SuperM: How SM Entertainment's crossover boy group became South Korea's biggest export

The group was put together to promote Asian acts in the West and crack the US music market


                            SuperM: How SM Entertainment's crossover boy group became South Korea's biggest export
Mark, Baekhyun, Taeyong, Kai, Taemin, Ten and Lucas (Getty Images)

The K-pop industry has come a long way, growing an international fanbase in leaps and bounds, with several prominent artists embarking on world tours and making themselves known in the western music market. The industry itself is well aware of its popularity across the globe and various management labels have been working towards using this stardom in promoting more Asian acts across Europe and America.

K-pop isn't just a fad, it embraces the whole culture of South Korea and is also the country's answer to more international crossovers.

In 2019, SM Entertainment, a well-established Korean management company released its newest group, SuperM, after months of secret-planning, which caused much buzz from the get-go. The new seven-piece unit featured members from four established K-Pop groups under SM. In 2020, SuperM became the only K-Pop artists to perform in the 'One World: Together At Home' concert hosted by Lady Gaga in association with the World Health Organization and Global Citizen.

As expected, the K-pop fandom went berserk taking to social media to express their happiness and excitement at the genre once again breaking the cultural barriers in music. 

(L-R) Ten, Baekhyun, Lucas, Taemin, Taeyong, Kai and Mark of K-pop supergroup SuperM pose during a press conference at Capitol Records Hosts Release Of SuperM's Debut EP, The 1st Mini Album 'SuperM' at Capitol Records Studio on October 03, 2019, in Hollywood, California (Getty Images)

SuperM is representative of its label and is an earnest attempt by SM Entertainment to catapult K-pop into the international music market. SM is the first South Korean label to introduce such an ambitious project, but the label has always been at the forefront of the global K-pop movement, having initially brought Korean artists to the American scene in the early 2000s, when the teen pop obsession was at its peak. 

SuperM or 'The Avengers of K-pop' as fans have nicknamed them, is the company's contribution to the global music market, in an attempt to establish K-pop in the US market. Fellow Korean artists like BTS and Blackpink have already left their mark in North America after topping all major charts in Asia and breaking records in the US. They were followed by other bands such as EXO, GOT7, Monsta X, NCT127, Red Velvet, TXT, and more. Even so, they remain relatively unknown. 

EXO members attend the world premiere of Netflix's '6 Underground' at Dongdaemun Design Plaza on December 02, 2019, in Seoul, South Korea (Getty Images)

SM's brainchild comprises the talented members of four of its popular groups. Baekhyun (who is also the oldest member and the unofficial leader of SuperM) and Kai are members of EXO, a boy group that debuted in 2013. Taemin is from SHINee, a veteran K-pop group that has been around since 2009. The last four members are from two separate sub-units of one collective 21-member boy group called NCT. Taeyong and Mark are from NCT127 and Ten and Lucas are from the Chinese subset, WayV. 

When asked about the reason behind producing SuperM, the founder of SM Entertainment, Lee Soo-man said, "I was asked by Capitol Music CEO Steve Barnett to produce a new team that would display the strongest synergy between the West and the East recently. That is the reason why Super M was born. Super M is a group that consists of exceptional seven artists and will be releasing quality music that stands out. Through dance, vocals, rap, and fashion, the group will define the core values of K-Pop."

Since its debut, SuperM has indeed set a new precedent for K-pop on the international market. They debuted with the aim of raising the bar for the K-pop industry to make it big, and their appearance at the 'One World: Together at Home' concert, proves just how far they've come and how they've established themselves on a global scale. 

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