Exo ( /ˌɛks ˈəʊ/ EKS-oh; Korean: 엑소; stylized as EXO) is a Chinese-South Korean boy band produced by S.M. Entertainment. Formed in 2011 in Seoul, South Korea, Exo comprises twelve members separated into two subgroups, Exo-K and Exo-M, promoting their music simultaneously in both South Korea and China respectively. Their name was taken from exoplanet, a term referring to planets outside of the Solar System. Their debut single "Mama" was released on April 8, 2012, followed by the release of their debut EP Mama on April 9, 2012.
In January 2011, producer Lee Soo-man of S.M. Entertainment announced his plans to debut a new boy band in March or April 2011. Temporarily named M1, the group appeared to have consisted of only seven members when a photo of them in a dance studio leaked online. In May 2011, Lee spoke about the group in a Hallyu business seminar held in Stanford University. In the presentation, he explained his strategy of separating the group into two subgroups, M1 and M2, and have them promote the same music in both Korea and China, performing the songs in both Korean and Mandarin. Lee planned to launch the group in May 2011, but their debut was delayed and news concerning the group did not surface until October 2011, when Lee briefly discussed about the group's concept plans in an interview with The Chosun Ilbo.
In December 2011, the group finalized their name to Exo, with the names Exo-K for the Korea subgroup and Exo-M for the China subgroup. The twelve members were introduced individually through twenty-three different teaser trailers released from December 2011 to February 2012. Kai, Lu Han, Tao, and Chen, the first four members introduced, debuted their first public performance at the SBS's Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011.
2012–present: Debut, Mama and Rumors of a comeback before the year ends
Exo-K and Exo-M's prologue single "What Is Love" was released on January 30, 2012, through iTunes and various online retailers from China and South Korea, where the single peaked at number eighty-eight on South Korea's Gaon Single Chart. On March 9, the group released their second prologue single "History," which was written and produced by Thomas Troelsen and Remee. The single peaked at number sixty-eight on the Gaon Single Chart and number six on China's Sina Music Chart.
A concert showcase for the group was held in Seoul's Olympic Stadium on March 31, one hundred days after Exo debuted their first trailer on December 21, 2011. Approximately 3,000 fans from 8,000 applicants were selected to attend the showcase. A second showcase was held in the Great Hall of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China on April 1.
Exo-K and Exo-M released their debut single "Mama" on April 8, followed by an EP, Mama, on April 9. On April 8, Exo-K made their debut performance on South Korea's music program The Music Trend, while Exo-M performed at China's 12th Yinyue Fengyun Bang Awards that same day. One day after release, "Mama" reached number one on various Chinese online retailers and music charts. Exo-M's album peaked at number two on China's Sina Album Chart, number five on South Korea's Gaon Album Chart, and debuted at number twelve on the Billboard World Albums Chart, while Exo-K's album peaked at number one on the Gaon Album Chart and debuted at number eight on the Billboard World Albums Chart. Exo-M's "Mama" music video peaked at number one on Chinese streaming websites, and Exo-K's version reached to number seven on YouTube's Global Chart. 
Exo-K & Exo-M rumors are preparing new material and recording for their new album and is expected they will soon make a comeback with a full-length album or a mini album before the year ends.
- Suho (Korean: 수호) is the leader of Exo-K. He was born Kim Jun Myeon (Korean: 김준면; Hanja: 金俊勉) on May 22, 1991 in Seoul, South Korea, and is the first Exo member to become an S.M. Entertainment trainee at sixteen years old. He joined the company after auditioning for the S.M. Casting System, a talent audition held by the company annually. In 2008, Suho made a brief appearance in TVXQ's music video, "HaHaHa Song" along with Exo-K's Kai and Chanyeol. Suho was formally introduced as a member on February 15, 2012. He currently attends Korea National University of Arts to earn a degree in acting.
- Baekhyun (Korean: 백현) was born Byun Baekhyun (Korean: 변백현; Hanja: 邊伯賢) on May 6, 1992 in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea, and attended Jungwon High School. He joined the school's musical band and won an award at a local rock festival. While studying for his entrance exams, he was scouted by an S.M. Entertainment casting agent and was cast into the company through the S.M. Casting System in 2011. Baekhyun was formally introduced as a member on January 30, 2012.
- Chanyeol (Korean: 찬열) was born Park Chanyeol (Korean: 박찬열; Hanja: 朴燦烈) on November 27, 1992 in Seoul, South Korea, and attended Hyundai Chungun High School in Dong-gu, Ulsan. When he was sixteen years old, he was enrolled in a private acting institution. Skilled in the drums, Chanyeol formed a temporary band with his high school classmates, and won second place in a televised modeling contest. He was cast into S.M. Entertainment through the S.M. Casting System in 2008, and made a brief appearance in TVXQ's music video, "HaHaHa Song" that same year. In 2010, Chanyeol starred in the music video of Girls' Generation Japanese single, "Genie". Chanyeol was the last member to be formally introduced, on February 23, 2012.
- D.O. (Korean: 디오) was born Do Kyungsoo (Korean: 도경수; Hanja: 都暻秀) on January 12, 1993 in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. After winning in a singing competition, he was cast into S.M. Entertainment through the S.M. Casting System in 2010. D.O. was formally introduced as a member on January 30, 2012.
- Kai (Korean: 카이) was born Kim Jong In (Korean: 김종인; Hanja: 金鐘仁) on January 14, 1994 in Seoul, South Korea. He was cast into S.M. Entertainment after winning in the company's Youth Best Contest in 2007. Prior to joining S.M. Entertainment, Kai was trained in ballet and jazz dance. In 2008, he made a brief appearance in TVXQ's music video, "HaHaHa Song" along with Exo-K's Suho and Chanyeol. Kai was the first of the twelve members to be formally introduced through teaser trailers; his teaser was released on December 23, 2011. Kai appeared in twelve more trailers in the next three months, and performed with Exo-M's Lu Han, Tao, and Chen on SBS's Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011.
- Sehun (Korean: 세훈) was born Oh Sehun (Korean: 오세훈; Hanja: 吳世勛) on April 12, 1994 in Seoul, South Korea. Sehun was scouted by a casting agent in the streets when he was twelve, and was successfully cast into S.M. Entertainment in 2008, after going through four auditions in two years. Sehun was formally introduced as a member on January 10, 2012.
- Kris is the leader of Exo-M. Also known by his Chinese name Wu Fan (simplified Chinese: 吴凡; traditional Chinese: 吳凡; pinyin: Wú Fán; jyutping: Ng4 Faan4), Kris was born Li Jiaheng (Chinese: 李嘉恒; pinyin: Lǐ Jiāhéng; jyutping: Lei5 Gaa1-hang4) on November 6, 1990 in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, and holds Canadian citizenship. In 2007, Kris was cast into S.M. Entertainment through the S.M. Global Audition held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Kris was formally introduced as a member on February 17, 2012. Prior to joining the band, Kris made an appearance in an intermission video from the Taipei, Taiwan stop of the Girls' Generation Tour in 2011. Kris is fluent in four languages: English, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Korean, and is the most proficient in Japanese out of the EXO-M members.
- Xiumin was born Kim Min Seok (Korean: 김민석; Hanja: 金珉錫) on March 26, 1990 in South Korea. In 2008, he was cast into S.M. Entertainment after winning second place in the S.M. Everysing Contest. Xiumin was formally introduced as a member on January 26, 2012.
- Lu Han (Chinese: 鹿晗; pinyin: Lù Hán) was born on April 20, 1990 in Haidian District, Beijing, China. He graduated from the Beijing Shida Middle School and attended the Beijing Haidian Foreign Language Shi Yan School before leaving for South Korea to attend Yonsei University as an exchange student. In 2008, Lu auditioned for JYP Entertainment's global audition held in China, but failed the audition. In 2010, while studying in Seoul, Lu was scouted by an S.M. Entertainment casting agent, who recommended him to audition for the company's annual S.M. Casting System. His audition was successful, and he was put into Exo in 2011. Lu was the second of the twelve members to be formally introduced, on December 27, 2011. Along with Tao, Chen, and Exo-K's Kai, Lu made his first televised performance on SBS's Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011. Lu currently attends the Seoul Institute of the Arts majoring in Applied Music.
- Lay was born Zhang Yixing (simplified Chinese: 张艺兴; traditional Chinese: 張藝興; pinyin: Zhāng Yìxīng) on October 7, 1991 in Changsha, Hunan, China. In 2008, he was cast into S.M. Entertainment through the company's global casting system. Prior to joining S.M. Entertainment, Lay was a local child star in China, and made guest performances in various Chinese variety shows. In 2011, Lay briefly worked for SHINee in their concert tour as Jonghyun's dance replacement. Lay was formally introduced as a member on January 17, 2012.
- Chen was born Kim Jong Dae (Korean: 김종대; Hanja: 金鐘大) on September 21, 1992 in South Korea. He was cast into S.M. Entertainment through the S.M. Casting System in 2011. Chen was the fourth member formally introduced, on December 29, 2011. Along with Lu Han, Tao, and Exo-K's Kai, Chen had his first televised performance at SBS's Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011.
- Tao was born Huang Zitao (simplified Chinese: 黄子韬; traditional Chinese: 黃子韜; pinyin: Huáng Zitāo) on May 2, 1993 in Qingdao, Shandong, China. He is a formal pupil at Humen Centre Primary School, one of the most prestigious primary schools in Qingdao, and Qindao Middle School. Tao is a martial artist, and has been practicing Wushu since he was six years old. When he stayed in Hong Kong, he won first place in a free style rapping competition. Tao was cast into S.M. Entertainment through the company's global casting system in 2010. He was the third to be formally introduced, on December 27, 2011. Along with Lu Han, Chen, and Exo-K's Kai, Tao made his first televised performance on SBS's Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011.
- Supporting act
Awards and Nominations
|2012||Tower Record (K-Pop Lovers! Awards)||Best Rookie of the Year (First-Half) (EXO)||Won|
|5th Mengniu Music Billboard Awards||Best Dresser Award (EXO)||Won|
|Most Popular Group of the Year (EXO-M)||Won|
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