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Confident and ambitious: Coed K-pop group K.A.R.D eyes rookie award

Amid high expectations, K.A.R.D, the first coed K-pop group in several years, officially introduced itself to Korea with its debut EP “Hola Hola” on Wednesday.

The rookie band under DSP Media, which consists of two women and two men, had already gained overseas fans before its official debut here. 

K.A.R.D has released three pre-debut singles, which were highly acclaimed internationally. It saw fans chanting its name at overseas concerts thanks to its sleek choreography and incorporation of dancehall and reggaeton.

The group’s first two prereleased tracks “Oh NaNa” and “Don’t Recall” peaked at No. 5 on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart, while its most recent single “Rumor” debuted at No. 3.

Pumped up with high-octane energy, K.A.R.D revealed its hope of becoming a singular K-pop act with its unique musical color and concept during a press showcase in Seoul on Wednesday. “Hola Hola” was released Wednesday evening via local streaming sites.

“I couldn’t believe how much we were loved by fans around the globe even before our official debut. We will do our best to not let down our fans,” said Somin, who originally debuted with the girl group April, under DSP Media, in 2015.

BM, who hails from Los Angeles, also expressed his excitement, saying, “I came to Korea six years ago to become a singer, and now I’m so happy to finally show fans and my family what I’ve built during those years.”

From May to June, K.A.R.D toured North and South America, performing in countries like Canada, Brazil and Mexico. 

“We wanted to say hi to fans in Korea through our song, and that’s why we named the track ‘Hola Hola,’ as 'Hola' means 'Hi' in Spanish,” he added.

“Hola Hola” solidifies K.A.R.D’s dancehall-reggaeton hybrid music style, based on heavy tropical synth and upbeat electronic dance music. 

(DSP Media)
(DSP Media)
The six-track EP includes the three prereleased songs and two new ones -- “I Don’t Stop,” a remake version of a song by Korea’s first coed group Zam, and the hip-hop number “Living Good,” written and composed by the band.

Explaining the meaning behind the group’s name, K.A.R.D said that each letter represents a member as well as a playing card.

“K” stands for the king card that represents BM, while “A” stands for the ace card that represents J.seph. “R” refers to the black joker and a colored joker card that represents Somin and Jiwoo, respectively.

“D” stands for a hidden card. K.A.R.D said that “D” is an undecided term that is open to various meanings, ranging from a song to an artist who features in a song. For example, Heo Young-ji of KARA, who was featured in “Oh NaNa,” was the track’s hidden card.

Although its members appeared a bit nervous, the rookie group was confident that it would be able to inject fresh energy into the K-pop scene.

Believing that the coed concept would be fresh as most other K-pop acts are mostly either boy bands or girl groups, K.A.R.D revealed its ambition to become a unique group that can provide K-pop fans with the unique hybrid of a boy band and a girl group.

“Rather than clinging to music chart rankings and success, K.A.R.D will focus on showing our own attractive traits to fans,” Somin said.

J.seph also revealed that the group’s goal is to win a rookie award by the end of the year. 

By Hong Dam-young (