K-pop: The rise of the virtual girl bands
Since releasing their debut single I’m Real in 2021, K-pop girl group Eternity have racked up millions of views online.
They sing, dance and interact with their fans just like any other band.
In fact, there’s mainly one big difference between them and any other pop group you might know – all 11 members are virtual characters.
Non-humans, hyper-real avatars made with artificial intelligence.
The business we are making with Eternity is a new business. I think it’s a new genre,” says Park Jieun, the woman behind Eternity.
“The advantage of having virtual artists is that, while K-pop stars often struggle with physical limitations, or even mental distress because they are human beings, virtual artists can be free from these.”
The cultural tidal wave of Korean pop has become a multibillion-dollar force over the last decade. With its catchy tunes, high-tech production and slinky dance routines, K-pop has smashed into the global mainstream, becoming one of South Korea’s most lucrative and influential exports.
But the top K-pop stars, their legions of loyal fans, and the business-owners looking to capitalise on their success are all looking to the future.
With the explosion of artificial intelligence (AI), deepfake and avatar technologies, these pop idols are taking their fame into a whole new dimension.