Stellar (Hangul: 스텔라) was a South Korean girl group whose final lineup was composed of Minhee, Hyoeun, Soyoung and Youngheun and that disbanded in 2018. Formed in 2011 by The Entertainment Pascal, the group attracted attention as they were initially produced by Eric Mun of the boy band Shinhwa.
Following an unsuccessful debut with the single “Rocket Girl” in August 2011, Stellar underwent a line-up change and released “UFO” in February 2012, which fared similarly.
The group began working with production team MonoTree in July 2013 and released “Study”, which experienced modest success and became their first single to chart in the top 100 of the Gaon Digital Chart. Stellar gained notoriety in February 2014, when they adopted a more “provocative” image for the release of their first extended play Marionette. The album’s title track peaked at number thirty-five on the Gaon Digital Chart, making it their most commercially successful single. This stylistic change in direction would be maintained in Stellar’s subsequent releases “Vibrato” in 2015 and their second extended play Sting in 2016.
The formation of Stellar began as early as 2010, originally supposed to be a six-membered group with a former trainee from Japan, but when Top Class Entertainment reported that member Kim Gayoung had signed an exclusive contract with the company and would be joining a five-member girl group. Gayoung had gained attention for her appearance on the Viewers’ Tour episode of 1 Night 2 Days and had been cast in the drama series Poseidon alongside Top Class Entertainment operator and Shinhwa member Eric Mun. The series was set to air on the SBS network until production halted following the November 2010 Yeonpyeong bombardment incident. The roles were subsequently recast when production was greenlit by KBS a year later. Gayoung was later cast in the 2011 drama Spy Myung-wol along with Mun.
The final debut line-up of Stellar was Gayoung, true rookie Jeon-yul, and ex-Honeydew members Lee-seul and JoA. The group officially debuted on August 28, 2011, with the release of the digital single “Rocket Girl”. On January 26, 2012, it was announced that Lee-seul and JoA were leaving the group and would be replaced by Min-hee and Hyo-eun for their first comeback track “UFO”.
On July 11, 2013, Stellar released their third digital single “Study” which, and chart in the top 100 their first time.
On February 12, 2014, Stellar released their first extended play Marionette. The group received criticism for their “stripping game” promotional material, which involved fans having to “like” posts on Stellar’s official Facebook page to reveal photos of the members’ body parts. The group received further criticism for their 19+ music video and performances of “Marionette”. Despite the controversy, “Marionette” became their best selling single, peaking at number 35 and 34 on Gaon and Billboard K-Pop Hot 100 charts, respectively.
On August 21, 2014, Stellar released the digital single “Mask”.
On March 9, 2015, Stellar released the digital single “Fool” and its music video. The MV shows the members reacting to the negative comments of their past comebacks.
On July 20, 2015, Stellar released the single “Vibrato” and another controversial music video, gaining more recognition. The group responded to criticism of their revealing performance outfits with the explanation that “Vibrato”‘s sexy music video was merely meant to be an expression of the group’s unique identity. While promoting “Vibrato”, Stellar released a virtual reality clip of a July 27 performance. The video – created by virtual reality company Moovr – allows viewers to use their computer mouse or move their smartphone to scroll around a 360-degree rotating view of the stage as the four members perform.
On January 8, 2016, it was announced that the group would return on January 18 with their second mini-album titled Sting. The album’s creation was supported in part through a Makestar-hosted crowd-funding campaign. The campaign’s original goal of $8,418 was reached in only three days, ultimately reaching 422% of its goal with $35,510. On January 18, 2016, the album and a music video for the title track “Sting” were released. The band explained that their intentions for “Sting” were different from “Marionette” and “Vibrato”, stating “This time, we wanted to look more like a girlfriend rather than to look provocative. We put on lighter makeup so that more fans will feel closer to us.” The previously released single “Vibrato” was included as the final track on the album.
Stellar announced on April 1 that they would be holding their first solo concert, since their debut, on April 22, 2016, at Seoul’s Yes24 MUVHALL. They brought to their fans a range of unique performances, including hit songs like “Marionette” and “Sting”. The concert was live-streamed on various websites such as Allreh TV, Allreh TV mobile and Goliveconcert.com.
On July 10, 2016, it was officially announced that the group would be releasing their seventh single album called “Cry” on July 18, posting the date of release and the first teaser images for the single through their official Twitter account. This project was also supported, in part, by a Makestar crowd-funding project which raised $53,593 (532% of its original goal).
They went on to hold a second concert, entitled ‘Stellar 2nd Concert: After Story’ on December 3, 2016, while also debuting in Japan with a showcase in Tokyo on August 27 and a concert on December 24.
Stellar ended 2016 by launching a third Makestar fundraising event in support of their third mini-album on December 26. By the time the project finished they had reached 1,132% of their original goal, making them the first group on Makestar to achieve over 1,000%. On March 25, 2017, Stellar held a special fansign in the city of Fortaleza, Brazil. On March 26, 2017, Stellar was the first Korean girl group to hold a solo concert in Brazil, playing for a sold-out crowd of almost 1,000 people.
On May 17, it was reported that their new mini-album was to be released in late June. It was also revealed that a new member could possibly join the line-up with their new release. On May 18, The Entertainment Pascal confirmed the addition of a new member, So-young, via Stellar’s Makestar Project. On June 20, The Entertainment Pascal announced that the group’s third mini-album was set to be released on June 27 and was titled Stellar Into the World, with the title track “Archangels of the Sephiroth”. The teasers for the release showed an Angel vs. Witch theme, represented by mirroring photos where one had a light theme and the other had a dark theme. This theme was confirmed by both the tags used for the teaser images on social media and in a radio interview starring Stellar.
On August 22, it was announced that the group would be holding a special anniversary concert titled “Interstellar: Time Travel Through 6 Years” on August 28. On August 23, it was confirmed that Gayoung and Jeonyul would leave Stellar at the end of the month after they decided not to renew their contracts with The Entertainment Pascal.
On August 25, Stellar announced the addition of a new member, Youngheun.
On September 30, members Youngheun and Soyoung were seen in YG Entertainment’s teaser for Mix Nine, a show that would create a temporary boy or girl group, but neither member made it past the auditions.
On February 22, 2018, the members posted to social media about how they had arranged a “final” fan meeting for the group, to be held on February 25, 2018. Also on February 22, Gayoung tweeted “People who play with other people’s emotions are the worst!”, to which Hyoeun replied “True”. Many fans took this to mean that the members were expressing their dissatisfaction with the company.
On February 26, it was revealed that Minhee and Hyoeun had chosen not to renew their contracts with the company, and, as a result, the group would be disbanding. Shortly after the disbandment, Minhee gave an interview where she apologized to the group’s fans and assured them there was no discord among the members. She stated that Jeonyul and Gayoung were looking to move into acting, but she and Hyoeun had not decided what they were going to do yet.
On October 30, 2018 Minhee released a video of Stellar’s first reunion party after disbandment through her YouTube channel “About Mini”. Gayoung, Minhee, Hyoeun and Jeonyul attended the event. Minhee explained that the Reunion Party was created thanks to fans.
On October 29, 2018 An SBS Special Documentary was released about the life of idols. A segment on Gayoung and Stellar revealed the difficulties members faced while being a part of Stellar, as well as showing some of the story after the disbandment of the group. The segment focused on Gayoung and her pursuit of being an actress, while running a cafe.
In an interview with Insight on December 17, 2018, Gayoung revealed the difficulties that she and her members faced from performing the sexy concept, from both the perception of the public, as well as the pressure that their company placed on members to do what the company wanted, whenever the members said that they didn’t want to do a particular thing (such as a particular concept). When asked if she would be an idol again, Gayoung responded that “I don’t think I would do it again”. She concluded the interview with advice to new aspiring idols, that while it is important to work hard, the direction in which you are pursuing is important too.
After the Insight interview there was an immense response in the comments left for members both on the Insight interview video, as well as the Stellar reunion party video. In a response to the comments left on Stellar’s first reunion party video, Minhee released a Q&A video on January 13, 2019. In response to a question about how much members earned from their work during Stellar, it was revealed that each member earned less than 10,000,000 Won (~$9,000 USD) over the 7 years they worked under their company.