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aespa (stylized æspa) is an announced K-Pop idol group presented by SM Entertainment which will feature at least four singers, as well as digital avatars for each member of the group who will act as extensions of the group, interacting with fans and potentially performing alongside the real-life members. After the concept was announced by SM Entertainment, it led to a surge of interest and jokes among K-Pop fans.
In the following days, SM "drip-released" information about the group, introducing its members one at a time. As of October 28th, 2020, four members have been revealed: Winter, Karina, Aeri and Ningning. It is unknown if more members will be added or if the group will rotate members in and out, similar to the format employed by SM group NCT.
On October 27th, 2020, SM Entertainment CEO Lee Soo Man appeared during the WCIF conference to explain the concept of aespa, discussing how he wanted to create a concept where virtual versions of idols can interact with fans in the digital space while the real-life idols perform like a typical group (shown below, left). The presentation featured a short clip showing Karina interacting with the virtual version of herself (shown below, right). The virtual Karina says she has existed in the digital space as her double forever and finally has been able to contact her. The virtual Karina cheers real-life Karina on and the real-life version teaches the virtual one to dance.
After the announcement, Twitter users joked about the concept primarily by imagining what would happen to the group's virtual members if there was poor Wifi. For example, user @dejunbfs posted a clip of a poorly-buffered episode of SpongeBob SquarePants with the joke, gaining over 800 retweets and 3,100 likes (shown below, top). User @derycafe posted a similarly poorly-buffered video with the joke, gaining over 1,400 retweets and 3,100 likes (shown below, bottom).
the ai members in aespa when sm's wifi reaches poor signal:— gel ?! (@dejunbfs) October 28, 2020
aespa virtual members when there’s no wifi in sm pic.twitter.com/yln7F3iuXc
— ً zye !? asleep (@derycafe) October 28, 2020
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