Ever wonder how groups like Orange Caramel, 3RACHA, and the many subunits of EXO, NCT, LOONA came to be? Look no further than one of K-Pop’s all-time greats, Super Junior,credited with creating the first official subgroups.
Subgroups arose with the intent to give more individual focus (e.g., lines, center focus, screen time, etc.) to each member, which might explain why groups with higher total member counts tend to have at least one subgroup. To commemorate this unique K-Pop trait, let’s take a look back at Super Junior’s founding four.
The very first subgroup created by Super Junior is Super Junior-K.R.Y. It debuted in 2006 and consists of the group’s three main vocalists: Kyuhyun, Ryeowook, and Yesung.
Their official music show debut was a performance of “The One I Love,” an OST from the 2006 tvN drama Hyena. They’ve since gone on to release several additional OSTs, and have made a name for themselves as a premier ballad group. The trio has also held several tours and even just released a teaser for their new mini-album set to release next week, but until that happens, here’s one of their first live performances of their debut song that showcases just why they’re all vocal kings.
The second official subgroup, Super Junior-T (“T” for trot), includes leader Leeteuk, Heechul, Shindong, Sungmin, and Eunhyuk (Kangin was an original member but left around the time of his hiatus).
The group’s focus is the musical style trot. Trot is a genre of Korean music that originated nearly a century ago and is known for the use of very controlled vocal inflections. Super Junior-T released two mini-albums, one in Korean and the other in Japanese, as well as one digital single. The title track of their mini-albums is “Rokkugo,” which is the inverted spelling of “gokkurom,” meaning “opposite” or “backward.” The cleverly written lyrics are a play on the “backward” theme, and despite their humorous and even nonsensical meanings, it’s still one of the most fun songs to listen to.
The debut of Super Junior’s third subgroup marked a milestone for music everywhere. Super Junior-M (“M” for Mandarin) is the first international group to break into the Chinese music industry and have both Korean and Chinese members.
It also marked the debut of two new members, Zhou Mi and Henry. The original lineup included the two aforementioned, as well as Han Geng, Donghae, Siwon, Ryeowook, and Kyuhyun. Their first release was their single “Me,” which was then followed by “Super Girl,” their most successful single to date.
Super Junior’s fourth subgroup, Super Junior-H (“H” standing for “happy), debuted shortly after Super Junior-M. This group features a more cutesy, “aegyo-filled” sound, and their music videos follow the same.
The lineup presently includes Leeteuk, Yesung, Shindong, Sungmin, and Eunhyuk (Kangin was formerly a member but left for the same reasons as his Super Junior-T departure). Their 2008 debut single in “Cooking? Cooking!” brought great success, which was then met by their second single “Pajama Party” just a few months later.
The fifth and final subgroup to debut (thus far) is Super Junior-D&E, with the “D&E” standing for the first initials of the group’s two members Donghae and Eunhyuk. Debuting in 2011 with the single “Oppa, Oppa,” they later received their first music show win with their hit “Growing Pains” from their first mini-album The Beat Goes On.
The two have won several awards together as a subgroup, both as artists and for their music. All of their songs and music videos display the duo’s diverse talents, but there’s one Super Junior-D&E song and video in particular, that has become a fan, and fellow idol, favorite—”CHOK CHOK DANCE.” For a brief example of its popularity, just check out these idols jamming out below:
The song’s official music video provides the opportunity to feel the song’s addictive vibe, as well as a chance to see fellow SM Entertainment groups like TVXQ, EXO, Girls’ Generation, f(x), Red Velvet, and of course, their fellow groupmates.
These are the founding fathers of the present-day K-Pop subgroup, as well as the reasons why we should further appreciate them. Stay tuned into the legend that is Super Junior to see what these subgroups do next!