Aespa is a unique K-pop girl group in that there are basically two separate answers to how many members are in the group. There are four human members, but then there are also four virtual avatars representing those human members that are featured in music videos and other content. A fan can go down quite a rabbit hole researching all of the mythology of Aespa and the virtual SM Culture Universe, if they so choose. However, a slightly more casual fan will have no problem just focusing on the human members. And if you want to know who the leader of Aespa is among those four real members — Karina, Giselle, Winter, and Ningning — here is the answer.
The Leader of Aespa Is Karina
Yes, Karina is the leader, and the reasons why seem pretty straightforward. For starters, Karina is the oldest of the four Aespa members, though she is only about half a year older than Giselle. Karina was also born and raised in South Korea, whereas Giselle (who is half Korean, half Japanese) grew up in Japan and Ningning was born in China. Coincidentally or not, the leader of a K-pop group is often someone who is ethnically Korean, even if another member is older. (It is tempting to point to Chaewon being the leader of Le Sserafim as an example, since Japanese member Sakura is older and has more industry experience, but as we have detailed elsewhere, there is actually a special reason why Sakura is not the leader.) A leader having to be Korean is by no means a steadfast rule though.
Of course, another, more important reason why Karina is leader is that she is simply suited to the position. While Karina has said that she feels pressure to lead the team well, her warmth and concern for her members has come across in Aespa’s many promotions. Karina may be one of the most famous visuals of the fourth generation of K-pop (alongside Wonyoung in IVE), making her a good spokesperson for the group, but it is more than her visuals (and her height) that make her an effective leader.
So, Karina is the answer to who the leader of Aespa is, and she’s already an iconic figure in K-pop. However, everyone in Aespa is pretty iconic. For more about the group, check out when they debuted, who speaks English or other languages in Aespa, or our archive of all the Aespa music videos. Or for another iconic SM Entertainment group, check out who the leader of Red Velvet is and how old the Red Velvet members are.