10 K-Pop Acts That Dominated 2022

From record-breaking debuts to major world tours, here are 10 K-pop acts that defined the year

top K-pop acts 2022
Illustration by Allison Aubrey

    The 2022 edition of our Annual Report continues with a spotlight on some of the best and brightest acts in K-pop. As the year winds down, stay tuned for more awards, lists, and articles about the best music, film, and TV of the year. You can find it all in one place here.

    As 2022 winds to a close, it’s a little unbelievable to consider how much has happened in K-pop this year. Between comebacks, departures, surprise releases, and exciting debuts, it was very difficult to narrow it down to just 10 acts in particular who dominated the conversation.

    It’s worth remembering that there’s something for everyone under the K-pop umbrella, whether you’re more drawn to a group’s camaraderie, sonic style, great choreography, or fun concept. Elsewhere in our 2022 Annual Report, we’ve already discussed the impact of BTS (who have arguably transcended the K-pop label altogether), and are here to dig into 10 more acts that made headlines and made great music throughout the past year.


    Check out the list, arranged in alphabetical order, with exclusive insights and reflections from group members below.


    aespa video interview k-pop group of the future

    aespa, photo courtesy of SM Entertainment

    It was another big year for aespa, the K-pop group of the future. Barely two years into their story, these four have found the balance of experimental and conventionally catchy that keeps their music on repeat. As their team dynamic continues to grow, so does their global listener base.

    KARINA: It was super nice to meet our fans while promoting this year, and it was nice having time to practice on our own and refresh during our breaks. I am looking forward to our next comeback, and excited to show different sides of aespa and our unique charms!


    WINTER: I am so proud of our teamwork and how we pushed through this amazing year as a group. We help energize each other and for that, I am always grateful. I hope our fans feel the same positive energy when are all together!

    NINGNING: I am proud of how much we’ve all grown. I also want to share that we are constantly working hard to improve and become better artists! I am confident we can showcase our continuous growth if we continue to put in the hard work.

    GISELLE: This year, we have seen a lot of growth as a team, and I’m proud of how far we’ve come. We are so thankful to our fans, for their love and support. They truly motivate us to work hard and come back better and stronger than before!


    KARINA: This year, we did in-person signing events with our fans for the first time, and it was so much fun. Before, we were only able to meet our fans very briefly on stage, at music shows, or during video call fan events. But now, we have more opportunities to see our fans in-person, like small meet & greet fan events during music show promotions. Each interaction is memorable and precious, and meeting our MYs always makes our day!

    WINTER: Each and every stage with our MYs this year has been very meaningful and precious. It’s incredible being able to perform in front of our fans now and I can’t wait to meet more MYs next year!

    NINGNING: Each and every time we meet our MYs becomes a precious memory. This year, we met our fans in Paris for the first time, and it was truly a new uplifting experience. I hope we can meet more of our fans in the future and create more memories together.


    GISELLE: MYs we met in Paris during Paris Fashion Week were especially memorable since everything was a first-time experience. I loved interacting with each and every one of them. I hope to see them again in Paris and visit other cities to meet more of our MYs around the world.

    KARINA: This year, I got to talk a lot with the members. We became so much tighter and spent the year better understanding and considering one another. Since before the debut, we have talked about wanting to shoot a reality content, so I’m glad we got to film one this year and spend a lot of time together!

    WINTER: It was most memorable when the four of us went to film our reality content, which also ended up being our first trip together. I especially recall we were at this place up high, and we turned off all the lights to look for the stars in the sky. I can’t wait for you guys to watch it!