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Dive into the history of Girls' Generation!

by Helen Bosch
SM Entertainment Girlgroup Girls' Generation: first single
SM Entertainment Girlgroup Girls' Generation: first single

K-Pop Blog > Artists > SNSD

It's been 15 years since Girls' Generation entered the K-pop scene. The eight-member girl group from SM Entertainment has set countless records and is now considered almost a legend. Rightfully so: countless idols who debuted after them were inspired to make music by Girls' Generation! So the girl group is a piece of K-pop history! In this article, you'll learn all about how they came to be and the road they've traveled so far.

  • Emergence (Pre-Debut)
  • The members
  • Debut (2007
  • Breakthrough (2009)
  • Japan Debut (2010)
  • 2011 - 2014
  • Jessica leaves Girls' Generation
  • 2015 until today
  • Discography
  • Solo careers of the members
  • Sub-Units


Already in 1998 the first future Girls' Generation member joined SM Entertainment: Sunny. However, she took a detour and joined Starworld in 2003, an agency where she prepared for her debut in a duo, which never materialized. It wasn't until early 2007 that she returned to SM Entertainment and was added to the line-up of Girls' Generation! Sunny is the niece of SM Entertainment's founder Lee Soo Man.

The other eight members had gathered under SM Entertainment within four years. First came Jessica in 2002, who was discovered along with her sister Krystal during a family vacation. Krystal also joined SM Entertainment and later became known as a member of the girl group f(x)! Sooyoung and Hyoyeon joined later that year after passing SM Entertainment's auditions. Sooyoung later won first place in the "2002 Korea-Japan Ultra Duo Audition" and debuted with Japanese "Marina Takahashi" as a duo called "Route 0." The two released three singles together, but disbanded in 2003. Marina left the entertainment industry and Sooyoung returned to SM Entertainment, her biggest success still ahead of her.

Meanwhile, two more future members of Girls' Generation had found their way to SM Entertainment: Yuri won a dance competition held by SM in 2001 and Yoona passed an open audition held by the agency in 2002. In 2003, Seohyun was discovered by talent scouts in the subway, and in 2004, Taeyeon and Tiffanny finally joined. Taeyeon had won a singing competition held by SM Entertainment and Tiffany had successfully participated in an audition in Los Angeles. So the young talents all trained under SM Entertainment for at least three years before ushering in a new era together!

The girl group is called Girls' Generation, as well as SNSD.

Girls Generation official Logo

SNSD is the abbreviation of the group's Korean name "Sonyeo Sidae," which literally means "Generation of Girls." Sonyeo Sidae is also often shortened to "SoShi." New fans are often confused because of the many names of the girl group, but in the end they all mean the same thing.

The fans are called "SONE." The name is made up of "So" (from Sonyeo Sidae) and the English word "one". It symbolizes the relationship between the girl group and their fans. They are one.

The members

Stage nameReal nameBirthday
Taeyeon (Leader)Kim Taeyeon09.03.1989
SunnySusan Soonkyu Lee15.03.1989
TiffanyStephanie Young Hwang01.08.1989
HyoyeonKim Hyoyeon22.09.1989
YuriKwon Yuri05.12.1989
SooyoungChoi Sooyoung10.02.1990
YoonaIm Yoonah30.05.1990
SeohyunSeo Juhyun28.06.1991
JessicaJessica Jung18.04.1989

On August 5, 2007 Girls' Generation officially debuted with the single "Into the New World"!

The girl group had already performed the song in July in the show "School of Rock" from the channel Mnet. In the show, idols perform in schools, surprising the students.

"Into the New World" is still regularly covered by idol groups and in survival shows. Just last year, for example, members of (G)I-DLE, IZ*ONE and Weki Meki performed the song together.

In November, Girls' Generation released their first album, which contains eleven songs, including "Into the New World." The album and the title song are called "Girls' Generation" like the girl group itself. The album sold nearly 50,000 copies in its first month, making it the second most successful album in November, right behind "Don't Don" by Super Junior! In March 2008, the repackage Baby Baby was released with three new songs including the title track of the same name. Although the debut of the girl group was undoubtedly successful, the big breakthrough was yet to come.

In 2009 the time had come: Girl's Generation conquered the top of the charts!

On January 7, 2009, the third album "Gee" was released. The title song of the same name ranked #1 on the music show "Musik Bank" for nine weeks and was the best-selling single of the year in South Korea! The record for the longest time at #1 on Musik Bank was not broken until three years later by Psy with "Gangnam Style".

The next album "Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)" in June was no less successful. It sold 50,000 copies in the first week after release, almost twice as many as "Gee"!

In December, Girls' Generation set off on their first concert tour, "Into the New World," which also took them to China and Taiwan. Tickets for the dates in South Korea were sold out within three minutes - another sign of the girl group's increasing popularity.

Girls Generation album

Girls Generation topped the recently formed Gaon Album Charts with their fifth album "Oh!", which will be released on January 28, 2010. The Gaon Charts - since July 2022 "Circle Charts" - are Korean charts created by the Korea Music Content Association with the help of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. They are the biggest and most important charts in the country. The following repackage album "Run Devil Run" also topped the Gaon album charts. On the list of best-selling albums in 2010, it ranked #4, just behind "Oh!" at #2!

But that was by far not all the milestones the girl group achieved in 2010!
In September, they made their Japan debut with a Japanese version of "Genie" and reached #4 on the Japanese Oricon Singles Chart. A month later, Girls Generation accomplished the incredible: The second Japanese single, "Gee," shot to #2 on the Oricon Singles Chart! It was the first time since 1980 that a non-Japanese girl group reached the Top 3 of the charts!

After their continuous success in 2009 and 2010, it was probably clear to everyone that Girls' Generation belonged to the top of the Korean music industry and would stay there for a long time! Each subsequent album was also a chart success! In the following, we shorten the story a bit and focused on the most important and interesting milestones of the legendary girl group.

2011-2014: The biggest successes!

Girls' Generation released three albums in 2011: a Japanese version of "Girls' Generation" (June), "The Boys" (October) and "Mr. Taxi" (December). The Japanese album was extremely successful in Japan: never before had a non-Japanese girl group topped the Oricon album charts! Needless to say, Girls Generation was among the most popular K-pop girl groups in Japan at the time.

At the end of the year, Girls Generation won the "Artist of the Year" award at the Seoul Music Awards, just like in 2010. This made them the first girl group to win the award twice in a row and only the fourth artist overall!

In 2013 , they attracted international attention because the music video for the song "I Got A Boy" won the "Video of the Year" Award at the Youtube Music Awards. Competitors included global stars such as Psy and Justin Bieber.

A year later, in July 2014, Girls Generation topped the Oricon album chart for the third time with the Japanese best off album "The Best," defending the top position in Japan as they once again became the first non-Japanese girl group to reach this milestone. The next record didn't take long to come. Still in July, the group finished their Japanese "Love & Peace" tour, which was attended by over 200,000 fans at the various concerts. Together with the previous two Japan tours, Girls' Generation had a total audience of more than 550,000, more than any other K-pop girl group before!

Girls' Generation continued to set records regularly, thrilling hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide with each new album! This made the shock about the development in September 2014 all the greater.

Jessica announced on September 30, 2014 that she had been dismissed from the group.

former Girls Generation member Jessica : I got a boy image teaser

According to her testimony, SM Entertainment had asked her to leave without warning because she was too busy for activities with Girls' Generation due to her new business - she founded the fashion brand "Blanc" in August. SM Entertainment, on the other hand, testified that they warned Jessica several times before the final decision was made.

Since then, Girls Generation has been on the road with eight members.

2015 until today

The first release of the eight was the single "Catch Me If You Can" in April 2015, which was recorded in both Korean and Japanese.

Four months later, in August, "Lion Heart" was also released, the first album without Jessica. It was promoted with three singles - "Lion Heart," "Party" and "You Think" - and reached No. 2 on the Billboard World Digital Song chart. The placement was a personal record for Girls' Generation. According to the Korean Gaon Music Charts, they were the most successful girl group of the year in South Korea! So the success didn't let up a bit even with the changed line-up!

After that, there was actually a longer break, because only two years later, in 2017, a new album titled "Holiday Night" came out.

Girls generation album holiday night: group poster

It topped the Billboard World Album Charts and showed once again that the fans are always behind the girl group!
In 2016, only one single called "Sailing (0805)" was released. But this one is special, because it was written by Sooyoung for the fans.

In October, Tiffany, Sooyoung and Seohyun left SM Entertainment. However, they assured several times that they are still a part of Girls' Generation and that the girl group will reunite one day.

Fans had to wait five long years for this. So you can imagine the excitement that followed the announcement of a new album in August 2022 ! To celebrate their fifteenth anniversary, the legendary girl group will present an album with the meaningful title "Forever 1" on August 8!


AlbumTitle trackRelease date
Girls' GenerationGirls' Generation01.11.2007
Baby BabyBaby Baby13.03.2008
Run Devil RunRun Devil Run22.03.2010
Girls’ Generation (jap.)01.06.2011
The BoysThe Boys19.10.2011
Girls & Peace (jap.)Paparazzi28.11.2012
I Got A BoyDancing Queen01.01.2013
Best Selection Non Stop Mix (jap.)20.03.2013
Love & Peace (jap.)Love & Girls10.12.2013
The Best (jap.)23.07.2014
Lion HeartLion Heart19.08.2015
Holiday NightHoliday / All Night07.08.2017
Forever 105.08.2022

Throughout the years, all members have built their own solo careers. They not only successfully conquer the charts; some also show their acting talent in the popular K-dramas!

Taeyeon was the first member of Girls Generation to make her solo debut with the mini album "I" and is now one of the best-selling solo artists in Korea! Since her debut, she has released nine more albums - most recently "INVU" in February 2022 - as well as a number of successful soundtracks. In addition, the singer can also be seen on entertainment shows such as "Amazing Saturday" and is a host.

Sunny hosts events, stars in musicals like "Singin' in the Rain," releases solo songs (mostly soundtracks for series), and has even done voice acting in animated films - "The Outback" & "Rio 2" - twice!

Tiffany debuted solo in 2016 with the mini album "I Just Wanna Dance." This made her only the second from Girls Generation after Taeyeon. Since then, she has released another second album called "Lips on Lips" and several singles. Aside from that, she has been acting in musicals - most recently in the Korean version of the Broadway musical "Chicago" - and will soon make her acting debut in the K-drama "The Youngest Son of a Conglomerate," which will air in 2022.

Hyoyeon has been very versatile on the road so far. For example, she had her own television show "Hyoyeon's One Million Likes" in 2015 and published a book called "Hyo Style" in the same year, in which she gives beauty, fashion and lifestyle tips. Her first solo single "Mystery" was released in December 2016, and many more followed in the next few years, and Hyoyeon adopted the stage name "Hyo." Sometimes she is also called DJ Hyo because she is also a DJ. The first solo album "Deep" was released recently, in May 2022!

girls generation member yuri - solo album the first scene poster

Yuri made her solo debut in 2018 with her first and so far last album "The First Scene". However, she is mainly active as an actress and has been featured in series such as "Innocent Defendant" (2017) and "Bossam: Steal the Fate" (2021). In fact, Yuri starred in her first series "Fashion King" back in 2012.

Sooyoung also made her acting debut in 2012. Her first series was called "The Third Hospital." Since then, she has played many more roles; most recently a reporter whose life is messed up by a superstar in "So I Married the Anti-fan" (2021). In 2018, Sooyoung presented her first solo single "Winter Breath."

Yoona has perhaps the most successful acting career among the members. Since 2008, she has continuously played leading roles in series such as "Love Rain" (2012), "Prime Minister and I" (2013), "The K2," "King in Love," and most recently, "Big Mouth" (2022). In 2008, she received the "Best New Actress" award for her role in "You Are My Destiny" and her films "Confidential Assignment" (2017) and "Exit" (2019) are among the highest-grossing in South Korea! So far, a Chinese digital single called "Blossom" (2016) and a solo album titled "A Walk to Remember" (2019) have been released by the singer.

Seohyun , like many of her band members, is also a successful actress. Series fans know her from dramas such as "Moon Lovers" (2016), "Time" (2018) and "Jinxed at First" (2022). In addition, she has starred in several musicals: "Moon Embracing the Sun" and "Mamma Mia," among others. In January 2017, Seohyun also released a solo album titled "Don't Say No."

Some of the members are not only solo, but also perform with sub-units in addition!

Girls Generation has two sub-units: TTS and Oh!GG

TTS is also called TaeTiSeo or Girls' Generation-TTS. As you may have noticed, the name is made up of the initials of the three members Taeyeon, Tiffany and Seohyun. TTS was formed in 2012 and has released a total of three albums: "Twinkle" (2012), "Holler" (2014) & the Christmas album "Dear Santa" (2015).

The second unit Oh!GG debuted in 2018 with the only single so far, "Lil' Touch". It consists of the five Girls' Generation members who are still signed to SM Entertainment: Taeyeon, Sunny, Hyoyeon, Yuri, and Yoona. In December 2021, the new winter album by all SM artists ("SMCU Express") was released, which includes "Melody," a new song by Oh!GG.

Hyoyeon and Taeyeon have also been a part of the new project group "Got the Beat" since this year, which consists of members of SM Entertainment's girl groups. In addition to the two, the group also includes Red VelvetSeulgi and Wendy, Aespa Karina and Winter, and BoA. The group debuted in January 2022 with the single "Step Back".

We are excited to see what new songs and projects Girls' Generation will present us in the future!

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