Album sales seem to have been picking up more and more as K-Pop becomes more popular worldwide, with some of today’s artists breaking records in how many total album sales they have and how quickly albums are getting pre-ordered.
However, there have also been plenty of K-Pop groups from the past that have also sold a ton of albums over the years, which shows the power that the music genre can have on people from all generations.
Here are the 15 best-selling K-Pop girl groups of all time, based on their sales within South Korea and Japan, which tend to have the most album sales compared to other nations.
MAMAMOO debuted in 2014 with the single “Mr. Ambiguous”. Though their album sales didn’t even reach 20k per album until they released Melting in 2016, they have pretty steadily increased their sales since then.
Their best-selling album is Travel, released in November 2020, with 170k sales. They’ve sold 803.4k albums in South Korea and 24.5k in Japan, for a total of over 827k album sales.
14. Baby VOX
Baby VOX first debuted in 1997 with the album Equalizeher (Voice of Xpression). They are still, to this day, considered to be one of the most prominent female K-Pop groups of the first generation, up until their disbandment in 2006.
Their best-selling album was their Special Album, a compilation album released in 2002 that made 240k+ sales, and in total, they had around 885.4k album sales in South Korea.
DIVA was a hip-hop girl group that also debuted in 1997 with the album Funky Diva. The group started out with three members, and went through gradual member changes until their disbandment in 2005.
Their best-selling album was Snappy Diva, released in 1998 with over 230k sales. In total, they sold about 928.8k units in South Korea.
GFRIEND debuted in 2015 with the mini-album Season of Glass. Despite coming from a small company at the time — Source Music — they won several rookie awards in 2015, and have continued to become increasingly successful since then.
Their best-selling album is their Time for Us studio album released in 2019, with over 96k sales. Overall, they’ve had 917.2k album sales in South Korea and 63.6k in Japan, with a total of around 980k sales.
11. Pearl Sisters
The Pearl Sisters was a pair of sisters — Bae Insook and Bae Insoon — that debuted all the way back in 1968! Their mother, Yi Nanyŏng, was an actress and singer during the Korean War that helped get them started in the music industry, and their producer was Korea’s “father of Rock ‘n Roll” Shin Junghyun.
They released several albums until the two split in the 1970s, with Insook continuing a solo career into the 1980s and Insoon not rejoining the music industry until 2004. Overall, it’s estimated that they had around 1.00 million album sales!
Apink first debuted in 2011 with the album Seven Springs of Apink. While originally starting as a seven-member group, Yookyung left in 2013 to complete her studies, and they’ve remained a six-member group since then. They won their first music show award in 2012 with “My My”, and they’ve also been quite successful in Japan!
Their best-selling album is Pink Memory, released in 2015, with over 90k sales. They’ve had 726.0k album sales in South Korea and 313.7k in Japan, for a total of around 1.04 million sales!
T-ARA debuted in 2009 with the single “Lie”, releasing their debut album, Absolute First Album, a few months later. In 2011 they had the best-selling song of the year with “Roly-Poly”, and they also became incredibly successful in Japan after they signed onto the Japanese management agency J-Rock for $4.7 million USD.
Their best-selling album was actually the Japanese album Jewelry Box with around 105k sales. Overall, they sold 565.0k units in South Korea and 567.4k in Japan, for a total of around 1.13 million sales.
8. Red Velvet
Red Velvet debuted in 2014 with the digital single “Happiness”, and didn’t release their first album, Ice Cream Cake, until 2015 after Yeri had joined the group earlier that year. Out of their 13 Korean language albums, 11 of them have reached the top of the Gaon Album Chart, and they’ve been called one of the most popular and “powerful” K-Pop groups in South Korea.
Their best-selling album is The ReVe Festival: Day 1, released in 2019, with over 171k sales. Overall, they’ve sold 1.51 million albums in South Korea and just under 50k in Japan, for a total of about 1.56 million sales.
Fin.K.L was a girl group trio that debuted in 1998 with the album Blue Rain. Like Baby VOX, they were known as one of the most popular K-Pop girl groups in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and they were active until they released their single album Fine Killing Liberty in 2005. However, they did actually end up reuniting in 2019 to release their Fin.K.L Best Album!
Their best-selling album was White, released in 1999, with nearly 600k total sales. Overall, they had around 2.51 million sales in South Korea.
BLACKPINK debuted in 2016 with the two songs “BOOMBAYAH” and “Whistle” off of their first single album, Square One. They were pretty much immediately successful, with both songs taking the #1 place on the Gaon Digital Chart and Billboard World Digital Song Sales chart, and they also have the highest-charting female K-Pop song on Billboard Hot 100 with “Ice Cream” (ft. Selena Gomez) peaking at #13.
Their best-selling album is The Album, released in October 2020, with 1.26 million sales and the first-ever album by a K-Pop girl group to sell over one million copies. They’ve sold about 2.34 million units in South Korea and 177.6k in Japan, for a total of around 2.51 million.
IZ*ONE debuted in 2018 with their first album COLOR*IZ. Because of their popularity from the members being off of the competition show Produce 48, with their debut album selling an incredible over 480k units to date. With several Japanese members, they’ve also been highly successful in Japan as well and have released one full-length and three mini-albums in the language.
Their best-selling album is Oneiric Diary, released in June 2020, with over 550k total sales! Overall, they’ve sold 2.07 million units in South Korea and 844.4k in Japan, for a total of around 2.91 million.
S.E.S. was a female trio that debuted in 1997 under SM Entertainment with the debut album I’m Your Girl. They, along with Baby VOX and Fin.K.L, made up three of the most popular girl groups of the first generation of K-Pop and were also called the female counterpart of H.O.T, their labelmates. While they disbanded in 2002, they reunited for their 20th anniversary to release the special album Remember in 2017.
Their best-selling album was Love, released in 1999 with over 760k units sold. They made around 3.57 million album sales in South Korea and 61.3k in Japan, for a total of about 3.63 million.
KARA debuted as a quartet in 2007 with the album The First Blooming, and though they had high expectations due to being considered the successors to Fin.K.L, their senior labelmate, they weren’t well-received at first and didn’t do well commercially. After some member changes and sound changes in 2008, however, and fortunately became successful from there.
Their best-selling album was the Japanese album Super Girl, released in 2011 with around 778k total sales. They actually were much more commercially successful in Japan than in South Korea, selling around 562.9k units in their home country but a whopping 3.24 million in the neighboring nation! In total, they had around 3.81 million album sales.
2. Girls’ Generation
Girls’ Generation debuted in 2007 with album Girls’ Generation, though they were actually met with criticism and hate for a while and even experienced the awful “black ocean” during a multi-group concert where fans turned off their light sticks during their performance. Fortunately, their hit 2009 song “Gee” turned things around for them, and later they became known as the “nation’s girl group” because of their success.
Their best-selling album was the Japanese version of Girls’ Generation released in 2011, which sold around 883k total units. They’ve had about 2.81 million sales in South Korea and 2.55 million in Japan, for a total of about 5.35 million.
TWICE debuted in 2015 with the album The Story Begins after being formed by the girl group survival show Sixteen. Though they were pretty successful to begin with, they really took off after releasing “Cheer Up” in 2016, which won them numerous awards, the beginning of so many more. They also debuted in Japan in 2017, and they did so well there that they became the first Korean girl group to earn a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of Japan for both an album and a CD single in the same year.
They became known as the next “nation’s girl group” after Girls’ Generation, and TWICE’s best-selling album was their summer 2020 release More & More with 573.4k units sold. Overall, they’ve sold 5.76 million units in South Korea and 3.29 in Japan, for a total of around 9.06 million.