The Korea Herald

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Multinational groups look to expand global scope of K-pop

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : Jan. 8, 2024 - 12:41

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From left: Katseye members Lara, Yoon-chae, Daniela, Manon, Megan and Sophia (Hybe) From left: Katseye members Lara, Yoon-chae, Daniela, Manon, Megan and Sophia (Hybe)

In a bid to more actively target the global market, South Korea's major entertainment agencies are gearing up to debut increasingly diverse groups with multinational members.

Katseye, a new girl group under Hybe, will debut in the US this year. The six-member group was created through “The Debut: Dream Academy,” a global audition show jointly conducted by Hybe and Geffen Records.

Katseye's members hail from a range of different countries, including Switzerland, the Philippines, the US and South Korea. A documentary film on the members' debut journey is set to be released on Netflix later this year.

Meanwhile, I'll-IT, a five-member multinational girl group, will debut under Hybe's Belift Lab. The group, made up of three Korean members and two Japanese members, was put together through JTBC's audition program, “R U NEXT.”

Clockwise from top left: I'll-IT members Yun-ah, Min-ju, Moka, Iroha and Won-hee (Belift Lab) Clockwise from top left: I'll-IT members Yun-ah, Min-ju, Moka, Iroha and Won-hee (Belift Lab)

VCHA, a group under JYP Entertainment, will officially debut on Jan. 26. The six members hail from South Korea, the US and Canada. VCHA was created through the audition program "A2K," which was co-hosted by JYP and Republic Records, a subsidiary of the Universal Music Group.

A video of the group performing its pre-debut single, "Ready for the World," reached nearly 2 million views within just one month of release.

JYP's Japan-based boy group, NexZ, is also set to make its debut this year. The team was created through the second season of "The Nizi Project," an audition program jointly hosted by JYP and Sony Music. The group consists of six Japanese members and one Korean member.

The first season of "The Nizi Project" in 2020 saw the successful debut of girl group NiziU, which went on to top several Japanese music charts.

From left: VCHA members KG, Kendall, Savanna, Camila, Kaylee and Lexus (JYP Entertainment) From left: VCHA members KG, Kendall, Savanna, Camila, Kaylee and Lexus (JYP Entertainment)

Although it has not yet made its official debut, JYP's new boy group, Project C, is already gaining popularity. The group will succeed Boy Story, a boy group based in China that successfully debuted in 2018. Like Boy Story, all five members of Project C are Chinese. Last year, the group starred in a Chinese web drama that recorded more than 100 million views.

SM Entertainment plans to officially debut its NCT New Team in the first half of the year. The group, which has a mix of Korean and Japanese members, successfully wrapped up its pre-debut tour, the "NCT Universe: Lastart Pre-debut Tour," in nine Japanese cities in December, laying the foundation for its official debut.

From left: NexZ members Ken, Yuhi, Yu, Tomoya, Haru, Yuki and Seita (JYP Entertainment) From left: NexZ members Ken, Yuhi, Yu, Tomoya, Haru, Yuki and Seita (JYP Entertainment)

YG Entertainment will likely focus its efforts on its latest girl group, Babymonster, which debuted in November. The group, YG's first girl group to debut in nearly seven years after Blackpink, consists of members from Japan, Thailand and Korea.

Although the group released its debut song, "Batter Up," it did not appear on any domestic music TV programs or hold any showcases. Rather, the group focused on creating regular YouTube content in a bid to target global fans, rather than focus only on the domestic market.

NCT New Team members talk to fans during the pre-debut tour, NCT New Team members talk to fans during the pre-debut tour, "NCT Universe: Lastart Pre-debut Tour," in December. (SM Entertainment)