Sex appeal is K-pop girl group Stellar’s calling card

Adopting a sensual image helps propel Korean girl group Stellar into the limelight, boosting their popularity and gaining them fans

The members of Stellar - (from left) Joo Min Hee, Jeon Youl, Kim Gayoung and Lee Hyo Eun.
The members of Stellar - (from left) Joo Min Hee, Jeon Youl, Kim Gayoung and Lee Hyo Eun. PHOTO: UNIVERSAL MUSIC

South Korean all-girl pop quartet Stellar had a less-than-stellar debut in 2011.

Struggling to make an impression on the scene, they underwent a change in line-up before resorting to a tactic used by countless pop stars before them - they flaunted their sexiness in the sensuous dance number Marionette (2014).

In the steamy music video, they gyrated in cleavage-baring leotards and when they were not gyrating, they posed seductively in skin-tight tops and underwear.

It worked.

Member Kim Gayoung, 24, tells The Straits Times in Seoul: "By showing off our sexiness, we are able to grab the attention of male fans. That's why we thought we should add a sexy element to our image."

Marionette finally put them on K-pop fans' radar, snagged them performance offers and provided them an income.

In a previous interview, Kim had said: "Our bank balance went from negative to positive. We also got a car and a dormitory. We also got a practice room that we could use all we wanted."

Stellar - which also include Joo Min Hee, 23; Lee Hyo Eun, 23; and Jeon Youl, 22 - released their second EP, titled Sting, in January and held their first solo concert in Seoul last month.

While their risque image has drawn some backlash from netizens, Stellar have convinced themselves that any publicity is good publicity in a K-pop world saturated with girl groups.

Lee says: "When we first saw the criticisms, especially the negative comments that targeted our families, we felt hurt. Then we came around and realised that by getting scolded, we were also getting attention."

Undeterred, they have continued to heat up the screens with racy outfits in music videos such as that of last year's dance single, Vibrato, where they wore cheongsam with unusually high splits that showed off their gams and underwear.

On the cover of Sting, they cover up slightly, although they complete their outfits of tees, crop tops and shorts with come-hither looks.

The sexy concepts are done tastefully to show off the members' feminine beauty, insists Kim, and they are not done purely for the sake of baring skin.

Jeon, whose real name is Jeon Yu Ri, says: "Sexy is our trademark. We want to showcase various kinds of sexiness. In our EP Sting, we're sexy and innocent at the same time."

• Sting is available at CD-Rama outlets and digital platforms such as iTunes, Spotify, KKBOX and Singtel AMPed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'Stellar at being sexy'. Subscribe