Boa Kwon, commonly known by her stage name BoA, is a Korean singer, active in both South Korea and Japan. Born and raised in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, BoA was discovered by SM Entertainment talent agents when she accompanied her older brother to a talent search. In 2000, after two years of training, she released ID; Peace B, her debut Korean album, under SM Entertainment. Two years later, she released her debut Japanese album, Listen to My Heart, under the Avex label. In 2008, under SM Entertainment USA, a subdivision of SM Entertainment, BoA debuted in the United States with the single "Eat You Up".
BoA's multilingual skills (she speaks Japanese and conversational English along with her native Korean and has recorded songs in Mandarin Chinese) have contributed to her commercial success in South Korea and Japan and her popularity throughout Asia. She is one of only two non-Japanese Asians who have had million-selling albums in Japan and is one of only two artists to have first six consecutive number-one studio albums on the Oricon charts.
Boa stands for Beat of Angel
At age eleven, BoA accompanied her older brother to an SM Entertainment talent search. Though her brother was the one who auditioned, SM talent scouts instead took notice of BoA and offered her a contract. Her parents initially opposed the notion of BoA's leaving school to enter the entertainment business but eventually consented at her brother's persuasion. BoA underwent two years of training (involving vocal, dance, and Japanese lessons), and at the age of thirteen released her debut album ID; Peace B in South Korea on August 25, 2000. The album was moderately successful; it entered the Top 10 of the South Korean charts and sold around 156,000 units. Meanwhile, her Korean record label, SM Entertainment, made arrangements with Japanese label Avex Trax to launch her music career in Japan. In early 2001, BoA released her first mini-album, Don't Start Now; it sold around 90,000 units. After its release, she took a hiatus from the Korean music industry to focus on the Japanese market at which time she worked to solidify her skills in Japanese.
2003–2005: Commercial success and image change
BoA then released her seventh single "Valenti". It became a Top Five single for the artist, peaking at the number-two position on the Oricon. BoA released two more singles "Kiseki / No.1" and "Jewel Song / Beside You: Boku o Yobu Koe", both which also peaked at the number-three position. At the end of the year, BoA released her second Korean mini-album Miracle.
BoA reinvented her image on her fourth Korean album, My Name (2004); she left the "cute" and "youthful" style that had characterized previous years and presented herself as "sexy" and "sultry". The album was the beginning of a foray into the Chinese market and contained two songs sung in Mandarin Chinese. The sales of BoA's Korean albums began to decline: the album sold 191,000 units and became the eleventh-best-selling South Korean album of the year. Her fifth Korean album, Girls on Top, continued her image change. The album portrayed the singer as more "mature and self-confident" and was a "declaration of war on male chauvinism"; the "bohemian" look of the cover photograph represented "freedom and depth", while music videos and album photographs that portrayed BoA in traditional Korean dress brought the "idea of Korean womanhood" into her music. The album also continued BoA's foray into the Chinese market and, like the previous album, contained Mandarin Chinese songs.The album sold less than the previous album; it was the fourteenth-best-selling record of the year in South Korea with 113,000 units sold.
2006–2008: Decline in sales and continued image change
In 2006, BoA was mostly inactive in South Korea as she focused her attention on Japan; however, on September 21, 2006, she released her first digital single in Korea, a Korean version of "Key of Heart". Her fourth Japanese studio album, Outgrow, was released on February 15, 2006. The limited CD+DVD edition of the album contained music videos of the album's singles and a password to access a special version of the official website. The album reached the number-one spot on the Oricon chart for its first week of release, making it her fourth consecutive Japanese album to do so. It had low debut sales, however; with 220,000 copies sold, it became her lowest-selling first-week debut for a studio album at that point. "Do the Motion", the first single from the album, reached the top spot, making her the fourth non-Japanese Asian to have a number-one single on the Oricon charts."Merry Christmas from BoA" (2005), the album's last single, was the singer's first digital single. In support of Outgrow, BoA launched a special Zepp tour, B0A The Live, on September 29, 2006. The tour, which lasted until October 29, started from Nagoya and contained twelve shows, two in each of the following cities: Nagoya, Fukuoka, Osaka, Tokyo, Sendai, and Sapporo. She staged her first Christmas concert on December 7, 2006.
2008–present: Foray into America
On September 2, 2008, SM Entertainment announced that BoA would make her American debut under a new subsidiary label, SM Entertainment USA. BoA's debut American single "Eat You Up" was released online on October 21, 2008; it reached the top positions on the online music charts in the United States. The physical single was to be released in stores on November 11, 2008, but SM instead released a promotional CD containing dance remixes of "Eat You Up". "Eat You Up" became a number-one Breakout on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. The remix of "Eat You Up" featuring rapper Flo Rida was slated for release in late November and leak onto the internet in December.
Korean studio albums
2000: ID; Peace B
2001: Jumping into the World (mini-album; titled Don't Start Now in Korea)
2002: Miracle (mini-album)
2003: Atlantis Princess
2003: Shine We Are! (mini-album)
2004: My Name
Japanese studio albums
2002: Listen to My Heart
2004: Love & Honesty
2007: Made in Twenty (20)
2008: The Face
2005: Girls on Top