The Wonder Girls (원더걸스) are a South Korean girl group. Their producer and manager is singer-songwriter Park Jin-Young and the Wonder Girls are signed to his talent agency, JYP Entertainment. Each of the five original members were selected through auditions. Debuting in early 2007, they became popular in the fall of that year with the song “Tell Me.” They have scored three consecutive #1 hit singles: “Tell Me”, “So Hot”, and “Nobody”. In 2008, they won two Daesangs (“Artist of the Year” Awards).
The group began their entry into the American market in 2009, with lead single “Nobody”; the single became the first song by a Korean group to enter the Billboard Hot 100. They are co-managed in the United States by JYP Entertainment and Jonas Group.
As a group, the Wonder Girls were introduced through the program called MTV Wonder Girls which was filmed and directed by MTV. The first four episodes outlined the characteristics and profiles of each member and showcased their schedules for the day. Not long after selecting Ye Eun as the fifth member, the Wonder Girls had their showcase in the MTV Studio. In the showcase, they performed a cover of “Don’t Cha” by the Pussycat Dolls and their own songs, such as “Irony” and “미안한 마음” (“It’s Not Love“). Sun Ye did the solo by singing Destiny’s Child‘s “Stand Up for Love” while Hyunashowed off her dancing skills with a solo dance. The other three members — Ye Eun, Sun Mi and So Hee — performed a cover of Janet Jackson‘s “Together Again“.
The Wonder Girls officially debuted in early 2007 on MBC‘s 쇼! 음악 중심 (“Show! Music Core“), singing “Irony”, the hip-hop single from their debut mini-album, The Wonder Begins. The mini-album sold 11,454 copies in 2007. The Wonder Girls official fanclub was established, with the name of “Wonderful”. Additionally, the group did several showcases in China after receiving Chineselessons. Throughout the rest of 2007, however, members of the Wonder Girls were beset by various injuries and health problems. On June 25, Sohee was sidelined for a month after tearing a knee ligament falling off a motorcycle during the filming of 뜨거운 것이 좋아 (“I Like It Hot“). The remaining four members continued performing until late July, when Hyuna was removed from the group by her parents due to their concern over her health—in particular, chronic gastroenteritis and fainting spells. In the autumn of 2007, Good Entertainment, the talent agency sent their trainee Yubin to JYP Entertainment as a replacement for Hyuna. She made her debut three days later in the group’s live performance of “Tell Me” on Music Bank .
Their first full-length album, The Wonder Years, was released the following week with “Tell Me.” Due to the last-minute addition of Yubin, the album version does not contain her part. However, the performance version of the song was reworked to include a bridge with rapping by Yubin. The single was a hit and reached number one on various Korean television and internet music charts, including KBS‘s Music Bank. The choreography for the song was simple and widely imitated: by October, many fan performances of the dance circulated on video sharing sites such as YouTube and Daum, including one by a group of policemen who were eventually profiled onSBS‘s Star King. The dance became so popular it was known as the “Tell Me Virus” and earned them the title of ‘Korea’s Little Sisters’. Videos of the dance came from fans in France and the Philippines, and the song also went to Number 1 in Thailand.
The Wonder Girls had an extensive promotional schedule for their album and in late 2007 they began performing the second single from the album, “이 바보” (“This Fool”). They made numerous appearances on variety and game shows, sang live on radio, at music festivals, on music shows, and in special joint performances with other groups such as Big Bang and Girls’ Generation. MTV has also aired three seasons of The Wonder Life, a reality TV series starring the girls. The Wonder Girls returned to Korea in spring of 2008. In May a picture of each member was released over five days starting with Ye-eun and ending with Sohee. A preview track from the upcoming single was then released. There were rumours that past member Hyuna would be returning to the group; JYP Entertainment confirmed that this was not the case. Their new single, “So Hot“, was released on May 22, 2008; the song topped online charts soon after. They then performed in mid-2008 on MBC‘s Music Core, performing “So Hot” and “This Time”. The full single was released soon after containing the title track, the rap version of “Tell Me“, “This Time”, and “You’re Out”. Due to vocal cord problems, Yubin temporarily lip-synched her parts under doctor’s orders.
The full music video for “Nobody” was released in the early autumn of 2008, and the single was digitally released at the same time. They performed the following weekend on Music Core, Music Bank, and Inkigayo. The song went to #1 on KBS‘ Music Bank, staying there for four consecutive weeks, and also won Cyworld‘s “Song of the Month” award in September and October 2008. Like “Tell Me”, “Nobody” also sparked a dance craze.
At the 2008 MNet KM Music Festival Awards, the Wonder Girls won three awards, including “Song of the Year” and “Best Music Video” for “Nobody”, and “Best Female Group”. The group also won an award at the 2008 Golden Disk Awards for high digital sales. At the 18th Seoul Music Awards, the Wonder Girls won the Daesang (“Artist of the Year” award) for “Nobody”, along two other awards.
In February 2008, the Wonder Girls joined their producer Park Jin-young for his month-long concert tour through Korea and the United States (including New York City and Los Angeles) as special guests, and took the opportunity to film the music video for “Wishing on a Star” while in New York City. Park had stated that the concerts were also meant to be a showcase for his other protégés, such as Min, G-Soul, and Lim Jeong Hee. They were also selected as a top girl group by Virgin Media, which put them amidst girl groups such as the Pussycat Dolls, Girls Aloud, and Danity Kane. At the end of 2008 the Wonder Girls had earned ₩12 billion (equivalent to $9 million US) as a group.
2009: American debut
The Wonder Girls tour started on February 28, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Wonder Girls, along with mentor JYP, then held concerts in the United States, visiting Los Angeles on March 5, La Mirada on March 6, and New York City on March 8. They also performed for a small crowd at MTV Iggy on March 10. The group then returned to South Korea, holding concerts in late March in Seoul and Busan. After the end of the tour, the Wonder Girls debuted a music video for “Now”, a cover of Fin.K.L‘s single from their third album. Created for a commercial for LG, a version featuring only the dance was released online on April 9, 2009. The Wonder Girls also started their officialMySpace Music account.The page confirmed that the group would launch in the United States with the official release of an English version of “Nobody” in the summer of 2009.
In June 2009, JYP Entertainment announced that the Wonder Girls would be joining the Jonas Brothers on the North American leg of theJonas Brothers World Tour 2009. The company also announced that “Nobody” would be the first English single, followed by “Tell Me“,and that an English album would be forthcoming. It was later revealed that in order to concentrate on their American debut, both So-hee and Sun-mi dropped out of high school as it was not possible to attend while in the United States.
The Wonder Girls released an English version of their single “Nobody” on June 26, 2009, just one day before the start of their tour with the Jonas Brothers. The Wonder Girls were initially signed on for 13 concert dates across the US, but they were eventually given the opportunity to join the Jonas Brothers for a total of 45 concert dates. “Nobody” eventually made a debut on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 2009, becoming the first Korean group to enter the chart. The song also went on to top the Taiwan and Hong Kong music chart.
2010: Line-up changes, international tour
On January 22, 2010, it was announced that Sunmi would be postponing her musical career to pursue an academic career; Hye-rim (Lim), a JYP trainee, will take her place. Sunmi continued as a member of the Wonder Girls through the month of February in order to complete scheduled events.
The Wonder Girls are currently preparing their debut English album, with half (6 tracks) to consist of English versions of Korean singles and the other half of brand new material, initially scheduled for release in February 2010. They were also planning to have a headlining tour in January 2010; however, due to the departure of Sunmi, plans for both the tour and the album were delayed.
Due to the popularity of the girls in Asia and worldwide, the electronics brand Sony Ericcson chose the girls to be the ambassadors of Sony Ericcson in the Asia Pacific Region which will see promotional activities in South Korea, China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan as well as Australia and New Zealand. After the announcement, the girls flew to Singapore where they held a press meeting performing their songs “So Hot”, “Tell Me” and “Nobody”.
On April 5, 2010, the Wonder Girls announced a 20-show tour of the US and Canada, the Wonder World Tour, which will include fellow label mates 2PM who will be joining them for 9 confirmed dates in Washington DC, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Francisco in conjunction with Live Nation, with other dates yet to be confirmed. The tour is a combination of the English and Korean versions of their hits, covers of popular English-language song, and their new songs from their upcoming album, as stated by Yenny during their Ustream webchat with fans on April 17, 2010. The first leg of the tour began in Washington, D.C. on June 4, 2010.
The Wonder Girls followed up their tour announcement with the unveiling of the newest single/EP, titled 2 Different Tears. The title track was recorded in three different languages: Chinese, Korean andEnglish. The music video for 2 Different Tears premiered on YouTube on May 15, 2010; it was shot in the Gyeonggi-do province of South Korea. The music video features Park Jin-Young and Korean-American comedian Bobby Lee. There are three versions of the music video : Korean, English andChinese. Their album was released on the same day.
Between May 15, 2010 and May 31, 2010, the Wonder Girls returned to South Korea to promote the Korean version of 2 Different Tears. They had their comeback TV performance starting from M.Net’s M! Countdown on May 22, 2010. On May 27, 2010, the Wonder Girls won their first #1 award for “2 Different Tears” on M! Countdown. The group wrapped up their last week of promotional activities in South Korea by performing on MBC’s Music Core on May 29,2010. During this two-week period, the Wonder Girls also appeared on several Korean variety and talk shows, including KBS‘s Win Win and Happy Together, as well as SBS‘s Family Outing 2 and MBC‘s Come to Play.
In May 2010, eight more US cities and two Canadian cities were added to the second leg of the Wonder World Tour. In addition, it was announced that label mates, 2PM, would open for the Wonder Girls in San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, Englewood, CO, Atlanta, andChicago. During this time, the Wonder Girls’ American promotional activities continued to earn them recognition: popular concert venueHouse of Blues named them “Artist of the Month” for June 2010 while online concert authority Pollstar featured them in a special article titled “The Wonders of K-pop”.
Stage name: Sun Ye
Full name: Min Seon Yeh
Nickname: Leader, Min Jookie, SsoNye
Birthdate: August 12th, 1989
Blood type: A
Duration of Training: 5 years 6 months
Debut: 2001 SBS’s 99% Challange!
Specialty: Vocal, Choreography, Poppin’, Street, Chinese language
Hobbies: Movies, music appreciation, sports, health
Favorite Artist: Beyonce, Yiruma
Favorite Stars: Johnny Depp, Jessica Alba
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Food: Ddeokbokgi (spicy rice cakes), Ice Cream
Favorite Quote: If you do it, it’s done
Ideal Type: Attends church, strong sense of responsibility and honesty
Wonder Girls are made up of five girls Min Sun Ye (leader), Park Ye Eun, Kim Yoo Bin, Sun Mi and Ahn So Hee debuting in 2007. Ex-member Kim HyunA left in 2007 due to health problems, but she will always remain a Wonder Girl. Official balloon color is Pearl Burgundy and fanclub name is Wonderful.
Stage name: Ye Eun
Full name: Park Yeh Eun
Nickname: Park Oppa
Birthdate: May 26th, 1989
Blood type: AB
Duration of Training: 3 months
Hobby: Music appreciation, reading
Favourite Food: Chobap (Japanese vinegared rice delicacies), egg tart
Favorite Artist: Lauryn hill, Aretha Franklin, So Hyang
Favorite Color: Green
Ideal type: Family-orientated person
Stage Name: Yoo Bin
Name: Kim Yoo Bin
Nickname: BoNoBoNo (Korean cartoon)
Birthdate: October 4th, 1988
Blood Type: O
Duration of Training: 2 years
Speciality: Scuba, swimming
Hobbies: Listening to music, collecting CD
Favourite Food: Salad, raw fish, fresh apples
Favorite Artist: Eve, Lauryn Hill
Ideal type: Person who is passionate about everything
Stage name: So Hee
Full name: Ahn So Hee
Nickname: Mandu (Dumpling)
Birthdate: June 27th, 1992
Blood type: AB
Duration of training: 2 years
Specialty: Taekwando, Vocal, Choreography, Poppin’, Street, Acting, Chinese
Favorite Artist: Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Rain, Im Jeong Hee
Favorite Color: Pink
Ideal Type: Guy who has pretty hands
Stage name: Lim
Full name: Yu Hae Lim
English name: Christina
Nickname: Little Apple
Birthdate: September 1st, 1992
Nationality: Korean (But lived in Hong Kong)
Duration of training: 3 years
Specialty: Dancing, Hip-hop
Languages: English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean
Stage name: Hyun A
Full name: Kim Hyeon Ah
Nickname: Sexy Ya Seng Mah
Birthdate: June 6th, 1992
Blood type: O
Duration of Training: 3 years 2 months
Specialty: Vocal, Choreography, Poppin’, Street dancing(?)
Favorite Artist: Beyonce, The Pussycat Dolls, Rain, UN
Favorite Color: Yellow
Stage name: Sun Mi
Full name: Seon Mi
Nickname: 4-Dimensional, SunMa
Birthdate: May 2nd, 1992
Blood type: AB
Duration of Training: 1 year 6 months
Specialty: Vocal, Choreography, Poppin’, Street, Acting, Chinese
Favorite Food: Udon
Favorite Artist: Beyonce, Rain
Favorite Actor: Song Kang Ho
Favorite Color: Purple
Ideal Type: Person who is masculine