Kara (Hangul: 카라, Japanese: カラ, often stylized as KARA) is a popular South Korean girl group signed with DSP Media (DSP). The band name Kara comes from the Greek Word “chara” (χαρά, lit. “joy”), which the group interpreted to mean “sweet melody”.
Kara originally started as a four-member group and made their debut with “Break It” while displaying a strong female image and a mature R&B sound. Expectations for the group to be as big as their senior labelmates, Fin.K.L, were extremely high and the members were promoted as successors to them. They released their first album titled The First Blooming in 2007. However their debut was not well-received by the public and the album was a commercial failure.
In 2008, Kim Sunghee departed the group due to parental pressure, and two new members were brought in; as such, the group currently consists of five members: Park Gyuri, Han Seung-yeon, Nicole Jung, Goo Hara, and Kang Jiyoung. The addition of the two new members also faced a change in the group’s original image to a “pretty but natural” appeal. The five-member band eventually went on to achieve their first number one song with “Honey”.
The group eventually made their debut in Japan in 2010. By the end of that year, Kara was dubbed as Japan’s #1 Rookie Artist of 2010 by Oricon and also received the New Artist Of The Year Award (International) from the Japan Gold Disc Awards. In April 2011, the group achieved their first #1 single with “Jet Coaster Love”, making them the first foreign female group since the creation of the Oricon (43 years ago) to rank #1 in the 1st week of release and the first foreign female group in 30 years to rank #1 in the charts all together. They also hold the title as the first Korean girl group to top the Oricon Weekly Single Chart. Their official fanclub is Kamilia, derived from a combination of the words “KARA” with the Latin word for family, “familia.” Kara’s official balloon color is pearl peach.
Kara debuted on March 29, 2007 with “Break It” on M! Countdown, from their first album The First Blooming. Two music videos, “Break It” and “If U Wanna,” came from this album. Because of their similarity to Fin.K.L and the fact that both groups were signed to the same company, the two were often compared; in response, Kara stated that they regarded the comparison as beneficial and inspiring. As the album was not a commercial success, member Han Seungyeon participated in many TV variety shows in the following months to keep the group’s name recognizable to the public.
2008-2009: “Group image and line-up changes, rise of popularity”
The group was scheduled to have their comeback in March 2008 with their second album. However, Kim Sung-hee left the group suddenly due to parental pressure, as her participation in the group was contingent on the maintenance of her grades. In response, DSP stated that the second album would be shelved and replaced by a mini-album to come in May; in addition, two members would join the group. The two new members were eventually revealed to be Goo Hara and Kang Jiyoung. The group made their return in the music industry as a 5-member group on July 24, 2008 with “Rock U” on M! Countdown. They made their comeback with the “cute” and “playful” image which was the complete opposite of the group’s original image from their debut. In the same month, their first EP titled “Rock U” was also released.
On November 29, 2008, DSP Entertainment released a teaser video for their upcoming single, “Pretty Girl”, which received over 40,000 hits within 12 hours. The full video was released on December 2, 2008 online and was positively received by the public. The EP was released on December 4, embodying a “fun-party” concept. The group began its comeback on all major music shows on December 4, 2008, starting with M.Net Countdown. During their first national performance on KBS’s Music Bank, member Goo Hara accidentally gasped “ah!” live on air due to slipping on falling confetti, and reportedly cried profusely afterwards. The incident became a hot issue to many viewers, but Goo Hara received comfort instead of criticism from the general public.
Park Gyuri attributed their popularity increase to their “pretty but natural” appeal, while media reports gave credit to the band for finally finding its own identity in the music industry since group’s debut and to older male fans, most notably singer Shin Hae-cheol. Due to their increasingly hectic schedule as their popularity rose, a few of the group’s members were taken to the hospital on December 19 after a KBS Music Bank rehearsal for cold and exhaustion.
Kara performing at the Hanyang University Festival, 2009
At the end of January 2009, DSP Entertainment announced that it would commence voting on January 28 at the group’s official website for the follow-up single to “Pretty Girl”, which ended on February 2. By the deadline of February 2, “Honey” was the clear winner, with 60% of the votes. The song was remixed from the original version, and also underwent a slight name change from “하니” (Ha-ni) to “Honey”. The group released the music video for “Honey” on February 16 and had their first live broadcasting comeback on KBS’s Music Bank program on February 13, 2009; a repackaged mini-albumfollowed on February 19 which featured remixed versions of songs from the group’s previous EP. “Honey” became the group’s first #1 single when it topped the countdown the M.Net M! Countdown show. The song also won the “Mutizen” (“music netizen”) award on SBS’s program The Music Trend.
In June 2009 the group stated they would return in late July, with their concept upgraded. The first teaser pictures of the group were then released in mid-July, showing radical changes in the group’s style and also saw a slight return of their “strong and mature” image previously seen from their debut. Their single “Wanna” was released on July 28, 2009 and immediately charted on various digital music charts. The music video was released on July 29, with the full album, Revolution, available online on July 30. Comeback activities commenced on July 31, beginning with KBS’s Music Bank; the group performed both “Wanna” and “Mister”. “Mister” proved to be popular with netizens due to the “butt dance” that is featured prominently in the choreography. Due to the popularity of “Mister”, Kara’s overall popularity increased, evidenced by an influx of advertisement requests by various companies; in total, they had more advertisements in October 2009 than they had had the previous two years. “Wanna” also became a #1 single for Kara and won the “Mutizen Song” award on August 30, 2009 from Inkigayo. During promotions for Revolution, the group also performed internationally, including at Bangkok’s Parc Paragon.
On December 14, it was reported that the group held a fan-meeting for their Japanese fans earlier that year on February marking the group’s first promotional tour in Japan. Over 3,000 fans were reportedly registered, exceeding the capacity of the venue which resulted in a second showcase.
2010: “Hiatus in South Korea, successful debut in Japan”
After a short hiatus, DSP Entertainment released two teaser photos of Kara’s comeback concept on February 9, 2010. The photos garnered a lot of interest because compared to their past album concepts, the new photos showed the members in dark outfits and smokey makeup that elicited a darker, more mature, and sexier feel. The next day, the album jacket was unveiled with a “Stealer” concept as well as the title track “Lupin”, which became #1 on several online music charts shortly after release. The teaser video was released on February 12 on Naver; the EP followed on February 17. Kara began their broadcasting comeback starting on M.Net’s M! Countdown on February 25, 2010. The music video was released on February 22, garnering more than 90,000 views in the first 2 hours. On March 4, 2010, Kara won their first #1 award for “Lupin” on M! Countdown. On the following week, Kara won yet another #1 award on M! Countdown, making it their second consecutive win on the music program. “Lupin” also gave Kara their first #1 win on Music Bank on March 12, 2010, making it the group’s first win on this particular music show since their debut,holding onto the position for three consecutive weeks. The song also won the Mutizen award from Inkigayo, and cumulatively Kara won an all-group best total of 6 awards during their “Lupin” promotional cycle.
On March 2010, it was announced that Kara will participate in the 8th Annual Korean Music Festival to be held at Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, with member Nicole as MC. Kara then became very active in Japan, holding showcases and hand shake events as preparation for their official Japanese debut. After their successful debut with Mister, Kara performed at the Asia Song Festival on October 23, 2010 with other Asian artists.
The group was featured in a video message for a show called Arashi no Shukudai-kun (嵐の宿題くん Arashi’s Homework?), hosted by Japanese idol group Arashi. Kara held fan meetings on May 8 with more than 8,000 fans at Japan’s Grand Prince Hotel. In addition, Kara had an official Japan fan club meeting with 3,000 fans at Yokohama’s Mina Torimirai hotel on May 9. The group later on signed with Universal Music Japan and made their official debut in Japan by August with “Mister”. The single ranked in various music charts which proved it to be very popular in Japan. The group later on released their second single entitled “Jumpin'” on November 10, 2010. The song quickly climbed up in other charts including mobile downloads. On September 29, 2010, Kara released their best hits album, “Kara Best 2007-2010”. The album is a compilation of their selected Korean tracks since they debuted. It ranked #2 in the Oricon Daily Chart on the first day of release, selling 18,223 copies. It was announced on November 3, 2010 that the album was certified gold by The Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ), making KARA the first ever Korean Group since the ’90s to release an all-Korean album that is able break the 100k copies barrier in Japan. Their debut Japanese album, “Girl’s Talk”, was released on November 24, 2010. It sold 107,000 copies in its first week and ranked number 2 in the Oricon weekly charts, making this the first album by a non-Japanese Asian girl group in Japan in 6 years and 9 months to sell more than 100,000 album copies in its first week. The album received a platinum certification from RIAJ on January 14, 2011.
In October the band represented Korea and performed at the 7th Asia Song Festival, organised by Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange, at the Seoul Olympic Stadium.
After about 9 months hiatus in Korean Music industry, Kara announced the release of their next single “Jumping” which was promoted in both Korea and Japan. It was released as Kara’s 2nd Japanese single and title track for their fourth Korean mini album. Despite promoting the song at the same time, Kara had 2 different concepts for the song in Korea and Japan. A teaser photo of Jumping’s album cover was released on November 3, 2010 and according to a company official, “Kara’s new album utilizes the optical art concept of black and white geometric patterns, which differs depending on each member’s physical characteristics and image.” He added, “You will see a new and upgraded Kara with these modern, yet chic images.” Kara made their comeback with Burn and Jumping on MBC Music Core on November 20, 2010. On December 10, 2010, Kara got their second #1 win on KBS Music Bank for Jumping. Two days after their win in Music Bank, Kara won a #1 Mutizen Award for “Jumping” on SBS Inkigayo’s 600th episode.
After a very successful year of debuting in Japan despite their long absence in the Korean music industry, Kara was chosen as the best rookie artist according to a popular Japanese mobile ringtone site, Recochoku. On December 20, 2010, Oricon also announced Kara as 2010’s best rookie artist, generating revenue to some 1.3 billion yen (or $15.4 million USD); and with a total of 493,000 copies of their releases sold this year.
2011-present: Rise of popularity in Japan, return to South Korea
On February 23, the group released a DVD called “Kara Best Clips” which is a compilation of their past music videos. After one week, the group was able to set another record when they ranked #1 in the Oricon’s Weekly Composite DVD Ranking. This made them the first ever foreign artist to be #1 for two consecutive weeks since the charts implementation in 1999. Kara has sold approximately 230,183 copies of their DVD.
On April 6, the group released their third Japanese single, “Jet Coaster Love“, after the original release date was pushed back due to the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami. As soon as it was released onto the music charts, “Jet Coaster Love” instantly rose to #2 on the Oricon Daily Chart with 47,810 copies sold. Kara was able to set another record as “Jet Coaster Love” maintained its position and ranked #1 in Oricon’s 4/18 Weekly Single Ranking selling 123,000 copies in its first week. Despite its success, plans for promotion in Japan were hindered due to the natural disaster. Instead, the group announced that all proceeds from the single will be donated to Japan’s natural disaster relief aid.
On August 4, the group officially announced that they will be releasing their third official album on mid-September and will resume their activities in South Korea for the first time in over six months. According to industry representatives, the group has used some of their spare time recording songs for the album while they were busy promoting their fourth Japanese single, “Go Go Summer!” which was certified gold by the RIAJ and has topped various charts in Japan. However, the group will only promote in Korea for about three weeks as they have many things scheduled in Japan. The group eventually released their third Korean studio album titled “Step”, on September 6.
After the group finished their promotions in South Korea, they returned to Japan to release their fifth Japanese single, “Winter Magic”. The single ranked #3 in Oricon’s Weekly singles chart with around 79,000 copies sold on the first week. On November 21, the group released their second Japanese studio album, “Super Girl”. The album received over 360,000 preorders alone. The album eventually went on to debut on #1 on Oricon Daily and Weekly album charts making it the group’s first successful studio album release. Oricon ranked the group at #4 on the Top 5 best selling artists of the year 2011 with fellow South Korean idol group Girls’ Generation following closely at #5.
On December 30, DSP Entertainment announced that the will embark on their first concert titled, “Karasia”, in early 2012. The concert is also the group’s first independent concert after five years since debut. The concert will kick off on February 18 and 19 at Seoul Olympic Gymnasium. Fans from their Korean fanclub can purchase the ticket starting January 10, 2012. Expectation for the group’s first concert has risen since they are among the most successful girl groups in South Korea alongside the Girls’ Generation, 2NE1 and Wonder Girls.
After a busy year, the group celebrated their success by appearing on six major end-show programs in Japan. Along these were the 53rd annual Japanese Record Awards after “Go Go Summer!” was nominated for the Best Song award. They were also invited to the prestigious 62nd Kōhaku Uta Gassen which is held annually at the end of the year, marking the group’s first appearance on the program. They opened the second half of the program by performing a special medley of “Jet Coaster Love” and “Mister”.
Soundtracks and promotional single
The original group recorded a song titled “Fighting” on the soundtrack for 강남엄마 따라잡기 (“Chasing a Mother from Kangnam“), a drama that aired on SBS; the soundtrack was released on July 25, 2007. Their second song was “Butterfly” on the soundtrack for the anime Naruto, which was released on September 29, 2008. Kara also participated in the second soundtrack for Boys Over Flowers, recording the song “Love is Fire”.
“Ddokateun Mam” (“똑 같은 맘”, “The Same Heart“) was a song used in “i-Musician”, an upcoming mobile game that Kara promoted; the song was released digitally in June 2009.
In January 2010, they sang the main original soundtrack of drama series “별을 따다줘” (Catch Me a Star).
Kara appeared on MBC’s Music Travel LaLaLa on October 22, 2009, where they performed “길” (“Road“) by g.o.d and “빙글 빙글” (“Round and Round”) with NoBrain. These tracks were included on Music Travel LaLaLa’s soundtrack, released in February 2010.
On April 2010, it was revealed that Kara will sing a cheer song for the 2010 World Cup entitled “We’re With You”. Behind-the-scenes and individual member teaser videos were revealed along with photos of Kara wearing cheerleader outfits. The single was released on May 3, 2010.
Kara also released a single “2ME”, the soundtrack for online game We Online.
In November 2010, Seungyeon’s solo track “Superstar” for KBS’s drama “Mary Stayed Out All Night” was revealed.
In 2011, Gyuri and Hara recorded 2 songs for the soundtrack of the SBS’s drama “City Hunter”: “시티헌터” sung by Gyuri was released on June 23 and “I Love U, I Want U, I Need U (Sweet Acoustic version)” sung by Hara was released on July 27.
The group has endorsed online games, clothing, food & beverage, cosmetic products as well as shoes. Kara became endorsers of a cosmetics product, Mistine BB Wonder Compact in Thailand by April 2010. In May 2010, Kara became the female faces of Samsung Doogeun Doogeun Tomorrow Campaign. Kara has also been endorsing for Ask and also for fleece boot company Bear Paws.
With the group’s successful debut in Japan on August 2010, offers from different electronics, clothing and beverage brands started coming. In October 2010, it was revealed that group has sealed a revenue of 2 billion won from endorsements just 2 months after their Japanese debut. Officials said, “Kara shows a sophisticated image on stage while outside the stage, they show a friendly image” On October 28, 2010, it was confirmed that Kara was chosen as the new models of one of the three biggest Carrier companies in Japan, “KDDI”, showing their popularity. Starting on November 1, the group promoted the “Au Santa Letter of Challenge”, organized by the “Au Smart Sports Run&Walk”, where the group members dressed up in Santa Claus costumes, offering the users gifts with various contents. They also created a “Challenge Live” Twitter account where users posted support messages then 15 pairs people were chosen to attend the Limited Kara Live Event via lottery.Furthermore with their success in Japan, Japanese game production company Rhaon Japan revealed through their official TalesLand official website that Kara became the new models for their game. Players were able to find group members as characters in the game, and were able to see a short animation of Kara, along with a promotional video on the landing page.
In 2010, the group opened their own online clothing franchise called “Karaya”, which members Gyuri, Hara and Jiyoung were chosen as spokesmodels. The said online shop proved to be a big hit and rose to 4th place in popularity among celebrity owned internet shopping mall sites.
In June 2011, the group was chosen by LG Electronics as the Japanese CF models for their upcoming cellphone brand, LG ‘Optimus Bright’. They also released their Japanese single titled ‘Go Go Summer’, which was used for the commercial and was promoted at the same time. The commercial and print advertisements were launched on June 17. Moreover, members Park Gyuri, Goo Haraand Kang Jiyoung shall be the female models for Korean cosmetic brand “Nature Republic”. The 3 members will officially start their exclusive activities with Nature Republic on June 3, 2011.
On January 16, 2012, it was announced that the members of the group will each release their own solo material ahead of their concerts in February. Group member Nicole Jung is said to have collaborated with a famous singer.
|Stage name||Birth name||Height||Date of birth||Position|
|Gyuri||규리||Park Gyuri||박규리||164 cm||May 21, 1988 (age 23)||Leader, Lead Vocalist, Rapper|
|Seungyeon||승연||Han Seungyeon||한승연||161 cm||July 24, 1988 (age 23)||Main Vocalist|
|Hara||하라||Goo Hara||구하라||167 cm||January 13, 1991 (age 21)||Lead Dancer, Vocalist, Rapper|
|Nicole||니콜||Jung Nicole||정니콜||166 cm||October 7, 1991 (age 20)||Main Rapper, Vocalist|
|Jiyoung||지영||Kang Jiyoung||강지영||169 cm||January 18, 1994 (age 18)||Vocalist, Rapper|
|Stage name||Birth name||Height||Date of birth||Position|
|Sunghee||성희||Kim Sunghee||김성희||170 cm||May 17, 1989 (age 22)||Main Vocalist|