BoA Marks 20 Years at Top of K-Pop

Long before BTS and Black Pink, BoA was Korea's first global superstar. This year she celebrates 20 years in the business.


BoA has been a pioneer and trailblazer ever since she burst onto the scene at the age of 14 in 2000, becoming the first K-pop singer to top Japan's Oricon weekly charts and entering the Billboard's main charts.

"BoA has gone on to become one of the country's, and Asia's, most beloved pop divas", Forbes wrote last month.

To mark the event she held a virtual meeting with fans on Naver on Aug. 25.

BoA has thus far released over 12 albums in Korean, Japanese, and English, with over 100 hits. But BoA said she is most attached to "Only One".

"I was involved at every step in making of this song. It revived my passion for music, and many people recognized me as an artist through it", she recalled.

But the song she has sung the most is "No. 1", which she can dance to straight out of bed, even in her sleep.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Korean Wave began with BoA. Starting with her first Japanese album in 2002, seven of her albums topped Oricon's weekly charts. Her U.S. album released in 2009 entered the Billboard's album chart at No. 127.

"BoA was really the first foreign artist to be loved and treated equally in Japan", said pop music critic Jung Min-jae.

For her contribution to turning her agency SM Entertainment into a showbiz giant, BoA was named an unregistered executive in 2014. Her juniors in the agency -- girl group Red Velvet, Baekhyun of boy band EXO -- and American singer Gallant are currently doing a project covering BoA's hits.

Her transition to singer-songwriter was gradual. "Kiss My Lips", on which she wrote and produced all the songs, received critical acclaim, and in 2015 she became the first former K-pop starlet to give a solo concert at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul.

"It feels like just a few days ago when I started my career just because I loved singing and dancing. I can't believe it's been 20 years already", she said. "As I look back, I'm thankful and sorry for myself for working so hard. I hope I can carry on being a singer until I do shows in nursing homes".