K-pop, for obvious reasons, may have its foundations heavily set in South Korea, but the industry has a lot of ties internationally. There are a lot of popular non-Korean K-pop idols like Blackpink’s Lisa (Thai) and EXO’s Lay (Chinese) who have gotten international attention together with their respective groups. Aside from them, there are also plenty of Korean K-pop idols who lived abroad and even grew up there before they rose to stardom in South Korea.
Although Korean by ethnicity, many of these idols can speak English fluently because of the time they spent overseas. Below, we list down 17 Korean idols who lived and grew up outside of South Korea. Is your bias on the list?
Red Velvet’s Wendy
Wendy has mentioned on a South Korean talk show that her family moved a lot when she was younger. In Canada, she’s lived in Brockville and Toronto. Her family then moved to Minnesota in the U.S. before she left for Korea to pursue an idol career.
While most of the members of ITZY can hold their own when speaking English, Lia often acts the group’s English speaker and translator when they’re abroad. It is said that Lia is a fluent English speaker because she used to live in Canada.
Stray Kids’ Bang Chan
The leader of the K-pop group Stray Kids was raised in Australia before starting his training as a K-pop idol.
Mark Lee from K-pop boy groups NCT and SuperM was actually born and raised in Canada. When it comes to official events abroad or English interviews, he’s one of the members that would take charge of speaking on behalf of his group.
Like his co-member Mark, Johnny Suh was born and raised abroad in Chicago before he went on to train in Seoul as an idol.
Jeong Jaehyun from NCT lived in America for four years, and that’s why he’s in “Foreign Swaggers”, NCT’s unofficial subunit for the group’s English-speaking members (the other members being Mark Lee and Johnny Suh).
Blackpink’s Rosé (real name: Roseanne Park) was born in New Zealand and grew up in Melbourne, Australia. She passed the audition for her current label YG Entertainment in Australia before flying to Seoul to begin her idol training.
Park Jae Hyung aka Jae, the resident guitarist and vocalist of K-band Day6, was born in Argentina and raised in California, U.S.
Day6’s Young K
Day6’s bassist Young K spent his middle school days in Canada where he went by the name Brian Kang.
Upon joining the group in 2017, Daisy revealed to her fellow members that she had lived in Vancouver, Canada for 19 years. Daisy, however, hasn’t been active in MOMOLAND’s activities since February 2019 and reports say that she is “working to cancel her contract” with their agency.
Former I.O.I. member and now soloist Chung Ha lived in Dallas, Texas for around seven years before she officially became a K-pop trainee, and eventually, an idol.
Girls’ Generation member Tiffany Young was born and raised in California. She moved to Korea at age 15 to pursue a career in K-pop.
In a segment of Vogue’s 73 Questions, the former leader and member of girl group 2NE1 revealed that she grew up in three different countries, namely, France, Japan, and Korea.
Almost every Filipino would know that Sandara spent a lot of time living in the Philippines. Before signing under YG Entertainment and debuting as a member of 2NE1, Sandara was famously known in the country through the talent search program Star Circle Quest.
Jessica Jung, a former Girls' Generation member, and her younger sister Krystal Jung, a member of girl group F(x), were both born in San Francisco, California where they also grew up before being scouted by a talent agency.
Ladies' Code's Ashley
Prior to moving back to South Korea, Ashley Choi, former member of K-pop group Ladies' Code, grew up and lived in Queens, New York. Now that Ladies' Code has disbanded, Ashley spends her time as a radio DJ and YouTuber.
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