K-pop idols
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NCT Dream are the best selling K-pop group so far this year, with ‘Hot Sauce’ selling three million copies. Photo: SM Entertainment

The biggest albums of 2021 in K-pop so far, from NCT Dream, Exo, Seventeen, and Baekhyun

  • K-pop artists have sold nearly 26 million albums since the start of this year, and sales are on track to hit a record in 2021
  • NCT Dream’s album ‘Hot Sauce’ has sold more than three million copies, while albums by Exo and Seventeen each have a million sales
K-pop idols
Tamar Hermanin United States

Halfway through the year, 2021 is on track to be the biggest year ever for K-pop music sales.

Last week The Gaon Chart, which is operated by the Korea Music Content Association (KOMCA) and has been keeping track of music sales and streams since 2010, reported that South Korean artists had sold nearly 26 million albums so far this year.

The biggest sellers so far are releases from NCT Dream, Seventeen, Exo, each of which had sales of more than a million, and Exo’s Baekhyun, who issued his third solo EP.
NCT Dream’s Hot Sauce is the top seller of the year, selling over two million copies of its first version, while its extended repackaged version Hello Future helped its sales pass three million. The album made history - NCT Dream are only the second K-pop group, after BTS, to have sold over two million copies of a single album.
In the past, only a handful of K-pop acts have sold over a million copies of any album, but as the popularity of South Korean artists spreads around the world and fandom buying power grows, it is happening more often.

BTS’s Be, although released last year, was the fifth highest selling album in the first half of 2021.

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According to Gaon, 50 albums sold more than 100,000 copies each. Released from Tomorrow X Together (TXT), Enhypen, Twice, and Ateez also sold over 500,000 copies each.
As for digital music sales, the top three songs streamed on Korean platforms so far this year were IU’s Celebrity, Brave Girls’ 2017 sleeper hit Rollin, BTS’ Grammy-nominated 2020 release Dynamite.
The second half of 2021 is expected to see major album sales, with upcoming releases announced by groups and artists including BTS, NCT 127, and Exo’s D.O.