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[Soompi] Ultimate Staff Picks of 2013!

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2013 is officially over, and with it comes a time of celebration and reflection. How many excellent artists, dramas, songs, shows, and albums have we been graced with this year? Sure, we have our excellent Soompi Awards 2013 to let the charts and the fans speak for themselves (and we can't wait to see what they have to say). Still, our staff members hold some soft spots for various actors, singles, and groups that may or may not be covered otherwise, and we wanted to write them all down for the sake of posterity. We offer no attempt at objectivity; these are our personal favorites, and therefore, they are the definition of biased.

So for better or for worse, here are our ultimate staff picks of 2013! While you go through our list, think to yourself, what would be your K-Pop or K-Drama pick for this year? Let us know by commenting below!

Patra: 2013 was Kim Woo Bin's year. I've been following him since 2011 when I saw him in "White Christmas." His career really took off this year with "School 2013," "The Heirs," and the movie "Friend 2". I do hope he'll get the chance to play a wider range of characters. Behind the bad boy, there is also a romantic guy...So first lead role next year? Maybe in a romantic comedy?

Patra works for Soompi France. She has been waiting for the "SUN" to rise again since 2010, so she's more than ready for Taeyang's next album.

soomp: 2013 is the year I fell in love with BEAST. As not from one of the "big three" agencies, they just never quite made it onto my radar. However, I had been slowly introduced to them one by one through their drama roles, first with Kikwang last year in "Me Too, Flower," and then Doojoon in "IRIS 2." I was also vaguely familiar with Hyunseung from last year's hit with HyunA, "Troublemaker," of which I was a big fan.

It wasn't until this year's almost-awesome "Monstar" starring Joonhyung that I started becoming interested in their music, which led to discovering my favorite album this year, "Hard to Love, How to Love." "How to Love" is my favorite track from the album. Enjoy! 

soomp is the founder and ambassador of awesome at Soompi.

Rossana: 2013 was the year K-Pop got spicier with a little Latin sauce!

As one of many Latin K-Pop fans, I can say we never imagined having our favorite artists in this part of the world, but now that dream has come true! Since last year, and especially this year, many artists such as Big BangSuper Junior, NU'EST, CNBLUE, JYJ, U-KISS (at left), TVXQ, and many more have visited our countries to give us their best performances. Having them perform here made me wonder if the energy would be the same as in their own country. So, this year, when I had the opportunity to visit Korea for the first time, I realized they give their all, no matter where they are! There’s no doubt why K-Pop appeals to millions of people in the world. The artists’ looks, voices, skills, and talents in such high quality are the best assets Korean musical industry can deliver. I’m sure we are only in the beginning of a long journey of globalization for K-Pop. They have all we need to feel entertained and happy. Cheers to these awesome people who work hard every day to give their best to us! I know 2014 has some amazing things prepared for us international fans!

Rossana is Senior Editor at Soompi Spanish. She’s a dedicated SHINee fan and compulsive buyer for everything related to them. During her visit to Korea (the icing on the cake this year) she was able to meet the Soompi team there, what an amazing family!

 U-KISS Peru

CallMeN00NA: When I first did a review for "Barefoot Friends" in May, I was really excited. I thought I'd struck variety gold. With comedic veterans Kang Ho Dong, Yoon Jong Shin, and Yoon Se Yoon guiding the eager idols Eunhyuk, Kim Hyun Joong, Yoon Shi Yoon, and UEE through exotic trips in foreign countries, I was convinced that this show would not be like any other and pave the way for more dynamic and distinct variety shows.

Then "Barefoot Friends" lost its way and became a mess of a show. They went from visiting countries to visiting homes to songwriting to diving and finally to cooking. It no long had any identity, and its struggle to stay alive and relevant became embarrassingly apparent. I had stayed faithful to the show because I still had hope that it would pick itself up, but like everyone else I was relieved when I heard that it would end. I called it a mercy kill.

Yet I will never forget how I fell in love with Kim Hyun Joong and his makeup-less face (after ignoring him during his "Boys Over Flowers" and SS501 days), felt motherly affection for Yoon Shi Yoon and his dorky ways, and decided that UEE may be the only female idol I like her for her sweet personality. 

So RIP "Barefoot Friends."

CallMeN00NA is THE noona who writes We Got Married recaps and answers questions about Soompi through her Twitter account.


Neji: 2013 was an amazing season for K-Drama fans. There were so many dramas that I won't forget such as "School 2013," "Good Doctor," "That Winter, The Wind Blows," "Master's Sun," and "The Heirs." However, the best drama for me was "The Suspicious Housekeeper." I couldn't help myself but had to stop doing everything to watch a new episode each Monday and Tuesday. Kang Ji Woo was so sweet and Choi Ji Woo's comeback was incredible! I've been a fan since "Stairway to Heaven" and I couldn't believe she starred in this fantastic drama, though it's a remake.

Chermary: The best drama of 2013 was "Suspicious Housekeeper" because it marked the return of Choi Ji Woo after two years. The drama is a remake of the successful Japanese drama "Kaseifu No Mita." Choi Ji Woo had a real challenge ahead of her to impress her huge following in Japan and Korea. The relationship between her and the children melted our hearts and although it did not have the same success as the Japanese version, there was great acting and had a quality production. So this is a drama that you cannot miss!

Neji is an editor at Soompi Portuguese and enjoys underrated girl groups and K-Dramas.
Chermary is a writer at Soompi Spanish.suspicious housekeeper

Lordbordem: Good evening, here I sit trying to remember the glorious year of 2013 while my brain is addled with caffeine. It's not easy to pick a single highlight for the year even with a clear mind. 2013 was such a jam-packed year for all involved, being asked to pick a single memorable moment is most likely our coordinator's idea of writer torture.

Anyway enough yapping about, my pick for 2013 goes to... drum roll... Crayon Pop!

In an industry that seems to pride itself on being a bit too serious, we got a group that wasn't afraid of going down the route of fruity loopy, because you know sometimes you just want to mindlessly have fun and Crayon Pop certainly provided that this year. Plus, it doesn't hurt that they received international recognition for their breakthrough hit "Bar Bar Bar," making everyone wonder if their infamous five cylinder dance was the successor to PSY's horse dance.

Lordbordem is the writer that cures his boredom by occasionally writing long and snarky articles on Soompi. He also once went head to head with a koala. He lost.

Mardi09: My staff pick for 2013 will have to be R&B soloist Navi. This year has treated the "Queen of Covers" very well as she participated in many popular drama OSTs like "Secret Love," "Basketball," and the global edition of "We Got Married." Navi has also featured in Freestyle and Phantom's latest title tracks. To add to that, she announced to the public her relationship of two years with soccer player Yeo Hyo Jin. She has done well with focusing on the quality of her music rather than falling under pressure with plastic surgery rumors that have risen along with her popularity.

Mardi09 is the writer that finds the gems among the rough. Has a keen eye for K-Pop artists that might have escaped the public's notice.


lyrayoo: My K-Drama Child Actor Discovery is Choi Ro-Woon as the younger version of Park Shi On on "Good Doctor." If there's an authentic portrayal of a savant, this kiddo is for the win. It's staple knowledge how Joo Won performed as the adult Shi On above par; however this kid, Choi Ro-Woon, wowed me by giving justice to the little, charming kiddo with exquisite characteristics from his wounded childhood. Despite his limited screentime, Ro-Woon excelled at expressing character. Amazingly, his chemistry connected flawlessly to that of the adult Shi On, making the often-awkward transition to adulthood much more convincing. 

And plus, he's adorable. Come on, how could this not be your pick of the year?

lyrayoo is one of our roving K-Drama forum community moderators.

choi ro-woon

Sylphid: My pick for 2013 would have to be Spica's "Tonight." I love upbeat pop songs, and this one was just perfectly uplifting and catchy for me. Most of their past songs sounded too serious for me, but "Tonight" was really fun. Also, Spica proved themselves to be underrated but talented vocalists; their live performances of the song also sounded great, as you can see in the accompanying video. Sadly, I missed their promotional period by a week when I visited Korea a few months ago, but I hope to see them in person soon! 

Sylphid is the (longtime) US Editor at Soompi. He also covers various K-Pop events throughout California.

melkimx: When I look back on my year of K-Pop in 2013, the song I'm going to remember the most is EXO's "Growl." There are some moments in K-Pop that just stand out for every fan, and the MV for "Growl" just so happens to be one of mine. I knew EXO from the time they debuted and appreciated their incredible dancing skills and ability to influence both the Korean and Chinese demographic. But it wasn't until I laid eyes on the video and heard the smooth pop/R&B blend that I finally understood what the fuss was about. At first, the video seems too low-key: Instead of flashy backdrops and neon lights, there's an abandoned warehouse. The costumes aren't colorful and eye-catching; they're standard gray schoolboy suits. Their biggest stage prop is a baseball cap. And the camera work is done all in one shot, which is undoubtedly impressive, but almost feels a little slow to anyone accustomed to K-Pop's typically fast pacing. But by the time the video ends, you realize that the fact that you managed to stay captivated throughout the whole thing is really just a testament to EXO's stage presence. The choreography is flawless, and the song offers a kind of mass appeal. It's not something I could really put into words, except to say that I might recommend this song to a friend who doesn't like K-Pop. And I would definitely recommend it to any K-Pop fan, except that I don't need to -- you already know it and you probably love it too.

melkimx has been at Soompi for a long time.

That's it from the Soompi staff this year! Did we cover the bases, or are we missing something substantial? Let us know by commenting below! And always look onward -- 2014 is going to be a new year with awesome new highlights! Let's look forward to it together! 


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