Looking back at history, there is several phases that Kpop has gone through. Many things has changed since the first generation of idols group, until the latest generation. Their accommodation, contract term, people awareness, music style, technology and competition has improved and increased. To discuss how Kpop has evolved along the years, lets put it to several phases:
1. Original - The first generation (90's)
Icons: Seo Taiji and boys, H.O.T, G.O.D,  Shinhwa, Sech Kies, Fin-KL,  S.E.S (Debuted before 2000, the 90's generation)

 - The one who started fandom culture (with different color and balloon as one of fandom item).
- Higher physical sales, because there were no digital songs and internet/piracy wasn't that advanced yet.
- Unfair contract, with unbelievable contract length (reaching to 12 years) and unjustified profit sharing between the agency and the stars. 
- International exposure is still limited. Hallyu wave hasn't started yet, Japanese and Taiwanese idols still trending around Asia. (e.g Morning Musume, SPEED, Johnny's jr, S.H.E, etc)
- There was just a few agencies competing in this market. The big 3 were DSP, SM and JYP.
- The style was arguably influenced by J-pop (Hair and fashion)

2. The Soloist Era (2000s)
Icons: BoA, Rain, Lee Hyori (Debuted around 2000)

Characteristics: Lies between the first generation and second generation, when several soloist singer got immense public interest. K-pop started their advancement to Japan entertainment and appeared in their music program.

 3. Second Generation (The biggest Hallyu wave, 2003-2009)
Icons Part 1: DBSK/TVXQ, Big Bang, Super Junior, SS501, Girls' Generation/SNSD, Wonder Girls, Kara, Jewelry, 2AM, 2PM,  BEG/Brown eyed girl, After School, FT. Island (Debuted 2003-2008), - Part 2:  2NE1, fx, Shinee, 4minute, Infinite, Beast , MBLAQ, Secret, CN Blue (Debuted 2009)

- The start of Hallyu wave expansion throughout Asia and even western. Kpop becomes popular internationally and it's when international fandom and subbing team was begin to be established.
- Idols is hot topics in every Korea TV program, they appeared as guest in many shows, even  having their own variety program, they got maximum exposure from public.
- The big 3 are SM, JYP and YG, while DSP and Cube follow.
- Idols begin their rebelling toward the agency because of the unfair contract, e.g: Hangeng super junior and JYJ from DBSK, SNSD's Jessica, Kara Jiyoung and Nicole, etc.
- Legal  battle between idols and their agencies create a new law issued by South Korea government. The length of contract is shortened, up to 7 years.
- Some top idols act begin their advancement to Hollywood / American entertainment industry, eg. Wonder girls, Girls' Generation/SNSD and 2NE1.

3. Third Generation idols (over saturated market, 2010-now)
Icons part 1: EXO, Z:EA, BAP, MissA, Apink, Exid, B1A4, Teen Top, Infinite, The-Boss, BTS/Bangtan boys, Rania, BtoB, AOA, Nu'Eest, Boyfriend, Block-B  (Debuted 2010-2013), - part 2: Got7, Mamamoo, Red velvet, Blackpink, Twice, NCT,  Lovelyz, Gfriend, IOI, Gugundan, etc (Debuted 2014-now)

- The start of Lightstick to replace balloon as one of fandom items. This lightstick is still under development with more features.
- First part was won by boy groups (EXO, BTS) and girl groups for the later part (Twice, gfriend).
- Their pathways to international fandom is easier, since previous generations has opened the way. With right marketing, they can reach global stardom faster.
- The idol system has been established, yet market is already too saturated.
- The top 3 is still YG, SM and JYP, while CUBE and DSP is in crisis. There is smaller agency on the rise, e.g RBW and Big Hit.
- The KPOP competition for popularity is really tough, and it's more harder to maintain the popularity since the idol-life cycle becomes shorter. Many idols group debuted every month, but only several got success, while other are disbanded.
- Dying public interest, public begin to give more interest to soloist or actual singer (not idols, eg Crush, Dean, Bolbbalgan4, etc). There will be one member in one idol group who get a lot of spotlight - create uneven popularity (mostly because this idols are multi-talented). eg: Block B Zico, AOA Seolhyun, MissA Suzy, Apink Eunji, Mamamoo Solar, Exid Hani, etc
- Third generation is fighting with second generation to get public interest, while first generation idols is coming back or create a reunion special (S.E.S, Shinwa, Sech Kies). Many second generation groups are disbanded during this era after their contracts end.

So, which generation are your favorite?

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