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Co-ed K-pop Groups from Roo'Ra to KARD

Written by YumCha! Editorial Team Tell a Friend

K-pop is known for boy bands and girl groups, but co-ed groups have started to gain recognition again as well with the arrival of KARD, the rise of project group SSAK3, and the recent wave of Cool remakes. While many co-ed groups made a name for themselves from debut, not all of them are still active in the industry. Expand your K-pop horizons with ten of the most notable mixed-gender groups of the past three decades!

1. Roo'Ra




One of the biggest acts of the 90s, Roo'Ra debuted in 1994 with one female member (Kim Ji Hyun) and three male members (Go Young Wook, Shin Jung Hwan and leader Lee Sang Min). When Shin Jung Hwan left the group the following year, female member Chae Ri Na was added to replace him. The dance pop group hit it big early on with their first album Roots of Reggae and became a million seller with their second album The Angel Who Lost Wings in 1995. Mikey Romeo joined as a guest rapper for Roo'Ra's fifth album in 1997 after Kim Ji Hyun went solo, though she returned to the lineup in 1999. Following many ups, downs and hits, the group disbanded in 2001, but they reunited in 2009 to release their ninth album a9ain. Though Roo'Ra has not put out any new music since, Kim Ji Hyun, Chae Ri Na and Lee Sang Min, now a regular on the popular variety program Knowing Brothers, still occasionally appear together for performances and broadcasts.

2. Cool




Summer is the time to pull up that Cool playlist! One of Korea's best-selling acts from the mid-90s to early 2000s, Cool actually debuted in 1994 as a quartet, but from their second album on, the group would settle into the familiar lineup of Lee Jae Hoon, Kim Sung Soo and Yuri. While the trio released songs in both the dance and ballad genres, it's most definitely the former that they're remembered for. Bolstered by the success of the 1996 megahit "Destiny," Cool's style of fresh, playful and catchy dance bops was widely loved and a favorite for karaoke. With 1997's "Woman of Beach," they also solidified their image as the representative group for summer songs. In 2002, Cool became the first mixed-gender group to receive the Daesang at the 17th Golden Disk Awards for their seventh album. Cool announced their disbandment in 2005 after their tenth album, but reunited in 2008 and released their last studio album Cool 11 in 2009.

3. Koyote




Korea's most well-known co-ed pop group of all time is probably Koyote. The group debuted in 1998 with members Shin Ji, Cha Seung Min and Kim Goo, and soon landed a big hit with Soon Jung which popularized the "horse dance" long before Gangnam Style. Koyote filled dance clubs in the late 90s and early oughts with their signature dance and techno pop songs, like "Passion," "Broken Heart," Bi Mong, "Disturbance" and Man Nam. The trio would undergo several lineup changes before achieving their current and most famous combo of Shin Ji, Kim Jong Min (since 2000) and Bbaek Ga (since 2004). Notably, each member has achieved a degree of individual fame with Shin Ji as a power vocal, Bbaek Ga as a rapper, and Kim Jong Min as a variety show staple. Koyote has remained intermittently active through the years, and even teamed up with Cool's Lee Jae Hoon and Kim Sung Soo to form the project group Coolyote in 2015. The trio celebrated their 20th anniversary with the album REborn in 2019, and just last month, they released the digital single "Hit the Hit."

4. Typhoon




Typhoon was seen as the next Koyote when the trio debuted in 2006 with the similar composition of female vocalist Solbi, male vocalist Woo Jae and male rapper Ji Hwan, as well as a music style that initially leaned on electronic dance beats. The group never quite took off, releasing only three regular albums from 2006 to 2010 that included songs like "So," "Love Will be Missed" and "Only You." Solbi, however, became well-known thanks to her participation on variety programs, in particular We Got Married where she was paired with Shinhwa's Andy. After Solbi left Typhoon in 2008, Hana and then Lee Kyung stepped into the vocalist roles, but the group eventually disbanded in 2010. Typhoon's original lineup of Solbi, Woo Jae and Ji Hwan reunited in 2018 with a new version of their debut track.

5. Urban Zakapa




"Urban, Zappy, Kaleidoscopic and Passionate" not only explains the meaning of Urban Zakapa, but also represents the music style of the trio. Formed in 2009, Urban Zakapa originally debuted as a nine-member acoustic R&B soul band with 01, and later changed to the three-member lineup of Park Yong In, Kwon Soon Il and Jo Hyun Ah in 2012. Restarting as a trio, Urban Zakapa slowly gained recognition with "I Hate You," which earned them several nominations at year-end music awards. After signing with Makeus Entertainment, Urban Zakapa rose to fame with their hit ballad "I Don't Love You," and continued to receive love for "Thursday Night," "When We Were Two" and "Seoul Night."

6. Coed School




As the first mixed-gender K-pop group of the 2010s, Coed School made a huge debut with ten members and the first-ever 3D Korean music video for their debut single Too Late. Their first and only mini-album Something That is Cheerful and Fresh carried the electronic dance number Too Late, the upbeat and catchy Bbiribbom Bbaeribom and pop ballad "I Love You a Thousand Times," revealing three different styles of the group. Soon after debut, Coed School parted into two subunits – F-ve Dolls for the girls and Speed for the boys. Despite several lineup changes and controversies, F-ve Dolls and Speed developed their own distinctive images. After breaking into two groups, Coed School never gathered together for a comeback again, and eventually both Speed and F-ve Dolls disbanded in 2015. Some of the members are still pursuing their dreams through different paths, such as Chan Mi in Produce 101, Tae Woon as rapper ₩uNo, and Sung Min as an actor.

7. Trouble Maker




In the early 2010s, Trouble Maker took Korea by storm with their "sexy and dangerous" self-titled hit. Pulling off such a concept is not easy in the idol industry, but Hyun Seung and HyunA managed to become one of the most legendary duos of K-pop, despite only releasing two albums. From their songs to choreography to music videos, Trouble Maker unleashed a mature and seductive chemistry that was rarely seen in K-pop. Following her hit solo releases, HyunA secured her position as Korea's "it girl" through Trouble Maker, while Hyun Seung showed his skills outside of Beast. After the success of Trouble Maker, Cube Entertainment formed another co-ed project group Triple H with HyunA, DAWN (formerly known as E'Dawn) and Hui that had a youthful, free-spirited vibe and upbeat retro music with a hint of sexiness.

8. MFBTY




Korean music has no shortage of acronym group names with ambitious meanings, but we'd argue that MFBTY's is the best of all: My Fans Better Than Yours! The project name started out as an inside joke born on hip-hop icon Tiger JK's legendary Twitter account, and fans heartily embraced it. The Feel Ghood trio of Tiger JK, Yoon Mi Rae and Bizzy adopted the name officially for the hit single Sweet Dream in 2013 and the mini-album WondaLand in 2015. More recently, the hip-hop group released the single "Dream Catcher" in 2019. Whether they're dropping rapid-fire fighting words or silky EDM rap fusions, MFBTY is just a total mood!

9. AKMU (Akdong Musician)




While most co-ed group members are simply friends and labelmates, AKMU comes into the picture differently as siblings. The duo was crowned champion of K-pop Star 2 in 2012 for their lighthearted and witty acoustic tunes. Brother Chan Hyuk mainly takes charge of music production with self-written songs ranging from blues and folks to dance numbers; sister Su Hyun is responsible for singing the compositions in her sweet, clear and mellow voice. Following their win, AKMU signed with YG Entertainment and their first full-length album Play swept charts with the megahits 200%, "Melted" and Give Love. More than just bringing catchy tunes, AKMU is known for expressing the smallest things in daily life with a sense of pure innocence in songs like Bean Dduk Bing Soo, "How People Move," "reality" and "Fish in the Water." Though they only release new records around every two years, they've made each comeback a remarkable one and every title track a signature hit.

10. KARD




Starting off in 2016 with a strong trilogy of pre-debut releases, KARD steadily built a large overseas fanbase for their unique lineup, concept and talents. KARD owns an interesting group concept inspired by playing cards, with rapper BM as "King," rapper J.Seph as "Ace," main vocalist So Min as "black jokeR," Ji Woo as "color jokeR," and a "hiDden card" that represents the unpredictable elements put into every release. Half a year after Oh NaNa (featuring Kara's Young Ji), KARD officially debuted in July 2017 with the summery single Hola Hola, which departed from their previous sounds. Though their debut wasn't as big as their pre-debut releases, they've continued to gain popularity globally with their bold and alluring music, dance and style. They can be refreshing and bubbly like Cool in Hola Hola and Ride On The Wind, or wild and sultry like Trouble Maker in Oh NaNa, Don't Recall and Red Moon – there are limitless concepts they can pursue! Celebrating their third debut anniversary this month, all four members of KARD have shown themselves to be multi-talented and versatile. Perhaps that's why they're one of the only active co-ed idol groups in the industry.


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Published July 20, 2020


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