South Korea is falling in love with ’90s K-pop all over again thanks to a TV show

January 2, 2015

South Korea is experiencing a rebirth of 1990s K-pop thanks to “Infinite Challenge,” one of its most prominent variety TV programs.

Known as “Saturday, Saturday is a Singer,” a riff on two iconic MBC programs from the past, the special brought back some of Korea’s biggest ’90s musical hits onto the small screen.

For a weeks-long special, the show gathered members from first-generation groups to recruit and perform. Familiar faces flashed on screens for weeks, from S.E.S, FinKL, Sechskies and H.O.T. to solo superstars of the era like Kim Gun-mo, Uhm Jung-hwa and Lee Jung-hyun.

Viewers gobbled it up, awarding “Infinite Challenge” with viewers’ ratings of more than 20 percent in its latest episode.

As of Friday, the renewed interest in — and rediscovery of — 1990s hit songs was evident in the country’s top music charts. On Genie, for one, ’90s hits dominated the Top 40 list with hits by Kim Hyun-jung, S.E.S and Turbo.

In particular, Turbo’s “Love Is,” the duo’s second-album hit that was originally released in 1996, made it to No. 1 on music charts following the airing of the program.

“Thanks to ‘Saturday, Saturday is a Singer,’ the focus is on 1990s music,” a music industry source told Yonhap. “It’s exceptional that these old songs are charting for such long periods of time on music sites, which change daily.”

The country’s nostalgia for the era was last most notably revived with tvN’s “Reply 1997,” which takes place in the late 1990s and tells the story of an H.O.T. fangirl.

Nineties hitmakers who appeared on “Infinite Challenge” to perform included Kim Gun-mo, So Chan-hwee, Uhm Jung-hwa, Lee Jung-hyun, Jo Sung-mo, Turbo, S.E.S, Jinusean, Cool and Kim Hyun-jung.

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