Nine members of K-pop boyband EXO

The Korean wave finally reached Indian shores when six-member boy band IN2IT (a.k.a. IN2ITXION) performed in Mumbai, Faridabad and New Delhi in April this year, their first tour of India.

Early this year, Indian K-pop fans urged film director Karan Johar to seek out EXO’s Kai at a Gucci show in Paris. Their selfie instantly blew up on Instagram and Twitter across India. Other Bollywood actors (and their children) are also reportedly piqued by South Korea’s music groups with their stunning choreography and dynamic danceable vibes. In February this year, INOX theatres screened a concert film by globally-acclaimed BTS on two days in 88 cinemas across the country. K-pop fans inundated theatres with flash mobs, fan chants and thank you gifts and letters for INOX.

With many K-pop bands joining the fray, BTS is getting stiff competition from a band making waves all over the world. The nine-member EXO was nominated in the Top Social Artist category at the recent Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas alongside BTS, GOT7, Ariana Grande and One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson. Though BTS took home the award despite coming onto the music scene two years after EXO, it is only a matter of time before EXO emerge top favourites at music awards in the future.

EXO perform melodic, dance-oriented pop music influenced by hip-hop and R&B. Formed by S.M. Entertainment producer, Lee Soo-Man, the band originally consisted of 12 members divided into two sub-groups — EXO-K and EXO-M. It was Lee Soo Man’s idea of a boy group from China and South Korea which would promote in different places at the same time, mainly their homelands, as well as record the same songs in both Chinese and Korean.

EXO-K focus on playing in South Korea, hence the ‘K’ for Korea, and features Suho, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, D.O., Kai and Sehun. Suho is the leader of EXO as well as EXO-K.

EXO-M specialize in performing in China for a Mandarin-speaking audience, hence the ‘M’ for Mandarin (Chinese). The members include Xiumin, Lay and Chen. EXO-M also has an official subgroup, EXO-CBX, formed in 2016 by Chen, Baekhyun and Xiumin.

The name EXO comes from the word “exoplanet” and stands for the idea that members are new humans from an unknown world. The group now has nine members after the withdrawal of three Chinese members — Xiumin, Suho, Lay, Baekhyun, Chen, Chanyeol, D.O, Kai and Sehun.

Lee Soo-Man released over a dozen teaser videos to create a wave of anticipation for a band that would rule the music waves; the gap between the release of the first teaser and the debut was for a 100-day global promotion, to let the world know the name. EXO finally debuted on 8 April 2012.

In 2012, EXO released several singles including What Is Love, History and Mama. In May 2013, they released their full-length debut album XOXO.

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Verus Ferreira is a music journalist for over three decades. He is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book and the founder of

Verus Ferreira

Verus Ferreira is a music journalist for over three decades. He is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book and the founder of