Excited fans got to see the Thai version of AKB48 girl group on Saturday, following the success of the original group in Japan.
BNK48, short for Bangkok48, is an idol group consisting of 29 Thai girls aged 13 – 23 who passed the audition last year. The girls’ official debut took place at Japan Expo at CentralWorld on Jan. 12, Manager Online reported.
Following the Indonesian and Chinese versions, “JKT48” in Jakarta and “SNH48” in Shanghai, the Bangkok unit becomes the third overseas franchise of AKB48, who is said to be one of the most commercially successful idol groups and highest selling music acts in Japan.
The original group formed under the concept “idols you can meet.” AKB stands for Akihabara, the area in Tokyo where the group’s theater is located. To date, AKB48 has 136 members, separated into several teams that take turns performing at the theater and events. When a member gets older, she may “graduate” from the group and allow a younger “trainee” to replace her.
Unlike traditional Japanese idols before the founding of AKB48, fans can interact with the girls, like shaking hands or taking pictures at regularly hosted events. They can buy a CD and get to cast a ballot to elect which girl will lead the line up in the next single. Aside from their ‘kawaii’ looks, their interaction with fans is one of the factors that contributed to the group’s commercial success — AKB48 has released over 27 singles that each sold over millions copies, and 5 million albums.
Meanwhile, Thai fans have to wait a while to hear the first single of BNK48.