Time and time again I am simply blown away upon learning how old and how young certain K-pop stars are. Most of the time, they appear to be younger than they actually are, although lately with all of these new groups, I get completely shocked to find out how young some stars are! It all gets even tougher when the concepts come into play and these stars purposely try to appear significantly older or younger than they actually are.
I got this idea from Admin A. over at Top of the Kpops. The original post was written over the Summer, so naturally I waited five months to post my own version. 😉 Just kidding. I actually did this with my family back in August, but only just now got around to putting the post together.
This was really fun for me to do. Honestly, I’ll take any excuse to share K-pop with my family. I was actually pretty surprised and proud of my family members for knowing as much as they did.
The way this goes, I showed members of my family different performances of various K-pop groups and asked them three questions:
(1) What do you think is the average age of the members?
(2) Does anyone look significantly older or younger than the rest?
(3) Who do you think the maknae (youngest) is?
The maknae question is one I added on to Admin A’s original questions. I have always noticed that maknaes tend to really embrace their roles as the youngest and act more childish than the rest of the members, even if they don’t necessarily have that much of an age difference from the next youngest.
I tried to make my chosen performances pretty diverse. I chose three male groups and three female groups, each with a mature concept, cute concept, and hip-hop concept. Then of course, I had to throw in Super Junior and VIXX. (I know I could have chosen much cuter concepts, but I honestly don’t think my family would sit through all the aegyo.)
And yes, I purposely tried to be a little sneaky with some of my picks, some looking obviously younger than they are, and others having a larger age gap between the members.
For my participants, I included my mom and dad, both 47, my sister, 18, and my female cousin, 20. I wish I could have gotten a younger kid in there, but hey, I gotta work with what I have available. No more kids in this house!
I made sure to start out by saying that everyone in these groups are between the ages of 10 and 40. Of course, my dad’s cheeky response is “So there’s an 11 year-old in the group?”
- Mint: 18
- Dohee: 17
- J.Min: 17
- Myeongji: 15
- Average: 17
Mom: Myeongji is around 17. J.Min is 16. Dohee is 17. Mint is 14. Average Age: ~17
Dad: I think they are 18, 18, 19, and 20. Myeongji looks like Selena Gomez. Average Age: 19
Sister: “They look young, but they’re probably older.” Dohee looks really young. “They all look like high school cheerleaders.” J.Min is the oldest. Average Age: ~16
Cousin: Myeongji is the youngest. Average Age: ~22
My Reaction: I’m surprised at how young they thought Mint was. When I first saw Tiny-G, I immediately thought she was the oldest. None of them guessed that Myeongji was as young as 15, but that’s understandable. She definitely looks older than that. Interestingly, this was the only group that was thought to be older than they were.
Average Age Guessed: 18.5 (1.5 years too old)
BTS “Boy in Luv”
- Jin: 21
- Suga: 20
- J-Hope: 20
- Rap Monster: 19
- Jimin: 18
- V: 18
- Jungkook: 16
- Average: 18.9
Mom: V looks 17. Jungkook is 16. J-Hope is 19. Rapmon “looks super young, but he must be older.” Jimin looks really young. Suga is 16 and one of the younger ones. Jin looks older than the rest. Average Age: ~18
Dad: The range is 17-19. Average Age: ~18
Sister: “They all look young.” Rapmon looks older than the rest. V is the youngest. Every time V appears, she comments that he looks super young. Comments that Suga sometimes looks like Super Junior’s Kyuhyun. Average Age: ~17
Cousin: Jin is the youngest. V is the oldest, around 20 years old (cue me trying not to choke). After Rapmon’s rap: “Okay, this guy needs to stop winking.” Average Age: ~17
My Reaction: There didn’t seem to be one thought in common here. Some thought Rapmon was older while others thought he was younger. Same with Jin and V. I still can’t get over my cousin thinking V was the oldest. He looks like a baby. Aside from Suga, my mom was pretty spot-on with their ages.
Average Age Guessed: 17.5 (1.4 years too young)
T-Ara “Number 9”
- Boram: 27
- Qri: 26
- Soyeon: 26
- Eunjung: 24
- Hyomin: 24
- Jiyeon: 20
- Average: 24.5
Mom: “They are trying to look too provocative.” Her first thought is that they must all be in their 20s. Hyomin looks 21. Eunjung and Jiyeon look “scarily young.” Eunjung is 23. Jiyeon is 19. Qri looks older. Boram is 18. Soyeon is the youngest. The range is 19-23. Average Age: 21
Dad: “They all look younger than they actually are.” The range is 19-21. Average Age: ~20
Sister: They are all in their early 20s. Comments that Boram must have gotten plastic surgery. Average Age: ~20
Cousin: Initially says that Jiyeon is the oldest, but then near the end says that she and Eunjung must be really young. Eunjung looks 23. Hyomin is around 21. Boram is pretty young, about 19. She and Soyeon are the youngest. Average Age: ~24
My mom was wondering why Hyomin was always in the middle, so I explained to them what the concept of a “visual” is, which my mom can’t believe actually exists as a position. In the end, my dad agreed that Hyomin is the best fit for the role.
My Reaction: My sole reason for choosing T-ara was to see their reactions to Jiyeon and Boram. Interestingly, everyone was pretty accurate for Jiyeon’s age, probably because she is the only one in the group who actually looks her age. While I expected Boram’s comments to be too young, I was surprised about Soyeon. She was almost unanimously thought to be the youngest when she is really one of the oldest.
Average Age Guessed: 21.3 (3.2 years too young)
- Eric: 36
- Minwoo: 35
- Dongwan: 35
- Hyesung: 35
- Junjin: 34
- Andy: 34
- Average: 34.8
Mom: “This is a cool dance!” Junjin is old, like 26. At first she says that Minwoo looks 25, but after he takes his hat off she changes it to 20, and then later says he looks older. Eric is older, probably 24. Hyesung looks 20. Dongwan is the youngest. “He’s the Donghae of the group.” Average Age: ~24
Dad: Junjin is not as old as the rest, probably 26. The range is 21-25. Average Age: ~23
Sister: Junjin is old. “Actually they all look old to me.” Minwoo and Eric look older than the rest. Average Age: ~24
Cousin: “These guys look older.” Eric looks older, but not the oldest. Dongwan is the youngest. Junjin and Minwoo are the oldest. When Minwoo appears: “Oh, he looks old.” Average Age: ~25
At the same time, both my sister and my mom said Hyesung looks like Super Junior’s Shindong. 😛
My Reaction: I couldn’t help but laugh during this one. Everyone recognized that Shinhwa was older, but they still didn’t consider that older could mean 30s. I’m surprised that they knew Eric was the oldest. When I first saw Shinhwa, I thought he was the youngest.
Average Age Guessed: 24 (10.8 years too young)
2NE1 “Gotta Be You”
- Bom: 30
- Dara: 29
- CL: 23
- Minzy: 20
- Average: 25.5
Mom: CL looks older, like 23. Minzy is 17 or 18. Dara “must be really young, like 15.” Bom looks like she is trying to appear young but is actually older. “Bom and Dara are the youngest and CL looks like their mom.” Average Age: ~19
Dad: CL is 16. The rest are 17 or 18. Average Age: ~17
Sister: Bom is really young. CL “definitely sounds young” and is 25. She comments multiple times that Bom looks like an anime character. Average Age: ~17
Cousin: Dara is the youngest, probably 16. Bom is either 17 or 18. Minzy is around 20 and CL is 19 or 20. Average Age: ~16-20
My Reaction: All around, Dara came as a huge surprise to everyone, understandably so. And I have no idea what my sister meant by CL sounding young. If anything, I feel like she sounds more mature than other female artists. Of course, Bom brought on an entire discussion about plastic surgery.
Average Age Guessed: 17.8 (7.7 years too young)
- Mark: 20
- JB: 20
- Jackson: 20
- Junior: 19
- Youngjae: 17
- Bambam: 17
- Yugyeom: 16
- Average: 18.4
Mom: Yugyeom “looks really young.” Mark is “15 or 16, but is wearing little boy clothes.” Average Age: ~20
Dad: His first impression of Junior is that he is 15. “This group has a wider age spread. At least one of them is 20.” They are all 19 and 20, with maybe one 18 year old and a 15 year old. Average Age: ~19.
Sister: Yugyeom looks young. Bambam looks really young. Average Age: ~18
Cousin: “Aw, they’re cute! They look really young.” No one is older than 18. JB is the oldest. Jackson is the youngest. “I don’t like the Desi-uncle finger thing they got going on.” Average Age: ~17
After revealing their ages, my mom goes “There is NO WAY that Yugyeom is only 16.”
My Reaction: Again, everyone seemed to be all over the place with GOT7. I expected a much stronger reaction to Bambam. I’m not sure what made my cousin pick Jackson as the youngest. My mom was smart to recognize that it was the clothes making them look young.
Average Age Guessed: 18.5 (pretty darn accurate!)
Super Junior “Devil”
- Leeteuk: 32
- Heechul: 32
- Yesung: 30
- Kangin: 30
- Eunhyuk: 29
- Siwon: 29
- Donghae: 28
- Ryeowook: 27
- Kyuhyun: 27
- Average: 29.3
(Note: My sister already knows that they’re an older group and is familiar with their general age order. My cousin also likes Super Junior, but I don’t think she ever knew their actual ages.)
Mom: Siwon looks 23. She comments twice that Heechul looks younger than the rest. Kangin is 25. Leeteuk is 23. Yesung looks young, “but he’s always looked young.” She decides Yesung is the youngest. Average Age: ~23
Dad: Siwon is 25. The range is 21-25. Average Age: ~23
Sister: Siwon looks like the oldest, like in his 20s. Kangin looks older. “Leeteuk looks a lot younger than he actually is, but older than 25.” Ryeowook looks to be in his early 20s, and definitely younger than Kyuhyun. Average Age: ~24
Cousin: *Gasps at Siwon, her favorite* She thinks Siwon is the oldest because “He looks like a man.” Ryeowook and Heechul are the youngest, around 21 or 22. Leeteuk looks “kinda old”, around 27. “Donghae looks so cool.” During Eunhyuk’s part: “He reminds me of you. (me: why?) I don’t know, just the way he moves.” Average Age: 25 or 26
Here, my mom and dad got into a debate about the average age, my dad suggesting that they’re in their early twenties and my mom thinking it’s older:
Mom: They must be older because they’ve been around for so long.
Dad: Okay, then just add 3 years to their age.
Mom: Are you kidding? She’s been into Super Junior for longer than that! *turns to me* Like 4 or 5 years, right?
Dad: Well maybe they were really young teenagers when they debuted, like 15 and 16.
My Reaction: Oh Super Junior. Everyone seemed to be pretty stunned that Leeteuk was the oldest. I was the most shocked at how unanimously Heechul was thought of as being on the younger side. He may not look that old, but I would never have thought of him as younger than Ryeowook or Eunhyuk.
All in all though, I must say that I’m very proud of how much they all knew about Super Junior. 😀
Average Age Guessed: 23.9 (5.4 years too young)
- N: 24
- Leo: 23
- Ken: 22
- Ravi: 21
- Hongbin: 20
- Hyuk: 18
- Average: 21.3
(Note: Again, my sister is somewhat familiar with VIXX. She has seen them live before and already knows that they are around our age and that Hyuk is the youngest.)
Mom: Hyuk looks really young. Ken looks older, maybe 22. Ravi looks older. N looks like a girl. Average Age: ~19
Dad: None of them are a year from 19. Average Age: ~19
Sister: Ken doesn’t look that young. Ravi looks older. Average Age: ~20
Cousin: “Everyone looks like the youngest!” In end end, she chooses N as the youngest. Ravi looks older than the rest. Average Age: ~19-22
When the song ends, my dad goes, “So you watched a whole concert of that?!”
My Reaction: I think the most shocking for me was how many comments there were about Ken. The minute he appeared on screen, both my mom and sister made their comments that he looks on the older side. Of all of the members, I didn’t think he looked particularly one way or the other. There also weren’t any comments about Leo, but I guess he isn’t shown that much in this performance.
There were so many comments about their looks in this one. Multiple times Hongbin was said to look like a girl (while I gaped at them in shock). This makes me so tempted to show them the VIXX Girls performance, but I’m afraid they’ll never take my love of Vixx seriously after watching that :P)
Average Age Guessed: 19.6 (1.7 years too young)
My mom in the end: “They all dressed like teenagers except for Shinhwa.”
What appeared to surprise my family the most was how old Super Junior and Shinhwa are. Dara also really surprised them. I noticed while I was doing this that not once was someone guessed to be over 30. Honestly, if I was seeing K-pop for the first time, I probably wouldn’t guess that either.
There wasn’t really any purpose to this. It was just a fun activity to do. If any of you decide to do this, leave me a comment! I would love to read about how your family reacted.
Now that this is all done, I’m kind of curious about how kids would react to K-pop stars ages, being younger than all of them. It will be a challenge to get my cousins to sit through multiple videos, but is that something you’d be interested in reading?
Sidenote: I think it’s notable that not once was anyone mentioned as looking “gay.” I’ve taught my family well. 🙂
QUESTION OF THE DAY:
What kinds of reactions to K-pop do you get from non-Kpop fans?
#NowPlaying: 눈이가요 (Eyes on You) by GOT7. One of my favorites from them 🙂
Wanna talk K-pop? Follow me on Twitter @mystification86!