K-pop has truly managed to turn into a global phenomenon with music that features addictive melodies, catchy tunes, slick choreography as well as amazing production values. Thanks to Hallyu, aka the Korean wave that has been promoting the Korean culture for the last few decades. However, Korean music has become prominent in the last decade only, as different types of artists, ranging from groups to soloists have started to get noticed. These K-pop idols, before debuting, are trained for a few years and then make their debut, either as a group or a soloist. Many of the band members either go separate ways to pursue their solo career later in their lives, whereas some balance both their group and solo careers together.
With the unstoppable popularity of groups like BTS and Blackpink internationally, it is no wonder that the members of these groups will face little or no issue once they go solo. However, solo artists are not any less capable or famous than group members. Here is a list of the top most loved K-pop soloists that have large fanbases not only in Korea but also on a global basis.
Widely known for his impact on fashion trends, music and overall, youth culture, Kwon Ji-yong or G-Dragon is one of the most influential celebrities in South Korea who has cemented his existence in the K-pop culture. If you think G-Dragon’s popularity owes to his YG label, you are absolutely mistaken. It’s because of ‘BIG BANG,’ the boy group that debuted in 2006 with G-Dragon as the leader, who made YG recognised. He began his solo career back in 2009 when he released his first solo album named, ‘Heartbreaker’ which made him the best-selling Korean soloist at the time.
As a rapper, songwriter, entrepreneur, record producer and fashion designer, he has managed to extend his influence in various directions. No doubt, people admire him the most and have even labelled him as the ‘King of K-pop’. His songs like ‘Crayon,’ ‘Coup d’Etat,’ and ‘One of a Kind’ are a few of his catchy solo hits.
9. Chung Ha
Kim Chung-ha is a former member of the survival program named, ‘Produce 101’ in season 1’s IOI. It disbanded in the year 2017 and soon she made her solo debut with ‘Hands on Me’ which gradually brought her a tremendous fanbase. Chungha is famous for her exceptional 3rd generation K-pop dancing skills along with her singing and even choreographs her own songs.
Some of her most popular tracks are ‘Snapping’ and ‘Gotta Go’ which topped various charts. Chungha is one of the most popular soloists in Korea owing to her wide range of activities as well as music. She considers IU and BoA as her inspiration and hopes to produce as good music as them. Her live performances are loved by almost everyone because of how well she presents herself on the stage— confident lively and powered with energy. Moreover, her interviews show her amazing personality of how goofy, adorable and funny she can be.
The leader of the boy group BTS, Kim Namjoon is known as the God of destruction. One of the most fierce rappers of the current generation, RM is smart, self-confident and extremely passionate about his music. Although he had begun his solo career back in 2015 with his first mixtape, ‘RM,’ he was recognised for his talent when he released his second mixtape titled, ‘Mono’ which went on to be the highest-charting mixtape by a South Korean soloist, peaking at 26 on the Billboard 200 chart.
He loves challenging himself not only as a rapper but also as a songwriter and composer. He has collaborated with various other artists including Wale, Younha, Krizz Kaliko, MFBTY, Warren G, Gaeko, Fall Out Boy, Primary and Lil Nas X.
Roseanne Park or better known by her stage name Rosé, is the main vocalist as well as the lead dancer of the K-pop girl group Blackpink that debuted in 2016. She released her very first solo single album titled, ‘R’ this year in March whose fame exceeded far more than the expectations. She went on to become the first artist to peak at number one on the chart of Billboard Global 200 as a soloist, as well as a group member.
She also holds a record for having the most-watched, within a span of 24 hours, music video on YouTube by a Korean soloist. Although people know her more because of Blackpink, it is destined that she will gain recognition as a soloist as well in future as she produces future songs.
Baekhyun is one of the most famous members of the K-pop group EXO, who happens to have a big fanbase, with quite a lot of solo stans compared to that of other members. His bubbly and humourous personality appeals to many people and even the non-exols like him. Baekhyun’s songs generally come under the R&B and pop style which, in general, is preferred by larger masses. Not only does he produce tracks that sound good to the ears, but also challenges himself with difficult choreography to meet the expectations of his fans.
There’s no way a person can dislike him unless they have a very odd taste since Baekhyun is an all-round artist and has everything an idol should have— singing, dancing and variety skills along with the visuals. He went on to release his first extended play titled, ‘City Lights’ in 2019, the second one titled ‘Delight’ in 2020 and ‘Bambi’ in 2021 and all three of them broke major records in Korea. He even has made a fanbase in Japan, with his self-titled Japanese extended play.
Blackpink’s Jennie made her debut as a soloist back in November 2018, with her single, ‘Solo’ which was not only a domestic success, but also topped various charts. She is the main rapper as well as a vocalist in her group and her international fame owes a lot to the fact that she can speak English pretty well. She is the first member of the group to start a solo project followed by Rosé and Lisa.
Jennie is extremely pretty and always stands out because of her appearance. She even serves as the ambassador for Chanel and appears in many magazines. Jennie is also the first Korean to have a fan following of over 50 million on Instagram.
4. Agust D
Min Yoongi aka Suga or Agust D is one of those K-pop idols, who are definitely going to have a successful solo career when/if the group disbands. Suga is a member of the k-pop group BTS as the main rapper and is skilled in writing and producing his own songs as well. His rapping skills are top-notch and are, in general, preferred by most of the male hip-hop enthusiasts. The aggressive and raw lyrics of his songs as well as his flow of singing are reminiscent of old-school hip-hop rappers.
He released his first solo mixtape titled, ‘Agust D’ in 2016 and made it available for streaming and digital sale in 2018 which ended up at number three on Billboard’s World Albums Chart. His second mixtape, ‘D-2’ became commercially successful as well, topping various international charts. He has an extremely straight-forwarded personality and remains confident and honest most of the time which is one of the main reasons why fans admire him immensely.
3. Hwa sa
You may have known what Korean idols go through in order to stay slim. Well, Hwa sa is not one of them. She literally went from being not even a popular member of MAMAMOO to being one of the most popular girl group idol of K-pop! Hwa sa debuted in the year 2014 with MAMAMOO and began her solo career in 2019. A talented singer, songwriter, rapper and composer, she is a mainstream solo artist who deserves all the love and respect in the world. Her husky, deep voice allows her to twist the will of a song in any direction ranging from fierce electric pop to heartbreaking ballads. Be it her powerful debut single, ‘Twit’ or the award-winning, chart-topping ‘Maria,’ her songs always stand out as addictive, poppy, catchy and in general, incredible! She is bold, charismatic, talented and has a genuine personality, which makes people adore her.
It’s amazing how far Taemin has come after debuting as a K-pop idol with SHINee at the mere age of just fifteen. He has grown up, both as a man as well as an artist as a member of one of the most successful idol groups and critically-acclaimed soloist. Lee Taemin is absolutely a certified K-pop powerhouse which is evident during his live performances through his dancing and singing skills. His flair for music is a little different from other k-pop idols, which is, mostly, dramatic and melancholic. Over the years, several artists have expressed how much they admire Taemin, be it rookies or sunbaenims.
In his eleven years of an ongoing successful career, being in the spotlight with such an enigmatic stage presence, it is no surprise that the audience gazes at him with eyes full of respect and starstruck awe. Songs like ‘Want’ and ‘Idea’ have been immensely popular in South Korea and topped multiple charts as well.
Literally, everyone loves IU! Whoever doesn’t, must have incredibly bad taste! Let it be her singing skills, songwriting skills or acting skills, she always proves why she is a household name in Korea. She started from scratch and now owns a label of her own, overcoming all the obstacles on her way. Although her music career is not internationally acclaimed, she is one of the most influential, respected and loved K-pop idols in Korea. However, that does not mean she is not famous in the foreign land! She has acted in several hit K-dramas including, ‘Hotel Del Luna,’ ‘Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo’ and ‘My Mister’ that helped her gain worldwide recognition.
Not only is she loved by the younger generation, but various veterans have also expressed their respect for her music. She has successfully managed to establish herself as a formidable force on Korea’s music charts by producing a total of five studio albums in her career along with nine extended plays. Some of her most famous singles include, ‘Blueming,’ ‘Palette’ with G-DRAGON, ‘Bbibbi’ and ‘Eight’ featuring Suga.