K-Pop, otherwise known as Korean Pop, is a popular music genre stemming from South Korea. The genre is influenced by many different styles of music and has quickly gained popularity over the last several years. EXO is amidst one of the most popular K-Pop bands, featuring 9 members.
After member changes and business deals finally settled in December 2011, the name EXO was revealed, taken from the word “exoplanet”. An exoplanet is known as a planet outside of the solar system.
The interesting part of EXO’s journey to fame is the fact that there are several different subgroups. In other words, there isn’t one EXO K-pop boy-band group, there are actually four different groups, some of them inactive, that have their own respective identities. All of these groups include the same name, “EXO” with differing letters separated by a hyphen.
EXO is on the rise as one of the most popular K-Pop groups. The group has been compared to Blackpink and BTS, with fans all over the world. In 2011, the CEO of SM Entertainment, Lee Soo-Man, came up with a plan to create a new boy band in order to promote music in both Korea and China.
EXO-M and EXO-K: The Original Groups of EXO
We established that the “EXO” stems from the word exoplanet, the word for a planet outside of the solar system. However, the CEO of SM Entertainment who owns the popular group wanted to reach success in both Korea and China, thus, EXO-M and EXO-K were born.
EXO-M debuted in 2012 and remained active until 2016. The majority of the members were of Chinese nationality and the songs were translated from Korean into Mandarin. This is where the “M” of the name comes into play, with the additional letter standing for “Mandarin”.
Mandarin is a popular language of China, and the name was strategically created to appeal to Chinese K-Pop fans. This small, but efficient addition to the name distinguishes this group from the other group known as EXO-K.
EXO-K also debuted in 2012 but was meant to appeal to the Korean audience. The “K” of this group’s name is meant to stand for “Korean”, of course, the main language of Korea. The lyrics to this subgroup’s songs are all in Korean and the members are all from South Korea. EXO-K is currently inactive.
EXO-CBX and EXO-SC: The Subunits of EXO
The previous two groups of EXO held their distinctive names in order to appeal to their prospective audiences. Ultimately, fans of EXO were able to easily understand which was which by the one additional letter. When the group fell apart, two new groups, EXO-CBX and EXO-CB took their place.
EXO-CBX is a subunit of EXO that consists of three members: Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumlin. The first three letters of the members are “CBX”, which leads to the acronym in addition to “EXO”. The group has been active since 2016 and is based in Seoul, South Korea.
The second subunit of EXO, known as EXO-SC consists of two members. The two members are Sehun and Chanyeol, whose first two letters make up the “SC” of the name in addition to the “EXO”. This group is also currently active and first debuted in July 2019.
EXO For Exoplanet- A Concept “Out of This World”
Although the different groups may seem confusing to newer K-Pop fans, the names themselves may actually clear up some discrepancies between which group includes what members. The remaining two groups that are still active, EXO-CBX, and EXO-SC, both share one official Instagram account and are both considered as EXO.
The two separate groups perform and continue to release music together. The members are seldom referred to as their subgroup names and are mainly only considered EXO. As their Instagram handle suggests, “We Are One”, the group now has nine members, an additional 4 to the original 3 members from EXO-CBX and the original 2 members from EXO-SC.
K-Pop fans voted for EXO for best branding and name on various music shows and in polls. When the group first debuted, they had a superpower concept that they wanted to portray in most of their advertisements and performances. This matched the “exoplanet’ definition perfectly, and fans enjoyed the flowing concept between the unique name and interesting conceptualization.
It is no secret that K-Pop fans absolutely love the overall concept of EXO. The exoplanet theme is not as apparent as it once was, but you may catch an EXO member talking about how they want to release “music out of this world” and draw a connection between the saying and name.