K-pop, Mandopop and other Asian pop

Hwasa from K-pop girl group Mamamoo: the singer and rapper also loved for her make-up, nails and food-eating videos

A striking, sexy diva who is just as easy being in front of the camera with no make-up and in her pyjamas, Hwasa, the youngest member of Mamamoo, is also their funniest and most eloquent member

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 August, 2018, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 August, 2018, 8:00pm

Hwasa of K-pop girl group Mamamoo has become one of South Korea’s hottest female idols because of her singing and rapping, her striking stage performances, and, more recently, her role as the country’s mukbang (food-eating video) queen.

Armed with a distinctive, husky voice, Hwasa – which means “brightly beautiful” in Korean – has a wide vocal range and many K-pop critics believe her to be one of the most expressive singers in the business. She is also a talented rapper known for her witty ad-libs during live performances.

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A member of the four-member girl group Mamamoo, Hwasa is certainly making an impact – and not only in K-pop. Her distinctive, heavily contoured make-up has proved influential among Korean women and her popularity has resulted in scores of instructional videos on how to look like Hwasa.

Hailing from Jeonju, a city renowned for its quality cuisine, Hwasa has a taste for unique food. This even earned her a plaque of appreciation from Korea’s Association of Cattle Organ Meats, due to increased sales of cow intestines after she was seen devouring them on a popular reality TV programme.

But there’s a lot more than that to learn about Hwasa.

Her early life

Born Ahn Hye-jin in Jeonju, South Korea, in 1995, Hwasa is the youngest of three sisters, and is also the youngest member of Mamamoo. Along with fellow Mamamoo member Wheein, her friend since childhood, Hwasa decided on a career as a performer at an early age and the pair started to practise together. Even before her K-pop debut, a number of South Korean artists – including Solbi and the band Standing Egg – recognised her talent and featured her on their tracks when she was only 16.

Her role in Mamamoo

Apart from being a singer and a rapper in the group, Hwasa has also written the music and lyrics for several tracks including Freakin’ Shoes. Despite being the youngest, she is the group’s spokesperson as fans see her as the funniest and most eloquent member.

Hwasa’s husky rendition of Bon Jovi’s You Give Love a Bad Name at Mamamoo’s first concert in 2016 stunned the audience and she is a regular performer on televised singing contests such as King of Masked Singer.

Her image

Hwasa is presented as a sexy diva with heavy, contoured make-up, striking hairstyles and skimpy outfits. Many fans cite the beauty spot on her left cheek as her trademark, and Hwasa was seen emphasising the mole with an eye pencil while doing her make-up in a TV reality show. She is also known for having the longest and most fancy nails among female K-pop idols.

Recently, however, she has adopted a girl-next-door look after appearing on a TV reality show where she takes and fails a driving test, and then comforts herself by eating cow intestines at a restaurant.

Contrary to her glamorous stage look, Hwasa seems to have no qualms being in front of the camera with no make-up and lounging around in her pyjamas at home.

Hwasa is also known for going out of her way to take care of her fans. One such incident involved a fan who came to an event on crutches. Hwasa knelt down on the floor to sign their plastered leg and had a long conversation with the fan.

Her solo work

Hwasa has featured on more than 15 tracks by other musicians, making her the most prolific featured artist among Mamamoo members. Her duet with rapper Loco, Don’t Give It To Me, spent several weeks at No. 1 on the Korean charts earlier this year.

Mamamoo have appeared as guest performers at the Blue Dragon Film Awards two years in a row, sparking rumours that producers are eyeing members for possible film roles. Perhaps Hwasa’s fans will see her on the big screen in the near future.

In her own words

“Performing in front of a maestro such as Quincy Jones was a huge step in my development as a performer. I will never forget that night,” she said on performing at the after-party of the veteran American singer’s Korea concert.

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During an interview with The Moncast podcast, she talked about the importance of overseas recognition: “Being active outside of Korea is like a new beginning and a huge challenge. The fact that we were on the US Billboard charts seemed unreal and I kept checking it many times.”