If pop culture were ever to become a part of the school curriculum in South Korea, the story of the members of Sechs Kies would definitely be required reading and a rigorous case study. The South Korean K-pop band has been around since 1997 and belongs to the first-generation crop of k-pop idol groups to emerge from the country.
The all-male group was formed by DSP Entertainment; they had grown a massive following and had managed to release four studio albums in their first four years as a group. But on May 20, 2000, the group suddenly announced that they were dissolving as a group. After an almost sixteen-year absence, the members of Sechs Kies returned and picked up where they left off. They released their first album, Another Light, since their return, in 2017. This was also the year that marked the group’s 20th anniversary. So who were the members of Sechs Kies? Why did they disband in the first place?
Who Were The Original Members Of Sechs Kies?
When DSP Entertainment first conceived the idea for the pop group, it was initially supposed to be a duo. But they soon decided to expand it to a six-member idol group, having been inspired by SM Entertainment’s boy band, H.O.T. These are the original members of the band.
1. Eun Ji-won
EunJi-won was one of the first members of the group to be scouted. DSP Entertainment’s president and CEO, Lee Ho Yeon, was vacationing in Hawaii when he spotted Eun. At the time, he was a student at Hawaiian Mission Academy. The musician comes from an elite South Korean family as his grand-uncle and paternal aunt both served as President of South Korea.
As a member of Sechs Kies, Ji-won was nicknamed ‘Soy Sauce’ because of his relatively darker complexion. He was also a singer, rapper, and frontman for the boy band.
2. Kang Sung-hoon
When Eun was spotted, Kang, who was also a schoolmate of Eun’s, also happened to be at the same night club at the time and was also picked up. Kang “Hoony” Sung-hoon and Eun were supposed to be a duo before the plan for a six-man band came up. Sung-hoon was not in support of having such a large group and so to keep him at ease, DSP’s President, Ho Yeon, gave the singer the right of veto in choosing the other four members of the group.
Sung-hoon has largely been credited as having the best singing voice in the group. He pursued a solo career after their disbandment and had released four studio albums by 2004.
3. Kim Jae-duck
Before becoming one of the members of Sechs Kies, the singer and rapper was initially a dancer and choreographer in his hometown of Busan. Kim was a co-founder of the dance group – Quicksilver and at the time he was training in veteran South Korean singer, Lee Juno’s company. Jae-duck was recommended to DSP’s President by Juno and was picked up by the group. He is nicknamed “Ducky” which is a spin on his name.
4. Lee Jai-jin
Lee and Kim were both selected at the same time. They were the founders of the Quicksilver dance group. After he had been selected, Lee and Kim relocated to Seoul where they completed their high school education while training at DSP Entertainment. While Lee did more singing and Kim did more rapping, they were both responsible for most of the group’s dance routines in their music videos. Lee started his active military service in 2006 after a stint as a solo artist.
5. Jang Su-won
Jang was the youngest member of Sechs Kies and was selected during an open audition. He had tried out for the band after accompanying a friend to the auditions. When he was asked what he was good at, Su-won remarked that he had no special skills. However, Sung-hoon who had veto power still selected him for his good looks, honesty, and positive attitude. After the disbandment, Su-won formed a musical duo known as J-Walk with Sechs Kies member, Kim Jae-duck.
6. Ko Ji-Yong
In the group, Ji-Yong was one of the youngest, only older than Jang Su-won. Ko was friends with Kang Sung-hoon before he left for America for his high school education. During the recruitment of members for Sechs Kies, however, Kang and Eun reached out to him and brought him on board. Until their disbandment, Ko remained one of the most-loved members of the group and served as a singer and rapper.
He is the only member of the group that did not attempt a solo career; instead, he left the entertainment world entirely to start his own business.
Why Did Sechs Kies Disband?
Since the disbandment, there has been no consensus reason for the dissolution of the pop boy band. In their time apart, each of the members of the band revealed a different reason for their breakup.
Lee Jai-jin stated in an interview that the disbandment was enforced by DSP Entertainment; this was in line with a widely believed rumor. However, other members of the band believed otherwise. Eun Ji-won, on his own part, revealed that the band had decided to quit while they were ahead, a reason that was echoed by fellow pioneer Sechs Kies member, Kang Sung-hoon, even though he went on to add that he did not like the idea of ending the group.
All the members of Sechs Kies were interviewed together on October 17, 2016. It was here that Eun Ji-won stated that Sechs Kies disbanding was green-lighted after the majority of the band’s members voted in favor of it. Jai-jin and Sung-hoon were the members that voted against the disbandment.
All the members of the band performed together for the first time in April 2016, at a guerilla concert held at the Seoul World Cup Stadium. A month later, on May 11, it was announced that Sechs Kies was back together, this time under YG Entertainment. All the former members of the band were present except Ko Ji-Yong who was now running his own business. Kang Sung-hoon also left the group in 2019 following several controversies.
Tickets for their first concert were sold out within five minutes. Since then, Sechs Kies has released two studio albums, 2016 Re-ALBUM (2016) and Another Light (2017). They also released a short film, Sechskies Eighteen, in 2018. The documentary chronicled the making of their 2017 album, Another Light.