Why Do K-Pop Groups Have So Many Members?

Although K-pop and American pop have many similarities, there are a lot of ways in which they differ. For instance, one aspect of K-pop most people might notice first is the sheer amount of members in one group.

While most American groups simply have either four or five members, BTS, the most popular K-pop group around the world, has seven members. Additionally, there are several K-pop groups that have over 10 members. And the biggest one, NCT, is made up of a total of 21 people.

Because of this, some people might be wondering: Why exactly are K-pop groups so big? Do entertainment companies in South Korea find it beneficial to have 10+ people in group?

NCT 127
K-pop group NCT 127 | VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Companies can make money off of different talents

One big advantage large K-pop groups have is the ability to showcase different talents. Most K-pop groups regardless of size are already expected to have members who are skilled in singing, dancing, and rapping. However, the larger units can afford to have multiple members who are talented these areas, allowing them to wow fans with mesmerizing choreographies or extraordinary harmonies. For example, boy band Seventeen has 13 members split into three sub-units specializing in singing, dancing, and rapping.

Not only that but large K-pop groups can even have members who are talented in acting or modeling. This allows them make even more money in other types of work unrelated to music.

Additionally, there is also room for members from other countries. Korean companies have been trying to promote K-pop around the world for many years now, so members who can speak different languages are extremely valuable. For example, girl group Twice has three members from Japan, which has helped them achieve success in the Japanese market.

Fans can easily find a favorite member to like

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Different people find different characteristics appealing, so having a large group ensures that most fans can find someone who captivates them. In fact, it is also common for groups to have a member whose main job is to look good.

A large group not only has the potential to attract more fans, but this causes them to spend more money as well. For example, K-pop albums often come with collectible photo cards of different members. Some fans enjoy collecting cards of every person in a group while others might just buy multiple copies of an album just to get their favorite member’s card. Either way, these fans are likely to spend a lot of money to support the group in question.

Boy bands can still be active if some members enlist in the military

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South Korean men from the age of 18 to 28 are required to serve about two years in the military. Since K-pop is an industry that changes quickly, going on hiatus for two years could kill a group’s momentum.

However, having a large boy band can help to soften the blow of military services. It is easy for a few members to enlist at a time while the rest of the group continues to make music and entertain fans. With a big group, their stage performances would also still look full even with some members gone. For example, Super Junior, who currently has nine active members, used this technique for almost ten years while each member took turns going into the military.

What is it like to manage a large K-pop group?

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It is no secret that managing a large K-pop can be quite challenging. Seventeen’s manager once appeared on the Korean TV show The Manager to show how much coordination it takes to keep everyone together. For instance, roll calls are a common occurrence and each member is assigned a number to call out. Additionally, managers are often kept busy backstage trying to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be.

However, while there are difficult moments, it seems many K-pop companies still see large groups to be worthy of the investments they put.