Since the late 1990s, the popularity of South Korean culture has been steadily increasing around the world. This so-called “Korean Wave” has made Korean dramas and Korean pop music (also known simply as K-dramas and K-pop) popular on a global scale. Especially in the last decade, K-Pop has been conquering the world and with it, Japan. In 2011, it was reported that the total sales for K-pop artists’ in Japan had increased 22.3% within one year, some Korean artists being in the top 10 selling artists of 2011.
K-pop has a lot to offer, from talented solo artists, such as BOA or Rain, to popular boy groups, such as TVXQ or Big Bang and, of course, many sexy and cute girl groups. If you want to be able to keep up with the conversations of your Japanese friends and colleagues, you better start getting to know some of them! Here are three popular Korean girl groups big in Japan.
Girl’s Generations, also known as SNSD, which is an acronym of their Korean band name “So Nyeo Si Dae”, officially debuted in August 2007. However, they didn’t enter the Japanese music scene until April 2011. When they finally did, their debut album peaked in the top of the Japanese Oricon Albums Chart and became the first album by a South Korean girl group to achieve double Platinum in Japan.
Girls’ Generation is composed of eight members: Taeyeon, Sunny, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Yuri, Sooyoung, Yoona, and Seohyun. After starting out with a “cutesy” image, the group has now settled for a more “mature” style. They can easily be described as one of the most popular and successful Korean girl groups in Japan.
Kara currently is composed of Park Gyuri, Han Seungyeon, Goo Hara, and Heo Youngji. The group’s name comes from the Greek word “chara”, literally meaning “joy”, but being interpreted by the group to mean “sweet melody”. The group debuted in 2007, starting out with a strong female image and a mature R&B sound. The following year, however, after a change of members, the group also changed their musical style and their image to “pretty, but natural”. After a very successful debut in 2010, they have become one of the most popular Korean girl groups in Japan.
In contrast to SNSD and Kara, 2NE1 has a very unique and rather edgy style. While they were classified as “hip-hop” after their debut single, they quickly changed their image to that of strong, feminine women, and even showed their Gothic side during the “It Hurts (Slow)” music video. In general, the four-member group, consisting of CL, Minzy, Dara, and Park Bom, can easily be described as “larger than life”, and, in my opinion, shows the most potential to have real international success.
So, which one is your favorite K-pop girl group big in Japan?