The Second Generation Girl Group KARA
KARA was a South Korean girl group formed in 2007. This group used to be famous in the second generation era along with other girl groups such as 2NE1, Girls Generation, f(x), etc. The group’s name KARA comes from the Greek word “chara” which means “sweet melody.” The group was formed with four members, but as time went by, the members kept changing and only Gyuri and Seungyeon stayed in the group from the beginning to disbandment. They recorded soundtracks for numerous television dramas, anime, and commercials. Unfortunately, despite having a long group life, KARA disbanded due to some members departing in 2016.
Full Profile of KARA
Group Name: KARA
Origin: South Korea
Labels: DSP Media
Years Active: 2007-2016
Members: Gyuri, Seungyeon, Sunghee (2007-2008), Hara (2008-2016), Jiyoung (2008-2014), Youngji (2014-2016)
Albums: The First Blooming (2007), Revolution (2009), Girl’s Talk (2010), Step (2011), Super Girl (2011), Girls Forever (2012), Fantastic Girls (2013), Full Bloom (2013), Girl’s Story (2015)
KARA made their debut as a quartet consisting of Park Gyuri, Han Seung-yeon, Kim Sung-hee, and Jung Nicole on March 29, 2007, and ended the first season of debut on August 8, 2007. They brought the first album The First Blooming‘s title song “Break It” to Mnet’s M! Countdown. The song described their strong feminine personality with an R&B sound. At KARA’s debut, they were always being compared to their senior labelmates Fin.K.L because of their similarity. The group stated regarding the comparison that it was beneficial and inspiring for them. They also participated in a documentary show on Mnet titled KARA Self Camera to show their daily lives over 15 episodes starting from August 8 to December 12, 2007.
Gaining much criticism at debut and being overshadowed by other groups which debuted in the same year, KARA’s first album was not commercially successful. However, KARA’s Seungyeon participated on some variety shows and brought recognition to her group.
KARA’s First Change of Line Up
KARA was scheduled to return in March 2008, but the group couldn’t make it due to Kim Sung-hee’s departure. She announced that her sudden act was because her parents were pressuring her to maintain her grades quite hard. However, to relieve fans, DSP stated the second album will be changed into a mini-album with two more members joining the group. After the auditions, Goo Ha-ra and Kang Jiyoung were chosen to join KARA.
The mini-album titled Rock U was released on July 24, 2008, with a “pretty and cute” concept. It’s quite different from KARA’s original debut image, but people received it positively. In August 2008, the new season of KARA Self Camera was released which chronicled how the old members adapted to the new members.
KARA’s Rising Popularity in South Korea
In January 2009, KARA’s official website held commence voting for their upcoming singles. The song titled “Honey” won 60% of the votes, and the music video was released on February 16, 2009. “Honey” went on to become a commercial success as the song became the group’s first number one single in Gaon weekly singles chart, gained their first music show award on M! Countdown for their top position for three consecutive weeks, won the Mutizen award on SBS’s Inkigayo, and won the Best Dance award on Mnet Asian Music Awards 2009.
On July 2009, the group made their comeback with the upgraded concept “strong and mature.” The single “Wanna” was released on July 28, 2009, and immediately placed on top of music charts. The music video was released on July 29 with the full album titled Revolution which was available online on July 30. The other song of the album titled “Mister” also became a hit due to its iconic butt dance and won several awards. They also performed their album internationally during the promotion era, including at Bangkok’s Parc Paragon.
KARA’s Japan Debut and Increased Popularity
On November 24, 2010, the group finally made their Japanese album debut titled Girl’s Talk. In the album’s first week, it sold 107,000 copies and ranked number two on the Oricon Weekly Album Chart which became the first album of a non-Japanese girl group to sell more than 100,000 albums in its first week.
After nine months of hiatus in the Korean music industry, the group announced their comeback with the single “Jumping” which was promoted in both Korea and Japan alongside the release of their mini-album of the same name. Once again, KARA’s comeback became a big hit as they won first place repeatedly on KBS’s Music Bank and the Mutizen award on SBS’s Inkigayo. After their successful career in Japan, KARA was chosen as the 2010 Best Rookie Artist on December 20, 2010, which was announced by Oricon after great sales of their album.
Another iconic song from KARA was produced on September 6, 2011, titled “Step” which immediately topped various music charts in South Korea hours after release. The album of the same name made their place on Gaon‘s Weekly Singles Chart and gained the number two spot on Billboard‘s Korea K-Pop Hot 100. KARA also won the first place on M! Countdown and Music Bank in the same month for two consecutive weeks. At the end of the year, the album reached high sales figures of up to 100,000 copies in South Korea.
KARA’s Second Change of Line Up
Unfortunately, the group once again had to change their line up because some members departed. On January 13, 2014, Nicole announced that she is leaving the group due to her contract expiration with DSP Media. Then, on January 15, it was announced that Jiyoung would follow Nicole’s departure with the same reason. The remaining members were reorganized as a trio consisting of Gyuri, Seungyeon, and Hara for future schedules.
On May 2014, DSP Media launched Kara Project, a reality show which revolved around seven trainees who will compete to become future members of KARA including a former member of Puretty, DSP’s girl group. As the decision came from live voting, Heo Youngji was announced as the winner with the total vote of 49,591.
As the new quartet, the group released their mini-album titled Day & Night in South Korea on August 18 before holding their third Japanese tour on October 24. The title track “Mamma Mia” was produced by Double Sidekick and was released as a Japanese single which was the first one featuring Youngji after Nicole and Jiyoung’s departure.