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The rise of virtual idol groups
The rise of virtual idol groups
  • By Kocis
  • 승인 2023.11.07 00:00
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Virtual girl group Eternity (Courtesy of Pulse9)
Virtual girl group Eternity (Courtesy of Pulse9)

Last year, the British public service broadcaster BBC took note of Korean virtual girl group Eternity – also known as IITERNITI – in an article titled “K-pop: The rise of the virtual girl bands.” Describing K-pop as one of Korea’s most lucrative and influential exports, the BBC highlighted that the 11-member act, which was generated with artificial intelligence, clocked up millions of views online with its debut single “I’m Real” (2021).

In Korea, the hyper-realistic group even held its first solo concert “IITERNITI BEGINS: The Fist Journey” on October 14-15 at the Ivex Studio in Gwangmyeong, just south of Seoul. It took the stage with some of its most popular tunes like “DTDTGMGN” (2022) as well as songs from its new studio album that hit store shelves on October 16. The show garnered rave reviews from concertgoers for nicely blending music and immersive media art, thereby helping them better grasp the world of metaverse where reality and virtual reality coexist.

“It’s a hybrid concert,” said Park Ji-eun during an October 13 press event. She is the CEO of the AI graphic company Pulse9 that brought the virtual group to life. Likening Eternity’s concert to a combination of watching a movie at a theater and a live performance at a K-pop concert, Park added that it will mark a turning point in the group’s career.

“In the days ahead, we will interact with our fans more actively through a range of content, so that they can feel like Eternity members are living right next to them,” she said.

Eternity is not the only virtual group that has been making waves in the K-pop industry. With its attractive appearances and eye-catching performances equipped with cutting-edge technologies, girl group MAVE: – created by Kakao Entertainment and Metaverse Entertainment – hit the ground running when it debuted in January. The music video of its song “Pandora” has garnered more than 26 million views on YouTube as of October 15.

Virtual K-pop girl group MAVE: (Courtesy of Metaverse Entertainment)
Virtual K-pop girl group MAVE: (Courtesy of Metaverse Entertainment)


“Our goal was to stay in the harmonious zone where the visuals of the members – ZENA:, SIU:, TYRA: and MARTY: – are not excessively surreal, but still uphold a standard of perfection,” Ahn Sung-won, head of the art directors’ department at Metaverse Entertainment and the creative mastermind behind the group, said in a recent interview. “Given that K-pop is one of the most popular music genres in the world today, we adhered to a strategy that preserves its essence.”

Virtual boy group PLAVE has been revving up its presence as well. Consisting of Yejun, Noah, Bamby, Eunho and Hamin, it made its debut with the album, “ASTERIUM” in March. It has been actively interacting with its fans just like human K-pop stars, joining a cover dance challenge on the Chinese video-sharing platform TikTok while holding video call events for its followers. The group, launched by virtual IP company VLast, is also the first virtual group to sell more than 200,000 copies of its album during the first week of its release. According to album sales tracker Hanteo, the quintet pulled off the feat with its first mini-album “ASTERIUM: The Shape of Things to Come,” which came out on August 24.

“I also like the fact that the members are free from scandals,” an online user commented.

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