Exo (stylized as EXO pron.: /ˌɛks ˈəʊ/ EKS-oh; Korean: 엑소) is a South Korean–Chinese boy band produced by S.M. Entertainment. Formed in 2012 in Seoul, South Korea, Exo has of twelve members, which are separated into two subgroups, Exo-K and Exo-M, promoting their music in both South Korea and China. Their name was taken from exoplanet,a term referring to planets outside of the Solar System. Their debut single Mama was released on April 8, 2012, followed by the release of their debut EP Mama on April 9, 2012.
In January 2011, producer Lee Soo-Man of SM Entertainment announced his plans to debut a new boy band in March or April 2011.
Temporarily named M1, the group appeared to have consisted of only seven members when a photo of them in a dance studio was leaked online. In May 2011, Lee spoke about the group in a Hallyu business seminar held in Stanford University. In the presentation, he explained his strategy of separating the whole group into two subgroups, M1 and M2, to have them promote the same music in South Korea and China, performing the songs in Korean and Mandarin.Lee planned to launch the group in May 2011 but their debut was delayed and news concerning the group did not surface until October 2011 when Lee briefly discussed about the group’s concept plans in an interview with The Chosun Ilbo.
In December 2011, the group finalised their name to Exo, with the names Exo-K for the South Korean subgroup and Exo-M for the Chinese subgroup. The twelve members were introduced individually through twenty-three different trailers released from December 2011 to February 2012.
Kai, Lu Han, Tao, and Chen were the first four members introduced, who debuted their first public performance at the SBS‘s Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011.
2012–present: Debut, Mama
Exo-K and Exo-M’s prologue single What Is Love was released on January 30, 2012 through iTunes and various online retailers from China and South Korea.The single peaked at number eighty-eight on South Korea’s Gaon Single Chart. On March 9, the group released their second prologue single History,which was written and produced by Thomas Troelsen and Remee. The single peaked at number sixty-eight on the Gaon Single Chart and number six on China’s Sina Music Chart.
A concert showcase for the group was held in Seoul’s Olympic Stadium on March 31, which was a hundred days after Exo debuted their first trailer on December 21, 2011.Approximately 3,000 fans from 8,000 applicants were selected to attend the showcase.A second showcase was held in the Great Hall of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China on April 1.
Exo-K and Exo-M released their debut single Mama on April 8 followed by an EP, Mama on April 9. On the 8th April, Exo-K made their debut performance on South Korea’s music program The Music Trend, while Exo-M performed at China’s 12th Yinyue Fengyun Bang Awards on the same day.A day after release, Mama reached number one on various Chinese online retailers and music charts.Exo-M’s album reached number two on China’s Sina Album Chart, number five on South Korea’s Gaon Album Chart and at number twelve on the Billboard World Albums Chart. Exo-K’s album peaked at number one on the Gaon Album Chart and at number eight on the Billboard World Albums Chart.Exo-M’s Mama music video got to number one on Chinese streaming websites and Exo-K’s version reached to number seven on YouTube’s Global Chart.
- Suho (Korean: 수호) is the leader of Exo-K. His birth name is Kim Joon Myun. (Korean: 김준면; Hanja: 金俊绵) Born on May 22, 1991 in Seoul, South Korea, and is the first Exo member to become an S.M. Entertainment trainee at sixteen years old. He joined the company after auditioning for the S.M. Casting System, a talent audition held by the company annually. In 2008, Suho made a brief appearance in TVXQ’s music video, “HaHaHa Song” along with Exo-K’s Kai and Chanyeol. Suho was formally introduced as a member on February 15, 2012. He currently attends Korea National University of Arts to complete his degree in acting.
- Baekhyun (Korean: 백현) His full name is Byun Baek Hyun. (Korean: 변백현; Hanja: 卞伯贤) Born on May 6, 1992 in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. He attended Jungwon High School and joined the school’s musical band. Baekhyun won an award at a local rock festival. While studying for his entrance exams, he was scouted by an S.M. Entertainment casting agent and was put into the company through the S.M. Casting System in 2011. He appeared in TaeTiSeo’s debut single, “Twinkle” alongside members Chanyeol, Kai and Sehun. Baekhyun was formally introduced as a member on January 30, 2012.
- Chanyeol (Korean: 찬열) His full name is Park Chan Yeol. (Korean: 박찬열; Hanja: 朴灿烈) Born on November 27, 1992 in Seoul, South Korea He attended Hyundai Chungun High School in Dong-gu, Ulsan. When he was sixteen years old, he was enrolled in a private acting institution. Skilled in playing the drums, Chanyeol formed a temporary band with his high school classmates, and won second place in a televised modeling contest.He was cast into S.M. Entertainment through the S.M. Casting System in 2008, and made a brief appearance in TVXQ‘s music video, “HaHaHa Song” with Suho and Kai that same year. In 2010, Chanyeol starred in the music video of Girls’ Generation Japanese single, “Genie” as well as TaeTiSeo’s debut single, “Twinkle” alongside members Baekhyun, Kai and Sehun. Chanyeol was the last member to be formally introduced, on February 23, 2012.
- D.O. (Korean: 디오) His birth name is Do Kyung Soo. (Korean: 도경수; Hanja: 都暻秀) Born on January 12, 1993 in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. After winning in a singing competition, he was cast into S.M. Entertainment through the S.M. Casting System in 2010.D.O. was formally introduced as a member on January 30, 2012.
- Kai (Korean: 카이) His birth name is Kim Jong In. (Korean: 김종인; Hanja:金钟仁) Born on January 14, 1994 in Seoul, South Korea. He was cast into S.M. Entertainment after winning in the company’s Youth Best Contest in 2007. Prior to joining S.M. Entertainment, Kai trained in ballet and jazz dance.In 2008, he made a brief appearance in TVXQ‘s music video, “HaHaHa Song” along with Exo-K’s Suho and Chanyeol. and also in TaeTiSeo’s debut single, “Twinkle” alongside members Baekhyun, Chanyeol and Sehun. Kai was the first of the twelve members to be formally introduced through teaser trailers; his teaser was released on December 23, 2011.Kai appeared in twelve more trailers in the next three months, and performed with Exo-M’s Lu Han, Tao, and Chen on SBS‘s Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011. Kai graduated from Seoul Arts High School in early 2012.
- Sehun (Korean: 세훈) His birth name is Oh Sehun. (Korean: 오세훈; Hanja: 吴世勋) Born on April 12, 1994 in Seoul, South Korea. Sehun was scouted by a casting agent on the streets when he was twelve, and was successfully placed into S.M. Entertainment in 2008, after going through four auditions in two years.He also made an appearance in TaeTiSeo’s debut single, “Twinkle” alongside members Baekhyun, Kai and Chanyeol. Sehun was formally introduced as a member on January 10, 2012. He graduated from Seoul Arts High School.
- Kris is the leader of Exo-M. Also known by his Chinese name Wu Yifan (simplified Chinese: 吴亦凡; traditional Chinese: 吳亦凡; pinyin: Wú Yìfán), Kris was born Li Jiaheng (Chinese: 李嘉恒; pinyin: Lǐ Jiāhéng; jyutping: Lei5 Gaa1-hang4) on November 6, 1990 in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, and holds Canadian citizenship. In 2007, Kris was cast into S.M. Entertainment through the S.M. Global Audition held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Kris was formally introduced as a member on February 17, 2012. Prior to joining the band, Kris made an appearance in an intermission video from the Taipei, Taiwan stop of the Girls’ Generation Tour in 2011. Kris is fluent in 4 languages: English, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese and Korean.
- Xiumin was born Kim Minseok (Korean: 김민석; Hanja: 金珉硕) on March 26, 1990 in South Korea. In 2008, he was cast into S.M. Entertainment after winning second place in the S.M. Everysing Contest. Xiu Min was formally introduced as a member on January 26, 2012.
- Lu Han (Chinese: 鹿晗; pinyin: Lù Hán) born Lu Han was born on April 20, 1990 in Haidian District, Beijing, China. He graduated from the Beijing Shida Middle School and attended the Beijing Haidian Foreign Language Shi Yan School before leaving for South Korea to attend Yonsei University as an exchange student. In 2008, Lu Han auditioned for JYP Entertainment‘s global audition held in China, but failed the audition. In 2008, while studying in Seoul, Lu Han was scouted by an S.M. Entertainment casting agent, who recommended him to audition for the company’s annual S.M. Casting System. His audition was successful, and he was put into Exo in 2011. Lu Han was the second of the twelve members to be formally introduced, on December 27, 2011. Along with Tao, Chen, and Exo-K’s Kai, Lu made his first televised performance on SBS‘s Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011. Lu Han currently attends the Seoul Institute of the Arts majoring in Applied Music.
- Lay, also known as Zhang Yixing (simplified Chinese: 张艺兴; traditional Chinese: 張藝興; pinyin: Zhāng Yìxīng), was born Zhang Jiashuai (simplified Chinese: 张加帅; traditional Chinese: 張加帥; pinyin: Zhāng Jiāshuài) on October 7, 1991 in Changsha, Hunan, China. In 2008, he was cast into S.M. Entertainment through the company’s global casting system. Prior to joining S.M. Entertainment, Lay was a local child star in China, and made guest performances in various Chinese variety shows. In 2011, Lay briefly worked for SHINee in their concert tour as Jonghyun‘s dance replacement. Lay was formally introduced as a member on January 17, 2012.
- Chen was born Kim Jongdae (Korean: 김종대; Hanja: 金钟大) on September 21, 1992 in South Korea. He was cast into S.M. Entertainment through the S.M. Casting System in 2011. Chen was the fourth member formally introduced, on December 29, 2011.Along with Lu Han, Tao, and Exo-K’s Kai, Chen had his first televised performance at SBS‘s Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011.
- Tao was born Huang Zitao (simplified Chinese: 黄子韬; traditional Chinese: 黃子韜; pinyin: Huáng Zitāo) on May 2, 1993 in Qingdao, Shandong, China. He attended Humen Centre Primary School, one of the most prestigious primary schools in Qingdao, and Qingdao Middle School. Tao is a martial artist, and has been practicing Wushu since he was six years old. When he stayed in Hong Kong, he won first place in a free style rapping competition.Tao was cast into S.M. Entertainment through the company’s global casting system in 2010. He was the third to be formally introduced, on December 27, 2011. Along with Lu Han, Chen, and Exo-K’s Kai, Tao made his first televised performance on SBS‘s Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011.
- 2012: Mama
- Supporting act
- Super Junior World Tour – Super Show 4 (Exo-M)
- KCON 2012 (Exo-M)
- Asian Super Showcase in Malaysia (Exo-M)
- Dream Kpop Fantasy Concert in Manila, Philippines (Exo-M & Exo-K)