What else makes K-pop fans go crazy aside from their ultimate K-pop groups announcing a comeback or a world tour? It's when their favorite K-pop group announces a sub-unit! Imagine your bias doing a whole new concept with new music and everything in between—it's every fan's dream!
And most of the time, these sub-units also top the charts like their main groups do. But some are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. So, if you haven't dived into K-pop sub-units yet, here's your chance! We've listed out some of the well-loved ones to jumpstart your journey into more awesome K-pop music.
K-pop sub-units to check out right now:
1. IRENE & SEULGI (from Red Velvet)
This duo became the best-selling female sub-unit in 2020 when they released their EP, "Monster," which includes the title track of the same name. They also promoted a second single called "Naughty." This sub-unit's music is a little darker and more intense than Red Velvet's usual discography with a more mature concept. The choreographies for both "Monster" and "Naughty" were also highly praised and fans looked forward to Irene and Seulgi's music show stages.
Composed of members Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin (hence the name CBX), this sub-unit is the first for the popular K-pop boy group. They released their debut album, "Hey Mama!," in 2016 followed by two more Korean EPs, one Japanese studio album, and more singles and OSTs. Their songs became hits with "Blooming Day" charting second in the K-pop Hot 100 chart. Because of this, they received several award nominations and won the Best Asian Style in Japan award from the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) in 2017.
3. Oh!GG (from Girls' Generation)
In 2017, some of the Girls' Generation members namely Tiffany, Seohyun, and Sooyoung left SM Entertainment. This didn't mean disbandment for Girls' Generation as they decided to continue promotions as a whole group even if the other members are in different agencies. In line with this, a sub-unit with the remaining members still signed with SM Entertainment namely Hyoyeon, Taeyeon, Yoona, Yuri, and Sunny was formed. They debuted in 2018 with the single album, "Lil' Touch." Fans were happy with the release as they felt that the song showcased the members' vocals. This sub-unit also performed in the 2022 SMTOWN Live: SMCU Express @ Kwangya.
4. GD X TAEYANG (from BIGBANG)
This sub-unit has an interesting back story. Initially, G-Dragon and Taeyang were preparing to debut as a hip-hop duo called GDYB. But things didn't go as originally planned and they were joined by T.O.P., Daesung, and Seungri to finally debut as BIGBANG. After collaborating with each other for several years and due to popular demand from fans, the duo officially debuted as a sub-unit with the single, "Good Boy," in 2014. GD X TAEYANG became a surefire hit, and they won two awards in 2015, the Hot Trend Award from Melon Music Awards and Honored Artist Award from YouTube Music Awards.
5. BTOB 4U
While the other members were in the military, BTOB members Eunkwang, Minhyuk, Changsub, and Peniel formed the sub-unit BTOB 4U and granted fans' wishes to release an album. The sub-unit explored a dance title track, "Show Your Love," with their debut EP, Inside, which is different from the main group's ballad title tracks. Another fan favorite is "Tension," a single in the same album with a sexy concept. BTOB 4U also participated in Mnet's Kingdom: Legendary War.
K-pop sub-units are like special gifts by our favorite artists and a chance for them to showcase a different side to themselves and their music. Of course, it is somehow expected that a vocal line or rap line would band together and create one but it's so interesting when groups decide to mix things up and they just surprise you with the next sub-unit lineup. Which one did you like most from our list? And do you have personal recommendations for other K-pop fans? Share them with us!