King of K-Pop Colour

Park Nae Joo is the mastermind behind the rainbow hair colours of numerous K-Pop idols. As his clients BTS gear up for their new (sure to be record-breaking) album, we talk colour choices and how it reflects the idols’ work

If you don’t yet know BTS, you must have been living under a rock. The seven-member South Korean group has the biggest fan base in the world, and has been breaking records left and right over the last few years. It’s rumoured that Twitter has had to adjust its algorithms otherwise BTS would consistently rank as one of the top worldwide trends from the sheer amount of mentions. Yeah. And the boys are back at it, releasing their new album BE on 20 November, along with single ‘Life Goes On’.

Subdued, natural tones for new single ‘Life Goes On’

BTS, as with the other musical acts of South Korea who encompass what the West refers to as ‘K-Pop’, are hugely varied and immensely talented, combining music, dance and style for an explosive visual combination. The visuals of each ‘era’ (new releases) is a huge part of the overall effect – including changes to the idols’ hair.

Spotting a change in the hair styles and colours of K-Pop group members is enough to send fans into a spin (as does suspicious use of hats to hide their hair) as it often heralds new music is on the way. Groups regularly change their looks for each release, creating specific representations of themselves to best convey the style of the new song or album’s genre. Dark colours hint at moody releases, while pastels and vivid shades suggest fans can expect a bop.

Moody shades for BTS’ ‘Black Swan’
Twice’s lighter vibe in ‘More & More’ sees jewel-bright shades

We spoke exclusively to Park Nae Joo – colourist to the hottest starlets and groups in South Korea including BTS, NCT, Twice and EXO, and owner of salon Bit & Boot in Seoul – about what goes into the planning and creation of these show-stopping looks.

Park Nae Joo

“The most important thing is to make sure that the colour suits the artist,” he told us. “I check the outfits, colours and styling for each group’s concept carefully. I also pay attention to global trends and fashion weeks all over the world.”

With intense formulas needed to both lift and maintain his clients’ darker natural hair colours throughout their busy schedules, Nae Joo’s product choices are essential. “I use a wide variety – I think products made in the UK and the US are really good for unique and vivid colours. Japanese products are very good for pastels – I especially love a brand called MILBON from Japan. These days I’m regularly using colour treatments and shampoos to maintain colour and condition.”

So there you have it – although he didn’t say anything about Jin’s habit of cutting his own hair