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Who is Min Hee-Jin? Let's Look into Her Career in Girl Groups


If you are interested in the K-pop scene, you should have heard of this girl group: NewJeans. Since their debut in 2022, NewJeans has been sensational in pop culture worldwide, captivating numerous fans with their unique music and style. If you are already familiar with the group, you may have noticed that the producer was a key factor in their early success. Min Hee-Jin, a renowned visual director, created and produced this phenomenal girl group, which is considered a new generation that has changed the K-pop landscape. Before their debut, NewJeans was famous simply because they were known to be Min Hee-Jin's new girl group. So, who is Min Hee-Jin? Why is she so famous and influential in the scene? Let’s quickly go through her career in the K-pop industry to understand why she has gained attention as a female producer!

Min Hee-Jin

Interestingly, she started as a regular employee at SM Entertainment in 2002. Initially, she was not influential, as she was one of many employees at SM Entertainment. However, since she began working at the entertainment company, she has significantly shaped the aesthetic and conceptual landscape of K-pop. An interesting story behind her career is that she was quickly promoted, being recognized for her talents in production and visual direction. Even with first-generation idols, she made her mark on many idol albums, indicating how competitive she was from the early 2000s. Her name became popular in the late 2000s when she ventured into pioneering experimental concepts for iconic groups like Girls' Generation, SHINee, f(x), EXO, Red Velvet, and NCT. Her influence became prominent from 2009 onwards, impacting everything from album concepts to visual arts.

  1. Girls' Generation

The very first group that made her name renowned would be, of course, Girls’ Generation. In 2009, Korea was obsessed with color jeans, a fashion trend came from Girls’ Generation. GEE was a center of this trend. Representing innocent but colorful characteristics of girl group, Min Hee-Jin’s visual directing of making them in color jeans made a huge crush in the industry.

2. f(x)

Well, this is not the end of her career at SM Entertainment. Many K-pop fans might remember her work in 2013: Pink Tape by f(x). With its artistic video, the album has been praised until now.

While the musical completeness is outstanding, the concept directing of the album, overseen by Min Hee-jin, also received high praise. This album was the first in K-pop to try the unheard-of approach of an "art movie," presenting a unified "worldview" that dominated the entire work. This approach has had a significant impact on the way K-pop music is produced. Before this album, the concept of an album was merely decorative, designed to beautify the content of the songs. However, from this point, the industry adopted a system where a worldview is presented from the start, and the music, choreography, and costumes are decided accordingly, becoming a standard across the industry. In this sense, the album holds a pioneering position. While SM had been making these kinds of attempts with SHINee, this was the first time an album presented an "art film" format and produced work of almost contemporary art quality.

"Pink Tape" begins with "First Love Tooth" and "Shadowing," which sensually unravel the speaker's feelings of falling into dark emotions like confusion due to love. It then goes on to explore a variety of characteristics that teenage girls might directly experience, such as competitive feelings about appearance, longing for a past first love, and the desire to have fun freely. By bundling these diverse traits under the theme "Pink Tape," the album successfully breaks away from the conventional mold of girl groups that was limited to being pretty, cute, innocent, or sexy. Instead, it captures a unique and varied girlishness, achieving differentiation in the process.

3. NewJeans

Her career reached new heights as she ascended to the role of Art Director General Manager, becoming one of the few registered directors at SM. She became known for her ability to fuse diverse visual elements, from classical to modern trends, and was influential in redefining the visual presentation of K-pop. After leaving SM in 2018 due to burnout, she joined Big Hit Entertainment (now HYBE), overseeing the launch of new girl groups and taking charge of the brand overhaul for HYBE. Hee-jin's work continues to leave a lasting impact on the industry, earning her the nickname "the president of the entertainment world" for her legendary career trajectory.

Her experiences in the K-pop scene are now shining with her comprehensive production of NewJeans. NewJeans’ debut album has garnered both popular and critical acclaim as one of the best albums of 2022. Distinguished as a significant achievement in the girl group field, this album successfully imprinted NewJeans into the public consciousness right from its inception.

NewJeans’ success show how Hee-Jin Min is such a talented in music production. She introduced NewJeans with several innovative ways that have never been tried before. For example, boldly, NewJeans pre-released three title tracks, including "Attention," "Hype Boy," and "Cookie," through music videos on YouTube before the official release. For "Hype Boy," individual member-focused music videos were released, giving each member a narrative, setting them apart from other groups. This approach resulted in rave reviews and expectations, successfully charting all three title tracks. Additionally, the music videos were shot in international locations, not in Korea, aligning with the high teen and youth concepts of the songs. The use of diverse actors ensured a seamless atmosphere without significant cultural dissonance.

Another one is in their unique choreography and performances, created by Kim Eun-ju and BLACK.Q. The Choreography is noted by international audiences for their distinctiveness and freshness. Unlike the recent girl group performances that emphasize powerful upper body movements and sharp synchronicity, NewJeans' choreography gives the impression that the members are naturally playing on stage. The choreography is based on dynamic, full-body movements with interactions among members, offering a much freer feel on stage. Following the release of their first-week music show performances, the group notably benefited from the so-called "music show buff."

NewJeans captures the essence of what K-pop fans have longed for, maintaining current trends while employing unique marketing and promotion strategies. This has allowed NewJeans to establish its own distinctive concept and a fresh, new image, successfully making a strong impression on the public.

If you are a fan of K-pop music, stay tuned at her new activities and productions!

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