From T-ARA to Rainbow: Here’s A List Of K-Pop Groups That Debuted In 2009



Known for their girl-crush concept and edgy dance-pop music, 4Minute became one of the iconic girl groups in the South Korean music industry. Formed under Cube Entertainment, the group debuted in the same year as their label mate Highlight. The group consists of 5 members: Nam Ji-hyun, Heo Ga-yoon, Jeon Ji-yoon, Kim Hyun-a, and Kwon So-hyun. The group has gathered a large female fan base due to their strong personalities and image.

Their debut single, “Hot Issue,” was released on June 15th, 2009, and became a major debut hit, leading them to the win of several major awards, such as the Rookie Award at the 2009 Golden Disc Awards, the K-Pop New Artist Award at the 2010 Billboard Japan Music Awards, and the Bonsang Award at the 2011 Seoul Music Awards. During their career, the group released one full-length Japanese album, Diamond (2010), one full-length Korean album, 4Minutes Left (2011), seven Korean extended plays, and multiple singles. Within that discography, the tracks “What’s Your Name?” “Whatcha Doin’ Today?” and “Crazy,” were some of their biggest hit songs.

Unfortunately, 4Minute decided to disband in June 2016, just a few days short of their seventh-year anniversary. Their disbandment was reported because of failed contract negotiations. Out of the 5 members, only HyunA decided to stay with Cube Entertainment. However, this didn’t last long as in 2018, HyunA decided to part ways after the news of her dating fellow Triple H member Hyojong (E’Dawn) was confirmed.

Currently, the group members are on their own pathways, with Jihyun (now Son Ji Hyun) actively pursuing acting and appearing in the recent K-drama Grand Prince, HyunA signed on with PSY’s P NATION alongside her boyfriend Hyojong, Gayoon and Sohyun appeared in films, and Jiyoon (now Jenyer) preparing for her next music.

Here’s 4Minute’s “Hot Issue” that you probably missed:


After School

After School offered a breath of fresh air in the Korean music scene as they are the first South Korean girl group with an admissions and graduation concept that used to be applied in the Japanese girl groups. Formed by Pledis Entertainment, After School made their official debut on January 17th, 2009, with the lead single “AH!” Within the same year, they released “Diva” with the addition of member Uee and snatched the Rookie of the Month Award at the Cyworld Digital Music Awards.

As of December 2019, After School only has one member under the label. According to the group’s website however, Lizzy, Raina, E-Young, and Kaeun are still members of the group. Since then, the group continued to release major hit songs, such as “Bang!” “Flashback,” and “Because of You” (which was also their best-selling song ever).

The group originally debuted with 5 members: Kahi, Bekah, Jungah, Soyoung, and Jooyeon. Later, in April 2009, Uee was added to the group. Sooyoung was the first member of After School who graduated, soon replaced by two new members Raina and Nana in November 2009. After Sooyoung, Bekah and Kahi were next to graduate, and then After School welcomed three new members Lizzy, E-Young, and Kaeun.

After School gained praise for their unique live performances, with their risky and creative uses of props and styles including drums, tap dancing, and pole dancing. Billboard called the group the “top performers in K-Pop.” The group also has sold over 12 million copies of their singles domestically, making them one of the best-selling girl groups ever.

Aside from the main group, After School’s subunit Orange Caramel, which consists of members Raina, Nana, and Lizzy, also gained a strong fanbase for their unique style and songs such as “Catallena,” and “My Copycat.”

The group has been on hiatus since 2015 and yet there hasn’t been any word regarding the group’s disbandment. Each of the members has decided to pursue individual activities, such as acting and modeling careers. Some of the members who are still active as actresses are Nana, Uee, Jooyeon, So-young, and Lizzy (now promoting under the name Park Soo-ah). Meanwhile, Raina is still promoting as a solo artist and Kaeun joined Produce 48 to relaunch herself. Some of the members also have been happily married, including former leader Kahi and newlyweds Jung-ah.

Check out After School’s Ah!”


Urban Zakapa

Urban Zakapa was originally intended to be a 9-member group when they debuted in 2009 under Fluxus Music. However, in 2012, members Park Yong-in, Jo Hyunah, and Kwon Soon-il decided to be a trio instead. Known for their sweet and soothing music, the group’s music matched the name which stands for ‘Urban+Zappy+Kaleidoscopic+Passionate.’

The group debuted with the release of two EPs (CoffeeSweety You) in 2009. Followed by their first studio album 01 and the singles “Just A Feeling” and “Snowing” in 2011. In 2012, after the group changed into a trio, they released their third EP, Beautiful Day, and their second studio album 02. Their album was a success as it topped the Gaon Album Chart in its first week and was even nominated for Best R&B and Soul album at the 10th Korean Music Awards. Amongst their most successful tracks are “I Hate You,” “River,” and “All the Same.”

The group is also actively filling the OSTs of popular K-dramas such as TVN’s Lets Eat and Nine: Nine Time Travels. Recently, the group sang the OST for TVN’s Hospital Playlist, “Beautiful My Love.”




f(x) have had glory days ever since their debut on September 5th, 2009, with the release of the digital single “La Cha Ta.” Their digital single itself, and the fact that they are under SM Entertainment, has already gained attention from the fans. But, with the release of their first studio album, Pinocchio (2011), and their two extended plays Nu Abo and Electric Shock, the group become one of Korea’s favorite as they topped the Gaon Digital Chart. Their second studio album, Pink Tape (2013), received critical acclaim as it entered the ’41 Best Albums of 2013′ list by US music channel Fuse‘s “41 Best Albums of 2013” and the ‘Greatest K-pop Album of the 2010s’ by Billboard. The group’s third and fourth albums, Red Light (2014) and 4 Walls (2015) received the same treatment from critics and fans.

The group took a turn since 2014 when maknae Sulli decided to take a break from f(x) due to her mental health and initially decided to leave the group altogether in 2015. Thus, f(x) released “4 Walls,” as a 4-member group. Since 2016, the group hasn’t been actively making comebacks and was on semi-hiatus.

Though the group is in hiatus, the members are each focusing on their solo paths: Luna with her solo and musical career, Amber who is also making solo comebacks and is on YouTube, Victoria promoting as an actress in China, and Krystal with her acting. However, the sad news came from Sulli, who took her own life in 2019. The reason for her suicide has been reported to be due to cyberbullying and a hostile environment on the internet.