KARA (카라) was a popular South Korean girl group formed by DSP Entertainment, debuting in 2007 with the single "Break It" and the album "The First Blooming". The group consists of Park Gyuri, Han Seungyeon, Goo Hara and Heo Youngji. Former members include Kim Sunghee, Jung Nicole and Kang Jiyoung
KARA was originally a 4 member group until former lead singer Kim Sunghee decided to leave in February of 2008. Soon after, she was replaced by new members Goo Hara and Kang Jiyoung, making KARA a 5 member group. Throughout 2008 they released 2 mini-albums and 3 singles; "Rock U", "Pretty Girl", and "Honey", all of which showcased a new, cuter image. "Honey" in particular was their biggest success yet, and became their first #1 when it topped the M.Net M! Countdown. The song also won the Mutizen award on SBS's "Popular Songs" program.
In July of 2009, KARA returned with their second full studio album "Revolution", which showcased a new "upgraded" concept. Lead single "Wanna" was an instant success, topping various online charts. The second single from the album, "Mister", was an even bigger success due to a certain part of the choreography nicknamed the "butt dance" which caught on with the public.
In 2010, KARA changed once again, this time to a "darker", more mature concept for their third mini-album "Lupin". On March 4, 2010, Kara won their first #1 award for "Lupin" on M! Countdown. The following week, Kara won yet another #1 award on M! Countdown, making it their second consecutive win on the music program. "Lupin" also gave Kara their first #1 win on Music Bank on March 12, 2010, making it the group's first win for the music show since their debut, they held onto the position for three consecutive weeks. The song also won the Mutizen award from Inkigayo.
That same year it was announced that KARA would be making their debut into the Japanese market under Universal Music Japan. Their debut single in Japan was a Japanese version of their Korean hit "Mister". Released on August 11, 2010, the single exceeded expectations, debuting at #5 on the Oricon daily and weekly charts. This made KARA the first Korean girl group to ever achieve this feat, as well as the first non-Japanese girl group in 29 years to chart in the Oricon top 10 with a debut single. "Mister" also topped iTunes Japan, Recochoku's video charts, and was eventually certified platinum by the The Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for digital sales, making them the first Korean girl group in history to achieve this.
The group followed the success of "Mister" with "Kara Best 2007-2010", a greatest hits collection of all their Korean music. The album was certified gold by RIAJ, making KARA the first ever Korean group since the '90s to release an all-Korean album that was able to break 100,000 copies sold in Japan.
"Jumping", the title of both their second Japanese single as well as their fourth Korean mini-album, was released simultaneously in both Korea and Japan in November 2010. The song proved to be a huge success in both countries. In Japan, it debuted at #5 on the Oricon weekly charts and peaked at #2 on the Oricon Daily charts, eventually selling more than 100,000 copies to be certified gold. In Korea, "Jumping" won Kara their first #1 win on KBS Music Bank on December 10, 2010. Two days after their win on Music Bank, Kara won a #1 Mutizen Award for "Jumping" on SBS Inkigayo's 600th episode.
Kara released their first Japanese studio album "Girl's Talk" on November 24, 2010. The album was released in 3 versions and contained ten tracks including "Mister" and "Jumping", as well as the Japanese version of "Lupin". Girl's Talk sold 107,000 copies in its first week and ranked number 2 on the Oricon weekly charts, making it the first album by a non-Japanese girl group in 6 years to sell more than 100,000 copies in its first week. On January 14, 2011 Girl's Talk received a platinum certification from RIAJ, making KARA the first Korean Girl group to sell 250,000 albums. Oricon also announced KARA as 2010's best rookie artist, generating revenue of some 1.3 billion yen (or $15.4 million USD); and with a total of 493,000 copies of their releases sold that year.
In January 2011, controversy erupted when it was announced that four of KARA's members (except Gyuri) had filed a lawsuit to terminate their exclusive contracts with DSP Entertainment. However, it was later revealed that Hara decided not to join Seungyeon, Nicole, and Jiyoung in terminating her contract. Due to the conflict, DSP Entertainment suspended all group activities. The situation is still ongoing, though KARA has reached an agreement with DSP to continue with all planned activities until a permanent solution is agreed upon, which happened in April 2011.
KARA's third Japanese single "Jet Coaster Love" was announced on February 10, 2011 for a March 23rd release. However, due to the 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the physical release was postponed. Digitally, the song was released on March 16, 2011 and was another huge success - topping the RIAJ Digital Track Chart Weekly Top 100, and also placing #5 on Billboard's Japanese Hot 100. It was later announced that "Jet Coaster Love" would be released physically on April 6, 2011, and that 100% of the sales would go to help the earthquake victims. "Jet Coaster Love" peaked at #1 on the Oricon Daily Charts (after debuting at #2 in it's first day of sales) and debuted at #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts, selling 123,000 copies in it's opening week. This gave KARA their first ever #1 single in Japan, and made them the first foreign female group in history to rank at #1 on the Oricon Charts.
In late 2013, Nicole announced that she would not be renewing her contract, and would be departing KARA in January of 2014. On January 15, 2014, Jiyoung revealed she would also be leaving KARA, but in April of 2014 (after her contract ended). DSP stated that they would be trying to convince Jiyoung to stay, which annoyed fans greatly (they had previously released Nicole and deleted her from images with the group online).
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