Fin.K.L was one of the most popular girl groups in Korean music of all time, along with rival S.E.S. To this day, they are known as legends in the Korean music industry and paved the way for female pop groups. Its members are: * Lee Hyori (이효리; 李孝利) * Oak Joo Hyun (옥주현; 玉珠鉉) * Lee Jin (이진; 李真) * Sung Yu Ri (성유리; 成宥利) Fin.K.L won numerous music awards until its unofficial end in 2002, when all of the members pursued solo careers in different areas. Although they regrouped for a digital single in 2005, the group has since unofficially disbanded again, as each member had left their record company DSPent signing with different companies. There has been no official word on the group's status. The first member to be discovered for Fin.K.L was its lead singer, Ock Ju-Hyun.
She was discovered through a radio singing contest, which she won by singing Mariah Carey's Hero. Ock told her friend Lee Jin about this group and encouraged her to join; she was selected after singing Eco's 행복한 나를 for her audition. The next member to be selected was Sung Yuri, who was discovered while on a school field trip. As for the fourth member, Annie Lee (now of Tashannie) was accepted, but decided to depart after a few months.
Hyori was brought in instead, who was found while in a mall taking sticker pictures with friends. Fin.K.L debuted in 1998 with its first album Blue Rain. Although the trend of late 90's K-pop was to have groups sing cute, catchy music, Fin.K.L's initial strength was in strong R&B ballads lead by Ock Ju-Hyun's powerful vocals; this was shown by their first single, the title song from the album. Fin.K.L's next hit 내 남자친구에게 (To My Boyfriend) appealed to a broader fan base, as this song was just as catchy as other pop songs of that time. (Yuki Hsu, a Taiwanese singer, sang a remake version of "To My Boyfriend" not long after the song's success in Korea.) They capped off their first album activities with a third single, Ruby, which was a sad lament over a lost love, and giving that love up for the good of everyone involved.
As most Korean groups only release a couple of singles, it was a rare event to see Fin.K.L promote a third single. What made Fin.K.L even more unique was the fact that they actually made a video for a fourth single (which was eventually just left as a video and not promoted) Fin.K.L's success in the following year with its next album, White. Again, Fin.K.L appealed to the teenagers with pure and cute images, as both these songs were very upbeat and poppy. Two hit songs from this album were 영원한 사랑 (Forever Love) and 자존심 (Pride).
However, ballads were mostly ignored, although the slow R&B song Waiting For You was performed occasionally. Also, Fin.K.L began limiting their music videos to one or two per album; a video was never made for "Waiting For You". Like their first, this album was very successful. Fin.K.L was one of the many K-Pop artists to release a "decimalized" or "half" album (which usually signifies either a limited or special release, such as a cover album or a themed record). Their first, their 2.5, was released in the winter of 1999, and their two most famous songs from this album were 나의 왕자님께 (To My Prince), a strong ballad, and White, the latter being a joyful pop song about winter love.
This S.P.E.C.I.A.L. album also contained a remake version of 인디언 인형처럼 (Like An Indian Doll), a popular song sung by 나미 in 1989. Interestingly, no music videos were made in support of the album's release. Fin.K.L's third album emphasized the physical maturity of Fin.K.L members. Unlike the previous catchy tunes and cute outfits, Fin.K.L members were dressed in semi-formal attire for performances for the hit single Now (this album's title song).
Feel Your Love, another hit single from this album, was with winter school uniforms that signified transformation from a girl to womanhood (Incidentally, rival group S.E.S. was also performing at the time wearing very similar outfits.) Only Now was properly promoted with a music video (which was very sophisticated and stylized, unlike their earlier videos which mainly relied on the physical appeal of the girls) and a busy performance schedule; the second single was relatively ignored. However, the album managed to perform admirably. Fin.K.L released their second "half" album in 2001, a special concept album consisting of remakes of Korean hits from the 80's and 90's. Instead of targeting their main fanbase of teenage listeners, this album appealed to adults in their 20s and 30s by arousing nostalgia.
Singles from this album include 이예린's 늘 지금처럼 (Come On Baby Tonight) (originally from 1996), and 혜은이's 당신은 모르실거야 (You Wouldn't Know) (from 1981). Like their third album, Memories & Melodies only had one music video promoting the album (the one for 당신은 모르실거야). However (like their last video), much effort went into this video, as it recreated scenes from four popular and classic movies, one for each of the girls. (It also didn't have much lipsynching, in order to add to the dramatic feel.) Because of its release date, Fin.K.L created a "winter" theme for their performances and dressed in wintery outfits to promote the carol-like tunes in this album.
To complete the theme, they often had fake snow falling during their White performances; however, this created a problem in that the snow was quite slippery, causing members and back-up dancers to slip and even occasionally fall. Due to the limited release of the album, though, Fin.K.L did not promote this album for very long, perhaps saving them from serious injury. However, both of these 1999 albums helped Fin.K.L win a 대상 (Daesang, the Korean equivalent of a Grammy) at the end of the year. Their last album was released in the spring of 2002. The first single, 영원 (Forever), was a very depressing ballad about waiting forever for a lost love.
This was accompanied by a very depressing video, which was similar to their last video in that there were four separate stories. However, these stories were tragic stories mainly about the loss of innocence: Yuri became a prostitute, Juhyun was a sick housewife, Jin became a moody artist who eventually killed herself, and Hyori was a boxer who lost a finger. This song became very popular, although it was not as heavily performed as their other lead singles. Their second single, Don't Go Away, was chosen by the fans via the group's website, because they felt that Fin.K.L did not have an upbeat single for a while.
However, this single was performed for only a short time and was abruptly dropped, perhaps due to World Cup Fever. Like their rivals S.E.S., they decided to go their separate ways, although not officially breaking up. Members Lee Hyori and Ock Ju Hyun have since released two solo albums each, while Lee Jin and Sung Yuri have acted in dramas and hosted various shows. At the end of 2005, they released a digital single titled Fine Killing Liberty that had 4 songs (including the title track) and a music video. However, due to lack of promotion, the single failed to make a dent in the charts.
Instead of ignoring the single, though, they have since released a special Fin.K.L Forever set that had two DVDs (one with their music videos and the other with various performances) and a photobook that also had the Fine Killing Liberty single in CD form. They continue to work and stay in the public eye. Sung Yuri has continued acting, starting with the drama 나쁜 여자들 (Bad Girls) and receiving positive attention for 천년지애(A Love for a Thousand Years). Sung Yuri also played the lead roles in the dramas Prince's First Love and Platoon. Her most recent drama series, One Fine day and Snow Queen, received high praises and awards for both performances in 2006.
Lee Jin has also worked in television, hosting various shows and even joining a popular comedy show for a season. Both Sung Yuri and Lee Jin won "Best Actress" in their respective categories (drama and comedy) at the end-of-year awards in 2002. Ock Ju Hyun has recently become very popular due to her significant weight loss. Crediting it to hard exercise and yoga, she has now become a poster child for yoga in Korea, even launching her own yoga studio.
Lee Hyori, though, has been the standout solo member, releasing one hit album which catapulted her to the top of the charts (and many advertising contracts). However, she encountered controversy on her second album's lead song Get Ya. In the fall of 2006, all the members of Fin.K.L have left DSPent and have signed on with different companies. There is continued speculation on the status of the group, Fin.K.L has not officially broken up as a group. Fin.K.L reunited and performed together on December 19, 2008 during a concert by Lee Hyori, but it is unlikely that they will reform and can be assumed they split once again after the concert in 2008.
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