Mehak Sharma, New Delhi
As K-Pop fans, we love to see our favourites collaborating with different artists which not only helps them to gain more attention but also increases the scope of showcasing their individual styles. Moreover, the excitement doubles when they team up with members to form a sub-unit.
The list of sub-units is incomplete without mentioning the legendary boy group Super Junior. The very first official sub-unit in K-Pop was Super Junior: K.R.Y comprising Kyu-hyun, Ryeo-wook, Yesung, that debuted in 2006 by releasing two original songs titled as The Night Chicago Died and The One I Love. Let’s take a look at some of the popular sub-units of K-Pop groups.
The purpose of forming a sub-unit could differ from group to group and depends on the circumstances as well. Few of them could be broadly stated as following:
To try a different concept or genre
Majority of the sub-units are different from the main groups. Be it on the basis of style, genre or concept. For example, Orange Caramel was a sub-unit of After School and most probably it would be hard to guess because the main group and sub-unit had different concepts. After School had a sensuous concept whereas Orange Caramel had beguiling songs. This sub-unit consisted of three members: Nana, Raina, and Lizzy. The group made their debut in 2010, with the song Magic Girl. Furthermore, Super Junior-T came up with Trot music which was again a different genre from their parent group. Hence, sub-units provides the room for experimentation as well.
To promote in other countries
Korean artists do not only promote in South Korea. They tend to focus on countries like China and Japan as well. The K-Pop groups usually debut with Japanese/Chinese single or by forming a sub-unit. Sub-units like Super Junior-M and WayV (4th sub-unit of K-Pop group NCT) were formed specifically to focus on China’s music market.
To keep the group active
Every Korean male has to complete his mandatory military service and K-Pop idols are no exception to it. Usually the members are of different ages and they enlist in different years. But the group has to keep itself active. For the same reason, rest of the members can continue as a group or can form a sub-unit for the time being. The recent comeback of the K-Pop group BtoB 4U (Sub-unit of BtoB) is a perfect example. The group comprises of 6 members but BtoB 4U consists of 4 members. The rest of the members are currently serving the military. They debuted on November 16, 2020 with the EP Inside and Show Your Love as the title track which were much different than the rest of the BtoB songs.
Here are some more sub-units to look at:
A duo consisting of JB and Jin-young, JJ Project was formed by JYP Entertainment and debuted with the single Bounce in May 2012. Later on they debuted as a part of GOT7 in 2014. Their last release was in 2017 with the album Verse 2 with Tomorrow, Today as the lead song. The album provided variety of genres like Rock, Pop and Hip-Hop.
Dong-woo and Hoya’s duo received a lot attention during INFINITE’s concert which was even before their official debut as a sub-unit. Finally in 2013, they debuted with EP Fly High and the song Special Girl was chosen as the promotional track and charted immediately after the release. In 2015, the duo made comeback after two years with their second EP, Fly Again with Pretty as the lead single.
W in NU’EST-W stands for waiting. As the group was waiting for their 5th member; Min-hyun to finish promotions with Wanna One, rest of the members came back as a sub-unit. This unit holds a very special place in the heart of fans as NU’EST finally got their first win with Where You At after years of hard work. From top notch songs and concepts to aesthetically pleasing music videos, NU’EST-W came to an end with Min-hyun’s return. The sub-unit has released three EPs: W, Here followed by Who, You and Wake,N.
Leo and Ravi debuted as a duo in 2015 with the album titled as Beautiful liar having Beautiful Liar as their lead song. As expected from the concept kings, The music video was amazingly made with remarkable storyline. Heavenly vocals of Leo and Ravi’s astonishing rap skills doesn’t fail to give us chills. Later on a 2nd mini album Whisper was released in 2017 with Whisper as the promotional track followed by a compilation album Complete LR.
SNSD-TTS and SNSD-OH!GG
Girls’ Generation-TTS or Girls’ Generation-TaeTiSeo is the first sub-unit of Girls’ Generation formed in 2012. It is composed of three Girls’ Generation. The sub-unit has released three extended plays: Twinkle, Holler, and Dear Santa. Their debut album Twinkle was released in 2012. It was the first album by a Korean artist to rank number 1 on the Billboard World Albums’ chart.
Girls’ Generation-Oh!GG is the second sub-unit of K-Pop group Girls’ Generation. Oh!GG officially debuted in September 2018 with the single Lil’ Touch and a B-side titled as Fermata alonf with its instrumentals.
There are many more sub-units like Exo-SC, Sistar19, To Heart and the list goes on. Each of the sub-units whether mentioned or not, has significantly contributed to their parent group as well as to the K-Pop music scene. We hope this article helped you explore some of the amazing and popular sub-units of the K-Pop.
Tell us about your favourite sub-units in the comments section below.