K-Pop for Dummies: Groups who made K-Pop Famous

Lashonde Lavelle Christian
September 28, 2020
4 minutes
So, we’re back with K-Pop for dummies, and on today’s series, we’re going to talk about the few OG (original) groups that grew K-Pop internationally.
If you’re not a K-Pop fan, or you’re one that is just starting out, then we think we’re not wrong to make the assumption, that you probably don’t know a few basic facts about the origins of K-Pop.
We don’t know if you paid enough attention to our Lifestyle Hub, but as we’ve previously mentioned before, K-Pop is divided into three eras. The first generation, which consists of the pioneer groups/singers of K-Pop, the second generation, groups/singers that came after in the 2000s and the third generation, K-Pop groups/singers from 2010 up to now.
Image via Thing Link
K-Pop in the first generation, was when Korean Pop music was just starting off in South Korea. But then in the second generation, the genre started to take off and fly into more international terrains. You could say, that it was during this time that K-Pop started to become more than just local acts.
Albeit, it was a slower time for K-Pop as compared to what it is today in 2020 (third generation), but it was also a much anticipated turning point for the industry.
A few K-Pop groups which were established during that time, were slowly coming up in K-Pop, and we figured why not talk about a few of them.

Super Junior

Sometimes known as SJ, Super Junior made their debut back in 2005, by famous South Korean producer Lee Soo-Man of SM Entertainment. Starting off with 12 members, the band performed their first overseas gig at the Pattaya Music Festival in Thailand, a year after their debut. However, the group only got their career breakthrough in 2009 when they released their song ‘Sorry, Sorry’.
The hit song was instantaneously a best seller in Thailand, Taiwan and Philippines. From there on out, Super Junior grew bigger on a more international scale. Today, they are still very much alive and kickin’. In fact, in May, the group of now 9, performed on an online concert called ‘Beyond Live’, for over 123,000 people worldwide.  


Under a separate producer known as YG Entertainment, BIGBANG made their debut in the year 2006. Venturing into Japan in 2009, the group at the time also collaborated with famous K-Pop girl group 2NE1. Then, a year later, they won ‘Best Pop Video’ and ‘Best New Artist’ from the MTV VMAs Japan.
It was since then, that the group became bigger. In 2011, BIGBANG won the ‘Best Worldwide Act’ at the MTV EMAs. Gaining traction of 310 million views on YouTube with ‘Fantastic Baby’, the group also scored with the Billboard K-Pop Hot 100 and the Billboard 200. With tours, an art exhibition and singles to celebrate their 10th anniversary, BIGBANG was also scheduled to perform at Coachella this year, before we were hit with a global pandemic.


Coined from the word ‘shine’, this Korean group came up with their Korean name, adding the ‘ee’ at the end, to mean ‘one who receives the light’. Receiving the title, the ‘Princes of K-Pop’, SHINee debuted their first EP in 2008 called ‘Replay’. Also, under SM Entertainment, alongside SJ, the group was awarded the popularity award in 2009.
They continued rising in fame and got international fame all over Asia, when their single ‘Ring Ding Dong’ from their extended play ‘2009, Year of Us’ was released. The group then toured to Tokyo and performed concerts in Paris as well as New York City under the SM Live ’10 World Tour. They were also the first Asian artist who performed at Abbey Road Studios in London.
Unfortunately, in 2017, a member of the group committed suicide. Many famous K-Pop artists/groups attended the funeral, and thereafter, the group continued making good music. Currently on a temporary hiatus, their last release was their sixth album repackage in October 2018, called ‘The Story of Light-Epilogue’.

Girls’ Generation

Also known as SNSD, the 8-member group was one of the more famous K-Pop girl groups during the second generation. Another one under SM Entertainment, Girls’ Generation made their official debut in 2007. Two years later in 2009,the girls went on their first concert tour to Seoul, Shanghai and Taipei.
Also venturing out to Japan, it was in 2011, when their third studio album ‘The Boys’ was released by Interscope Records in the US. They made their appearance on US television when they performed on the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ and ‘Live! With Kelly’. They even performed on a French television show known as ‘Le Grand Journal’.
In 2017, the group released their sixth studio album to commemorate their 10th anniversary. In the same year, three members decided not to renew their contracts, while the other five did. As of now, the group is on a temporary hiatus to focus on their solo careers.

Wonder Girls

Debuting in 2007 under JYP Entertainment, Wonder Girls released their first full length album ‘The Wonder Years’ with ‘Tell Me’ as their lead single. The song grew in fame quickly and became the number 1 hit in Thailand. In 2008, the group had their breakthrough when they followed their producer for a month-long concert tour.
They went all the way to the States, and were special guests for the music video ‘Wishing on a Star’ while in New York. Upon releasing their infamous hit ‘Nobody’, the girl group was hired by American Talent Agency, Creative Artists Agency (CAA). The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 and the girls became the first Korean group to ever enter the chart. Touring in the States and Canada, their fame only grew, until 2017, when they made a decision to disband.


Initially named ‘21’, their producer YG Entertainment, then made a change in name after discovering that another singer had already claimed it. The girl group was then renamed ‘2NE1’, which was either pronounced as ‘To Anyone’ or ‘21’. They made their debut in 2009, when they released two singles, ‘Lollipop’ and ‘Fire’, the former as a collaboration with K-Pop male group BIGBANG.
Then, in 2010 they went to Los Angeles to record English songs for an American debut album with Black Eyed Peas’s member and producer, That album peaked at number 10 on the Billboard World Album chart. A year later, they won their first US award ‘Best New Band’ and performed at Times Square. They even made MTV’s Style List of ‘Best Band Style of 2012’. However, after members departing and an indefinite hiatus, the group officially disbanded in 2017.

Image via Amazon
And with that, now all of you (us too by the way) fellow K-Pop dummies have a tad more knowledge in the ever-growing phenomenon of Korean Pop music, including a small part of its origin!
*Tune into AirAsia Redtix’s Lifestyle Hub every Monday and Friday for the best of the best on K-Pop*