel, her album suffered from the sales because there was accusation of plagiarism. But with her third one, It’s Hyorish, she was accused of plagiarism yet again and there were some complaints about one of the persona’s in the video (a nurse whose costume had a plunging neckline). Despite the criticism, the song “U-Go-Girl” topped various online Korean charts.

While Hyori is indisputably beautiful, there were some people on the Internet that had problems with the fact that she had a darker complexion.

You see, in Asia, it’s said if you had dark skin, it would be because you spent the day outside working – thus, you were poor. But if your skin was pale, that would be you would have the money to be able to stay inside all the time – as the rich did. So, because of that belief, some people thought it was inappropriate of her to be out as a singer and for her to get as much money as she did. And because South Koreans are known to be a little bit more nationalistic, people were convinced that she wasn’t full Korean.

But that didn’t seem to matter as she was appearing on television variety shows (such as Family Outing), magazines, endorsements (even though she’s a known vegetarian and animal rights activist, she actually endorses Korean beef), and various other things.

When the third plagiarism claim came forward, this time for an entire album, Hyori decided it was time for a break. As of now, there’s rumors of her and Fin.K.L. coming back together for a reunion concert but it’s all just talk right now.

Her style hasn’t changed from her Dark Angel and It’s Hyorish days. Similar to Koda Kumi, her outfits are revealing and erotic but again, looks are deceiving. She is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet.

Also: would you believe me if I said she’s nearly 33?

Anyway, that’s it! If you made it down here, I’d like to get you a drink because that’s a lot of reading to do. I hope you learned something new about these people on this list! And to make sure that this post wasn’t completely a waste of time, who are your fashion icons? Post them in a comment to share!

2 Responses to Top Ten Fashion Icons in Korea and Japan

  1. ONE_broken says:

    very nice list .love that top made it so high and i have to say i am looking forward to these blog posts

    • moonrabbit says:

      Thanks! I just hope they’ll be interesting to read once I get it going for real and started. :3

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