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Aespa selected as one of TIME’s ‘Next Generation Leaders’ of 2022

By Hannah Mallorca Published May 13, 2022 2:25 pm

From Kwangya*, Coachella, to TIME Magazine

K-pop girl group Aespa has been named as one of TIME’s “Next Generation Leaders alongside Bridgerton actor Jonathan Bailey and content creator Deepica Mutyala. The magazine’s “Next Generation Leaders” puts the spotlight on rising stars who guide the youth toward a brighter future. 

Per TIME, Aespa has been bridging the gap between “virtual and the real” with their metaverse concept. “aespa is an experiment, but it may also be the inevitable next step for the music industry: a fresh way to bridge the virtual and the real.” 

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The feature also focuses on Aespa’s domestic and global success even if they’ve only debuted in November 2020. Some of their biggest hits include Black Mamba, Savage, Next Level, and Dreams Come True.

Composed of Karina, Winter, Giselle, and Ningning, the girl group debuted with a metaverse concept where members have their own avatar counterparts known as “aes.” Their “metaversal origin story” revolves around the group defeating the Black Mamba before it wreaks havoc in the fictional town of Kwangya. 

Aespa’s universe extends to the “SM Culture Universe” which involves the artists of Korean music label SM Entertainment. The fictional universe is a callback to the DC Extended Universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe where artists have their own unique concepts and come from their “own worlds” before joining forces.

Since then, the “SM Culture Universe” spawned various theories among fans. 

For instance, SM Entertainment boy group EXO comes from a fictional world of “Exoplanet” where members have their own superpowers. The members are said to be “aliens” tasked to protect the “Tree Of Life” from the “Red Force.”

As of this writing, SM Entertainment is home to artists Boa, TVXQ, Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, SHINee, Red Velvet, NCT, NCT Dream, NCT 127, NCT U, and Aespa, among others.

*(Per Korea JoongAng Daily, “Kwangya” is described as a “wave” that “expands limitlessly beyond the infinite universe. The fictional universe is SM Entertainment’s attempt to connect their artists, with their own unique concepts, into one coherent storyline that bands them together.)