æspa: A New K-Pop Girl Group With Virtual Members


By Sophia Kim, Staff Writer

Lee Soo-Man, the founder of SM Entertainment, recently announced that a new girl group known as Aespa will be released. SM Entertainment is famous for managing the famous K-Pop girl group  Red Velvet, which first made its debut in 2014. Aespa will be its next biggest project and will be a revolutionary start of a new era of Kpop.

Aespa is a Kpop group that features rising singers, and also avatars, or virtual members. Its goal is to create a sci-fi, technological aesthetic.

Officially, the name of Aespa is styled to be æspa, which is derived from multiple names and meanings. It combines the words “avatar,” “aspect,” and “experience.” It evokes a sense of sci-fi and technological advancement. This group’s purpose is to explore “a new world via the encounter of the ‘avatar,’ your other self.”

Winter is the first member of Aespa, and she posed in a beautiful photoshoot that was released via social media.

Another member, Karina, has made her appearance on social media with her avatar friend. A video was filmed, depicting her interactions with the avatar. Her interactions with the avatar were normalized as she was conversing in a sci-fi setting.

The K-pop group has a total of four human members. Karina and Winter are from South Korea. The third member of the group is known as Ningning from China, while the final member is Giselle from Japan.

SM Entertainment is introducing a group that interacts with both real-life and digital entertainment, claiming to start a new style of entertainment that is futuristic, wonderful, and innovative.

So what exactly are these “virtual” members, or avatars? The company draws inspiration from Hatsune Miku and a fully virtual Kpop group known as K/da, which features League of Legends characters.

Aespa is planning to release its debut single, Black Mamba, on November 16th at 6 PM.

“I have to admit this is pretty cool,” says Wayne Hills sophomore Irene Hwang, who is an avid K-pop fan who passionately listens to girl groups like Twice. “However, I wonder how they would perform with these avatars live. Would it be solely virtual concerts and nothing more?”

There are many questions about how this group is going to function, which has not yet released by the entertainment company. People are skeptical about the aspect of having virtual avatars replace true, human artists.

“Having a connection with the real idols that are human means a lot to me. Like in Vlives, which is the K-pop version of Instagram lives, I have a chance as a fan to interact with my idols– that’s a huge part of being a fan for me, personally,” says Irene.

Nevertheless, this is definitely an interesting and new addition to the booming K-pop industry. As the world continues to progress in the Digital Age, it is amazing to see how entertainment is also changing accordingly.