If you’re a fan of K-pop, you already know that idols are multitalented. Although they’re often restricted to labels to fit a position within a group, many frequently end up pursuing interests and even additional careers outside that box. Here are nine individuals who have made or are making a name for themselves outside of K-pop:
Perhaps most known for being one of three rappers of boy group GOT7, Jackson has also gained a fanbase from his solo career, both working with 88rising and starting his music label and fashion brand, TEAM WANG. No wonder he’s the most followed male K-pop idol on Instagram. Lately, Jackson has been extremely busy! He’s writing his own songs, as well as for others, producing music, directing music videos, etc. You name it, the man is doing it!
While still a member of girl group CLC, Thai singer Sorn made her solo debut with “Run.” Some of her fans, however, know her for something entirely different: TikTok. Staying up to date with the latest trends, she posts various content from short dance covers to funny skits. She also has a YouTube channel, Produsorn, where she posts behind-the-scenes videos, vlogs, and covers.
Technically not exactly a K-pop idol, Jae is a member of JYP Entertainment’s rock band DAY6. Jae has done just about everything. He also releases his own music, self-written solo tracks under the name eaJ. He was a host on After School Club, a YouTuber, Twitch streamer with the likes of Corpse Husband and Sykkuno, and was a host of DIVE Studios’ podcast How Did I Get Here?. Last year, he, along with 2PM’s Nichkhun, appeared as members of the crime-fighting boyband 4 2 Sing in Big Hero 6: The Series. A mental health advocate, he worked on another project with DIVE Studios in which he released an audio collection of personal stories discussing deeper topics through the MINDSET app. Additionally, he launched a clothing line collaboration with Represent called FROM FRIENDS. Both his audio collection and clothing line’s would give a portion of the proceeds to The Jed Foundation.
AleXa is a K-pop solo artist with an AI concept. She was a co-host of How Did I Get Here? alongside Jae. Additionally, she also kills it at the TikTok scene (she even did the WAP challenge!). On her YouTube channel, AleXa 360, she uploads fun videos and vlogs that show a more in-depth look into the Korean entertainment industry.
Eric Nam is a household name in K-pop. He’s interviewed just about every celebrity imaginable from your favorite K-pop idols to your favorite Marvel Avengers. Nam was also a host on After School Club, and has collaborated with numerous idols, such as Somi and Red Velvet’s Wendy. His first all-English album was released in 2019. To add even more onto his busy schedule, he’s become quite the entrepreneur as he and his brothers founded DIVE Studios. It’s home to several podcasts, such as Daebak Show with Eric Nam, where he reviews K-pop releases; and Commit or Quit, a show created out of quarantine as he, with at least one of his brothers and sometimes a celebrity guest, review TV shows and movies. He also released an audio collection through MINDSET in which he openly shares his struggles and anxieties.
The increase of hate crimes against the AAPI community since COVID-19 affected Nam greatly. He used his platform to speak out against racism and encourage dialogue to promote a positive change. He has spoken on CNN and written for TIME.
One of the most beloved female solo artists in K-pop, IU began a career working in both variety shows and K-dramas soon after her music debut. Her fifth studio album Lilac was released in March 2021. Some of her most popular K-dramas include Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, and more recently, Persona and Hotel del Luna.
Originally from Canada, Henry Lau has always been especially musically gifted, playing the violin, piano, and guitar. In 2007, he officially began a career in K-pop, appearing as a violinist in Super Junior’s music video for “Don’t Don.” A year later, he debuted as a member of the Chinese sub-unit of Super Junior known as Super Junior-M (Super Junior-Mandarin). In 2013, he made his solo debut with Trap. Five years later, after leaving SM Entertainment, he established his own studio, Henry’s Workshop, and joined Monster Entertainment Group. Like most idols, he has appeared on numerous popular Korean variety shows.
While he still has a successful career as a solo artist, he has also pursued an acting career in recent years. In 2019, he made his Hollywood acting debut in the sequel to A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Journey. Last year, he starred in the Chinese fantasy action-adventure film Double World, which is available to watch on Netflix. This year, he has a cameo role in season two of Drama World, for which he also appears on the soundtrack; and is on his second season of Henry Together, a series where he highlights young talented artists. Besides his YouTube channel, he has a TikTok, which includes participation in humorous trends and mini-skits.
Known as an amazing vocalist and 1/4 of YG Entertainment’s supergroup BLACKPINK, she has also begun an acting career. Set to release later this year, she is the female lead alongside actor Jung Hae-in in Snowdrop, a romance set during the 1987 Democracy Movement. Earlier this year, she also made her voice acting debut as Chichi, a rabbit character inspired by her fans’ nickname for her (Turtle Rabbit Kim) as part of a collaboration with LINE FRIENDS and mobile game KartRider Rush+. She helped to design the character as well as exclusive items and accessories.
BM or “Big Matthew” from KARD has gained quite the reputation among the K-pop community as the president of the “Big Tiddie Committee.” He’s turned it into a positive movement as he released merchandise through STAYDIUM in which part of the proceeds was donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. His latest clothing line, Healers benefits Stomp Out Bullying. He also previously hosted a DIVE Studios’ podcast, Get Real, with BTOB’s Peniel and Ashley Choi. He also released a MINDSET audio collection, hoping to inspire and motivate others with his personal stories of overcoming challenges. He made his solo debut in June 2021 with “Broken Me.”
Header: Jae Park (JYP Entertainment)