The Best-Selling Albums in South Korean History - Part 1: 97-81

The Best-Selling Albums in South Korean History - Part 1: 97-81

Following from our short four-part series on the albums of K-pop’s premier group, Seo Taiji and Boys, we noticed that all four of their albums were considered some of the best-selling albums in South Korean history. So, we decided to take a look into it.


In South Korea, a total of ninety-seven albums have sold more than one million copies. So, what are these albums? Who are these artists? And who will top the list?

Over the next nine days, we’ll take a look at the ninety-seven albums to have achieved more than one million sales in South Korea, beginning with number ninety-seven, and working our way down.

The figures showcased in this series of articles were sourced from Wikipedia, and all album figures were correct at the time of writing.

97: Jo Kwan-woo - Waiting (1,000,000 copies sold)

Soloist. Singer. Actor. Jo Kwan-woo was twenty-nine years old when he debuted as a singer in 1994, before becoming one of the most successful solo artists of the 1990’s decade.


His fourth album, “Waiting”, starts off our massive ninety-seven album long list of the best-selling albums in South Korean history, having achieved sales of more than 1,000,000 copies.

96: DJ DOC - 4th Album (1,000,000 copies sold)

Debuting in 1994, DJ DOC is a hip-hop trio consisting of Lee Ha-neul, Jung Jae-yong, and Kim Chang-yeol, with former member Park Jung-hwan.


4th Album” was - as you might have guessed - DJ DOC’s fourth album. Released in 1997, the album successful received sales numbers of 1,000,000 copies.

95: 015B - Big 5 (1,000,000 copies sold)

Debuting in 1990, 015B is a musical duo who were one of the most popular music acts in South Korea of the first half of the 1990’s.


Big 5” - released in 1994 - was the group’s fifth album, and received sales of 1,000,000 copies. This was on par with their previous two albums, which where overall increased from the 200,000 and 500,000 copies of their first and second albums.

94: Jo Kwan-woo - My First Story (1,000,000 copies sold)

In his second appearance on this list, soloist Jo Kwan-woo is back with his debut album.


Released in 1994, the album - "My First Story" - managed to achieve a massive 1,000,000 copies, almost unheard of for a debut album at the time, or even today.

93: 015B - The Fourth Movement (1,000,000 copies sold)

It’s another return to the list already - this time for popular 1990’s musical duo 015B.


This time, it’s for their fourth album, 1993’s “The Fourth Movement”, which gains them another spot on the list.

92: Kim Gun-mo - Sleepless Rainy Night (1,000,000 copies sold)

Debuting at the age of twenty-four in 1992, singer-songwriter and soloist Kim Gun-mo famously won Album of the Year at the Golden Disc Awards for three consecutive years between 1994 and 1996.


While not one of those Album of the Year winning albums, his debut album “Sleepless Rainy Night” was a massive success in 1992, achieving sales of 1,000,000 copies.

91: 015B - The Third Wave (1,000,000 copies sold)

Already receiving their third position in this list, please welcome back musical duo 015B!


Though their third appearance on this list, it is also unfortunately their last. This time showing up with their third album, “The Third Wave”, the group managed sales of 1,000,000 copies in 1992, which was a marked increased from the 200,000 and 500,000 sales of their first two albums.

90: Kim Wan-sun - Pierrot Smiles at Us (1,000,000 copies sold)

Step aside - the Korean Madonna is entering the list.

Kim Wan-sun is a solo pop singer whose height of fame in the mid 1980’s and early 1990’s saw her named the “dancing queen of Korea”, and is considered one of the pioneers of the Hallyu wave due to her success in Taiwan.


Her fifth album, “Pierrot Smiles at Us”, was released in 1990, and sold 1,000,000 copies. It is Kim Wan-sun’s most popular album.

89: Joo Hyun-mi - Couple’s Party (1,000,000 copies sold)

If the 1990’s weren’t too much your style, then maybe the 1980’s were?

Joo Hyun-mi is one of South Korea’s most successful trot singers of all time. She has released more than forty albums during her career, regularly appears on KBS’ “Golden Oldies”, and had her major breakthrough in 1985 with the single “The Rainy Yeongdonggyo Bridge”.


However, it’s her debut trot medley album - “Couple’s Party” - which sold 1,000,000 copies, and established Joo Hyun-mi’s reputation as a trot artist.

88: Cho Yong-pil - Woman Outside the Window (1,000,000 copies sold)

From trot . . . to rock.

Cho Yong-pil began his career in the music industry in South Korea as a member of the rock band Atkins back in 1968, at the age of eighteen, but went on to become a famous soloist in his own right in 1976 with his debut single “Come Back to Busan Port”.


Cho Yong-pil’s debut album, 1979’s “Woman Outside the Window”, is another of the most successful albums in South Korean history, selling 1,000,000 copies.

87: Shin Jung Hyun & Yup Juns - Shin Jung Hyun & Yup Juns Vol. 1 (1,000,000 copies sold)

From a rock soloist to a rock group, it’s time to take a look at Shin Jung Hyun & Yup Juns.

This rock group, whose band name related to the lead singers name and an ad-hoc romanisation of “yeopjeon” - an old brass coin with a square hole in the middle, was active between 1972 and 1975, and reached national final for their popular song “The Beauty”.


The groups debut album - “Shin Jung Hyun & Yup Juns Vol. 1” - was incredibly successful, selling 1,000,000 copies.

86: The Pearl Sisters - My Dear (1,000,000 copies sold)

It was once the best-selling album in all of South Korea, when The Pearl Sisters' 1968 album “My Dear” sold 1,000,000 copies. They held this title for several years, before more and more albums managed to reach this milestone.


85: Mariah Carey - Music Box (1,000,682 copies sold)

This is the first of only two non-Korean artists and albums to appear as one of the best-selling albums in South Korean history. The other will feature later on in the list, in another article.


Mariah Carey’s 1993 album “Music Box” was the artist's third studio album, and while being the first album in this list to sell more than 1,000,000 copies, it also managed global success, with 28,000,000 copies sold worldwide making it one of the best-selling albums of all time.

84: Baekhyun - Bambi (1,007,625 copies sold)

Baekhyun’s solo career has made him one of the most successful members of SM Entertainment group EXO, and has gained him immense popularity. And not without warrant. Baekhyun’s voice is simply amazing, and the songs he has released under his career as a soloist has perfectly matched his sultry tones.


In his first appearance on this list of the best-selling albums in South Korea of all time, Baekhyun’s 2021 album “Bambi” has sold just over one million copies, recently overtaking Mariah Carey in the all-time sales chart.

83: NCT 127 - Neo Zone (1,014,581 copies sold)

NCT subunit NCT 127 has made its mark - along with their rival subunits from the SM project group - as one of the most successful South Korean boy groups currently promoting.

The group is the first fixed-member subunit of NCT, with members to be added but not taken away. The numbers in the group name NCT 127 come from the longitudinal coordinates of the city of Seoul. Their lineup consists of members Taeil, Johnny, Taeyong, Yuta, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Winwin, Jungwoo, Mark, and Haechan.


The groups second Korean album - 2020’s “Neo Zone” - has successful managed to sell more than 1,000,000 copies.

82: Baekhyun - Delight (1,031,993 copies sold)

Baekhyun returns, making his second appearance in this list already just within the first article.


This time being recognised for his second solo EP, Baekhyun’s 2020 release “Delight” has managed sales of more than 1,000,000 copies.

81: Kim Jong-hwan - For Love (1,100,000 copies sold)

He is the “Emperor of the Adult Ballad” in South Korea, with a major part of his popularity and fanbase coming from middle-aged people.

Debuting in 1985, Kim Jong-hwan is a soloist who has become famous over the decades for his pop ballads such as “One Hundred Year Promise” and “Reason for Existence”.


However, his appearance at number eighty-one on this list comes for his 1997 album “For Love”, which managed to clock in sales at more than 1,100,000 copies - with some estimates putting this as high as 3,000,000 (although for any potential claims in the list we will be going with the smaller number).

Have you listened to any of the albums listed above, or do you own any of them? Which of these seventeen albums are your favourite? Let us know by commenting on our socials @KpopWise. And make sure to tune in tomorrow as we showcase the albums from number eighty to seventy-one on our list of the best-selling albums in South Korean history.

Ford Carter

Ford Carter is an online blogger studying journalism who's hundreds of articles across half a dozen fansites from the music and television industries have now been read more than 300,000 times. An avid fan of EXO since 2014, and a more in-depth multi-stan since 2019, Ford is a lover of international music and media from across Eurasia. Trot music holds a special place in his heart, as its sound is a perfect blend of kpop and Eastern European funk, two of his favourite genres. From his home in regional Australia, you'll often find him binging kdramas or rewatching old editions of the Eurovision Song Contest.

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