K-Pop artists don’t sell a lot of albums right from the start. Because they weren’t many fans at debut, the album sales were not good. However, especially these days, with a lot of bigger companies really hyping up their new artists even before they debut!!
Many of the albums on this list are from more recent years (though not all of them), which is probably also because K-Pop has become more popular in general lately!
These are the top 15 best-selling debut albums of K-Pop artists.
1. 1×1=1 (To Be One) by Wanna One
Total sales: 799.7k
Release date: August 7, 2017
Title song: “Energetic”
Wanna One is formed by CJ E&M through the second season of Produce 101. The group debuted on August 7, 2017, under Swing Entertainment and CJ E&M. The album “1×1=1 (To Be One)” was released digitally and physically by YMC Entertainment, Stone Music Entertainment, and CJ E&M Music.
2. Quantum Leap by X1
Total sales: 654.2k
Release date: August 27, 2019
Title song: “Flash”
X1 is formed by CJ ENM through the Mnet reality competition show Produce X 101. The group debuted on August 27, 2019, with the single “Flash” under Swing Entertainment and was co-managed by Stone Music Entertainment.
3. City Lights by Baekhyun
Total sales: 576.4k
Release date: July 10, 2019
Title song: “UN Village”
Baekhyun, is a South Korean singer, songwriter, and actor. He debuted in 2012 as a member of the South Korean–Chinese boy group EXO, and its sub-group EXO-K and sub-unit EXO-CBX. He debuted as a soloist in July 2019 with the album “City Lights”. He is also the leader of the South Korean supergroup SuperM.
Baekhyun’s “City Lights” was the best-selling album by a solo artist of the 2010s in South Korea.
4. Color On Me by Kang Daniel
Total sales: 500.1k
Release date: July 25, 2019
Title song: “What Are You Up To”
Kang Daniel rose to fame after finishing first in the second season of reality competition series Produce 101 and is a former member of the show’s derivative boy group Wanna One.
In mid-2019, he established his own agency to manage his future activities and released his debut extended play album “Color on Me”. The album was a commercial success breaking both the highest first-day and first-week sales record held by a solo artist in the history of South Korea’s Hanteo Chart.
5. Mama by EXO
Total sales: 499.0k
Release date: April 9, 2012
Title song: “Mama”
EXO is formed by SM Entertainment in 2011 and debuted in 2012.
This album was produced by Lee Soo Man, who is also the main producer for the group. The title for the album is a Korean term used to address to a royal person, similar to the attributes “your highness” or “your majesty” in English. The title single “Mama” is written by Yoo Young Jin, who also co-wrote two other singles from the album “What Is Love” and “History”.
EXO has won many awards for their albums, including five consecutive ‘Album of the Year’ wins at the Mnet Asian Music Awards and two consecutive ‘Artist of the Year’ wins at the Melon Music Awards.
6. What a Life by EXO-SC
Total sales: 412.0k
Release date: July 22, 2019
Title song: “What a Life”
EXO-SC is the second official sub-unit of South Korean-Chinese boy band EXO. Formed by SM Entertainment in 2019, the group is composed of two Exo members: Chanyeol and Sehun.
7. NCT 2018 Empathy by NCT
Total sales: 387.5k
Release date: March 14, 2018
Title song: “Boss”, among others
Upon its release, “NCT 2018 Empathy” received mixed to positive reviews from music critics over its “compiled” tracklist and the overall solidity. The album also attained commercial success domestically, peaking at number two on the Gaon Album Chart and became the group’s first release to receive a Platinum KMCA certification following its introduction in 2018. It also experienced international success, peaking at number five on the Billboard World Albums while becoming the first NCT release to appear on other European charts.
8. Square Up by BLACKPINK
Total sales: 313.5k
Release date: June 15, 2018
Title song: “DDU-DU DDU-DU”
BLACKPINK is formed by YG Entertainment. The single “Square Up” was a commercial success in South Korea, peaking atop the Gaon Digital Chart for three consecutive weeks. Its accompanying music video “DDU-DU DDU-DU” was released on the same day and became the most viewed online video, and the second most-watched music video of all time within 24 hours, at the time of its release.
9. W, Here by NU’EST W
Total sales: 308.1k
Release date: October 10, 2017
Title song: “Where You At”
NU’EST W was the second subunit of South Korean boy group, NU’EST. The group consisted of NU’EST members, JR, Aron, Baekho, and Ren. NU’EST W released their debut album “W, Here” with the lead single “Where You At” on 10 October 2017. Since its release, sales of “W, Here” have surpassed 200,000 copies, making NU’EST W the fourth K-pop group to reach 200,000 copies sold in one week, and the only unit group to do so.
10. Hey Mama! by EXO-CBX
Total sales: 293.3k
Release date: October 31, 2016
Title song: “Hey Mama!”
Formed by SM Entertainment in 2016, the group EXO-CBX is composed of three EXO members: Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin. The album “Hey Mama!” features five tracks in total with a variety of genres.
11. Self-Portrait by Suho
Total sales: 289.7k
Release date: March 30, 2020
Title song: “Let’s Love”
The album’s physical edition was released in two versions, ‘Archive #1’ and ‘Archive #2’, while the digital version shares the cover of the latter, a collage of four impressionist paintings of Suho‘s face. The album features six tracks including the lead single, “Let’s Love”.
12. Lose Control by Lay
Total sales: 274.2k
Release date: October 28, 2016
Title song: “What U Need?” and “Lose Control”
This album of Lay was released in South Korea and China by SM Entertainment and distributed by KT Music. The album features six tracks in total, including the two singles “what U need?” and “Lose Control”.
“Lose Control” was a commercial success peaking at number 1 on the Gaon Album Chart and 7th of Best-Selling Albums of 2016 and broke seven out of eight Guinness World Records on the YinYueTai China Weekly Charts.
13. 2 Cool 4 Skool by BTS
Total sales: 263.3k
Release date: June 12, 2013
Title song: “No More Dream” and “We Are Bulletproof Pt.2”
The album was released through Big Hit and distributed by Loen. The album was promoted by two singles “No More Dream” and “We Are Bulletproof Pt.2”. Commercially, this album of BTS peaked at no.five on the Gaon Album Chart and sold more than 250,000 units since its release in South Korea.
14. COLOR*IZ by IZ*ONE
Total sales: 263.2k
Release date: October 29, 2018
Title song: “La Vie en Rose”
The album broke the record for highest first week sales of a debut album by a girl group and became the fourth highest first week sales of an album by a South Korean girl group on Hanteo. It debuted atop both the Oricon Weekly Album Chart and Oricon Weekly Digital Album Chart in Japan while in South Korea, it charted at number two on the Gaon Album Chart on its first week. “Color Iz” also peaked at number nine on Billboard’s World Albums Chart, making IZ*ONE only the eighth Korean girl group to have their debut release appear on both the World Albums and World Digital Songs Charts.
15. The Dream Chapter: Star by TXT
Total sales: 233.3k
Release date: March 4, 2019
Title song: “Crown”
TXT‘s “The Dream Chapter: Star” is released by Big Hit Entertainment and Republic Records, and distributed by iriver Inc, in both digital and physical versions.