Everything You Need to Know About the Idols in Mnet’s KINGDOM 킹덤



Episode 1 of Kingdom may have been released on April 1st, but this was no joke for global fans of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation Kpop. The male version of Queendom and sequel of Road to Kingdom, this new show is already making waves among the smaller fanbases in Kpop, and the talents of these young and old groups are gathering the attention of netizens globally.

Here’s a dive into the groups that some still might not know about but definitely should start taking notes on.


The first time it hit me that new fans really don’t know about the golden era of Kpop was during this year’s virtual screening of KCON – the largest Kpop convention in the world. The host Kikwang was being referred to as “the host” on Twitter, trending momentarily for his good looks, and those of us who were emersed in B2ST/Beast/Highlight at their debut were, needless to say, speechless. This was the first time one of our (Millenials) idols had gone unrecognized in his own arena.

2nd generation Kpop is generally categorized by the groups who debuted between 2000 and 2012. This decade of iconic Hallyu moments is what first shook lands outside of Korea, birthing the concept of “global” idols who performed outside of Asia. Big name “family” concerts like SMTOWN and YGFam concerts were a rarity, but the groups who broke into the media scene during this decade are still around, existing as inspirations for the newer Kpop groups Generation Z has grown with.

BTOB, short for Born to Beat, is a six member boy group. Debuting in 2012, this group was formed under Cube Entertainment. If Cube sounds a little familiar, this is because Cube also formed and currently manages 3rd Gen group Pentagon.

While this group had a steady following, they did not break through the proverbial glass ceiling until 2014. Sungjae (currently serving in the army) became a familiar face with his roles in variety shows like We Got Married (alongside Red Velvet’s Joy) and globally acclaimed Kdramas like Reply 1994 and Guardian: the Lonely and Great God/Goblin.

Currently, four members are active and are participating in Kingdom: Eunkwang, Minhyuk, Changsub, and Peniel. Hyunsik and Sungjae enlisted early 2020, and Ilhoon is no longer promoting with the group.


While it’s debatable what years exactly encompass the 3rd generation of Kpop, BTS is usually grouped in this category. This might also be known as the era of “survival shows” during which most of the groups were formed through global voting and criticism using a variety-esque program similar to American Idol. During these shows, trainees from companies would use these moments to garner fans and earn votes whether it be through online voting or via a panel of judges’s decisions.

WIN: Who is Next took place in August 2013, and while iKON did not win this show, their older brother group Winner did. Following the success of the survival show, however, the sequel Mix and Match started in 2014 to solidify the members of iKON under predetermined permanent members Bobby, BI, and Jinhwan. The final members in addition to the three were Donghyuk, Yunheong, Junhoe, and Chanwoo.

BI halted promotions with iKon and is currently signed under a different label; iKON is still active.

SF9 was not formed via survival show, but was one of the first official Kpop groups under FNC Entertainment. Typically known for iconic bands like FTIsland and CNBlue as well as girl group AOA, FNC debuted SF9 through a Netflix “choice” series called Click Your Heart which allowed potential fans to learn about each of the members in this romantic comedy mini-drama. Debuting with Feeling Sensation in 2016, SF9 is not considered to be as popular as other 3rd generation Kpop groups and might be more well known for the group’s average height, model-like stature, and acting skills.

Through Kingdom, SF9 hopes to reemerge in the Kpop seen as grown idols with power vocals and distinct dance skills.


The 4th generation of Kpop is by far the most theatrical. By this point, it was expected for groups to compose and choreograph their own music as opposed to the style of 2nd generation where companies would have in-house producers or hire outside production companies. Stily piggybacking off the survival show era of 3rd generation, many members of this generation’s groups have already been seen globally as contestants of shows but did not make the final round. Because of this, many of these groups already had fans prior to their debut.

The Boyz’s member Haknyeon was part of Produce 101, one of the most largely participated in survival shows in Kpop history, at some point garnering over one million votes due to the allowance of global voters. Members Kevin and Sunwoo were also part of smaller elimination shows and were released early on in the shows. This young group has steadily risen to bigger stages since their debut in December, 2017, and also won Kingdom’s prequel “Road to Kingdom.” They arrived on the Kingdom set as the previous winners and most anticipated due to their performances in the previous series.

Stray Kids was the first boy group under JYP to be formed via survival show and first boy group since 2PM and GOT7, however due to the unique and likeable personalities and talents of all members, the group debuted together despite two members being eliminated and has gone to reach global audiences. With several of its members forming sub-units early on, Stray Kids is known for having the most copyrighted music in the Kpop market under leader Bang Chan. Officially debuting in 2018, they won their first award with single Miroh in 2019. Currently, Stray Kids promotes as an 8-member group and is the most anticipated following the first episode of Kingdom.

Ateez is a young yet powerful group and is the only group under KQ Entertainment with leader Hongjoong being the first official trainee in the company. Showcasing each individual members powerful dancing abilities, KQ first premiered the group through a series of videos with the members dancing at Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles. With the group gathering the attention through choreographed videos that spread through all forms of social media, Ateez arguably has one of the smaller fandoms in Kpop at the moment. However, this allows them to be one of the most personable groups similar to Stray Kids through popular streaming app VLive. Officially debuting in 2018, Ateez has a very distinct style, darker and more modern compared to older generations.


The current rankings in Kingdom following the first episode are:

1. Stray Kids – Miroh

2. The Boyz – The Stealer (Epic version)

3. BtoB – Beautiful Pain (Choir version)

4. SF9 – Good Guy (The Glory)

5. Ateez – Wave: Overture

6. IKON – Rhythm Ta (Kingdom version)

Currently certain members of Ateez and Stray Kids will not be present for some episodes of Kingdom for reasons outside of the show’s involvement. SF9 member Rowoon is present but did not perform due to injury.


If you are a global fan and you want to vote for your favorite group in Kingdom, download the Whosfan app – available for Apple and Android devices. Multiple accounts are allowed from different social media accounts, and voting is conducted through the app.

Happy voting!

**Rankings have since changed since the airing of episodes 4 and 5.

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