The First Annual AE K-Pop Awards

It’s here, it’s finally here! The most anticipated entertainment awards that have ever been anticipated! Awarding stupendous achievements in excellence and nonsense for the year 2018! It can only be—The First Annual AE K-Pop Awards!!!!!!

Since everyone knows the worst part of any award show is the opening monologue, let’s cut the shit and get right to it:

Best Animal

Animals are great. K-Pop is great. K-Pop videos with animals are extra great.

Honorable Mentions:

NCT 127 Regular
A tiger who was rushed to the music video after a dramatic jaguar fled the set during a spat with Taeyong – “Regular” by NCT 127 (Image credit)
Banana Allergy Monkey
Those monkeys with an unfortunate allergy – “Banana Allergy Monkey” by Oh My Girl Banhana (Image credit)
Idol BTS Shark
CGI shark, doo doo doo doo doo – “Idol” by BTS (Image credit)
Blackpink DDU-DU DDU-DU
Queen Jennie’s loyal fennec fox – “DDU-DU DDU-DU” by Blackpink (Image credit)

And the winner is . . .

FT Island Hongki Bunny
It’s Hongki! – “Summer Night’s Dream” by FT Island  (Image Credit)

Best Onomatopoeia

A lot of songs are named not after words but mouth noises. This category is a salute to the mouth noises.

Honorable Mentions:


“BBOOM BBOOM” by Momoland

“Baam” by Momoland

“Horololo” by EXO-CBX

And the winner is . . .


Best “Na Na Nas”

Because “La” is so 2017.

Honorable Mentions:

“Love Shot” by EXO

“Touch” by NCT 127

“My Pace” by Stray Kids

“Shine” by Pentagon

“Go” by NCT Dream

And the winner is . . .

“NANANA” by Imfact

Best English Lyrics

We have master’s degrees in English, but we have not mastered English as well as the following Korean musicians.

Honorable Mentions:

“When I’m cruisin’ down damn airport” – “Hangsang” by J-Hope

“I ain’t cry no more” – “Siren” by Sunmi

“Oops! Sorry for my English” – “Sorry for My English” by IN2IT

And the winner is . . .

“Pizza, pasta so so (yum yum)” – “Everyday” by Winner

Worst English Lyrics

As native English speakers, we can tell you that this is all bad, but it’s so bad that it deserves an award.

Honorable Mentions:

Fendiman, Fendiman, Fendiman, Fendiman, Fendiman, Fendiman Fendiman, Fendiman, Fendiman, Fendiman, Fendi ya ya ya” – “Fendiman” by Jackson Wang

“Excuse me, I’m walking like Zombie” – “Shoot Out” by Monsta X

“The beat is freakin’ sick boy” – “Horololo” by EXO-CBX

“We are the are” and “I’ll catch it light it fly it yo better” – “Boss” by NCT U

And the winner is . . .

The entirety of “Regular” by NCT 127

Best Finger Gun

It is an undeniable fact that the finger gun is the greatest dance move—nay, hand gesture—of all time across all continents. The following K-Pop idols have elevated this classic move to an art form.

Honorable Mentions:

Monsta X Shoot Out
“Shoot Out” by Monsta X (Image credit)
Blackpink Finger Guns
“DDU-DU DDU-DU” by Blackpink (Image credit)
Love Shot EXO
Kai’s butt . . . I mean, “Love Shot” by EXO (Image credit)
Sunmi Heroine
“Heroine” by Sunmi (Image credit)

And the winner is . . .

Day6 Shoot Me
The most intense fingergunning in history: “Shoot Me” by Day6 (Image credit)

Best Mullet

How could anyone make a hairstyle that’s so wrong look so right (or just right, in JB’s case)? The past couple years, K-Pop has achieved the impossible—looking good in a mullet.

Honorable Mentions:

Kai EXO Mullet
Kai from EXO (Image credit)
JB GOT7 Mullet
JB from GOT7 (Image credit)
Taeyong NCT Mullet
Taeyong from NCT (Image credit)
The8 Seventeen Mullet
The8 from Seventeen (Image credit)

And the winner is . . .

Chen EXO Mullet
Kai might be EXO’s ultimate visual, but dammit Chen was embracing that mullet so beautifully that we had to give it to him. (Image credit)

Best Reference

Hey, we got these references!

Honorable Mentions:

“Face off, just like John Woo, ay” – “Idol” by BTS (Face/Off)

“Anapanman” and “Idol” by BTS (Anapanman)

“What Is Love” by Twice (The Princess Diaries, Ghost, La Boum, Pulp Fiction, Romeo + Juliet, Love Letter, La La Land, Leon: The Professional)

“Scentist” by VIXX (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer)

“Walker, walker, walker growling” and “Ya, excuse me, I’m walking like zombie” – “Shoot  Out” by Monsta X (The Walking Dead)

And the winner is . . .

“You be my Mara Jade, I’ll be your Skywalker” – “Dawn of Us” by Jackson Wang (Star Wars Extended Universe)

Biggest Latin Lover

More K-Pop artists paid tribute to their devout South American fans this year than ever by incorporating Spanish lyrics and Latin rhythms into their music. Or, if you’re cynical, more K-Pop artists shamelessly exploited their devout South American fans this year than ever by poorly appropriating their culture to make sweet sweet cash.

Honorable Mentions:

VAV for “Senorita” 

BTS for “Airplane Pt. 2”

MAMAMOO for “Egotistic”

And the winner is . . .

Super Junior, who collaborated with Reik in “One More Time” and Leslie Grace in “Lo Siento.”


It is the serious, professional duty of every K-Pop idol to act exceedingly cute, but for some idols, adorableness isn’t just part of the job—it’s who they are.

Honorable Mentions:

Daehwi WannaOne
Daehwi from Wanna One (Image credit)
I.N. Stray Kids
I.N. from Stray Kids (Image credit)
Jimin BTS
Jimin from BTS (Image credit)
Wonpil Day6
Wonpil from Day6 (Image credit)

And the winner is . . .

Woozi Seventeen
Woozi from Seventeen (Image credit)

The I’m A Damn Singer Girl Award

In honor of Jungkook’s infamously misheard lyrics in “DNA,” we’ve created this category for the best misheard lyrics of the year.

Honorable Mentions:

“Choke and die” – “Killing Me” by iKon (Real lyric: “Jukgetta”)

“Now use the bed” – “Fake Love” by BTS (Real lyric: “Love you so bad”)

“Naked mom. . . . I wanna fuck mom” – “Puzzle Moon” by GWNS (Real lyric: “Make it moon. . . . I wanna full moon”)

“Shake your balls hey” and “Coca cola” – “Horololo” by EXO-CBX (Real lyrics: “Sakebou ze” and “Kokoro wo ”)

And the winner is . . .

“I love my family, my kids and my wife” – “Idol” by BTS (Real lyric: “I love my fans, love my dance and my what”)

Poor Jungkook; so misunderstood.

Best Comeback Look

Honorable Mentions:

The sexy, cool looks Red Velvet served in “Bad Boy.” (Image credit)

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BTS, for their wacky, colorful styles in “Idol.” (Image credit)

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The edgy looks from “Shoot Out” by Monsta X. (Image credit)

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Exid with some ’90s funk in “Lady” (Image credit)

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APink, looking uncharacteristically sexy and shimmery in “I’m so sick.” (Image credit)

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And the winner is . . .

“Tempo” by EXO, primarily for putting Kai in a cropped sweater. Hey look, it’s Lay! (Image credit)

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Best Concept

Whether it’s superheros chanting fake Latin or being the soda bottles of a girl who chases a goose on the beach, you can count on K-Pop to deliver some unique concepts.

Honorable Mentions:

“Pirate King” by ATEEZ, because we all need a pirate king in the middle of the desert.

“Spring Breeze” by Wanna One, for ending their brief run by including all the concepts in their music video.

“Fake Love” by BTS, for being pretentious, dramatic and wonderful.

“You and I” by Dreamcatcher, for continuing to be one of the most distinct groups in K-Pop.

“Days Gone By” by Day6, for its ’80s aesthetic and Jae’s rat-tail.

And the winner is . . .

“Banana Allergy Monkey” by Oh My Girl Banhana, for premium butt-scratching and braving both the Arctic and outer space.

Best Music Video

Which K-Pop artist mastered the most revered of art forms in 2018?

Honorable Mentions:

“Fiance” by Mino

“DDU-DU DDU-DU” by Blackpink

“Baby Don’t Stop” by NCT U

“I Love You” by EXID

And the winner is . . .

“Idol” by BTS, but why show that when we can show the Bad Lip Reading’s version?

SugaKookie Award

The most prestigious award of the night is named after my beloved cat, SugaKookie, who is of course named after the BTS ship of Suga and Jungkook. This category is devoted to the songs that Stephanie and I like to sing to our pets. We appreciate all the K-Pop artists who write songs just to help us express our love to cats and dogs.

Here’s SugaKookie, appropriately seated with a Shooky pillow, and there’s Stephanie’s dog Bucky bonding with Chimmy.

Honorable Mentions:

“Tempo” by EXO, because I enjoy singing “baby girl” to my baby girl, and she’s always messing up my tempo by getting in my goddamn way.

“Millions” by WINNER, because we have a million, billion, trillion reasons for liking our pets—oh yeah, yeah, yeah!

“I Love You” by EXID, because we love our pets like la la la la la la la la la la la la la. 

And the winner is . . .

“Bad Boy” by Red Velvet, which we like to sing call-and-response style. “Who dat, who dat, who dat, boy?” “It’s Bucky!”

Most Inspirational

You might think that BTS is a shoe-in for this award, with their proclamations of self-love and UN speeches about nine-year-olds looking up at the sky and what not. But there was another group running around and dropping inspiration bombs this past year, and that group was the Stray Kids.

After descending into the deepest levels of despair in 2017’s “Hellevator” (named after a short-lived but groundbreaking horror game show), the Stray Kids had the fastest recovery from depression ever recorded and began spewing inspirational messages out of every orifice. Whether it was reminding us to appreciate little things like honey and an extra piece of chicken in “Get Cool” or racing around while yelling at us to go our own pace in “My Pace,” the Stray Kids were inspiring us much in the same way that a hyper, stray puppy desperately seeks attention. With this award, we honor them for their achievement in motivating us so hard.

Most Moving Performance

On a more serious note, the song that gave us the most feels this year was “Our Page” by SHINee, a moving tribute to Jonghyun, who committed suicide in 2017. We were proud that one of our favorite boy bands managed to eloquently express their loss and move on after their tragedy.

Most Thankful

Seventeen for “Thanks.” They’re. Just. So. THANKFUL!

Seventeen Thanks
Image credit

The G-Dragoning So Hard Award

G-Dragon is a one-of-a-kind musician, but that doesn’t stop idols from trying to be him. Whether it’s rocking his hairstyles and wardrobe, imitating his nasal voice or following in his example by getting all pretentious and angsty, K-Poppers take a lot of inspiration from Kwon Ji-Yong.

But nobody G-Dragon’s harder than Winner member Mino, and Mino managed to up the G-Dragon-ness in 2018. How many boxes does he check off in the G-Dragon imitator list?


Related image
Image credit


Mino Instagram
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Weird artist:

Mino Art
Image credit

Exciting solo work/love of the letter “x”:

Image result for mino first album
Image credit

Sure, Mino is a great rapper in his own right, but we know where he gets his inspiration, and as lovers of all things G-Dragon—even his fanboys—, we honor Mino for G-Dragoning harder than anyone.

The Kang Daniel Award

Kang Daniel
Image credit

Plenty of people have been called kings, queens, dames, the greatest, but only one person in the history of all humanity has ever been called a nation’s center. (At least I think; I haven’t really checked.) That particular honor went to Kang Daniel, who captured the hearts of South Koreans as a member of Wanna One.

In an industry inundated with hot bods, handsome faces, deep voices and charm, Daniel somehow managed to get ahead of them all. As the nation’s center, Daniel had the highest brand power of any Korean in 2018, and he also holds a Guinness World Record for the fastest time to gain one million Instagram followers. This level of inexplicable popularity comes only once, maybe twice a year. In short, he’s just so hot right now.

Like Cecil B. DeMille, Kang Daniel deserves an award in his honor, one which will be given each year to a K-Pop star who is just so hot right now. It is only fitting that Kang Daniel receive the first award. We congratulate him on occupying the center of all of our hearts and minds.

The Jackson Wang Award

image1 (5)

When conceiving of the Seungri Award, we here at Academic Exiles had no idea just how accurate we were being in recognizing him for his hustle. Turns out that hustle may be a little too literal (read: illegal, exploitative, gross), and we can’t in good conscious support the truly deplorable revelations that are coming to light. Therefore, we have come to the decision to abolish the Seungri Award and in its place pay tribute to another K-Pop star who never turns down an opportunity to make bank and is guilty of prostituting only himself: Jackson Wang.

Jackson has never met an endorsement deal he didn’t love. Brands he’s partnered with include Snow Beer, VIVO X21, Adidas, Douyin Application and Lenovo, and that doesn’t even count advertising deals as part of GOT7. He’s even a cultural envoy for Hong Kong Tourism. Plus, the man isn’t afraid to risk creative bankruptcy in order to avoid financial bankruptcy, penning and releasing literal commercials for Pizza Hut and Pepsi.

And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Fendi. He’s the brand ambassador for Fendi China, and of course, Jackson’s magnum opus is “Fendiman,” an advertisement that somehow became a hit and may be the world’s worst superhero origin story—it’s hard to tell since 75 percent of the lyrics are comprised of the word “Fendi.”

But Jackson isn’t content to just rep other people’s brands. He is dedicated to tirelessly promoting his own. The king of variety shows, he’s appeared on countless TV programs in both Korea and China as a cast member, emcee, judge, mentor, babysitter and bromance-haver. While the K-Pop world was celebrating BTS’ landmark stint as Grammy presenters, Jackson was also there, wearing Fendi and promoting for an upcoming single release. And if you haven’t heard of Team Wang, what are you doing here?

All this may make it sound like Jackson is insufferable, but with a big personality, good looks and talent, he manages to be one of K-Pop’s most charming personas. That’s why we are honoring the indomitable Mr. Wang with the creation of the Jackson Award, given each year to the person who proves selling out doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Surely this is the biggest honor he’s received since he won that Teen Choice Award.

Edited March 12, 2019 (including the featured image, in which I shoddily covered Seungri’s face with Jackson Wang)

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