Red Velvet Gears Up for North Korea: 10 Things to Know Before the Historic K-Pop Performance

  • 93

From their U.S. album sales to their increasing international reach, get to know Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy & Yeri a bit more.

This weekend marks a historic cultural moment in the ongoing story between North and South Korea as the latter region will send a troupe of 160 solo singers and groups to perform in Pyongyang. Of that group, the only K-pop group comes Red Velvet, the female outfit that will perform two of their recent singles and become just the fifth idol group to ever perform in North Korea.

Ahead of the much-anticipated concert, get to know the ladies of Red Velvet these 10 important facts.

1. They'll show their multiple artistic sides in North Korea: Upon their 2014 debut, Red Velvet was branded as having both a bright and poppy “Red” sound along with a smooth, R&B-inspired “Velvet” side releasing drastically different sounding singles (seen in their 2015 releases “Ice Cream Cake” and “Automatic”). While the group has strayed away from that concept and blended the sides more in recent releases, the two songs they perform will honor both sides of their artistry in the feel-good, 2017 summer single “Red Summer” and their recently released jam “Bad Boy,” that's produced by frequent Bruno Mars collaborators The Stereotypes.

2. They're all becoming quick It Girls: Made up of members Irene (27-years-old), Seulgi (24), Wendy (24), Joy (21) and Yeri (19), the quintet is finding lots of interest as a group and individually. 

Leader Irene has gained attention for her TV hosting skills as well as becoming a go-to spokesmodel for brands that range from Hyundai to Maxwell House coffee. Members Seulgi and Wendy continue to gain interest in their music careers with Seulgi collaborating with the likes of Super Junior's Yesung while Wendy even released a remix with Ricky Martin. Meanwhile, the youngest members have found solo successes with Joy gaining widespread attention for her acting (and Joy will actually not be able to perform in North Korea due to scheduling issues with filming her current TV drama Tempted) and Yeri landing TV hosting jobs and recently sharing her songwriting skills with a self-composed song for fans. 

3. Their albums sell well in America: Among their K-pop competition, Red Velvet ties among all acts for having the most No. 1s on Billboard's World Albums chart. At the press time, their 2017 LP Perfect Velvet is there best seller with about 3,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen Music. That album is followed by 2015's Ice Cream Cake EP (about 3,000 copies sold too but less than the Perfect Velvet's total), followed by 2015's The Red album (3,000 copies too), 2017's The Red Summer EP (2,000 copies) and 2016's Russian Roulette (2,000).

4. The singles sell incredibly well too: The ladies also have an impressive amount of single sales in the U.S. with 2015 single “Dumb Dumb” marking their best seller with 22,000 downloads sold to date. That's closely followed by 2015's “Ice Cream Cake” (with 20,000 copies sold), 2016's “Russian Roulette” (18,000), their 2014 debut single “Happiness” (15,000) and 2017 single “Peek-A-Boo” (13,000).

5. They're SXSW performers: An important festival for any musician trying to make their mark in America, Red Velvet made their Texas debut at SXSW in 2017 as the headlining and closing act at the annual K-Pop Night Out showcase.

6. They spend a lot of time internationally: After they hit Austin, TX last year, Red Velvet flew to Mexico City to perform at their inaugural KCON Mexico marking a year of big international travels. In 2018 alone, the group already performed concerts in Japan and will head to Chicago for their first-ever fan meet-up in America.

7. They're finding more and more international chart success: With the release of “Bad Boy” earlier this year, Red Velvet scored their first official chart hit in Canada when it deubted at No. 87 on the Canadian Hot 100, making them just the seventh K-pop act to enter the ranking. The RV ladies have also announced their plans to release music for the Japanese market in 2018 indicating more chart territory for them to conquer.

8. They come from a long line of pop successes: Red Velvet is the latest girl group under SM Entertainment, South Korea's largest K-pop label and agency that is home to beloved female acts like S.E.S, Girls' Generation and f(x). While it's proven tougher for female acts to score large Korean album sales similar to their boy-band counterparts, SM women continuously proved through the years they could sell just as well as the boys with Red Velvet continuing that tradition as they grow their fanbase.

9. They honor their past girl groups: Red Velvet have shown a lot of love to the girl groups who came before them with the group using their second single to cover S.E.S' 2000 single “Be Natural” and are known to frequently cover Pussycat Dolls' 2005 hit “Stickwitu” in concerts.

10. They've got internationally recognized producers on their teams: In addition to utilizing domestic talent in Korea, Red Velvet has frequently enlisted production teams and producers that have crafted hits around the world including The Stereotypes (known for working with Bruno Mars and Fifth Harmony), LDN Noise (Chris Brown, Nick Jonas, EXO), The Colleagues (2 Chainz, Gucci Mane), Teddy Riley (Micahel Jackson, Blackstreet) and more.