Virtual K-pop idols are on the rise as South Korean agencies and labels are now looking into the metaverse as the next destination for Hallyu (the Korean wave).
While fictional artists are gaining traction online following the popularity ofgroups such as K/DA in late 2018, the concept is not new. For instance, the English virtual band Gorillaz have found success over the years despite presenting themselves as four fictional characters.
In South Korea, virtual artists have already received millions of views since debuting. So, without further ado, here are ninevirtual K-pop idols we’re stanning right now.
Signed under Pulse9, ETERN!TY garnered a ton of buzz online after they made their debut in March 2021 with their first digital single, “I’m Real.”
Created using Pulse9’s Deep Real AI technology, ETERN!TY is marketed as the company’s 11-member “AI girl group.”
After several YouTube users criticized the group and the quality of their avatars, Pulse9 promised to improve in the future, which can be seen in ETERN!TY’s most recent music video, “DTDTGMGN.”
Another virtual K-pop group that has made headlines in recent years is Mave. The four-member group, signed under Metaverse Entertainment, debuted on Jan. 25 with the single “Pandora.”
Like ETERN!TY, Mave is also being marketed as an “AI girl group” consisting of members MARTY:, TYRA:, ZENA: and SIU:.
Signed underKakao’s VLAST, Plave, a five-member K-pop boy band consisting of members Noah, Bamby, Yejun, Eunho and Hamin, has more in common with VTubers (virtual YouTubers) than AI idols since its members are computer-generated in the style of manhwa characters.
Besides singing and dancing, as seen in their debut song “Wait For You” in March, the group also interacts with fans via livestreams.
Possibly the most unique out of all the virtual K-pop groups mentioned on this list, FE:VERSE is a group formed by the winners of Kakao Entertainment’s virtual survival show “GIRL’S RE:VERSE.”
While FE:VERSE shares similarities to Plave in the VTuber sense, themembers of this five-girl group are actually played by idols from other K-pop ensembles, such as Rien, played by former LOONA member Heejin; Seoritae, played by Apink member Hayoung; Muneo, played by former Ye-A singer Kwon Eun-bi; and Keuang and Kim Serena, whose artists are WJSN’s Luda and Soobin, respectively.
Aespa and Nævis
It’s impossible to talk about virtual K-pop idols without mentioning Aespa, the first girl group to debut under SM Entertainment since Red Velvet in 2014. Known for being a virtual hybrid, the group performs with both human idols and their virtual counterparts, known as æs, on some occasions.
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