If aespa is one of the most iconic 4th gen K-pop groups, then the girl band’s leader, KARINA, is one of the most iconic K-pop leaders, period. The Korean idol is a triple threat: she sings, dances and raps! Keep reading to learn more about KARINA.

Who Are aespa?

The K-pop band, which debuted in 2020, includes four members: KARINA, GISELLEWINTER and NINGNING. Aespa is the first girl group to debut under South Korean music label SM Entertainment since 2014.

K-pop companies are known to debut groups with differing “concepts,” which is a band’s overall theme that helps separate them from other groups. For aespa, the girls have their own virtual avatars (or “æ”) that appear in their music videos, as well as an an entire virtual world called “KWANGYA,” which follows a digital realm that includes gripping, crime-fighting narratives. This “aespa universe,” is what grips so many of their fans, who are called MYs.

“To be completely honest, we weren’t exactly sure how the concept would pan out in the long run,” WINTER told UpRoxx in March 2023.”Especially how long and how big it would pan out in the future. But at the same time, we appreciated the refreshing and unfamiliar concept.”

KARINA added, “It was very unfamiliar and hard to understand just as it was for the entire public.”


KARINA, whose real name is Yu Ji Min, was was an “ulzzang” (influencer), before she debuted with aespa. Recruited by a casting manager, she became an SM trainee in 2016 and also appeared in multiple projects for the music company.

In February 2019, KARINA appeared in Taemin‘s “Want” music video. In November 2020, just a few months after officially debuting, she performed alongside EXO’s Kai for a virtual Hyundai Motors showcase.

While also being apart of aespa, KARINA debuted with the SM female unit group called GOT the beat. The group includes fellow aespa member WINTER, legendary K-pop solo artist BoA, Taeyeon and Hyoyeon of Girls’ Generation, along with Wendy and Seulgi from Red Velvet.

“It’s an honor to be able to perform with such amazing artists,” KARINA told Rolling Stone shortly after GOT the beat’s 2021 debut. “They have so much experience, and I still can’t believe that I performed with them and released a song together as one team! We each have our own unique color as an artist and come from different groups — so to be able to come together like this as one team was very exciting. I am happy to be a part of GOT the Beat.”

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