When the term “KWANGYA” first appeared, everyone was confused. As more and more songs from SM Entertainment groups were released, we began to piece things together and the picture came into view. The SMCU (SM Culture Universe) was teased starting from SuperM and NCT 2020. In NCT 2020’s sub-unit, NCT-U‘s music video for “90s Love” launched in October 2020, the lyrics suspiciously mentioned the terms “KWANGYA” and “KOSMOS“, leading fans to wonder what it meant.

If you’re as mindblown as we are — fret not for here’s our simple and inclusive guide to the SMCU!

1. “KWANGYA”

Firstly, “KWANGYA“. We know that two worlds exist in the SMCU. First, the real world, where regular humans like you and me live. This is simply a term to refer to the existing timeline we all live in. “KWANGYA” on the other hand, is an alternative dimension.

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KWANGYA“, is home to the villain, also known as the “Black Mamba“. We will be explaining it later on.

Now, as according to the lyrics in “90s Love”, the boys are beckoning to friendly beings (the “aes“) to come out of the “KWANGYA” and into the real world. Here, we are made known to the fact that the “aes” can come into the real world to interact with humans and their counterparts. What are “aes” exactly?

2. “ae” and aespa

aes“, as explained by the first episode of the SMCU series, are alter-egos that are created based on the data humans upload. This often includes photographs on social media. As these photographs can often be curated and touched up, the “aes” are often a more “perfect” side of yourself. However, the expert professor for “aes” explained that “aes” are still undeniably a reflection of you.

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“aes” can be your friends and the girls of aespa are seen enjoying their interactions with their counterparts.

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The “90s Love” lyrics sing, “when you become stronger, come and find me“. This corroborates with aespa NingNing‘s line in “Black Mamba”, where she sings “my every action helps you grow“. “aes” can grow stronger the more data humans upload and the more humans interact with them.

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Moving on to aespa. In the SMCU, we know that aespa represents good and humans. aespa will then travel to “KWANGYA” in order to help save the “aes“.

3. Are the “aes” in danger? What is the “Black Mamba“?

The villain, as named in all of aespa’s music videos so far, is the “Black Mamba“. The “Black Mamba” is represented by a huge dark serpent.

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It has the power to overtake technology and the “aes“. The snake logo overtook NingNing’s art gallery screen in the first episode of the SMCU.

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We know that the “Black Mamba” currently resides in “KWANGYA” as it has been explained as such.

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4. Are “aes” potentially dangerous?

The answer is yes! Although “aes” are alter-egos of humans, they are susceptible to being “swallowed” by the “Black Mamba“. As Winter sings, “I’m the aespa, there can’t be two”, there is also a potential danger where the “aes” usurp the position of real humans, the aespa girls!

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This can come when greed overtakes the “aes“. “Greed” is hinted to be a quality that is influenced by the “Black Mamba“. So potentially, if the “Black Mamba” overtakes the “aes“, it can put aespa in danger.

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Black Mamba” can easily win if the “aes” and people give in to temptation.

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NingNing even warns us not to be tempted by the things you see in “KWANGYA“.

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As a tidbit, butterflies are also known to mimic snakes to fool predators. The butterfly is a logo of aespa and their “aes“, while a snake is obviously the “Black Mamba“. On the other hand, snakes are also known to eat butterflies. Do what you will with this information!

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5. The “FLAT”

The “FLAT” is simply where the “aes” are located when they are not on Earth. In Karina‘s teaser video, she asks ae-Karina, “how does it feel like, coming out from the FLAT?

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NingNing also sings that the “aes” are stuck in the FLAT.

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The “aes” will be travelling out of the “FLAT” in order to confront the “Black Mamba“, to be reunited with their human counterparts again.

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6. “KOSMOS

This one is pretty simple. The “KOSMOS” is the end game thus far, apparently. It is the next step that they hope to reach after defeating the “Black Mamba

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7. “Naevis

Naevis” seems to be a portmanteau of “navigation” and “ae“. The “Naevis” is an “ae” that can help open portals and lead the way.

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Karina also sings, “That’s my naevis, it’s my naevis, you lead, we follow.

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8. “SYNK” and “SYNK OUT

SYNK” is simply the term referring to how and when the “aes” connect to their human counterparts. When a “SYNK OUT” happens, the “aes” are not able to come into the real world.

A sinkhole occurred in the real world…

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…leading to a disconnect between the “aes” and aespa.

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It seems that the “Black Mamba” is the cause of this sudden “ejection“.

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9. “P.O.S

It seems that the next step for aespa is to open the “P.O.S” in order to save their “aes“. The “P.O.S” could be the entrance for them to enter “KWANGYA“.

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10. What will happen next?

It is clear that the goal of the “Black Mamba” is to separate “aes” from their human counterparts.

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It is also possible that the “aes” will experience a “Black out” where they are overtaken by the “Black Mamba“.

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One thing that we have yet to find out about is the “NU EVO“.

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Perhaps episode two of the SMCU will reveal more! In the meantime, check out the first episode below.