The Korea Herald


NewJeans, Ive win first national culture merit

Stray Kids, The Boyz among other K-pop recipients of the 14th Korea Popular Culture and Arts Awards

By Choi Ji-won

Published : Oct. 22, 2023 - 16:47

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Ive on the left, NewJeans on the right (Starship Entertainment/Ador) Ive on the left, NewJeans on the right (Starship Entertainment/Ador)

K-pop girl groups NewJeans and Ive were awarded a national culture merit on Saturday for their role in the promotion of Korean culture and arts.

The rookie groups were recognized with the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Commendation at the 14th Korea Popular Culture and Arts Awards. The ceremony was held on Saturday at Haeoreum Grand Theater of the National Theater of Korea in central Seoul.

"We are honored to receive such big award. We feel grateful to our fans, Bunnies, and everyone who have loved the popular culture. ... We consider this prize an encouragement to work harder and will become a team that contributes further to the advancement of pop culture," NewJeans said in a statement released by its label Ador on Sunday. The band could not attend the ceremony in person due to promotions overseas.

Ive also thanked fans through an agency statement Sunday.

"We thank the people who have enjoyed Ive's music and our fans, Dive, who have been a great support to us. We will strive to improve the global reputation of Korean culture and become a team that continues to grow to exert positive influence," the statement read.

This marks the first time that the two groups were recognized from the Korea Popular Culture and Arts Awards, an annual ceremony that aims to commend figures who have contributed to the development of the local pop culture and art scene -- spanning various fields from singers, actors, comedians, directors and more.

Debuting in December 2021, six-member group Ive instantly shot to fame with chart-topping singles the likes of "Eleven," "Love Dive" and "After Like." Making hits on end with every music release, Ive swept rookie of the year and song of the year awards last year. Most recently, its latest, first EP "I've Mine," racked up 1.6 million copies in a week, marking a new high for the band and the third highest record set by a K-pop girl group in history.

A force to be reckoned with upon debuting in July 2022, NewJeans has been reshaping the K-pop landscape with its sensational hits, including "Hype Boy," "OMG" and "Super Shy." Its presence was prominent globally, debuting on the UK Official Singles Chart and Billboard Hot 100 in less than a year from its launch and setting records on Spotify's streaming charts. With its latest EP "Get Up," the group debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart, becoming the first female Korean group to enter the chart at its top.

Ive and NewJeans were among the 10 recipients of the culture minister commendations at this year's pop culture and arts awards, which also included boy band The Boyz and music producer 250.

At a higher level, boy band Stray Kids was honored with the prime minister's commendation.

This year also saw the historic win by 81-year-old singer Lee Mi-ja, who became the first K-pop artist to win the award's highest honor, Geumgwan Order of Cultural Merit. The veteran vocalist was recognized for her status as the most influential pop artist of the 1960s.