SEOUL — No surpise here: Global K-pop sensation Psy took the top prize at the 22nd High1 Seoul Music Awards, one of South Korea's biggest music award shows.
But — and we don't mean any offense to the king of Gangnam Style — aren't you curious about his competitors?
As the wave of K-popularity ebbs and flows around the planet, here's who you should be keeping your eye on for the next unbelievably catchy South Korean hit single.
The "Kings of the Korean Wave," Super Junior, were also in the running for the prize Psy took home. The boy band had been the best-selling K-Pop group from 2009 to 2012; their iconic hit — usually playing in shopping malls and night clubs — is 2009's "Sorry, sorry." Before Psy came along, the song was just about as ubiquitous as "Gangnam Style."
Then, there was the male model and singing heartthrob Lee Seung-gi, who's been active on the K-pop scene since 2004 and frequently appears on Seoul celebrity talk shows. He was a torchbearer in the 2012 Olympics, and generally carries a likeable, clean image in an industry that, for some Koreans, has a questionable reputation for recruiting young teenagers.
Last, but not least, there's miss A. This four-girl troupe is different from the other Korean contenders, because two of its members are Chinese and have spent months touring in the country. Some local press have even called them the "Chinese Wonder Girls," a dig at another Korean girl group that's been trying, and failing, to make significant inroads in the North American market. (They're the ones known for the 2008 single "Nobody," which is now considered a K-pop classic.)