Good news, K-pop fans: this year will see a flurry of new idol groups debuting with many of South Korea’s biggest entertainment companies – including SM, JYP, YG and Big Hit – all planning to unveil fresh acts, while international music labels are also getting in on the action.
Some groups will be comprised of the winners of television audition shows, while others will be launched with performers that have honed their singing and choreography skills for years as trainees vying to become the next BTS or Blackpink.
Big Hit Entertainment, the management company behind BTS, is planning to launch an all-new K-pop girl group within the year. Details of the act, such as its name and the number of members, are unknown. It marks the first time the company will unveil a girl group in nine years since Glam debuted in 2012. The group was disbanded in 2015.
All eyes are on Big Hit’s new girl group after the entertainment company bought Source Music (the company behind six-piece group GFriend) in 2019 as part of an effort to diversify its business portfolio. It is also the first girl group project aided by the industry’s leading visual director, Min Hee-jin. Hee-jin is chief brand officer at Big Hit and a former visual director at SM, and known for styling the visual concepts of several of SM Entertainment’s biggest K-pop groups, including Girls’ Generation, Exo, F(x) and Red Velvet.
Big Hit is also poised to launch a boy group targeting the Japanese market just as JYP Entertainment did with its training programme Nizi Project last year. The project ended up producing the successful Japanese K-pop girl band NiziU.
P Nation, an entertainment agency founded in 2018 by Psy – who swept international music charts with Gangnam Style in 2012 – will join hands with JYP Entertainment to launch two boy bands representing both labels. Their members will be chosen in the SBS audition show Loud which will premiere on January 15. It remains uncertain how many members will be chosen for each group.
Meanwhile Rain Company, the agency founded by K-pop star, actor, producer and all-round genius Rain, will also launch a seven-member K-pop boy group in March named Ciipher, with one Japanese member and six Korean members. They are being promoted as singer-songwriters. Rain previously produced K-pop boy band MBLAQ, which debuted in 2009.
International music companies are also set to throw their hats into the increasingly lucrative ring. Both Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music have teamed up with Korean entertainment companies to select members for upcoming groups.
T1419, a nine-member boy band that debuted in mid January, was a collaboration between MLD Entertainment, NHN and Sony Music. MLD Entertainment is the management company of Momoland, a girl group that has been active since 2016. The boy band aims to target both Korean and Japanese markets, with five Korean members and four Japanese members.
Meanwhile Universal Music has collaborated with Shinsadong Tiger, a songwriter and the producer of Exid, to launch Tri.be, a seven-member girl group, next month. It is a multinational group comprising performers from four different countries.
Three are Korean, one Japanese, one Chinese and one Taiwanese make up the group.
RBW, Mamamoo’s management company, will also launch a seven-member girl group titled Purple K!ss consisting of six Korean members and one Japanese bandmate.
S2 Entertainment, which was founded in 2020 by Hong Seung-sung, the former chairman of JYP Entertainment and Cube Entertainment, and who produced Rain, 4Minute, BtoB, CLC, and (G)I-dle, announced it will also launch a girl group within this year. So much to look forward to!