NewJeans, Silica Gel, Beenzino win big at Korean Music Awards 2024

Girl group NewJeans gives a speech after receiving the Best K-pop Song award at the 21st Korean Music Awards (KMA) ceremony held Thursday in southern Seoul. [PRIZM]

NewJeans, Silica Gel and Beenzino — an unlikely combination of Korea’s hottest K-pop, rock and hip-hop stars came together Thursday night to receive the biggest honors at the 21st Korean Music Awards (KMA).

Sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korea Creative Content Agency (Kocca) and retail media platform Prizm, the 2024 KMA took place at Prizm’s headquarters in Samseong-dong of Gangnam District, southern Seoul, and was livestreamed through the media service’s app.

Girl group NewJeans took home three awards — Song of the Year and Best K-pop Song for its 2022 hit track “Ditto” and Best K-pop Album for “Get Up” (2023) — out of the five categories for which it had been nominated.

“It always feels like a new beginning for NewJeans,” Minji said after accepting the award. The girl group also took home three awards at the KMA last year.

“There are still so many things that we don’t know, and we have so much to learn, but we look forward to the next step of NewJeans.”

Rock band Silica Gel gives a speech after receiving the Musician of the Year award at the 21st Korean Music Awards (KMA) ceremony held Thursday in southern Seoul. [PRIZM]

Silica Gel, a four-member rock band that debuted in 2015 and has since been growing in popularity internationally, was given three awards: Musician of the Year, Best Modern Rock Album and Best Modern Rock Song.

“Being here makes me realize that there are still so many good musicians making music,” leader Geonjay Kim said. “Everything can’t always be good, but we hope [everyone] can make music healthily, healing at their own pace.”

Beenzino took home the Album of the Year and Best Rap and Hip-hop album awards with his full-length album “Nowitzki,” released in July last year. This was the first time for a hip-hop album to win Album of the Year at the KMA.

“The album came after an ample share of both good days and bad, but it’s been a fruitful time thanks to the diverse feedback I got,” the rapper said. “I am more than honored.”

Rapper Beenzino gives a speech after receiving the Best Rap and Hip-hop Album award at the 21st Korean Music Awards (KMA) ceremony held Thursday in southern Seoul. [PRIZM]

Rookie of the Year went to K-pop girl group Kiss of Life, who made headlines last year for its high-quality music and having all four members take part in the making of the song and lyrics for the debut album, a testimony to both the members’ dedication and talent for music.

A variety of musicians took home major awards in the individual genre categories, which encompass rock, modern rock, metal and hard-core, rap and hip-hop, R&B and soul, pop, K-pop, electronic, folk, jazz and global contemporary.

The K-pop and global contemporary categories were newly added last year in an endeavor to broaden the scope of the KMA, according to the selection panel.

The Special Award went to Hakchon Theater, one of the longest-standing theaters in Korea set to close doors this month, to remember the 34 years of its dedication to the growth of pop culture in Korea. The Achievement Award went to jazz musician and saxophonist Kang Tae-hwan.

The KMA is an annual music awards ceremony that prides itself in honoring music and musicians based solely on their "musical quality" rather than sales or other external factors. This year's selection panel consisted of 55 experts of diverse occupations from the music and entertainment market including critics, producers, journalists and other musicians.