Super Junior is a South Korean boy band formed in 2005 by Lee Soo Man, of S.M. Entertainment. Also affectionately called SJ or SUJU, the group is currently composed of 11 members – Leeteuk, Heechul, Yesung, Kangin, Shindong, Sungmin, Eunhyuk, Siwon, Donghae, Ryeowook, and Kyuhyun.
Super Junior soared into international stardom in 2009 with the release of their hit song “Sorry, Sorry”. Over the span of their career, the group has been divided into multiple sub-units with the aims of targeting different music industries and audiences, among which were Super Junior-T, Super Junior-M, Super Junior-H, Super Junior K.R.Y., Super Junior D&E, and M&D.
The group was once the bestselling K-pop artist for four years in a row and have won multiple awards from several award-giving bodies in and out of Korea.
Their fandom is called ELF, which stands for “Ever Lasting Friends”.
2000 to 2005: Formation and official debut
The group was once the bestselling K-pop artist for four years in a row and have won multiple awards from several award-giving bodies in and out of Korea.
S.M. Entertainment held their first overseas casting auditions in Beijing, China in 2000 where they recruited Hankyung from a pool of three thousand applicants. In the same year, Leeteuk, Yesung, and Eunhyuk were recruited after auditioning for the label’s annual casting system in Seoul.
In 2001, Sungmin and Donghae became trainees after tying for first place in a contest sponsored by SM, while Heechul and Kangin were recruited in 2002, as well as Kibum who was discovered in Los Angeles, California by a casting agent.
Siwon was scouted in 2003, while Shindong became a trainee in 2004. Ryeowook, meanwhile, won the 2004 Chin Chin Youth Festival singing competition, but only became a trainee just two months before the group’s official debut.
Kyuhyun, the youngest member of the group, was also the last to join in 2006 after winning third place in the 2005 Chin Chin Youth Festival.
In early 2005, Lee Soo Man officially announced that he is preparing to launch an all-boy project group composed of twelve members and set to debut at the end of the year. He called it “The Gateway to Stardom of Asia” since most of the members were selected for their experiences as actors, MCs, models, and radio hosts prior to their debut.
Heechul and Kibum, for one, were already established actors at the time, while most of the other members have appeared in television and media.
The group was said to be inspired by the concept of Japan’s girl group Morning Musume, which was known for its rotational system and line-up changes, with new members replacing selected members every year to keep the group young and all-rounded. At the time, it was a concept that was newly introduced to the K-pop industry.
The group was rumored to be called O.V.E.R, which stands for “Obey the Voice for Each Rhythm”. However, while the group has not yet settled on an official name, S.M. Entertainment referred to the members as juniors, representing their young ages when they became trainees in the company.
The members were then tasked to showcase their talents during a company picnic, where it was finalized that they will be called Super Junior ’05, the first generation of what will collectively be called Super Junior.
Super Junior ’05 made their pre-debut performance on Mnet on September 11, 2005 where they performed various styles of hip-hop dance routines to the beat of B2K’s “Take It to the Floor”.
Members Hankyung, Eunhyuk, and Donghae also did a separate dance performance to Usher’s “Caught Up”. However, the performance wasn’t aired on television until May 16, 2006 in a segment of the Super Junior Show, their first television documentary.
On November 6, 2005, the group officially SBS’ defunct music program, “Popular Song”, performing their first single “Twins (Knock Out)”. Two days later, a digital single featuring “Twins (Knock Out)”, “You Are the One”, and three more tracks were released online.
On December 6, the physical album was officially released, selling 28, 356 copies in the first month and debuting at number three in the monthly chart of December 2005.
2006 to 2007: Commercial success and formation of sub-units
In February 2006, Super Junior 05 began their promotions with their second single, “Miracle”, from their debut album of the same title. The song topped the music charts of Thailand, which also started drawing the attention of international markets.
By the end of promotions for “Miracle”, SM Entertainment began the selection of new members for the second generation of Super Junior, which was set to officially be called Super Junior 06. Alongside the preparations for the new additions to the group, the agency also made a list of members who will graduate from the group. However, the company decided to forgo with the rotational concept for the group after the inclusion of Kyuhyun as the thirteenth member in 2006. From then on, the group was referred to simply as Super Junior.
In a variety show, member Eunhyuk mentioned that their junior group, SHINee, would have been part of the group before the label formally decided on the cancellation of the rotational concept.
After Kyuhyun’s official entry to the group, Super Junior released the single “U” for free download on May 25 via their website. “U” surpassed 400,000 downloads within five hours of its release and ultimately exceeded 1.7 million downloads, leading to the crashing of the server. The physical single contained three tracks and was released on June 6, selling 81,000 units in South Korea.
“U” eventually became one of the most popular songs in Korea for 2006, ranking first for five consecutive weeks on two of the country’s top music programs at the time.
In November 2006, main vocalists Kyuhyun, Ryeowook, and Yesung debuted in the subgroup Super Junior-K.R.Y., the group’s first ever sub-unit. The trio performed their first single “The One I Love”, the theme song of the television drama Hyena, on KBS’ Music Bank on November 5.
By the end of year, Super Junior bagged more than seven awards in five of South Korea’s top music award ceremonies, including one of the Best Newcomer winners at the 21st Golden Disk Awards.
In early 2007, another sub-unit was formed, this time with members Leeteuk, Heechul. Kangin, Sungmin, Shindong, and Eunhyuk. The trot-singing unit was called Super Junior-T and they released their first single, “Rokuko”, on February 23, followed by a debut performance on Popular Songs two days later.
The group’s second official album, which was originally scheduled for a 2006 release, was postponed further after members Leeteuk, Shindong, Eunhyuk, and two of their managers figured in an accident in April 2007.
On September 20, Super Junior’s second album, Don’t Don, was finally released, selling more than 60,000 units on the first day. The album also debuted at number one on local monthly charts for September. By the end of the year, Don’t Don sold over 160,000 copies, making it the second best-selling record of 2007.
The group also continued to reap awards at the end of the year, winning three of their seven nominations at the 2007 Mnet/KM Music Festival, including the Artist of the Year Award, plus the Disk Bonsang (Record of the Year) award at the Golden Disk Awards.
2008 to 2009: Chinese breakthrough and Sorry, Sorry
In April 2008, another subgroup was formed – Super Junior-M – comprising members Han Geng, Siwon, Donghae, Kyuhyun, Ryeowook, and new additions Henry and Zhou Mi. Super Junior-M was introduced to the public as a Mandopop unit and was known to be the first international music group in the Chinese music industry to have both Chinese and Korean members.
At first, the formation of the unit created problems between Super Junior’s fans and their management when it was announced that the new subgroup will include new members because the fans thought that current members of the group will be replaced. But when things settled down, Super Junior-M went on to become the most successful among all Super Junior sub-units, selling out two concerts in Hong Kong and topping weekly ratings with their appearance on Chinese variety programs. The group also had the most endorsement contracts in China and won numerous awards in various Chinese music festivals.
When Super Junior-M released their single “Super Girl” in 2009, the subgroup started receiving critical acclaim in international markets, including a nomination for Best Vocal Group at the 21st Golden Melody Awards.
Shortly after Super Junior-M’s debut in 2008, a fourth Super Junior subunit was formed – Super Junior-H – composed of Leeteuk, Yesung, Shindong, Sungmin, Eunhyuk, and Kangin. They released their first extended play (EP) Cooking? Cooking! on June 5.
In November 2008, Super Junior-T continued with their activities and officially debuted in Japan with a collaboration with popular Japanese comedy duo, Moeyan. Their single ROCK&GO, which translates to the Japanese version of “Rokuko”, debuted at number 19 on the Oricon Daily Charts and climbed to number 2 three days later.
As a whole group, Super Junior embarked on their first Asia-wide concert tour, titled Super Show, with the first show happening in Seoul on February 22, 2008. They also held a two-day fan meeting at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan, which sold out to 12,000 tickets.
As part of promotions for the Japan meet, Super Junior released “U/Twins”, a limited-edition CD compilation featuring the Japanese version of their song “U”. The single peaked at the fourth spot on the Oricon Daily Chart on the first day of its release and broke a new record for being the first Korean single to make it to the top 10 on the Oricon Weekly Chart.
2009: Sorry, Sorry, critical and commercial acclaim
On March 12, 2009, Super Junior released their third studio album, Sorry, Sorry, which remains as one of their best-selling albums to date. Sorry, Sorry was their first album to debut at number 1 on the Hanteo Charts after selling over 29,000 copies on the first day. Within a month of its release, it became South Korea’s best-selling album of 2009 with total sales amounting to more than 250,000 copies. It also became the best-selling K-pop album in other Asian countries such as Taiwan, Thailand, China, and the Philippines, where it was also recognized as the first K-pop album to reach number one in local music charts.
The album’s title track “Sorry, Sorry” also became an instant hit, garnering a total of ten number 1 awards in Korea for ten consecutive weeks and setting the record for the most number of weeks in number 1 in Taiwan’s K-pop singles chart for 37 weeks.
The success of Sorry, Sorry solidified Super Junior’s national and international success and led to their second Asia-wide concert tour, Super Show 2, which opened in Seoul on July 17, 2009. It has since been the group’s best-selling single in South Korea, and won several accolades for the group by the end of 2009, including the Disk Daesang at the 24th Golden Disk Awards.
2010 to 2011: Lineup changes, Bonamana, Mr. Simple, and first world tour
Despite the success of Super Junior in the last few years, the group was hounded by legal issues and lineup changes during their Super Show tour. Member Kibum did not participate in the concert tour despite being included in the ads and promotional videos. He also announced his temporary hiatus from the group to pursue his acting career.
Three months into the tour, Kangin was charged with a DUI and hit-and-run after ramming into a parked taxi with three passengers inside. In December 2009, HanGeng filed for contract termination from SM Entertainment, claiming that the provisions of his contract with the company were “unlawful, harsh, and against his rights”. He then parted with the group and released his solo album in July 2010, selling over 510,000 copies. In the same month, Kangin announced his hiatus to fulfill his two-year mandatory military service.
Only left with ten members, Super Junior went on to release their fourth studio album, Bonamana, in May 2010. More than 200,000 copies were pre-ordered a week after the release date was announced, setting a new record for the group after Sorry, Sorry. Two versions of the album were released, with version A debuting at number on charts according to Hanteo after selling 36,000 copies on the first day. Four days later, a total of 70,000 copies were sold for version A.
When the version B of Bonamana was released, Super Junior once again charted at number 1 on real-time and daily charts. Bonamana version B sold 13,000 copies upon release, which eventually totaled to 100,000 in offline sales.
For the week of May 9 to 15, the album made it to number 1 on the Gaon Weekly Album Chart, and number 1 on the Gaon Monthly Album Chart for the months of May and June. By February 2011, the two versions of Bonamana collectively sold 200,193 copies, earning the recognition of being the “best-selling album of 2010”.
When the group released a repackaged version of Bonamana, it sold another 99,355 copies and ranked 9th in Gaon’s chart. The combined sales of versions A and B, and the repackaged album registered a total of almost 300,000 units, beating the record previously set by Sorry, Sorry.
In Taiwan alone, Bonamana sold 57,000 copies and remained in the country’s Korean-Japanese Music Charts for 61 weeks, while it reached gold status in the Philippines a week after its release with 7,500 copies sold.
Super Junior’s promotions of Bonamana continued with the group’s third Asia-wide tour, Super Show 3, which began with two shows in Seoul in August 2010. The tour included stops in China, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Super Show 3 ran from 2010 to 2011, with each of the stops being sold out.
In February 2011, they released a 3D movie version of the tour, Super Show 3 3D, in all CGV and Primus movie theaters. The movie debuted at number 6 on the box office charts in South Korea and went on to become the country’s best-selling 3D movie.
In the same month, the group released the Super Junior Japan ‘Super Show 3’ Opening Commemorative Album after their Japan tour. It debuted at number 2 on Tower Records’ online sales charts and was followed by the DVD version of Super Junior Japan Limited Special Edition – Super Show 3, which also debuted at number 2. The album also debuted on the Oricon Daily Chart at number 5 and remained at the third spot for two consecutive days, while it took the 6th spot on the Oricon Weekly chart.
Following their commercial success in Japan, Super Junior released a Japanese version of Bonamana’s self-titled single in June 2011. It debuted at number 2 on the Oricon daily Chart after selling more than 59,000 copies within the first week of release. The release of the Japanese version of Bonamana, however, was not considered by SM Entertainment as Super Junior’s official debut in the Japanese market. Instead, the label announced that the group will have their Japanese debut at a later time.
While in the middle of their Super Show 3 tour, the group also joined their labelmates in the Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, and New York stops of the SMTown Live ’10 World Tour. This was the first time that Super Junior performed outside of Asia. The group’s performances in the said tour were reportedly well-received by international fans and the media, eventually giving them the recognition as Korea’s National Pop Culture Icon for their role in spreading the Hallyu wave. Super Junior was also bestowed 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 where they talked about their popularity and their plans to advance into the world music industry. Outside of Asia, Super Junior became a notable group in Europe, North America, and South America. All of the members were included in Peru’s Top 30 list of The Sexiest Men in the World, and gave exclusive interviews to magazines in Slovenia and Iran. They were also selected by Hallyu fans in Brazil as the number one Korean artist they want to visit the country. In Mexico’s TV Azteca and the United Kingdom’s BBC, Super junior was acknowledged as the leading icon of the Hallyu effect.
On August 3, 2011, Super Junior released their fifth studio album, Mr. Simple, which debuted at number one on South Korea’s Gaon Chart after selling a total of 287,427 copies just for the month of August. The album stayed on number 1 for four weeks and eventually sold more than 441,000 copies domestically by October 2011. On the Billboard World Albums Chart, Mr. Simple peaked at number 3, while it reached number 17 on Japan’s Oricon Albums Chart. The title track of the same name won first place on the first day of Super Junior’s comeback performance on M! Countdown.
In November 2011, the group began their first world tour with Super Show 4, which included 23 stops in Asia and one in Paris, France.
On December 7, 2011, Super Junior released their second Japanese single featuring a Japanese version of “Mr. Simple”. However, their label SM Entertainment still did not recognize the release of the single as the group’s official debut in Japan.
Before the end of the year, the group recorded the song “Santa U Are The One” with Super Junior-M members Henry and Zhou Mi. The song was included in the 2011 Winter SMTown – The Warmest Gift album, which was scheduled for release on December 13, 2011. Aside from this, members Donghae and Eunhyuk also released their collaboration digital single “Oppa Oppa” on December 16, which they performed on Music Bank that same day.
2012: Sexy, Free and Single, Super Show 5, World Tour
Super Junior welcomed 2012 with their participation at the 26th Golden Disk Awards held at Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan where they ended up receiving four awards: Popularity Award, MSN Japan Award, Disk Bonsang, and the Disk Daesang (grand prize). It was followed by a slew of other awards at the Seoul Music Awards where they also won the Disk Bonsang and Disk Daesang.
Aside from their domestic success, Super Junior was also crowned “Album King” in Taiwan after their albums Mr. Simple and Bonamana ranked 1st and 2nd, respectively, on both album and music sections of the country’s Korean Music Chart.
The group also ranked first on the KKBOX K-Pop chart for 64 straight weeks with the lead single “Bonamana”, the longest in the history of KKBOX K-Pop chart. With the release of their latest title track “Mr. Simple”, they knocked “Bonamana” from the first spot and remained at number 1 for the next 46 weeks.
On February 22, Super Junior won Album of the Year for the 3rd Quarter at the Gaon Chart Awards, while “Mr. Simple” won Favorite K-pop Video at the Myx Music Awards 2012 in the Philippines.
In May 2012, the group completed their Super Show 4 tour after performing in 10 cities worldwide, including Seoul, Osaka, Taipei, Singapore, Macau, Bangkok, Paris, Shanghai, Jakarta, and Tokyo. With the conclusion of Super Show 4, Super Junior has cumulatively gathered a total of 900,000 concertgoers since their first Asian tour.
In June 2012. SM Entertainment announced that Kangin will be re-joining Super Junior for their sixth album, Sexy, Free & Single schedule for release in July. On July 3, the agency released the official music video for the title track of the same name, while the albums were released online and in stores on July 1 and 4, respectively. Like their Bonamana album, Sexy, Free & Single also had a Version B, which was released belatedly on July 16 with a different cover.
On August 7, the group released the repackaged album for Sexy, Free & Single called SPY, featuring four additional songs – “SPY”, “Outsider”, and “Only U”, which are all composed by Leeteuk, and “Haru”, which was composed by Donghae.
Sexy, Free & Single faired really well on iTunes in several countries worldwide, including Australia, France, Japan, and Peru. The album also ranked third on the Billboard World Albums chart and debuted at number 1 on the Gaon Chart, selling 335,744 copies within the first month of release. For three consecutive weeks, it stayed at number 1 and sold a total of 459,182 copies within two months. It also took first place on Hanteo’s Top 5 K-Pop Artists for 2012 and won the Singer Award and Album Award in Hanteo for the year.
Aside from its domestic success, Sexy, Free & Single also stayed at the number one position on Taiwan’s KKBOX KPOP chart for several weeks with all songs from the album making it to the chart.
On August 22, Super Junior released a Japanese version of the single, which sold 118,902 copies, earning a gold certification.
In the last quarter of the year, Super Junior once again received numerous nominations at year end award shows. First on the list was for the Best Asian Act category in MTV Europe Music Awards, showing how popular the group is around the world. In October 2012, the group won the Teen Style Icon award at the Style Icon Awards, followed by the Best Artist Group Award at the 19th Korean Entertainment Arts Awards.They also bagged three awards at the Mnet Asian Music Awards, including Best Global Group – Male, Best Line Award, and Album of the Year for the second year in a row. Their 3D movie “Super Show 4 3D” was given the Work of Art Award at the International 3D Festival At the 27th Golden Disk Awards, Super Junior won their third Disk Daesang after Bonamana and Mr. Simple.
2013: Super Show 5
In February 2013, Super Junior announced their world tour titles “The World Tour, Super Show 5”, which was set to begin in March with two shows at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul. The tour included stops in South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru), North America (Mexico), Europe (United Kingdom), and Asia (Indonesia, China, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines, and Malaysia), making it the group’s biggest world tour and the largest K-pop tour in South America to date.
On November 10, members Kangin, Eunhyuk, Siwon, and Kyuhyun were invited to hold a special lecture at Oxford University’s Oxford Union Debating Chamber, entitled “Super Junior: The Last Man standing”. The lecture was co-hosted by the Oxford University Korea Society (OUKS), Oxford University Asia-Pacific Society (OUAPS), and the Oxford Union.
2014: Leeteuk and Heechul’s return, Mamacita and Super Show 6
SM Entertainment announced in August 2014 that Leeteuk and Heechul will be joining Super Junior for the group’s seventh album after being recently discharged from the military. The album, Mamacita, was released digitally on August 29 and in stores on September 1, and ranked number 1 on Billboard’s World Albums Chart within three days.
In September 2014, Super Junior embarked on their world tour, Super Show 6, with the first stop being held in Seoul. From September 19 to 21, the group began the tour with at three-day concert at the Jamsil Arena in Seoul, with the last day marking their 100th concert performance eventually making Super Junior the first Korean artist to perform 100 concerts worldwide.
On October 27, they released the special edition album for Mamacita called This Is Love. The album featured 13 tracks, with 9 originally coming from Mamacita, plus a rearranged version of “This Is Love” and three new songs. Upon release, This Is Love immediately took the top spot on the real-time charts of Hanteo and Synnara Records.
2015 to 2016: 10th anniversary, special albums, and Label SJ
On July 16, 2015, Super Junior digitally released the special album Devil in celebration of their 10th anniversary as a group. The title track of the same name immediately claimed the number 1 spot on the iTunes chart in more than 10 countries, and was the bestselling album in the United World Charts in the week of its release.
But it wasn’t until a month later when Super Junior first showcased the song their encore performance at the Super Show 6 in Seoul in July 11 and 12. They performed a total of four songs from the recent album, including the lead single “Devil”, “We Can”, “Don’t Wake Me Up”, and “Alright”.
On August 16, the group won “International Artist” and “Best Fandom” at the Teen Choice Awards.
Two days later, Super Junior member Kibum (who had been inactive since 2009), through his personal Instagram account, announced his official departure from SM Entertainment and the group following the expiration of his contract.
On September 10, 2015, the label announced that the group will be releasing part 2 of their special 10th anniversary album, Magic, on September 16. Magic featured 10 tracks that were previously released as part of Devil, plus the lead single “Magic”, “You Got It”, “Dorothy”, and “Sarang”. Magic was the last album that the group released before members Eunhyuk, Donghae, and Siwon enlisted in the military.
Super Junior celebrated their 10th anniversary since debut on November 6, 2015 with an announcement from SM Entertainment that the group will be having their own exclusive label management, Label SJ. According to the agency, Label SJ was established to extend full support to Super Junior and although it is affiliated with SM Entertainment, Label SJ will be independently and wholly responsible for the group’s management, album production, and all group, unit, and individual activities.
2017 to 2018: Play, Super Show 7, and SJ Returns
On September 27, 2017, Super Junior’s website started a countdown for the group’s comeback slated for November 6, which is also the date of their 12th anniversary.
As part of promotions for their 8th album, the group starred in their own reality show, “SJ Returns – Super Junior Real Comeback Story”, which chronicles their journey towards the production of their album, Play. The show began airing on October 9, 2017.
On October 30, they released the music video for “One More Chance”, a pre-release track for the upcoming album. The following day, Label SJ announced that member Siwon will sitting out on album promotions due to a recent controversy.
Super Junior held a press conference on November 6 for their album Play, which was released on the same day. The album featured 10 songs, with “Black Suit” as the title track. On the same day, they released the music video for “Black Suit”, tallying 3 million views in 24 hours.
On December 6, the group released their Japanese single On and On, a self-composed song by Siwon. In the same month, they embarked on their world tour, Super Show 7, with stops in Seoul, Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei, Buenos Aires, Lima, Santiago, Mexico City, and Cotai.
On April 12, 2018, it was announced that Super Junior will be releasing a repackaged version of their recent album, which will be entitled Replay. On the same day, the music video for the lead single “Lo Siento” was released, featuring American-born Spanish singer Leslie Grace and produced by Grammy Award-winning producers Play-n-Skillz. The song topped the iTunes Top Albums in 28 countries. For their comeback stages, the group featured Somin and Jiwoo of the co-ed group K.A.R.D. in their performances.
Fun Fact: The Maknae is the youngest member of the band.