Dubbed as the “Kings of Hallyu”, Super Junior celebrates their 15 years in the industry this 2020.
Ever since their debut on November 6, 2005, the group cemented their name not only in the South Korean entertainment industry but also in global music landscape. They have become South Korea’s Idol textbook, a role that is vital in the success of the Kpop groups that followed after them.
To give you a picture of what Super Junior is to the KPop industry, here are 15 times that they marked the history of Kpop with their name:
1. First Large Member Group
Initially debuting with the name “Super Junior 05” as a twelve-member group, the group was welcomed in the industry with frowns and skepticism for being a group with a lot of members. The idol groups that preceded them such as H.O.T., Shinhwa, Sechskies and TVXQ only have a handful of members. Lee Soo Man, being the visionary that he is, decided to try and adapt the Japanese Idol system of rotational groups and formed Super Junior 05, a group that was meant to disband a year later. Being the first large-member idol group in Korea, they encountered a lot of disadvantages and difficulties such as not having enough microphones during live performances, having very little to none lines in their songs, problems in logistics and many others.
But the group, through their fresh charms and undeniable talent was able to captivate the public attention. This led to SM Entertainment deciding to let the group stay and adding Kyuhyun to the line-up. The “05” on their name was then dropped so their name went down in history as “Super Junior”.
2. Foreign Member
Hangeng also known as Hankyung is Super Junior’s first Chinese member. He is also the first foreigner to become an idol in South Korea. Being the first one to do so, he experienced all the things that the industry needed to improve on such as unfair contract terms, TV show appearances, Visa arrangements to name a few. Due to the agency’s shortcomings, Hangeng left the group in 2011 and pursued a solo career in China. However, it cannot be denied that he paved the way for other foreign idols to be casted in new idol groups. Also, the difficulties he encountered also taught the industry how they should be dealing with foreign idols.
3. Use of the word Kpop
Before Kpop became known as what it is today, the term Kpop or better known as “Korean Pop” in the late 90’s and early 00’s used to refer to the general music genre of local pop songs in Korea. The genre included music with influences of Hip hop, rock, punk, jazz, R&B, reggae and etc. Modern Kpop later evolved when Japanese “Idol culture” entered the scene. This led to the rise of first-generation Idol groups. But at that time Korean Pop music was still called as Gayo (가요). It was only when second generation Kpop groups, led by Super Junior made a global breakthrough that media worldwide started using the term “Kpop” to specifically refer to South Korean idol music.
4. First Sub-unit
Super Junior was the first one to do the concept of sub-units. Their main vocal trio composed of Kyuhyun, Ryeowook and Yesung formed a subgroup named as Super Junior K.R.Y. which specialized in ballads. Later on, new sub-units were also formed; Super Junior – M (Mandopop), Super Junior – H (Happy), Super Junior – T (Trot) and Super Junior D&E (Donghae & Eunhyuk).
5. Military Rotation System
Being a large-member group, the biggest threat that Super Junior had to face is their country’s mandatory military enlistment for men. This law requires men to enlist as reserve officers for two years not later than age 30. This means a two-year hiatus for idol group members and possible decline in their career. But Super Junior got over this problem by introducing a military rotation system than other boy groups followed later on. In this system SuJu members enlisted one at a time from the eldest members up to the younger ones. It was only until May 7, 2019, maknae Kyuhyun’s official military discharge date, that the whole group was able to “graduate” to the system.
6. Idols in Variety, TV and Radio
Dubbed as the “Variety-dols” or the “Variety Idols” of Korea, it’s no hidden fact that Super Junior is the most successful idol group in the Korean entertainment scene. Early in their careers, the group has used the local variety shows like X-Man, Star King, Strong Heart, Shimshimtapa and etc to promote themselves when internet and social media is not as easily accessible as these days. With their natural wit and variety sense, every member started appearing in different variety shows, dramas and even Radio shows. Super Junior’s Kiss the Radio (Sukira) is considered as the longest idol-run show in history and had the highest rating for its timeslot.
Super Junior led the revolution for the public to break their prejudice against idols in the variety scene. They often joked amongst themselves that because they are very successful as variety entertainers, people often forget that they are actually idols who are greatly talented in singing and dancing.
7. Super Show Brand
Known as the group with their own concert tour brand, Super Junior have been continuously reaching new heights with their concert tour “Super Show” which was first started on February 22, 2008. The group holds the record for the largest Kpop concert tour in South America and the first Kpop concert in many countries such as Philippines.
Years later, their Super Show 6 in Seoul in September 2014 marked their 100th show and making them the first Kpop artists to have 100 shows worldwide. They also made recent history being the first Kpop artist to have a solo concert in Saudi Arabia with Super Show 7S.
Currently, the tour is on its eight installment, Super Show 8 with the most recent show in Fukuoka, Japan last February 2020. Unfortunately, the tour was halted halfway through its scheduled run due to the corona virus pandemic. However, powered by the modern AR technology, the group has again taken another step forward by conducting their first online concert with “Beyond the Super Show“, a joint venture between SM Entertainment and Naver. The group have also proven their power after gaining 123,000+ live viewers for the online show.
8. Accidents and Controversies
Being in the industry for so long, Super Junior has experienced a lot of hardships, individually and as a group. Two years after their debut, the group already experienced two major car accidents that greatly affected members Kyuhyun and Heechul. Member departures also started with Hangeng and Kibum and recently with Henry and Kangin while Sungmin continues to be on his hiatus. But despite all these, the group remains together and the things that usually led to the disbandment of other groups only made them stronger.
9. KKBOX Record
Still an ongoing history in the making, Super Junior continue to reign over Taiwan’s KKBOX Chart. They previously held the record for the longest stay at the top of the chart with 121 weeks until their broke their own record. As of date, the group has been on the #1 of the Kpop Chart for 157 weeks straight! And judging from their current standing and upcoming 10th album, the group won’t be leaving the spot anytime soon.
They were also the first foreign artist to receive the Artist of the Year award in the KKBOX Music awards since its conception in 2006.
10. Awards Show Records
In the course of their career, describing Super Junior with the word “multi-awarded” will be an understatement. The group was winning awards left and right that awards shows had to adjust and change their rules just so they can “graduate” on winning. A classic example is Super Junior being the most awarded group in Golden Disk Awards until they were suddenly exempted from winning it because they have won for too many times. So, in the end C-ELFs gave them two golden (Yes, real 24K gold!) disks instead.
Even on their 15th year, the group still adds more to their very long list of accolades and will probably continue adding more to it in the years to come.
11. International Awards
When it comes to awards, the bulk of Super Junior’s list is actually made up of international awards. Their title as the “Kings of Hallyu” perfectly fits them in this aspect. They have awards from different countries such as Japan, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines, Singapore, USA, Mexico, Italy to name some. Most of these awards are also recorded as the “first” and was considered as breakthrough achievements of Kpop in the foreign countries. A good example is when they became the first Asian artist to win the “International Artist” award at the 2015 Teen Choice Awards.
12. Latin Songs Billboard Chart
Super Junior is also known for their diverse discography. Even after lasting for more than a decade in the industry, the group never settled in their comfort zone and continued to take on new challenges in their artistry as musicians as performers. Like what Siwon always says, “No Challenge, No Change”. This belief as a group led them to reach new heights with their album Replay which is the repackaged version of their 9th album Play. In this album, is their song “Lo Siento” which made another history when it became the very first song to enter the Latin Billboard Chart. The song is a collaboration with Latin American artists Leslie Grace and Play-N-Skillz. The song even won the “Best Collaboration” award in the 2018 Nickelodeon Mexico Kid’s Choice Awards.
13. Talk in Oxford & SBS Online Forum Lecture
The group was also regarded highly in the industry that in 2010, they were invited by England’s Oxford University to hold a lecture on the Korean Hallyu and their success as Super Junior. Members Eunhyuk, Siwon, Kyuhyun and Kangin were the ones sent to represent the group at that time.
Recently, Super Junior was again invited as speakers at the “SBS D Forum 2020” an online forum commemorating the 30th anniversary of SBS. Their lecture segment titled “No Challenge, No Change” gave Shindong and Eunhyuk the chance to discuss about the first online-only concert platform “Beyond Live” that revolutionized the way concerts and performances were conducted as an adaptation to the Corona virus pandemic.
14. Multi-talented in a Diversity of Fields
The statement “Super Junior is everywhere in Korea” seemed like an inside joke of ELFs but its actually a statement of a fact. Aside from being Kpop idols, Super Junior members are also talented MCs, variety entertainers, song writers, composers, producers, lyricists, directors, stage directors, actors, musical actors, online content creators and even being a UNICEF ambassador.
15. 15 years and counting!
Despite celebrating this year’s anniversary in time of a pandemic, Super Junior have clearly showed that they are still going strong. With a strong and dedicated fandom that still gains new members everyday behind them, Super Junior is definitely remaining as the Legend of Kpop in the next years and decades beyond.