The ABCs of K-Pop Awarding Ceremonies

MAMA, AAA, MMA – What do all these letters mean? It’s that time of the year again, and we are not talking about Christmas yet. Towards the end of every year, fans are gathered to vote for their faves to dominate different K-Pop awarding ceremonies. What exactly are these awarding ceremonies and just how prestigious are they? No worries, KStreetManila has got you covered!

Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA)

MAMA can mean a lot of things, but for K-Pop fans, this stands for one of the biggest awarding ceremonies. But did you know that MAMA was known of different names before? At the time of its establishment in 1999, it was known as Mnet Video Music Awards – the first and only Korean music videos awards ceremony at that time. It changed to Mnet Music Video Festival (2000-2003), Mnet Km Music Video Festival (2004-2005), and then Mnet Km Music Festival (2006-2008).

Interestingly, it was only in 2006 wherein fans were introduced to different daesangs (grand prizes) such as the Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Artist of the Year. Competitive awards such as Best OST, Best Male/Female Artist, Best Male/Female Group, and those of a specific genre have been given yearly.

What probably also makes MAMA the most highly anticipated awarding ceremony are the stages and collaborations. Anyone who has been watched the MAMA (at that time MKMF) back in 2008 would now of the kiss between T.O.P. and Lee Hyori. Other notable kiss stages were IVY and Nichkhun (2PM), Dara and Taeyang (Big Bang), and Trouble Maker (HyunA & Hyunseung). Although there hasn’t been any kiss stages in the recent MAMAs, who knows? Maybe we will get a surprise this year.

Among some past favorite collaboration stages were Seventeen and GFriend’s sweet and adorable stage (2016), besties battle between BTS and GOT7 (2015), and an epic showdown between Block B and BTS (2014).

To know and vote for your favorite artist in each category, head on to This year’s Mnet Asian Music Awards will be held in Japan and Hong Kong and will last for three days (Nov. 29 to Dec. 1).

Asia Artist Awards (AAA)

The Asia Artist Award is the newest award ceremony in the bunch, which honors outstanding achievements and international contributions of Asian artists in television and music.

The award ceremony started in 2016 with EXO, BTS, TWICE, Park Shin Hye, and Park Bo Gum as the recipients.

The 2017 Asia Artist Awards happened last November 15.

Melon Music Awards (MMA)

What sets the Melon Music Awards different from other awarding ceremonies is that it gives recognition to the Top 10 artists who showed strength in the digital streaming platform, Melon.

As of this writing, voting is open to the public for 40 nominees who have charted high in Melon. However, public voting is counted only 20% of the final score.

Voting lasted until November 12 and the Top 10 artists are Big Bang, EXO, Red Velvet, TWICE, Wanna One, BTS, Bolbbalgan4, IU, and Heize. The awarding ceremony will be held on December 2.

Golden Disk Awards (GDA)

The Golden Disk Awards has been around since 1986 and is also one of the most prestigious awarding ceremonies in Korea. Probably what makes GDA unique is the Bonsang or Judges’ Choice by Disc (Physical Album) or Digital.

As of to date, Super Junior and Girls’ Generation are tied with the most number of awards received at 19. EXO has won the Disc Daesang (Album of the Year) for four consecutive years.

No update yet on when and where the GDA will be held. Stay tuned for announcements!

Seoul Music Awards (SMA)

The Seoul Music Awards is a lot similar to the GDA but their criteria is composed of 20% mobile votes, 10% Sports Seoul popularity poll, 40% digital downloads and album sales, and 30% judges’ scores.

Gaon Chart Music Awards

Slightly similar to the MMA, the Gaon Chart Music Awards on the other hand is focused more on the chart performances of songs and albums every quarter and every month.

They also have other awards that recognize the people behind our favorite artists’ music. Some of these are the Producer of the Year, Composer and Lyricist of the Year, and Style of the Year.

Korean Music Awards (KMA)

Last but not the least is the KMA, where winners were chosen by a variety of music critics, music radio PDs, and other professionals within the industry.

What is unique about this awarding ceremony is that it is largely dominated by indie artists and non-idol groups that are not mainstream to the public. If you are in search of different music, maybe you can start looking at the list of past winners such as Jo Dong Jin, Silica Gel, ABTB, and more.


Phew! That was a long list of awarding ceremonies! Which among them are you looking most forward to?