aespa listed as one of the 'Next Generation Leaders of 2022' by TIME magazine 

A still of the K-pop girl group (Image via @aespa_official/Twitter)
A still of the K-pop girl group (Image via @aespa_official/Twitter)

Global K-pop phenomenon aespa has been credited for its outstanding performances and music productions by the American magazine TIME. Raisa Bruner, the writer, continues to describe the all-girl group as the world’s 'Next Generation Leaders' and elaborates on each member’s success.


The South Korean girl group was formed by SM Entertainment and currently consists of a four-member line-up of Karina, Giselle, Winter, and Ningning. The group debuted on November 17, 2020, with the hit single Black Mamba.

After world-renowned boy group BTS, the girl group has now become the second K-pop artist to be chosen for the prestigious list. In this list, TIME highlights global trendsetters and their potential to contribute immense value and innovation to future generations.

TIME magazine recognizes aespa as the 'Next Generation Leaders of 2022'

The K-pop girl group was created with the concept of an alternate AI Universe or “Metaverse” of the “aes” that is interconnected with the idea of the SM Culture Universe (SMCU) and “Kwangya” (meaning “wilderness”).

The “aes” are created from the data that their counterparts post on the internet and often refer to both “Avatar and Experience” as well as becoming an “aspect” of both reality and virtual reality. These “Avatars” appear alongside the members in various music videos and are 3D augmented reality functions.

에스파, 美 타임지 ‘Next Generation Leaders’ 선정..K팝 걸그룹 최초!“에스파, 음악 산업 위해 반드시 필요한 다음 단계” 조명! #æspa #에스파

TIME magazine also unveiled the list with an interview with the group just before its much-hyped Coachella performance towards the end of April 2022.

In the interview, each member shares their thoughts and explains the concept behind their popular metaverse and its “metaversal origin story” that contains every detail from complex narratives to its villain, Black Mamba, and more.

The article also cheers the group’s success and describes what sets them apart. The magazine stated the following description, which perfectly sums up the group's ambition:

"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."

Group member Giselle also spoke about the group’s metaverse concept and shared their goals. She stated:

“The goal is to normalize metaverse concepts and have our fans and other people be a little more comfortable with the whole idea of it.”

Group member Ningning also added her thoughts and said:

“Truthfully, we were worried in the beginning, because this concept of ours is something new to our company as well.”

However, their unique metaverse is gaining popularity in the entertainment industry. Many describe SMCU as a futuristic entertainment world without boundaries - it is perceived to lie between the virtual world and reality.

Meanwhile, with their impressive way of connecting the real with the virtual, aespa and its avatars are indeed opening up new possibilities and might as well be the pioneers in what the music industry explores as the future.

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Edited by Sayati Das
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