Author: Anna Franco Ucar
As already explored in Mar Montiel-Cerón’s previous blog, the popularity of K-Pop keeps on growing everywhere around the world, and with it, the necessity of learning and understanding the different K-Pop slang terms to navigate this intricate world grows as well. There are terms to describe every aspect of the genre, from the music itself to the fan culture. However, most of them are related to the idols, like their position within the group (main, centre, leader), their age (hyung, maknae), looks (visual, ulzzang), nationality (Aussie line, China line), and personality. From the latter, without a doubt, one of the most interesting terms is 4D personality.
Due to the intense training idols have to go through in the period prior to their debut, as well as afterwards, most groups have to live together and end up developing a family-like dynamic. In situations like that, every member’s personality shines through and leads them to adopt different roles. The oldest ones or those with naturally caring personalities are like the moms and dads of the group; those who have a bright and cheerful personality are the happy viruses; or similarly, those who are uplifting and playful are the mood makers; and the ones who are quirky, eccentric, bold, and protective are considered to have a 4D personality.
Contrary to what some may think, in Korean society, telling someone that they have a 4D personality is a big compliment, as it implies great creativity, the ability to think outside the box, uniqueness, and being unafraid to be authentic. The name itself, 4D, references existing in four dimensions (physical, emotional, intellectual, and intentional), an illustration of the capacity to look at situations from many different angles, employing a holistic approach, and idols of this personality are often said to be “in their own world”. Their actions and behaviour can be seen as strange or crazy, and it might seem like they do not pay attention, but these individuals are usually highly intelligent and more perceptive than most.
Generally, they also tend to be very charismatic, which is why they are usually chosen as MCs (Master of Ceremonies) for variety and music shows. So, naturally, in a creative environment like that of K-Pop, it is quite common to find idols of this kind of personality in many groups. Furthermore, these tend to be among the most beloved members by fans, appreciated for their weirdness, directness, and for being unapologetically themselves. Since the K-Pop industry puts a lot of emphasis on perfection and presenting a carefully curated image, 4D idols’ unique personalities make them stand out from the rest.
Among the most renowned and characteristic 4D personality idols are: Eric Mun, leader of Shinhwa, known for having conversations with himself on Twitter, and considered one of the original 4D idols; Park Bom, member of 2NE1 (disbanded) and soloist, who is so eccentric she has even been said to have an 8D personality; Super Junior’s Heechul, whose bluntness is sometimes mistaken for arrogance, but his “Heechulisms” have their own fan following; and Kim Hyun Joong, member of SS501 (hiatus) and soloist, who admitted to leaving mean comments about himself on forums, deeply loves aliens, and is considered the 4D prince.
Other idols who are considered to have 4D personalities include: BTS’ V, who sleeps with his eyes open, and loves making weird faces; Jisoo from Blackpink, who often enjoys balancing a variety of objects on herself, and loves doing funny little dances; TWICE’s Dahyun, who has the uncanny ability of always immediately spotting/sensing cameras; Soul from P1Harmony, described by his fellow members as completely unpredictable and overall a “strange kid”; and Stray Kids’ Lee Know, who is the personification of a cat, is known for his maniacal laughter, being obsessed with butt-slapping, and in the past was known to carry his clothes around in cloth ‘bundles’, which is incidentally also the name of his solo fandom.
These and other 4D idols definitely make the groups they are in more interesting and fun, and fans everywhere cannot get enough of their antics. I hope this blog has been entertaining and helpful to understand a bit more about 4D personality. Be sure to let us know who your favourite 4D idol is, and look forward to Mar’s follow-up K-Pop slang blog!
Reading pair: Adriana Carmen Mercado León
Revised by: Luisa Quintero
Community. (2015, April 25). 10 Kpop idols with 4D personalities.
Jenniii86. (2015, June 29). My Favourite 4D Kpop Idols. Amino. https://aminoapps.com/c/k-pop/page/blog/my-favorite-4d-kpop-idols/8rIm_u2nMJvawoW4LoEpPmdW57x4dl
Lauren RB. (n.d.). What is 4D personality in K-pop idol? Who has it in K-pop industry? Quora. Retrieved July 13, 2023, from https://www.quora.com/What-is-4D-personality-in-K-Pop-idol-Who-has-it-in-K-Pop-industry
Lee1086. (2015, June 1). Five of K-pop’s most famous 4D idols. Soompi. https://www.soompi.com/article/736717wpp/five-of-k-pops-most-famous-4d-idols#:~:text=Eric%20is%20one%20of%20the,him%20to%20so%20many%20people
Louis, J. (2023, February 9). Exploring the 4D personality type in Blackpink: Who has the most unique personality? JulieAnneSanJose.com |. https://julieannesanjose.com/exploring-the-4d-personality-type-in-blackpink-who-has-the-most-unique-personality/
Seoulbeats. (2019, October 28). No stranger to strange: Enigmatic 4D idols. https://seoulbeats.com/2012/06/no-stranger-to-strange-enigmatic-4d-idols/
Yeo, A. (2020, November 29). Bias, comeback, and aegyo: What all those K-pop words actually mean. Mashable. https://mashable.com/article/kpop-glossary-maknae-bts#:~:text=4D(opens%20in%20a%20new,are%20loved%20for%20their%20weirdness