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Originally published Friday, June 26, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Asian superstars Wonder Girls open for Jonas Brothers

South Korean pop group the Wonder Girls opens for the Jonas Brothers June 28, 2009, at the Tacoma Dome.

Seattle Times staff reporter

On the Internet

Wonder Girls: www.myspace.com/wondergirlsusa

Concert preview

Jonas Brothers, Jordin Sparks, Honor Society and Wonder Girls

7 p.m. Sunday, Tacoma Dome, 2727 East D St., Tacoma; $27.50-$87.50 (800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com)

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The Jonas Brothers may be the main draw for all the screaming girls Sunday night at the Tacoma Dome, but opener the Wonder Girls are an Asian sensation.

Hailing from South Korea, the Wonder Girls kick off their American tour in the Northwest, opening for the Jonas Brothers in Portland and Seattle; the tour includes other dates along the West and East coasts, too.

The pop quintet — Sun, Yenny, Mimi, Sohee and Yubin — have launched three No. 1 hits in Asia.

"Performing on this tour is such an honor," said Sun, calling with the entire Wonder Girls group on a conference call from Dallas, where they were rehearsing on the first stop on the Jonas Brothers' tour. The Jonas Brothers "are very talented. They have been so kind. ... It's a great opportunity for us."

The Wonder Girls plan on showcasing English versions of two of their popular Korean songs — "Nobody" and "Tell Me."

"We just want them to enjoy our songs, and be happy from it, and then we'll be so happy," said Yenny, the most talkative of the bandmates.

The Wonder Girls are like a throwback to the 1960s, when groups like the Supremes reigned with their sugary pop sound and some Motown flavor. They even rap on some songs.

"Our music is retro-funky-pop music, a mix of the old and the new," said Yubin, who like all the Wonder Girls, uses her first name only. "Our songs are very easy to follow, no matter how old you are."

And unlike racy American girl groups such as the Pussycat Dolls, the Wonder Girls are much tamer, with '60s-style matching clothes and hairstyles.

"Asians like more cute and pretty girls. They're more like conservative," Yenny said. "Americans like more sexy and funky, like Lady GaGa."

Each of the girls — who range in age from 16 to 20 — had to try out for the group. Due to their busy touring and recording schedules, the Wonder Girls lineup already has seen some changes, even though the band formed only two years ago. And two of the youngest girls — Mimi and Sohee, both 16 — recently dropped out of high school to make the tour.

"I think school and studying can be delayed," Mimi said. "This chance will not come again, so I choose this chance. But, later I want to study more than now. This is really the priority right now."

Before this tour, the Wonder Girls already made an online impression in the States. Entertainment tabloid blogger Perez Hilton featured the girls' video on his blog, and plenty of American fans have uploaded to YouTube their imitations of the girls dancing. The Wonder Girls' simple choreography from their hit "Tell Me" was widely imitated online and spread across the world — the so-called " 'Tell Me' virus."

"It was neat for us," Yenny said of the dancing clips. "They really don't know us, but they cover us."

The Girls are at work on their American debut album, which will have songs off their past material, as well as new ones.

"It's very difficult because English is our second language," Mimi said. "There are so many things we have to learn, but we are trying hard and we hope to be more comfortable in English."

And like regular teenagers, in their free time from the tour, they go shopping.

"It'll be great if we can go to Disneyland," Yenny said.

Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or mliu@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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