2012 - Present




2012 - Present




Nominations received at the 38th Golden Disc Awards

✨Album of the Year with "EXIST"

Exo is a nine-member boy band that debuted in 2012 under SM Entertainment and quickly became a leader of the third-generation K-pop scene.

Exo has been a pioneer in many aspects, especially regarding how a band promotes itself other than its music, with a "superpower" theme that surprised the K-pop scene.

The band's fictional story of exo-planet beings saving the world with their supernatural power shocked many, although having an intricately-formed alter-ego backdrop to bandmates, also referred to as a worldview or universe — like the Marvel Cinematic Universe —, has become common practice in K-pop since.

The theme is apparent in Exo-K's debut track "MAMA" (2012), the title track from Exo's debut EP when the band was divided into two subunits, Exo-K and Exo-M. Though the dark-magic-themed dance track criticizing modern technology did not receive welcoming fanfare from listeners, the band slowly climbed up the charts with songs that adapted to the public's taste little by little.

In 2013, Exo became the first million-selling K-pop band in 12 years since g.o.d with "XOXO" (2013), and since then added five more million-selling albums to its list.

What is the superpower theme that Exo debuted with?

Each member was endowed with a unique superpower, ranging from teleportation and telekinesis to controlling time, water and thunder.

The music video for the group's debut song, "MAMA" (2012), begins with a narration that explains how the group was divided into Exo-K (Korean unit) and Exo-M (Chinese unit) as if living in a parallel universe and each member was paired with a counterpart in the corresponding group.

Though the far-out concept was met with mixed reviews back then, it turned out to be ahead of its time both in and outside of SM Entertainment.

Not only have an increasing number of K-pop groups entered the industry with their own unique background stories since but Exo's whole concept was later found to be linked with SM Entertainment's greater Kwangya Universe, a concept that has been penetrating almost all SM artists' songs since the late 2010s.

What are Exo-K and Exo-M?

Prior to 2015, there were two subunits to Exo: Exo-K and Exo-M.

Exo initially debuted with 12 members, eight Korean and four Chinese. Exo-K and Exo-M each had six members. Exo-K was based in Korea, and Exo-M was targeted at Chinese fans, with the M standing for Mandarin. Exo-K was comprised of members Chanyeol, D.O., Baekhyun, Kai, Sehun and Suho, and Exo-M had members Chen, Xiumin, Lay, Kris, Tao and Luhan. But with three Chinese members quitting by 2015, Exo-M was virtually disbanded, and the group has since only acted as Exo. (2022.09.24)

What K-pop generation is Exo?

Exo is considered a leading example of a third-generation K-pop band.

Exo debuted in April 2012 and so fell into the definition of third-gen bands, which are bands that debuted in the 2010s. But since well-known third-gen bands debuted in the late 2010s or through audition programs, Exo is sometimes misunderstood as a second-generation band. But boy bands Exo, BTS, BTOB and NU'EST, which all debuted in 2012 and 2013, are third generation. (2022.09.21)

How was Exo’s career in the 2010s?

Exo was the leading band in the mid-to-late 2010s before BTS started making headlines overseas.

The band brought record revenues for its agency SM Entertainment in 2015 and was the highest-earning group in the agency from 2016 to 2018 with hits such as "Growl" (2013), "Overdose" (2014), "Call Me Baby" (2015) and "Monster" (2016) storming local charts for weeks after release.

The members have also enjoyed the fruits of their success, such as member Sehun buying a 3.3-billion-won building in Sangdo-dong, western Seoul, in 2020 and Chanyeol buying a 2.2-billion-won building near Ewha Womans University in western Seoul in 2020. (2022.09.24)

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