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Forgetting 2NE1

Fairlane is a devout Asian entertainment fan. On the side, she is a professional screenwriter and author.

2NE1 during their debut years, (L-R) Bom, Dara, CL, Minzy

2NE1 during their debut years, (L-R) Bom, Dara, CL, Minzy

2NE1 is recognized as one of the most successful girl groups that came out of Korea and for a good reason. A four-member girl group, CL, Minzy, Dara, and Bom, debuted at the height of other Korean girl groups’, such as Girl’s Generation and Wonder Girls, popularity.

2NE1 differentiated themselves taking on a more hip hop sound and look. While other girl groups were soft, cuddly, sweet, and preppy little cute beings who beautifully danced sexually suggestive moves masked by their cute skirts, pigtails and sweet smile, 2NE1 emitted power, street, and strength. Their dance moves were hard hitting. They popped, locked, turfed and breakdanced in ways only associated with boybands then.

Ahead of their time

Needless to say, 2NE1 broke so many boundaries and dared to venture into a space the conservative Korean society deemed to be a “man’s zone”. They also proved, to the very end, the marketability and actual sales power they hold.

Sure, they bared their skin but it wasn’t to seduce. It was more a stance, a disposition that showed Korea they could wear what they want without being subjected to sexuality. They could show their bellies and legs without being objects of sexual fantasies. And they were still very feminine, proud of their shape and form and the sensuality that is natural only to the female species.

When YG announced 2NE1’s disbandment, it wasn’t surprising considering the unnecessary long hiatus and unmended Bom scandals. What is surprising is YG’s lack of effort to honor 2NE1’s contribution to YG and KPop in General.

2NE1's debut single, Fire

First and, still, only

Although fans of Lee Hyori might argue that prior to 2NE1, Hyori already cemented her status as an alpha female, 2NE1 is the first group to successfully carry the image to their level success. It was more than a relief to see a group who flaunted their body as much as the other girl groups do but did so with a clear stance of independence, ability, and dominance.

The concept is not new in the West. More than a full decade before 2NE1’s debut, Spice Girls already had the world bopping to ‘Wannabee’. Asian countries more than accepted Spice Girls’ teachings but having the ideology come from the West played a part in its acceptance to the conservative Asians.

2NE1 is the first one to carry translate that ideology as a group to Asians and successfully encouraged fans and media to look and portray them with the same power and influence as male idols. In a strongly patriarchal society, that’s not an easy fit.

They were completely and worlds apart from Girl’s Generation, Wonder Girls, and other contemporaries. It may even be argued that no one has really taken the torch from 2NE1 as other girl groups formed after 2NE1 followed the barbie and baby concept over empowered female. It’s an impressive and significant legacy, one that deserves to be honored and preserved not just for 2NE1 and YG but for the KPop world and, more importantly, women in Korea.

2NE1 showed Korea there is no shame in being alphas and they don’t have to give up their femininity doing it. They can flick their fingers, sway their hips and shimmy like it’s the last thing they will do on earth and still emanate leadership and power.

Yet, they are barely mentioned now.

A more mature 2NE1

A more mature 2NE1

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No need to get hanged up

Entertainers come and go and people move on. 2NE1 doesn’t need to get mentioned every 2 minutes.Honoring them doesn’t mean they need to be mentioned everytime YG gives out an interview but occasional throw back to their legacy will do. YG has PR and marketing people in their payroll that could easily pull out special achievements and significant dates.

Blackjacks, the collective name used for 2NE1’s fans, remains devoted and are consistently waiting for something from 2NE1. An occasional exclusive content would be enough.

More importantly, YG still has two members under contract, CL and Dara. Yet, Dara is left to creating her own content while CL has been shipped to the US to concentrate on having a Hollywood career.

It is not unheard of for idols to fizzle down a disbandment but after the contribution 2NE1 made to YG, there should be at least some effort to give the two, in the context of 2NE1, some effort.

CL's third solo single in the US, Lifted

CL’s Growth

There is an undeniable difference on how YG treats its male idols to the way they treat their female idols. Seungri, a member of YG’s flagship group, Big Bang, and known for his unflitered tongue testified to Yang Seuk’s initial claim that YG artists’ constant delay of comebacks is due to their inability to make music that passes YG’s standards. In Yg, unlike other companies, the idols must make their own music.

Yet, 2NE1 relied and Black Pink relies on Teddy to create songs for them. CL is the only one with significant number of songwriting credits and it isn’t even enough.

There is no shame in singing someone else’s songs. Some singers are born to perform and it doesn’t make them fake. The issue lies in how male YG talents are required to make their own music while female idols are singing songs created by someone else.

Dara’s Evolution

Dara was never shy in admitting her insecurity for being known as the least talented member of the four. It doesn’t, however, mean she has nothing else to show without her three members beside her.

If there is something Dara has been able to prove with this ridiculously long hiatus is that she has the talent to take on roles whether it is guided by a script or under her own spontaneous reality TV, she can keep an audience engaged over something or over nothing. If there is one member that YG can fully utilize domestically to carry on the legacy of 2NE1’s ideology, it would be Dara. She isn’t off to some mission overseas to plant Korea’s flag in a foreign country. She is firmly planted in Korea and is flexible in the projects she can take on.

2NE1's last performance

2NE1's last performance

It’s bigger than 2NE1

Perhaps there is a need to pull back and actually take to heart what 2NE1 stood for when they were created. Whether or not the intention was to simply create a group that will compete with GG and Wonder Girls, 2NE1 stood for something bigger and more important. It is even bigger than the music they sang and dances they moved to.

They forced a discussion among Korean girls about their right and potential to be independent and be comfortable in their own skin. They encouraged and inspired and entire generation to break away from social expectations. It is understandable that YG would want to move on and pour their resources to another girl group and other boybands but there should be a clear recognition of what 2NE1 stood for. There are still millions of girls to be inspired and those that were initially inspired must be sustained.

Black Pink is showing a lot of potential. In their young career, they have already snagged the third spot for the most watched music video in the first 24 hours, next to BTS and Taylor Swift. It’s an elite club. They are positioned as the glamourous sexy women, a fusion of Girl’s Generation’s Feminity and 2NE1’s empowerd stance.

I have no doubt they will be YG’s next flag bearer if they aren’t already.

Their success, however, will never erase the fact that 2NE1 was the first one to break down the walls. What’s sad is that they weren’t even half done when they were disbanded. There were many more miles they could have travelled, YG should never leave it undone.

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