S.E.S. were the definitive Korean girl band -- the best-selling and most popular of the trio of Spice Girl followers which also included FinKL and Baby Vox, and which produced a commercial revolution in J-pop and spread to other Far Eastern markets.
They were a label-made group, same as fellow boy band H.O.T. -- Lee Soo Man, the boss of SM Entertainment, found them both after researching the local teen market. The first to join was the traditionally vocal trained Sea aka Bada (Choi Sung Hee), who impressed Lee Soo Man with her singing; Eugene (Kim Yoo-jin) joined after sending her video from Guam, where her father worked at the time, and Shoo (Yoo Soo-Young) joined after passing a conventional audition. S.E.S. (the band's name is an acronym of the members' names) spent a year in training (not just singing, but dancing and granting interviews, too) and debuted in 1997 with the album I'm Your Girl, whose sales skyrocketed based on the success of its eponymous single, which featured Andy Lee and Eric Mun of boy band Shinhwa. Their second album, Sea & Eugene & Shoo fared no worse, and the third one, Love (1999), was a record-breaker -- it sold 700,000 copies, helping it to become the top-selling record ever by a female group in Korea. In 1998, S.E.S. also debuted in Japan with several singles followed by the album Reach Out (1999). It charted poorly, but its follow-up, Prime (2000) did better, although S.E.S. never broke through to superstardom in Japan. The band continued their Korean winning streak with Letter from Greenland (2000), which spawned the successful hit Gamssa Aneumyeo, but by then the strain on the group began to show: Bada collapsed during a show after the release of Surprise (2001), a set of Korean covers of their own Japanese songs. The group's canceled promotions hurt sales, although the record still shifted 350,000 units. In 2001, Avex also re-released all of their Korean albums in Japan under new titles, and in 2002, S.E.S. released two albums, Choose My Life-U and Friend, but that year their contract expired, and the band split -- by mutual consent of the members, as it turned out. Rumors of a reunion have circulated ever since, peaking in 2006, but nothing came of it. Bada continued as a solo singer: her first album did well, its follow-up was a failure, but she recovered in 2006 with the third one. She also collaborated with the J-pop star Mika Nakashima. Eugene became a TV actress, playing in Save the Last Dance and Wonderful Life; she had two solo albums as well, but they didn't sell. Shoo was the only one to stay on with SM Entertainment, yet she all but quit pop music for stage musicals, the most notable of which was the Korean version Bat Boy. ~ Alexey Eremenko, Rovi