We recently took a look at the top 15 best-selling K-Pop girl groups of all time, and now it’s the boy groups’ turn!
While there have been many successful K-Pop groups that have debuted within the last decade or so, there were several boy bands that formed in the 1990s that made millions of album sales and helped pave the way for later groups.
These are the 15 best-selling K-Pop boy groups of all time based on their total album sales in both South Korea as well as Japan.
Shinhwa debuted in 1998 under SM Entertainment with the album Resolver. Unfortunately at first, the group didn’t immediately take off in the industry, but when their second album, T.O.P., came out the following year, they were met with great commercial success with the album making over 375k sales.
Their best-selling album out of their entire discography is Hey, Come On!, which was released in 2001 with the title song of the same name and sold around 438k total units. From their debut until now, this longest-running boy group in K-Pop has made 3.56 million sales in South Korea and 34.8k in Japan, for an overall total of about 3.60 million.
14. Wanna One
Wanna One debuted in 2017 as the first temporary K-Pop boy group to be created from the Produce 101 survival show, after the completion of its second season. From the start, the group was immensely successful, with their first album, 1×1=1 (To Be One) selling over 1.5 million units to date just on its own.
Their debut album is actually their best-selling, including the release of its repackaged version, 1-1=0 (Nothing Without You). If the group had continued to produce music rather than disband in early 2019 as they’d planned, they no doubt would be higher on this list, but as it is, they sold around 3.62 million albums in South Korea during their time together.
BIGBANG debuted back in 2006 under YG Entertainment with the album BigBang Vol.1 and title track “BigBang”. The album wasn’t received with much enthusiasm, though it still made over 150k sales. Compared to all of the rest of their discography, however, this was definitely one of their lesser performing albums. They saw a rise in their popularity as soon as the following year, thanks to singles such as “Lies”, which won numerous awards and broke the record for the most weeks spent at the top of Korean music charts.
Their best-selling album is Remember, released in 2008 with the title track “Sunset Glow”, which made around 338k total sales. The group has sold around 2.5 million albums in South Korea and 1.36 in Japan, for an overall total of around 3.96 million sales.
SECHSKIES debuted in 1997 with the album School Byeolgok and title track “School Anthem”. From the start, they were incredibly well-received, with their debut album allegedly making over 1.2 million sales overall. They won their first music show award the following year on Inkigayo with the song “Chivalry” off of their second album, Welcome to the Sechskies Land, and they went on to also win numerous rookie awards.
Their best-selling album is actually their debut album if the 1.2 million sales are accurate, with their second best-selling being the Special Album they released in 1998 with over 1 million sales. From their debut until the present, this iconic first generation boy group has sold around 3.98 million total albums.
SHINee debuted in 2008 under SM Entertainment with the album Replay and title song of the same name. While it only made about 32k sales, the group had an impact on South Korea’s youth due to their fashion, dubbed the “SHINee trend” by media. Their second album, The SHINee World, sold nearly 90k units, and won the group the Newcomer Album of the Year award at the 23rd Golden Disc Awards.
Their best-selling album is The Misconceptions Series, with the original and repackaged versions together totally about 317k sales. These “Princes of K-Pop” were also very successful in Japan, today having a total of about 1.98 million sales in the foreign nation. That, coupled with their 2.3 million sales in South Korea, gives them a total of around 4.28 million albums sold overall.
GOT7 debuted in 2014 under JYP Entertainment with the album Got It? and title track “Girls, Girls, Girls”. The album, which sold around 64k units, ended up peaking at #2 on the Gaon Albums chart and #1 on the Billboard World Albums Chart, setting GOT7 off to a great start! Later that year, they made an early start reaching out to the Japanese market as well, and their popularity continued to grow.
Their best-selling album is DYE, released in April of last year with the title song “Not by the Moon”. It ended up making nearly 455k sales to date. Overall, the group has made 3.92 million album sales in South Korea and 450k in Japan, for a total of around 4.37 million.
9. Super Junior
Super Junior debuted under SM Entertainment in 2005 with 12 members originally (Kyuhyun joined the following year) and the debut album Sorry Sorry with a title track of the same name. From the start they were met with positivity, their debut album selling around 300k total units, and over the years they formed various sub-units such as Super Junior-M (the Chinese subunit), Super Junior-T (the trot subunit), and Super Junior-K.R.Y., made up of their main vocalists Kyuhyun, Ryeowook, and Yesung and considered the first sub-unit formed in the K-Pop industry.
With how much they contributed to the spread of the “Korean Wave” worldwide, Super Junior is still known today as the “King of the Hallyu Wave”. Their best-selling album is the 2011 release Mr. Simple, which made about 563k total unit sales. With 4.08 million sales in South Korea and 975k in Japan, they’ve reached a total so far of about 5.06 million albums sold.
8. DJ DOC
DJ DOC is a Korean hip-hop trio that debuted in 1994 with the album Sorrow of Superman, and with the sub-genre of music still largely underground at the time, the group was recognized for being particularly commercially successful. Though they started as an underground group, their satirical lyrics and criticism of social injustices brought them into the mainstream media, popular with disgruntled youth but criticized by older generations.
Their best-selling album is DJ2DOC, released in 1996 with nearly 2 million overall sales. Though no longer active, they have never officially disbanded, and even performed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Since their debut, they have sold a total of over 5.20 million albums.
G.o.d debuted in 1999 under JYP Entertainment with the album Chapter 1 and title song “To Mother”. While their initial performances weren’t well-received, their second album released at the end of 1999, Chapter 2, had a much more positive response and lead them into becoming one of the most popular boy bands of the early 2000s.
Their best-selling album is Chapter 3, released in 2000, which made over 1.82 million sales. They are one of only a few K-Pop groups to have multiple albums reach over 1 million sales, and are considered “legends of K-Pop” alongside other boy groups such as Shinhwa and SECHSKIES. From their debut to the present, they’ve had 5.43 million album sales.
H.O.T. debuted in 1996 under SM Entertainment with the album We Hate All Kinds of Violence and title song “Descendants of Warriors”. It ended up making over 1.5 million sales, and is still their best-selling album to this day. H.O.T. is considered to be the very first “K-Pop idol group” to be formed in the Korean music industry, and the formula that they used was so successful that it ended up being the model for many groups after them.
Four out of their five studio albums sold over 1 million units, which is incredible, especially for the time. Overall, from their debut until their 2001 disbandment, H.O.T. sold 7.03 million albums.
SEVENTEEN debuted under Pledis Entertainment in 2015 with the album 17 Carat and title song “Adore U”. It sold around 108k units, and was the longest-charting K-Pop album of the year in the United States and made SEVENTEEN the only rookie K-Pop group to rank on Billboard’s “10 Best K-Pop Albums of 2015” list. The group is praised for their pretty much exclusive self-production, with the members heavily involved in the songwriting, producing, and choreographing of their music.
Their best-selling album is their 2020 release Heng:garae, which has sold 1.41 million copies to date. With 6.43 million sales in South Korea and 1.17 in Japan, their total album sales are about 7.59 million.
4. Seo Taiji and Boys
Seo Taiji and Boys is the oldest group on this list, debuting in 1992 with their self-titled album (that made over 1.8 million sales) and title track “I Know”. They made their first performance on MBC‘s talent show and ended up getting the lowest rating from the jury, but the album ended up becoming so successful that experts have claimed they changed the K-Pop world entirely. They were especially known for pioneering the use of rap in their songs, as well as including social critique in their lyrics.
Their fourth and final album, the 1995 release Seo Taiji and Boys IV, was their best-selling, with a total of over 2.4 million unit sales. Though their career only lasted from 1992 until 1996, they made over 8.06 million album sales in that time.
EXO debuted in 2012 under SM Entertainment with the album Mama and title track of the same name, which to date has sold around 523k units. They started out with a unique concept by being split into two sub-groups — EXO-K (Korean) and EXO-M (Mandarin) — with their 12 original members, though with the departure of three of their Chinese members Luhan, Kris, and Tao, they no longer have that kind of separation. Their first full-length studio album, XOXO, became the first Korean album to sell over 1 million copies in 12 years.
Their best-selling album is Don’t Mess Up My Tempo, released in 2018, which has sold 1.97 million copies between the original and repackaged versions. With 11.7 million album sales in South Korea and 481.6k in Japan, the group has had a total of about 12.19 million to date.
TVXQ! originally debuted as a five-member group in 2004 with the single “Hug” under SM Entertainment. Though it didn’t do well at first, after they had a couple of music show performances their sales started picking up, and within a couple of months they won their first music show award. Their first album, Tri-Angle, sold 305.3k copies after it came out in late 2004. Throughout their career, the group actually became more popular in Japan than in South Korea, though they were undoubtedly successful in both countries.
Their last performance as a five-member group was at the end of 2009, before Junsu, Yoochun, and Jaejoong formed JYJ and got into legal disputes with SM Entertainment. Changmin and U-Know have continued as a duo until present day, and from the group’s debut until now, they’ve sold 4.04 million albums in South Korea and 8.22 million in Japan, bringing them to a total of about 12.26 million sales.
And finally, of course, is BTS. They debuted in 2013 under BigHit Entertainment with the single album 2 Cool 4 Skool and twin singles “No More Dream” and “We Are Bulletproof Pt.2”, which has sold 231.5k copies to date. Though initially not well-received and even at the brink of disbanding a couple of years into their career, they finally won their first music show award in 2015 with “I Need U”, and their massive popularity and success took off from there.
Their best-selling album is Map of the Soul: 7, which has sold about 4.33 million copies to date and is the best-selling Korean musical album of all time. With 25.6 million sales in South Korea and 7.44 million in Japan, their total is at about 33.17 million currently.