During this year’s World Cultural Industry Forum, Lee Soo-man, founder of K-pop powerhouse SM Entertainment revealed his vision for the future of entertainment. Touching on what he calls the SMCU (SM Culture Universe), Lee introduced his company’s upcoming rookie girl group, “aespa.” aespa is the combination of “æ”, Avatar X Experience, and “aspect”, to express SM’s upcoming double-sided experience.
Kicking off the SMCU, aespa will feature both human and virtual members that serve to usher in a new outlook for K-pop. The group will be rooted in an innovative story universe that surpasses the boundaries of the real world and the virtual world. aespa will debut a new sense of entertainment through music, lyrics, videos, visuals, performances and more. Apparently, the real-life members of aespa will carry out offline promotions just like any other SM artist, but within the virtual world, their avatars will also engage in unique promotions.
According to Lee Soo-man, “The members who reside in the real world and the avatar members who reside in the virtual world meet up in a middle world, the digital world, where they communicate, empathize, and grow together. aespa is a new group where the members of the real world and the avatar members of the virtual world coexist, supporting and assisting one another, and they are able to promote together with a revolutionary identity. The real-life members and the avatar members are separate organisms, and the avatar members have AI brains that allow for them to converse and to support the real members, even befriending them, sharing information, as well as going back and forth from one world to another.”
To offer a better idea of the “Virtual Member System,” SM Entertainment revealed human members Ningning and Karina, followed by virtual member æ-Karina. In a special interview film, Karina and her virtual counterpart, æ-Karina touched on their first encounter and how they were connected by someone named “Navis.”
Watch the “MY, KARINA” meeting between Karina and æ-Karina below.
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