Friday, April 15, 2011

Korean singer Gu Ha Ra, a member of Kara

                             Korean singer Gu Ha Ra, a member of Kara (108)

Kara (band)

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Background information
Origin South Korea
Genres Pop, R&B, dance
Years active 2007 (2007)–present
Labels DSP Media (Korea)
Universal Sigma (Japan)
Park Gyuri
Han Seung-yeon
Goo Ha-ra
Jung Nicole
Kang Jiyoung
Past members
Kim Sunghee
This article contains Korean text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Hangul or hanja.
Kara (카라, often stylized as KARA) is a girl group from South Korea signed with DSP Media (DSP). The band name Kara comes from the Greek Word "chara" (χαρά, lit. "joy"), which the group interpreted to mean "sweet melody".[1]
Kara started as a four-member group and debuted with their first album The First Blooming in 2007. In 2008, Kim Sunghee departed the group due to parental pressure, and two members were brought in; as such, the group consists of five members: Park Gyuri, Han Seung-yeon, Goo Hara, Nicole Jung and Kang Jiyoung. The five-member band achieved their first number one song with "Honey".[2]
The group has released two full-length albums — The First Blooming and Revolution — along with various EPs. Kara has won various awards, including the Best Dance Award at the Asian Music Awards and Best Female Singer at the 16th Korean Entertainment Arts Awards.
The group eventually made their debut in Japan on 2010. By the end of that year, Kara was dubbed as Japan's #1 Rookie Artist of 2010 by Oricon and also received the New Artist Of The Year Award (International) from the Japan Gold Disc Awards. The group also released their first Japanese album, Girl's Talk which was eventually certified as Platinum by the RIAJ. By February 2011, Kara's "Jumping" and "Mister" singles have received Platinum and double Platinum certificates respectively from RIAJ. In March, Kara was hailed as the first foreign female artist to top Oricon’s Composite DVD Chart [2] and the first foreign artist to top the said chart for 2 consecutive weeks.[2]



Kara had their debut performance on March 29, 2007 with "Break It" on M! Countdown. Their first album was The First Blooming. [3] They made two music videos from this album: "Break It" and "If U Wanna". Because of their similarity to Fin.K.L and the fact that both were signed to the same company, the two were often compared; in response, Kara stated that they regarded the comparison as beneficial and inspiring.[4] Years later, Seungyeon stated that the album wasn't of as big success as she and the group would have liked.[5] Seungyeon had participated in many variety shows on TV during that time in order to keep Kara as a group recognizable to the public.[5]

"Pretty Girl"

On November 29, 2008, DSP Entertainment released a teaser video for their upcoming single, "Pretty Girl", which received over 40,000 hits within 12 hours.[6] The full video was released on December 2, 2008 online and was positively received by the public,[7] while the EP was released on December 4.[6] The mini-album is supposed to have a "party/fun" concept.[7] The group began its comeback on all major music shows on December 4, 2008, starting with M.Net Countdown.[8] During their first national performance on KBS's Music Bank, member Goo Hara was accidentally stepped on by another member and let out a scream; due to her embarrassment, she cried for an hour backstage.[9] Netizens made it a "hot issue", but Goo Hara received comfort from her fans instead of criticism from the public.[10]
Park Gyuri attributed their popularity increase to their "pretty but natural" appeal,[11] while media reports gave credit to the band finding their own identity[12] and to older male fans, most notably singer Shin Hae-cheol.[13]
Due to the hectic promotional schedule as their popularity continued to rise, a few of the group's members were taken to the hospital on December 19 after a KBS Music Bank rehearsal, but a DSP representative said that it was not serious.[14]


At the end of January 2009, DSP Entertainment announced that it would commence voting on January 28 at Kara's official website for the follow-up single to "Pretty Girl", which ended on February 2.[15] By the deadline of February 2, "Honey" was the clear winner, with 60% of the votes.[15][16] The group filmed a music video for the song, which was released on February 16. The song was also first performed on KBS's Music Bank program on February 13, 2009; a repackaged mini-album followed on February 19.[15][16]
"Honey" became the group's first #1 single when it topped the M.Net M! Countdown show. The song also won the "Mutizen" ("music netizen") award on SBS's program The Music Trend.[17]
The group did its last round of promotional activities for this album on April 10–12, 2009.[18]


In June 2009 the group stated they would return in late July, with their concept "upgraded".[19] The first teaser pictures of the group were then released in mid-July, showing radical changes in the group's style.[20][21]
Their single "Wanna" was released on July 28, 2009. The song quickly charted on various digital music charts.[22] The music video was released on July 29, with the full album, Revolution, available online as of July 30.[22] Comeback activities commenced on July 31, beginning with KBS's Music Bank; the group performed both "Wanna" and "Mister".[23] "Mister" proved to be popular with netizens due to a "butt dance" that is featured prominently in the choreography.[23][24] Due to the popularity of the song, Kara's overall popularity increased, with numerous advertisement requests coming in for the group; they had more advertisements in October 2009 than the previous two years.[25]
"Wanna" also became a #1 single for Kara, and won the "Mutizen Song" award on August 30, 2009 from Inkigayo.[26]
During promotions for Revolution, the group also performed internationally, including Bangkok's Parc Paragon. [27]

2010: "Lupin"

After a short hiatus, DSP Entertainment released two teaser photos of Kara's comeback concept on February 9, 2010. The photos garnered a lot of interest because compared to their past album concepts, the new photos displayed a more mature, dark and mysterious Kara. The next day, the album jacket was unveiled with the concept named "Stealer" and the title track "Lupin", which became #1 on several online music charts after its release. The teaser video was released on February 12 on Naver; the mini-album followed on February 17. Kara had their comeback starting on M.Net's M! Countdown on February 25, 2010. [28] [29]
The music video was released on February 22, garnering more than 90,000 views in the first 2 hours.[30]
On March 4, 2010, Kara won their first #1 award for "Lupin" on M! Countdown.[31] On the following week, Kara won yet another #1 award on M! Countdown, making it their second consecutive win on the music program. "Lupin" also gave Kara their first #1 win on Music Bank on March 12, 2010, making it the group's first win for the music show since their debut,[32] holding onto the position for three consecutive weeks.[33] The song also won the Mutizen award from Inkigayo.[34]

End of 2010: "Jumping"

After about 9 months hiatus in Korean Music Entertainment, Kara announced the promotional track "Jumping" in Korea and Japan. Kara released it as a 2nd Japanese single and title track for their fourth Korean mini album. Despite promoting the song at the same time, Kara had 2 different concepts for the song in Korea and Japan.[35] A teaser photo of Jumping's album cover was released on November 3, 2010 and according to a company official, “Kara’s new album utilizes the optical art concept of black and white geometric patterns, which differs depending on each member’s physical characteristics and image.” He added, “You will see a new and upgraded Kara with these modern, yet chic images.”[36] Kara made their comeback with Burn and Jumping on MBC Music Core on November 20, 2010. On December 10, 2010, Kara got their second #1 win on KBS Music Bank for Jumping.[37] Two days after their win in Music Bank, Kara won a #1 Mutizen Award for "Jumping" on SBS Inkigayo's 600th episode.[38]

Other works

Soundtracks and special singles

The original group recorded a song titled "Fighting" on the soundtrack for 강남엄마 따라잡기 ("Chasing a Mother from Kangnam"), a drama that aired on SBS; the soundtrack was released on July 25, 2007. Their second song was "Butterfly" on the soundtrack for the anime Naruto, which was released on September 29, 2008. Kara also participated in the second soundtrack for Boys Over Flowers, recording the song "Love is Fire".
"Ddokateun Mam" ("똑 같은 맘", "The Same Heart") was a song used in "i-Musician", an upcoming mobile game that Kara promoted; the song was released digitally in June 2009.[39]
In January 2010, they sang the main original soundtrack of drama series "별을 따다줘" (Catch Me a Star).[40]
Kara appeared on MBC's Music Travel LaLaLa on October 22, 2009, where they performed "길" ("Road") by g.o.d and "빙글 빙글" ("Round and Round") with NoBrain. These tracks were included on Music Travel LaLaLa's soundtrack, released in February 2010. [41] [42]
On April 2010, it was revealed that Kara will sing a cheer song for the 2010 World Cup entitled "We're With You". Behind-the-scenes and individual member teaser videos were revealed along with photos of Kara wearing cheerleader outfits.[43] The single was released on May 3, 2010.
Kara also released a single "2ME", the soundtrack for online game We Online.
In November 2010, Seungyeon's solo track "Superstar" for KBS's drama "Mary Stayed Out All Night" was revealed.

Commercial activities

With the group's popularity, they able to endorse a wide range of products in Korea and other Asian countries. Kara has endorsed online games, clothing, food & beverage, cosmetic products as well as shoes.[44] KARA became endorsers of a cosmetics product, Mistine BB Wonder Compact in Thailand by April 2010. In May 2010, Kara became the female faces of Samsung Doogeun Doogeun Tomorrow Campaign.[45] Kara has also been endorsing for Ask[46] (resulting in a rise of sales and re-orders as part of the "Kara Effect" [47]) and also for fleece boot company Bear Paws.[48]
With Kara's successful debut in Japan on August 2010, offers from different electronics, clothing and beverage brands started coming. In October 2010, it was revealed that Kara has sealed a revenue of 2 billion won from endorsements just 2 months after their Japanese debut. Officials said, "Kara shows a sophisticated image on stage while outside the stage, they show a friendly image" [49] On October 28, 2010, it was confirmed that Kara was chosen as the new models of one of the three biggest Carrier companies in Japan, "KDDI", showing their popularity.[50] Starting November 1, Kara would promote the "Au Santa Letter of Challenge", organized by the "Au Smart Sports Run&Walk", the group members will dress up in Santa Claus costumes, offering the users gifts with various contents. They will also create a "Challenge Live" Twitter account where users can post support messages and 15 pairs of people will be chosen to attend the Limited Kara Live Event via lottery. [51] Furthermore with their success in Japan, Japanese game production company Rhaon Japan revealed through their official TalesLand official website that Kara will become the new models for this game. Players will be able to find Kara characters in the game, and will also be able to see a short animation of Kara, along with a promotional video on the landing page.[52]
In 2010, Kara opened their own online clothing franchise called "Karaya", which members Gyuri, Hara and Jiyoung were chosen as spokesmodels. The said online shop proved to be a big hit and rose to 4th place in popularity among celebrity owned internet shopping mall sites.

International touring

It was announced on September 2009 that Kara, along with SHINee and Ryan of Paran from Thailand, would perform for the Thai-Korea Friendship Concert to be held on the 17th at Bangkok's Parc Paragon. Kara became quite active in Thailand as they visited more often and even filmed a commercial for a cosmetics brand.
On March 2010, it was announced that Kara will participate in the 8th Annual Korean Music Festival to be held at Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, with member Nicole as MC. [53] Kara then became very active in Japan, holding showcases and hand shake events as preparation for their official Japanese debut. After their successful debut with Mister, Kara performed at the Asia Song Festival on October 23, 2010 with other Asian artists. Kara was also confirmed as a participant of the Seoul Tokyo Music Festival 2010 with leader Gyuri as one of the MCs.

Japan activities and debut

Kara released Kara Premium Box for Japan on April 28, 2010, which is a compilation of their past Korean albums from The First Blooming to Revolution. The box also contains a special DVD and Japanese versions of their hits "Pretty Girl", "Honey", and "Wanna". On the first day of release, the album was ranked at number 7 in the ORICON daily chart.[54]
Their first promotional tour in Japan on February 2010 had over 3,000 fans registered, exceeding the capacity of the venue, which resulted in a second showcase.[55] Kara was also featured in a video message for a show called Arashi no Shukudai-kun (嵐の宿題くん Arashi's Homework?), hosted by Japanese idol group Arashi.[56] Kara held fan meetings on May 8 with more than 8,000 fans at Japan’s Grand Prince Hotel. In addition, Kara had an official Japan fan club meeting with 3,000 fans at Yokohama’s Mina Torimirai hotel on May 9.
In 2010, Kara signed with Universal Music Japan and announced that they will officially debut in Japan by August with "Mister".[57][58] On July 15, 2010, Universal Music Japan released the MV teaser of "Mister" stating that their single will be released on August 11.
After their successful debut in Japan, Kara was chosen as the best rookie artist according to a popular Japanese mobile ringtone site, Recochoku. In addition, their single "Mister" ranked #1 in their music video chart, #2 in their video chart and #5 in their ringtone chart; while "Jumping" entered the top 3 in the ringtone chart upon release and is now ranked at #1 and #4 in ringtones, #1 in video and #2 in music video. As Recochoku is highly popular among Japanese teens and young adults in their 20s, it shows that the group is indeed appealing to the Japanese youths.[59] On December 20, 2010, Oricon also announced Kara as 2010's best rookie artist, generating revenue to some 1.3 billion yen (or $15.4 million USD[60]); and with a total of 493 000 copies of their releases sold this year.[61]

1st Japanese single, "Mister"

Upon release, Kara's "Mister" debut single ranked #5 in the Oricon daily chart.[62] Kara also held a surprise performance in Shibuya109 in Tokyo on the same day but due to 3,000 fans, Shibuya Management canceled the rest of the show segments for security reasons.[63] "Mister" was ranked #1 on Japan iTunes as most downloaded video and song.[64] Kara had a hand-shaking event for 10,000 fans in Tokyo on August 14, 2010.[65] On August 17, 2010 it was announced by Oricon Style that Kara’s single debut album "Mister" ranked #5 in the weekly singles making them the first ever Korean girl group to do so. Oricon Style reported, “First time in 29 years and 8 months since a foreign girl group has entered the top 10 with their debut album.” [66] "Mister" is also scheduled to be performed on TV Asahi's program "Music Station" for the first time on October 15th, showing off the popular "butt dance".[67] The single was certified Gold by the RIAJ in digital downloads,[68] but eventually received a "Platinum" certification later, making them the first Korean girl group to get a Platinum.[69][70] USEN also recently revealed that Mister ranked #18 for the year, based on hit song rankings, song requests, and broadcasts. Japan's Karaoke charts also ranked Mister #1 for the months of November and December, revealing Kara's popularity potential.[71]

1st Japanese compilation album, "Best 2007-2010"

On September 29, 2010, Kara released their first Japanese album "Kara Best 2007-2010." The album is a compilation of their selected Korean tracks since they debuted. The songs are entirely sung in Korean. Kara ranked #2 in the Oricon Daily Chart on the 1st day of release, selling 18,223 copies. This ranking also marked the best that any Korean girl group has been able to achieve for a full album in the Japanese market.[72] Apart from that, this album was also the most downloaded album in Japan's iTunes Store Pop.[73] It also has been announced on their official Japanese website on October 1st that this "Kara Best 2007-2010" album will include a bonus. The bonus is that the group will give a photograph to the applicants to show their gratitude. Also, among those applicants, 10 will be chosen via lottery to attend a meet & greet session on October 15th.[74] On October 5, 2010, the Oricon has announced that Kara's Best album ranked #2 in the weekly ranking, selling 51,000 copies, making Kara the first Korean girl group album to enter Top 10 in history. In addition, this album exceeded the ranking of Iconiq's Change Myself, Justin Bieber's My World, and Kesha's Animal to become the highest ranked album among newcomers this year. [75] It was announced on November 3, 2010 that the album was certified gold by The Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ), making KARA the first ever Korean Group since the '90s to release an all-Korean album that is able break the 100k copies barrier in Japan.[76] Kara "Best 2007-2010" ranked #7 in the Oricon Album Monthly Chart for October.

2nd Japanese single "Jumping'"

On September 29, 2010, it was revealed that Kara will be releasing their second single entitled "Jumping'" on November 10, 2010. "Jumping'" was also chosen as the new theme song for Fuji TV's Saturday morning news and information program, Mezamashi Saturday. [77] On October 13, Kara's album covers were revealed adding to the anticipation of the single release. Universal Music Japan revealed Kara's PV teaser for "Jumpin'" on October 25, 2010. It was also revealed that the song and concept for "Jumpin'" was inspired by the anime movie, "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time".[78] The Official PV was released a few days later and a new cheerleader version was also released through Universal Music Japan and Universal Sigma Youtube channels on November 5, 2010. The cheerleader version will be used to promote KDDI's "au Santa's Challenge."[79] The single debuted at #5 in the Oricon chart and even rose to #2 in the said chart, only second to Arashi. The song quickly climbed up in other charts including mobile downloads. The music video and song also ranked #1 in iTunes Japan[80] The single ranked #5 in the weekly Oricon Chart selling around 55,000 copies. On December 2010, the single was then certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan for having over 100 000 copies shipped. [81] Furthermore, their free music application "Kara Jumping" ranked #1 for the 'free music category' on Japan's iTunes App store chart, earning over 50 000 downloads within 10 days upon release without any official promotions. It was met with many positive reviews and a representative of production company Danal even commented, "Kara's popularity in Japan exceeds anything imaginable." [82]

First Japanese album, "Girl's Talk"

Kara released their first Japanese album on November 24, 2010. The album was released in 3 versions and contained ten tracks including "Mister" and "Jumping," as well as Japanese version of "Lupin". Girl's Talk sold 107,000 copies in its first week and ranked number 2 in the Oricon weekly charts, making this the first album by a non-Japanese Asian girl group in Japan in 6 years and 9 months to sell more than 100,000 album copies in its first week.[83] Subsequently, Girl's Talk was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for shipping over 100 000 copies.[84]On January 14, 2011 Girl's Talk received a platinum certification from RIAJ, making Kara the first Korean Girl group to sell 250,000 albums.[85] On February 12, 2011 twelve weeks after the album release, Girl's Talk ranked #1 in the ORICON daily chart, making it Kara's first #1 album. Girl's Talk also managed to sell 300,000 albums making them the first foreign female group to sell 300,000 copies since Destiny’s Child in 2005. [86]

Compilation DVD, "Best Clips"

Kara released their DVD "Kara Best Clips" which is a compilation of their past music videos on February 23, 2011. It debuted #1 in the Oricon daily chart and eventually became #1 in the Oricon weekly chart. It’s also been revealed that they’re the first foreign "female" artist to top the composite DVD ranking chart since its inception in 1999. The previous record was held by Chinese group Twelve Girls Band’s, "Twelve Girls Band: First Premium Concert in Japan" (1/26 2004) and American artist Britney Spears’s Greatest Hits: My Prerogative (12/20 2004) have came in at #2 on Oricon’s Weekly Composite DVD Ranking. Kara is the first foreign female artist to get number one on the Composite DVD Ranking. Furthermore, Kara sold 132,000 copies of their music video collection "Kara Best Clips" in their first week and this is the greatest amount sold for a "music video collection" for a female artist; not including live performance DVDs. The previous top seller was Kuraki Mai’s "First Cut" (11/20 2000), which sold 99,000 copies. Kuraki has held the record for 10 years and 3 months, but Kara has just taken her record away. In total, there have been only 6 foreign artists who have made it to number one on the Weekly DVD Composite Ranking: Kara, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Tohoshinki (TVXQ), Junsu/Jejung/Yuchun (JYJ) and Michael Jackson.[2]
After one week, Kara was able to set another record when they ranked #1 in the Oricon’s Weekly Composite DVD Ranking. This made them the first ever foreign artist to be #1 for two consecutive weeks since the charts implementation in 1999. Kara has sold approximately 158,000 copies of their DVD.[2]

3rd single, "Jet Coaster Love"

On April 6th, Kara unleashed their third Japanese single, “Jet Coaster Love“, after the original release date was pushed back due to the natural disasters that struck Japan early last month. As soon as it was released onto the music charts, “Jet Coaster Love” instantly rose to #2 on the Oricon Daily Chart with 47,810 copies sold. The single lost the #1 spot to SDN48 with only a difference of 2,000 copies. On its second day, KARA was able to snatch the #1 spot on the Oricon Chart selling 28,643 copies. Kara was able to set another record as “Jet Coaster Love” maintained its position and ranked #1 in Oricon's 4/18 Weekly Single Ranking selling 123,000 copies in it’s first week. This is the first time a foreign female group has had a number one ranking in it’s first week of release since the creation of the Oricon Single Ranking back in January 1968, so it has been 43 years and 4 months.
In addition, the last time a foreign female artist has placed #1 on the weekly singles ranking was 6 years ago when BoA’s “DO THE MOTION” reached #1 on the 4/11 2005 ranking. The last time a foreign female group placed number one, was The Nolans’s “Dancing Sister” single on the 11/17 1980 weekly ranking, which became number one in its 16th week; it’s been 30 years and 5 months.
Kara was selected as the number one newcomer this year and “Jet Coaster Love” is their first number one in both the weekly single and album rankings. Kara’s #1 ranking in both the single and album categories is a great feat. The only other Korean artists who have been able to receive this high honor are BoA and TVXQ. Also, this is the first record from the current Hallyu girl group frenzy lineup. The incredible thing was that Kara dominated the chart without the help of promotional activities, thus proving once again their explosive popularity in the country. In addition, all proceeds from the single will be donated to Japan’s natural disaster relief aid.[87]

Request for contract termination

On January 19, 2011, a lawyer representing four of the five Kara members announced to the media that they would be terminating their contract with DSP Entertainment, effective immediately; a lawsuit was also filed on their behalf.[88] Park Gyuri, the leader of the group, was the only one remaining with the management company. In a statement, the lawyer representing the four stated that "the company repeatedly denied any requests and unilaterally forced tasks upon the members", and that they have been preparing for legal action for two months.[88] Later that day, it was announced that Goo Hara would discontinue her involvement with the suit and has rejoined the company,[89] as she apparently was not fully aware of the lawsuit's details.[90] In a statement, DSP Entertainment firmly rebutted all accusations, also stating that they wished to resolve the issues and reconcile with the members quickly.[91] DSP also denied earlier reports of denying Kara members their fair share of profits, stating that each member was paid 300,000,000 for their work.[92]
The lawyer for the three remaining members released another statement giving further details of their allegations. Their representatives stated that they were misinformed regarding their Japanese promotions, and that their relationship with the company severely deteriorated with the hospitalization of CEO Lee Ho-yeon in March 2010.[93]

Television and acting

Early work

Prior joining Kara, both Park Gyuri and Han Seungyeon were child actresses. Park's first appearance was on Today is a Nice Day in 1995 where she played the girlfriend of Kang Ho Dong's brother. She later appeared as the teenage version of Kim Jung Eun's character in Ladies of the Palace in 2001.[94] Han Seungyeon appeared in uncredited cameo roles in several television dramas, most notably in Star in My Heart in 1997.[95] Goo Hara was an online shopping mall model before debuting, having been scouted after her photos were uploaded onto DSP's homepage.[96]


Year Title TV Network Notes
2008 Sitcom That Person is Coming MBC
2009 TV series Hero
episode 1
MBC Cameo appearance
2011 TV series URAKARA TV Tokyo


Gyuri :
  • Birth Name: Park Gyu-ri (Hangul: 박규리)
  • Birthday: May 21, 1988 (1988-05-21) (age 22)
  • Position: Leader, Lead Vocalist
Seungyeon :
  • Birth Name: Han Seung-Yeon (Hangul: 한승연)
  • Birthday: July 24, 1988 (1988-07-24) (age 22)
  • Position: Main Vocalist
Hara :
  • Birth Name: Goo Ha-Ra (Hangul: 구하라)
  • Birthday: January 13, 1991 (1991-01-13) (age 20)
  • Position: Sub Vocalist, Lead Dancer
Nicole :
  • Birth Name: Jung Nicole (Hangul: 정니콜)
  • Birthday: October 7, 1991 (1991-10-07) (age 19)
  • Position: Vocalist, Main Rapper, Main Dancer
JiYoung :
  • Birth Name: Kang Jiyoung (Hangul: 강지영)
  • Birthday: January 18, 1994 (1994-01-18) (age 17)
  • Position: Vocalist


Korean discography

Studio albums
Extended plays

Japanese discography

Studio albums
Compilation albums


Years Awards
  • Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism|Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Korea Culture & Content Agency: Best Newcomer

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