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Super Junior launched into international recognition following the release of their best-selling single "Sorry, Sorry" in 2009, the title song of their most critically successful album Sorry, Sorry. Over the years, they have been divided into smaller groups, simultaneously targeting different music industries and audiences. Largely due to Super Junior's success as entertainers, other Korean entertainment managements began to train their music groups in other areas of entertainment, such as acting and hosting.
In 2000, SM Entertainment held their first overseas casting auditions in Beijing 101, China and recruited Hankyung, who auditioned against three thousand applicants. That same year, Leeteuk, Yesung, and Eunhyuk were recruited after auditioning for the company's annual casting system in Seoul. Sungmin and Donghae became trainees after jointly winning first place in an SM-sponsored contest in 2001. In 2002, Heechul and Kangin were recruited along with Kibum, who was discovered in Los Angeles, California by a casting agent. Siwon became a trainee after being scouted in 2003. Shindong became a trainee in 2004. Ryeowook won the 2004 Chin Chin Youth Festival singing competition and became a trainee just two months before debut in 2005.Kyuhyun then joined the group in 2006, after winning third place in the 2005 Chin Chin Youth Festival.
In early 2005, Lee Soo-man announced that he had been preparing for an all-boy project group of twelve members to debut at the end of the year. He called this singing group to be "The Gateway to Stardom of Asia," as most of the members in this group were chosen for their experiences as actors, MCs, models, and radio hosts prior debut. Heechul and Kibum were already established actors at the time, and most of the other members had already made various kinds of appearances in television and media. Inspired by the rotational concept of Japan's girl group Morning Musume, Lee said that his new group would also experience line-up changes, with new members replacing selected members every year to keep the group constantly young and all-rounded. This concept was then newly introduced to the K-pop market.
For a while the group was rumoured to be called O.V.E.R, the acronym for "Obey the Voice for Each Rhythm."[a] However, before the group settled with their current name, the company simply referred to them as juniors, a representation of the members' young ages when they first became SM trainees. After the members' showcased their different talents to the company at a picnic, the company finalized their group name to Super Junior, and officially became Super Junior'05, the first generation of Super Junior. Super Junior 05 made their pre-debut performance on the Korean channel Mnet on September 11, 2005.[b] At the showcase, they performed various styles of hip-hop dancing, where they danced to B2K's "Take It to the Floor". Hankyung, Eunhyuk, and Donghae also performed a separate dance together, dancing to Usher's "Caught Up." However, the performance did not air on television until May 16, 2006 as a segment in the Super Junior Show, the group's first television documentary.
The group officially debuted on SBS's music program Popular Song on November 6, 2005, performing their first single "Twins (Knock Out)". A digital single with "Twins (Knock Out)", "You Are the One", and three additional tracks were released online on November 8, followed by the release of their debut album Twins on December 6, 2005. The album sold 28,536 copies in the first month of release and debuted at number three in the monthly chart of December 2005.[c]
2006–2007: U, Don't Don, and commercial success
In February 2006, Super Junior 05 began performances for "Miracle", the second promotional single from their debut album. "Miracle" topped the music charts of Thailand, drawing interest from international markets. As promotions for "Miracle" ended, SM Entertainment began selecting new members for Super Junior's second generation, Super Junior 06. The company even prepared a list of chosen members that were to graduate from the group. However, the company abandoned the rotational concept after adding a thirteenth member, Kyuhyun, in 2006. The group then became known as just Super Junior, without the suffix "05". Member Eunhyuk indirectly explains in a variety show that junior group SHINee could have been part of the group, but that was contemplated before Kyuhyun broke the rotational concept.
After the addition of Kyuhyun, Super Junior released their single "U" for free download on May 25, 2006 on their official website. "U" exceeded 400,000 downloads within five hours of release and ultimately surpassed 1.7 million downloads, crashing the server. The physical single of "U" with a total of three tracks was released on June 6, eventually selling over 81,000 units in South Korea. The single became one of Korea's most popular songs of the year, taking up number one spots for five consecutive weeks on two of Korea's top music programs. By the end of the year, Super Junior collected over seven awards in five of South Korea's top music award ceremonies, and was one of the three Best Newcomer winners at the 21st Golden Disk Awards.
In late 2006, Kyuhyun, Ryeowook, and Yesung formed the subgroup Super Junior-K.R.Y., Super Junior's first sub-unit. They performed their first single "The One I Love", theme song to the Korean television drama Hyena, on the KBS music program Music Bank on November 5, 2006. In February 2007, Leeteuk, Heechul, Kangin, Sungmin, Shindong and Eunhyuk formed Super Junior-T, a trot-singing group. They released their first single "Rokuko" on February 23, 2007, and made a debut performance on Popular Songs two days later.
Super Junior's second official album was intended for a late 2006 release, but due to several accidental setbacks, Don't Don was not released until September 20, 2007.Don't Don sold over 60,000 units the first day of release and debuted at number one on the monthly chart of September 2007. Although Don't Don received mixed reviews from critics, the album went to sell more than 160,000 copies by the end of the year, becoming the second best-selling record of 2007.[c] Super Junior received seven nominations at the 2007 Mnet/KM Music Festival, winning three of them which included Artist of the Year, termed by many as the highest recognition of the ceremony. Super Junior collected two more recognitions at the 22nd Golden Disk Awards, including a Disk Bonsang award (Record of the Year).
2008–2009: Sorry, Sorry and career breakthrough
Super Junior-M, Super Junior's Mandopop subgroup comprising members Hankyung, Siwon, Donghae, Kyuhyun, Ryeowook, and Super Junior-M members Henry and Zhou Mi, was formed in April 2008. Although the creation of the subgroup initially created a strife between the group's fans and their management,[d] Super Junior-M went on to become Super Junior's most successful subgroup, selling out two concerts in Hong Kong, topping weekly ratings with their appearance on Chinese variety programs, and was the idol group with the most endorsement contracts in China. They won numerous awards at Chinese music festivals, and achieved critical acclaim after the release of their single "Super Girl" from their second record Super Girl, which garnered them a nomination for Best Vocal Group at the 21st Golden Melody Awards. A fourth Super Junior subgroup was created soon after Super Junior-M's debut. With five members from Super Junior-T and Yesung, they formed the subgroup Super Junior-H, releasing their first extended play (EP) Cooking? Cooking! on June 5, 2008. In November 2008, Super Junior-T made a debut in Japan, collaborating with Japanese comedy duo Moeyan. Their single "ROCK&GO", the Japanese-language version of "Rokuko", debuted at number 19 on the Oricon Daily Charts and ascended to number 2 three days later.
Super Junior's first Asia-wide concert tour, Super Show, started on February 22, 2008, in Seoul.[e] The group held a successful two-day fan meeting in Japan at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, selling out 12,000 tickets in several days. The group released a compiled single "U/Twins", which includes the Japanese version of "U" in the limited release version, to complement the event. The single peaked at number four on Japan's Oricon Daily Chart on its first day of release, and dropped down four places on its second. The single broke a new record for being the first Korean single to have made within top 10 on Japan's Oricon Weekly Chart.
The group released their third studio album Sorry, Sorry on March 12, 2009. It was their first album to debut at number one on the Hanteo Charts, selling over 29,000 copies the first day. After only a month of release, the album became South Korea's best-selling album of 2009, and ultimately sold over 250,000 copies in South Korea.[unreliable source] It became the best-selling K-pop album in Taiwan, Thailand, China, and the Philippines, in which the latter credited the album to be the first K-pop album to reach number one in music charts from the country. The album's title single "Sorry, Sorry" became an instant hit, collecting a total of ten number-one awards for ten consecutive weeks in Korea, and stayed as number one for a record-breaking 37 weeks in Taiwan's K-pop singles chart. "Sorry, Sorry" achieved national and international success, and has since been the group's best-selling single in South Korea.Sorry, Sorry won several accolades at the 24th Golden Disk Awards, including the Disk Daesang (Record of the Year).
After the success of Sorry, Sorry, Super Junior commenced their second Asia-wide concert tour Super Show 2, on July 17, 2009 in Seoul.
2010–2011: Bonamana, lineup changes, and international recognition
Despite their critical and commercial success, the group was plagued by legal turmoils and lineup changes during their concert tour. Though Kibum was shown in the ads and promotional videos for Super Show 2, he did not officially participate in the concert tour, and announced his temporary leave from the group to pursue his acting career. In October 2009, Kangin was charged with a DUI and hit-and-run after crashing into a parked taxi holding three passengers. In December 2009, Hankyung filed for contract termination from SM Entertainment, claiming that the provisions of his contract were unlawful, harsh, and against his rights. He parted with the group and released his solo album Geng Xin in July 2010, which sold over 510,000 copies. That same month, Kangin announced his hiatus to fulfill his two-year mandatory military service.
With only ten members left, Super Junior went off to release their fourth studio album, Bonamana in May 2010. Although the album did not fare well as Sorry, Sorry critically, it sold over 300,000 copies in South Korea, outselling Sorry, Sorry. "Bonamana" was originally made by moves from Michael Jackson's MV's choreographed together. The album remained at the top of Taiwan's Korean-Japanese Music Charts for 61 weeks, breaking their own previous record of the said chart.
To promote the album, Super Junior embarked on their third Asia-wide tour Super Show 3 in 2010 and 2011, and had sold-out concerts for each stop. In February 2011, Super Junior released a 3D movie version of their tour,Super Show 3 3D in all CGV and Primus movie theaters. The movie debuted at number six on the box office charts and went off to become the best-selling 3D movie in Korea. After touring in Japan, they released the Super Junior Japan 'Super Show 3' Opening Commemorative Album in February 2011, which debuted at number two on Japan's Tower Records online sales charts. The DVD version of Super Junior Japan Limited Special Edition – Super Show 3 also debuted at number two, while the CD version debuted at number 10. The album also remained at number three spot on the Oricon Daily Chart for two consecutive days and number six on the Oricon Weekly Chart. Following their commercial success in Japan, the group released a Japanese version of Bonamana's self-titled single in June 2011, which debuted at number two on the Oricon Daily Singles chart, selling over 59,000 copies the first week of release, however, SM did not see the release as their official Japanese debut and has stated that their debut in Japan will occur at a later time.
Between Super Show 3 stops, the group took part in the SMTown Live '10 World Tour and toured in Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo and New York along with other SM Entertainment-managed artists, performing outside of Asia for the first time. Super Junior's performances were well received by the media, and they were honored as Korea's National Pop Culture Icon for their role in spreading the Hallyu Wave (Korean Wave), receiving the Minister of Culture Awards by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism at the Pop Culture Art Awards. They were featured on CNN's Talk Asia program, and talked about their popularity and strategy for advancing into the world music industry. The group has achieved recognition beyond Asia, reaching notability in Europe, North America, and South America. Peru’s Top 30 ranking of The Sexiest Men in the World included all of the members on the list They gave exclusive interviews to Slovenian and Iranian magazines, and were selected by Brazilian Hallyu fans to be the number-one Korean artist they want to visit Brazil. Both Mexico's TV Azteca and the United Kingdom's BBC acknowledged Super Junior to be the leading icon of the Hallyu effect.
2011–2012: Mr. Simple and the world tour, Super Show 4
Super Junior members at LG Optimus Super Junior Fan meeting at Chateau de Chine in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in November 2011. (L-R: Leeteuk, Ryeowook, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Siwon, Kyuhyun, Sungmin, Yesung, Shindong)
Mr. Simple debuted at number one on the South Korean Gaon Chart, selling 287,427 copies. The album stayed on the chart as number one for four weeks, and sold over 441,000 copies in South Korea by October 2011. It peaked at number three on the Billboard World Albums Chart and number 17 on Japan's Oricon Album's Chart. The album's title single Mr. Simple won first place on the first day of the group's comeback performance on the music show M!Countdown.[unreliable source] In September 2011, Heechul left temporarily for military service. Super Junior began their first world tour, the Super Show 4 in November 2011. The group's second Japanese single, a Japanese version of "Mr. Simple", was released December 7, 2011 in Japan, however this was still not recognized by SM as their official Japanese promotional debut.
On January 11, Super Junior participated at the 26th Golden Disk Awards which was held at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan. The group ended up bringing home four awards: Popularity Award, MSN Japan Award, Disk Bonsang and the grand prize Disk Daesang. This was followed by further successes at the Seoul Music Awards on January 19, at which they were awarded the Disk Bonsang and Disk Daesang.
On January 13, Super Junior were crowned 'Album King' in Taiwan, after Super Junior’s 5th album Mr. Simple and 4th album Bonamana ranked 1st and 2nd on both album and music sections of the Korean Music Chart 2012. Significantly, Super Junior ranked 1 on the KKBOX K-Pop chart for 64 consecutive weeks with their 4th album title song "Bonamana", marking the longest record in the history of KKBOX K-Pop chart. They then reached 1 with the 5th album title song "Mr. Simple" for 46 consecutive weeks (as of 4 July 2012), effectively knocking themselves from the 1 spot. On February 22, Super Junior won Album Of The Year for the 3rd Quarter at the Gaon Chart Awards[unreliable source] and on March 13, Super Junior won Favorite K-pop Video for "Mr. Simple" at the MYX Music Awards.
Also, Super Junior successfully completed their world tour Super Show 4 in 10 cities worldwide including Seoul, Osaka, Taipei, Singapore, Macao, Bangkok, Paris, Shanghai, Jakarta and Tokyo for 6 months starting in November. Combined with their three Asia tours and Super Show 4, Super Junior’s concert brand gathered a total of 900,000 audiences.
2012–2013: Sexy, Free & Single and the world tour, Super Show 5
In June 2012, SM Entertainment announced that Kangin would re-join Super Junior for the group's sixth album, Sexy, Free & Single which was released online on July 1 and in stores on July 4, 2012. SM released the MV for Sexy, Free & Single on July 3. The Version B of album was released on July 16, having only a different cover. On August 7, Super Junior released the repackage album for Sexy, Free & Single called SPY, including four new songs "SPY", "Outsider", "Only U" composed by Leeteuk and "Haru" composed by Donghae. The MV was released on August 13.
Super Junior 6th Album Sexy, Free & Single managed to rank high in iTunes in several countries including Australia, France, Peru and Japan. It also ranked 3rd on Billboard World Albums. The album debuted at 1st place on the South Korean Gaon Chart, selling 335,744 copies in one month. Staying on the chart as 1st place for three weeks in a row, 459,182 copies have been sold in only two months (July–August). Furthermore, Sexy, Free & Single also debuted at 1st on Gaon Album Chart with 356,431 copies sold in year 2012. Super Junior rank 1st place on Hanteo's "Top 5 K-Pop Artists" 2012 winning Hanteo "Singer Award" and also rank 1st place in Hanteo "Album Award" 2012 also winning this award.
Sexy, Free & Single was placed 1st for several weeks on Taiwan KKBOX KPOP chart having all album songs charted. The Japanese version of this song, which was released on August 22, has sold over 118,902 units making the single gold certified.
Super Junior were nominated for "Best Asian Act" in MTV Europe Music Awards showing one more time their popularity around the world. In October, Super Junior won "Teen Style Icon" award in Style Icon Awards and on November they also won the "Best Artist Group Award" the 19th Korean Entertainment Arts Awards. On November 30, Super Junior attended the Mnet Asian Music Awards where they won three awards, "Album of the Year", "Best Global Group - Male" and "Best Line Award", being the second year in row that Super Junior wins "Album of the Year". Their Super Show 4 3D movie was awarded with "Work of Art Award" at the International 3D Festival being the only singer together with Glam winning an award.[unreliable source] On January 15 Super Junior won "Disk Daesang" at 27th Golden Disk Awards, being the 3rd "Disk Daesang" that Super Junior has won, and the second in a row (winning in 2011 for "Mr Simple").
Super Junior announced their world tour in February 2013. "The World Tour, Super Show 5" began in March starting with Seoul. The group then went to China, Japan, South America, North America and Europe.
On November 10, Eunhyuk, Kangin, Siwon, and Kyuhyun hold a special lecture at Oxford University. Their special lecture entitled 'Super Junior: The Last Man Standing' took place at the Oxford Union Debating Chamber. They were the speakers at this event, which was co-hosted by Oxford University Korea Society (OUKS), Oxford University Asia-Pacific Society (OUAPS), and Oxford Union.
2014: Mamacita and the world tour, Super Show 6
In August 2014, SM Entertainment announced that Leeteuk and Heechul would re-join Super Junior for the group's seventh album, Mamacita which was released online on August 29 and in stores on September 1. With only three days of sales, Super Junior's 'Mamacita' ranked No.1 on Billboard's World Albums chart.
Super Junior began their world tour Super Show 6 in September 2014, with the first stop at Seoul. Super Junior successfully completed their three-day concert at Jamsil Arena, Seoul from 19 to 21 September 2014 and marked their 100th concert worldwide on the 21 September 2014. Super Junior are the first Korean artist to perform 100 concerts worldwide.
On October 27, Super Junior released the special edition for Mamacita called This Is Love. There is a total of 13 tracks, including 9 tracks from the 7th album, rearranged "This Is Love (Stage Version)" as well as three songs. This Is Love ranked number one on the real time charts of Hanteo Chart, Sinnara Records and more as soon as it was released.
On 8 July 2015, SM Entertainment announced that Yesung would re-join Super Junior for the special album, Devil which was released online and in stores on July 16 to celebrate the group's 10th anniversary. The song clinched No.1 on the iTunes chart in over 10 countries and also had received praise from Billboard as group's "Best Single In Years". The album also had clinched the best selling album for the week in the United World Charts.
Super Junior first showcased its song during its encore concert Super Show 6 in Seoul, over two days from July 11 to 12. Super Junior performed 4 songs from the album, including the title song "Devil", "We Can", "Don't Wake Me Up" and "Alright". On 16 August, Super Junior won 2 awards, "International Arist" and "Best Fandom" in the Teen Choice Awards. On 18 August, Kibum (who has been on hiatus since 2009) announced his leave from SM Entertainment and Super Junior via instagram.
On 10 September 2015, SM Entertainment announced that Super Junior released part 2 of its special 10th anniversary album, Magic on September 16. The album was planned to thank the fans who loved and supported the group, included the 10 previously-released tracks from the original special album, Devil as well as lead single "Magic", "You Got It", "Dorothy" and "Sarang♥" for a total of 14 tracks. It was the last album released before Eunhyuk, Donghae and Siwon entered the military.
On 6 November, Super Junior's 10th anniversary since their debut, SM Entertainment announced that Super Junior had their own exclusive label management, Label SJ. SM stated, “We established Label SJ to give Super Junior our wholehearted support and an ideal system for managing the group.” Though the new label will be affiliated with SM, it will be independently and wholly responsible for Super Junior’s management, producing their albums, and all group, unit, and individual activities.
In December 2009, Hankyung departed from the group after filing a lawsuit against their agency S.M. Entertainment. Hankyung subsequently won the lawsuit in December 2010, though his departure from Super Junior was not made official until September 27, 2011, when S.M. Entertainment finally released a statement to that effect.
On 18 August 2015, Kibum announced via his personal SNS that his contract with SM Entertainment had ended and departed from the group.
From July 2010 to May 2015, 4 members completed their military service. Kangin enlisted for his mandatory military service on July 5, 2010 and completed it on April 16, 2012. Heechul enlisted for his mandatory military service on September 1, 2011 and completed it on August 30, 2013. Leeteuk enlisted for his mandatory military service on October 30, 2012 and completed it on July 29, 2014. Yesung enlisted for his mandatory military service on May 6, 2013 and completed it on May 4, 2015.
From March 2015 to present, 5 members are currently enlisted for military service. Shindong enlisted for his mandatory military service on March 24, 2015. Sungmin enlisted for his mandatory military service on March 31, 2015. Eunhyuk enlisted for his mandatory military service on October 13, 2015. Donghae enlisted for his mandatory military service on October 15, 2015. Siwon enlisted for his mandatory military service on 19 November, 2015.
They pursued bubblegum pop in Twins; alternative rock in Don't Don; pop and contemporary R&B in Sorry, Sorry and Bonamana; and electropop and synthpop in Mr. Simple. The group has also covered few songs in their albums. Their debut single "Twins (Knock Out)" is a cover of Triple Eight's "Knockout," which was released in 2003. In most of their covers, the original titles are kept, such as Cape's "L.O.V.E" and Exile's "Believe", both tracks from Twins. Super Junior works closely with Yoo Young-jin, who has produced and arranged most of the group's title singles since debut. Yoo's also known for creating the renowned SMP style, a genre that includes a balanced infusion of rock, R&B, and rap, empowered by the sounds of electric guitar, bass, and other different percussion instruments. Super Junior prominently featured this SMP style in Don't Don. The group are also acclaimed for their vocal harmonization and unison as each member contributes a different range in their choruses, and often incorporate different types of vocal belting into their songs.[f]
Since debut, five Super Junior subgroups were formed. With the exception of Kibum, all of the members were put in at least one subgroup. The intentions of the subgroups were part of SM Entertainment's strategy to not limit Super Junior's activities while certain members focus on their individual careers. Allowing the group members greater freedom to focus on different elements of their careers, as well as giving the group opportunities to explore different musical styles and showcase different skills. Furthermore, the goal of subgroup formations was to show that Super Junior could accommodate and perform different musical genres. This strategy was later challenged by critics, as it has influenced an overwhelming amount of music groups to create official and unofficial subgroups alike.
Super Junior were appointed as the goodwill ambassadors for the 2008 Korea and Thailand 50th Anniversary, honoring the good relationship Korea has held with Thailand for the past fifty years. On February 20, 2010, Super Junior were named as Taiwan’s tourism ambassadors. Super Junior are also spokesmodels for the "Donate Blood" (2007–present) campaign at the Republic of Korea National Red Cross and were appointed as goodwill ambassadors for World Blood Donor Day. On March 3, 2011, Super Junior were appointed by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Korea as the 2011 Honorary Korean Food Ambassadors to promote Korean cuisine all over the world. On June 17, 2011, Super Junior were chosen to be the ambassadors of Seoul Summer Sale 2011. They have since been appointed to the same position for Seoul Summer Sale 2012. On July 24, 2011, Super Junior were appointed as ambassadors for Korean tourism and LG Korea. Because of their popularity, they have been chosen as endorsers for Lotte Duty Free, and Donghae and Siwon are endorsers of the famous Filipino clothing line Bench. Kyuhyun is an endorser of both Masita, and, with Siwon, of SK Telecom. On September 4, 2012, Super Junior were appointed as honorary ambassadors for the Gangnam District of Seoul.[unreliable source]
After the subgroups Super Junior-K.R.Y. and Super Junior-T, on October 2, 2007, S.M. Entertainment announced the birth of another Super Junior sub-unit project that would begin activities in China starting 2008. Zhou Mi and S.M. Entertainment's new Taiwanese-Canadian trainee Henry Lau, who was also featured in the music video of "Don't Don", were also members of the subgroup. The announcement brought in a huge wave of dissatisfaction and opposition from some fans of Super Junior after the announcement of two new members. Initially, some fans were planning to boycott the company's products, however, most of these fans agreed on a silent protest instead. Thousands of fans from Super Junior's official fanclub E.L.F. silently sat in front of the SM building and held signs that supported the group having thirteen members. After more rumors regarding adding another member to the subgroup, the fans decided to gain a legal representation as part of S.M. Entertainment's stockholders. As of March 20, 2008, Super Junior fans purchased 58,206 shares of S.M. Entertainment, holding 0.3% of the company's entire stock. The fans released a statement that they will take every opportunity to prevent S.M. Entertainment from adding new members and to keep Super Junior as only thirteen.
A time-slot dispute occurred between S.M. Entertainment and MBC when SM insisted to have Kangin stay on SBS's Explorers of the Human Body instead of MBC's Sunday Night Dong-An Club (동안클럽) where Kangin has been a regular host. MBC temporarily banned the rest of Super Junior from appearing in any future performances and shows hosted by MBC. Kangin also lost his MC jobs to T.O.P. of Big Bang for the music show, Show! Music Core and also two more variety shows, which both soon canceled after Kangin left due to low ratings. MBC demanded an apology from S.M. Entertainment in order for Super Junior to appear on shows hosted by the channel again. However, MBC concluded that Super Junior's ban was never official, but just a decision for shows' producers to decide.
On December 21, 2009, Han Geng filed for contract termination with S.M. Entertainment, unhappy with contract length and salary. On December 21, 2010, the Seoul Central District Court ruled in favor of Han Geng. On September 27, 2011, his departure was made official.