As we continue into 2023, the raging war of girl groups from the past year continues unabated. This year, the girl group war has persisted through the first half, with groups like NewJeans, IVE, Lé Seraphim, and aespa, colloquially known as the '4th generation,' making waves on domestic and international music charts. Every year, there's a time when either girl or boy groups garner particular attention, and this year, like the last, the girl groups among the 4th generation idols are holding the upper hand.

Among the 4th generation idols, NewJeans has undoubtedly delivered the most shock. From their debut, NewJeans was different. Typically, a debut group would produce countless content like showcase performances and teaser videos. However, NewJeans appeared with three music videos alone, without any of these usual schedules. Although not mainstream, their impactful music, sophisticated concept, and easily understood narrative without explicit worldbuilding explanations won over the public. As Min Hee-jin stated in a broadcast before NewJeans' comeback, "We are confident in our success," NewJeans rose as an icon of the 10-20 generation as soon as they debuted.

NewJeans' momentum did not stop at their debut. According to recent Guinness World Records, NewJeans achieved 1 billion streams on Spotify in just 219 days in March this year. The previous record for a K-pop artist was 409 days, and Guinness World Records emphasized that NewJeans achieved this with only six songs ('Attention,' 'Hype boy,' 'Cookie,' 'Hurt,' 'OMG,' 'Ditto'). Moreover, Guinness World Records highlighted the streaming numbers for their collaboration song 'Zero' with Coca-Cola, released last month, as well as the neck-and-neck race between their most-streamed songs, 'OMG' and 'Ditto.'

The public has been eagerly watching the familiar yet fresh rise of NewJeans, and now, they're eagerly anticipating the emergence of a 'Male NewJeans' group. Given the broadening spectrum of K-pop, this is a natural expectation. However, contrary to these expectations, the birth of a 'Male NewJeans' seems to be challenging. Several boy groups have signaled their debut, but they are drawing a clear line from NewJeans by using the term '5th generation.'

One crucial reason why a 'Male NewJeans' has not emerged is the target audience. All content, including idol production, is built upon a message aimed at a specific target audience. In this process, girl groups typically focus on mass appeal, while boy groups target niche fanbases. This is also why girl groups dominate in digital music, while boy groups excel in album sales.

Although NewJeans has a large fanbase, they're also clearly reliant on mass appeal. Especially, their music, rather than focusing on a deep world view, uses easily understood themes to build empathy. In contrast, boy groups are primarily focusing on concepts, world-building, and relationships among members. Essentially, because the directions of girl groups and boy groups differ, a 'Male NewJeans' is unlikely to appear.

An official from a Korean entertainment production department agreed, stating, "In reality, a 'Male NewJeans' is unlikely to be created. We first need to see how much attention a boy group can garner if they were to produce music similar to NewJeans." They added, "While NewJeans' music emphasizes harmony, boy groups emphasize 'visual music.' As their paths diverge from the start, even if a 'Male NewJeans' were to appear, success would be difficult."

Another industry insider noted, "Recently, male idol groups in the Korean music industry are mainly focusing on performance-oriented content. Their music also tends to emphasize intensity. While current girl groups are capturing listeners' ears with various style variations, male groups are somewhat lacking in differentiation." They continued, "This lack of differentiation also reflects on their performance in the charts. The recent mediocre chart performance of male groups can be attributed to their excessive focus on similar performance styles." They pointed out that "NewJeans has brought distinctiveness in music and style, more than just performance, which is why they have been successful. Boy groups should also consider variation as a new avenue."

Groups like ZeroBaseOne, born from Mnet's 'Boys Planet,' and HYBE's rookie group BoyNextDoor are gearing up for their debuts. It remains to be seen whether they can generate as much buzz as NewJeans.