South Korea's pop idol machine will debut in November a new all girl act, composed of human and virtual members in yet another glimpse at how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing how we live.
Live concerts, are of course, still banned with neither a cure nor a vaccine available. The brains behind the band, SM Entertainment, is behind popular K-Pop groups Super Junior, Girls' Generation, Shinee, f(x), EXO, Red Velvet, and NCT.
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All K-Pop groups boast of glitzy music videos, complicated choreography, and chart-topping earworms. SM Entertainment's next project is set to emerge with the trappings of the usual K-Pop group, save for one big difference: having virtual members who exist in the digital world.
Over the past week, the entertainment company dropped photos teasing the debut of its girl group called aespa, which comes from the words “avatar,” “experience,” and “aspect.”
SM Entertainment said it holds the meaning of “being able to experience a new world through another avatar of yourself.” The word “aspect” signifies the group's many different sides, which fans can expect to see in their upcoming music and performances.
Real members meets virtual members
According to a report on Soompi, SM Entertainment founder Lee Soo Man delved into the concept of aespa at the 2020 World Cultural Industry Forum held on Wednesday: the group will consist of human members who exist in the real world and avatars who exist in the virtual world. Through interactions in the digital world, both types of members can connect.
Lee said the avatars exist in their own world and will someday meet the real-world members.
Two real-world members have been revealed so far: teaser photos for a member named Winter dropped on Monday night, and a girl named Karina's were uploaded the night after.
Both photos showcase the girls clad in sparkly outfits, nestled in what seems to be a computer-generated fantasy world painted in purple and populated by eccentric plants and glowing flowers.
Winter was revealed to be 19 years old, while Karina is 20 years old. Both were said to have excellent skills in dance, rap, and singing.
The company released an introductory video on aespa's real-meets-virtual concept where member Karina speaks to ae-Karina, a digital avatar idol who dances just as well as real-life Karina.
Quick cuts and a montage show how both the real and virtual Karina communicate via a chat platform called Synk and even encourage one another during dance practice. Just like real-world Karina, ae-Karina sports glamorous outfits and greets fans in a cheery voice.
More photos are expected to go up in the coming days, and fans have speculated that the group will have 2 more members bringing aespa's grand total to 8 members, including the virtual avatars.