K-Pop is hugely popular worldwide now, including America, hence why so many artists visit multiple states during world tours these days.
However, this wasn’t always the case. K-Pop arguably hadn’t really become fully mainstream in the United States until PSY released “Gangnam Style” in 2013.
Yet, one group toured North America all the way back in 2009…
JYP Entertainment‘s Wonder Girls was hugely popular at the time, and their single “Nobody” was a hit.
JYPE saw the group’s potential, promoting them more and more outside Korea, and ultimately released an English version of “Nobody,” which became the first song by a South Korean group to enter the Billboard Hot 100, charting at No.76 in October 2009.
They were even invited to appear on American TV shows to perform the song.
That’s not all, though. In 2009, they were also invited to be the opening act for the biggest boy band back then, Disney heartthrobs The Jonas Brothers, for the North American leg of their world tour, which totaled an eventual 45 concert dates!
Immediately after the tour, Sunmi left the group at the start of 2010. Losing a member, big changes happened, such as the apparent scrapping of a much-discussed English-language album. Their own U.S. tour was delayed as well.
Now, Sunmi herself has recounted the experience of touring in the U.S. in an interview for Spotify: Mic Check. She fondly remembers the Jonas Brothers North American Tour despite leaving shortly after.
The experience of promoting K-Pop in front of a large audience on this tour with the Jonas Brothers is still very precious to me. We toured about 50 cities, and we met a lot of audience.
She remembers that at the time, not only was K-Pop not very popular in the U.S., but not even the country itself was as well-known as now. So, it was also quite lonely. It’s amazing to look back at the growth of K-Pop internationally.
Now people around the world are enjoying K-Pop a lot, but no one knew about K-Pop at the time and even few people knew about my country, South Korea. I felt very lonely. Everything was very unfamiliar that moment.
The Wonder Girls was one of the first K-Pop groups that broke out into America. TeenNick even made a film titled simply The Wonder Girls featuring the members and JYP (also known as Park Jin Young, J. Y. Park, and The Asiansoul) himself along with the American girl group the School Gyrls. The two girl groups collaborated for the song “The DJ Is Mine,” which was released as a promotional single for the film.
Read more from Sunmi’s interview below: