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AR in K-Pop: Is It Going to Dominate the Industry?

Music itself is truly an experience. Listening to music makes you feel any kind of emotion – happiness, sadness, love, peacefulness, and many other emotions we possess as human beings.

According to Harry Study, 78% of millennials would rather put money into experiences such as music experience, travel, and events over a desirable object, while another 72% say they want to increase the amount they put towards experiences over physical objects.

Therefore, digging deep into an additional experience the artists want to bring into their music is quite crucial. Take an example from the K-Pop industry. Besides their visuals, dance, and music, they serve the fans an attractive and unforgettable experience.

As one of the most hyped music industries at the moment, K-Pop never fails to bring the latest innovations into their music experience, and one of them is augmented reality (AR) technology. Not only that it can attract the loyal fans, AR can also target a wider audience who crave both music and an enjoyable experience.

Interestingly, the use of AR in the K-Pop industry apparently has been around since 1998! Really? Well, let’s find it out below!

Cyber Singer Adam

Cyber Singer Adam is the first-ever virtual singer from Korea made of computer graphics. He made his debut in 1998, but unfortunately only lasted for a short time in the industry.

At that time, people did not put a huge amount of attention towards the technology brought by the singer, and that’s what probably affected his career. In two years, specifically in the year 2000, he quickly faded into obscurity.

Video: koala odd (YouTube)


Video: League of Legends (YouTube)

K/DA is a virtual K-Pop girl group created by Riot Games, the company that made the game League of Legends.

Consisting of Ahri ((G)-IDLE’s Miyeon), Evelynn (Madison Beer and Bea Miller), Kai’sa (Jaira Burns and Wolftyla), and Akali ((G)-IDLE’ss Soyeon), the group was first revealed to the public at the 2018 League of Legends World Championship. For the first time, they performed an AR-enhanced live version of their first song, Pop/Stars.

A major part of the K/DA show was putting together an AR performance of the in-game characters that could happen on stage alongside real-world actors. Originally, they were formed merely to promote the game League of Legends and sell skins of the K/DA characters in the game.

However, their popularity and fanbase eventually grew big, both within and beyond the League of Legends fandom, which made them keep releasing songs like the other K-Pop groups.


Photo: @Weverse_shop (Twitter)

Who's an ARMY here? Well, we are! And if you happened to watch their online concert in October 2020, you might or might not realize that they incorporated AR at their concert.

During BTS MAP OF THE SOUL ON:E concert in 2020, the phenomenal boy group of seven members presented a new type and a large-scale live streaming concert. They infused the concert-from-home experience with AR and extended reality (XR) technologies, increasing the sense of immersion for their ARMYs all around the world.

However, that was actually not their first time using AR in their concerts. In 2019, they held the BTS World Tour: Love Yourself and enhanced their on-stage experiences with AR. The contents consisted of virtual words, shapes, and heart motifs that BTS could interact with.

Video: stYpe (YouTube)

Furthermore, in the MAMA 2020, BTS gave a surprise to their fans by presenting the figure of Suga through an AR hologram. That way, Suga, who was unable to attend due to his shoulder surgery recovery, could be “present” as if he were on the stage and singing with his members.


Photo: @AespaOfficial (Twitter)

Aespa is the current-rising girl group formed by SM Entertainment that widely introduces the use of AR experiences into K-Pop enthusiasts.

The four members, Karina, Gisele, Winter, and Ningning have their own respective 3D avatar characters, which were then overlaid into a real environment. The avatar members have AI brains that allow them to converse and support the real members, even befriending them, sharing information, and going back and forth from one world to another.

In case you’re curious about their avatar visualization, here’s Karina interacting with her AR avatar. 😍

Video: Aespa official channel (YouTube)

All in all, we believe that the use of AR in the K-Pop industry is more than promising. With more and more idols adopting AR experiences into their performances, or even creating an alter-version of their real-life visualization, there’s no doubt that it can attract fans from a wider sector.

But the big question is, will augmented reality dominate the K-Pop industry? Well, maybe not now. But sooner or later, the use of AR in the K-Pop industry will keep ruling more existing idols or the soon-to-debut ones.

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