The world of K-pop has evolved greatly throughout the years. This becomes extremely apparent as we are introduced to more foreign K-pop idols and the struggles they had to go through to get to where they are today. Here are some of the first foreign idols:
Han Geng (known in Korea as Hankyung) is the first-ever Chinese K-pop idol, debuting in 2005 with Super Junior. As he was one of the first foreign idols, there weren’t many laws to protect him, which eventually led to his departure from the group in 2011. In the time he was with Super Junior, he often danced with a mask and a hat pre-2007 (due to visa restrictions), making many confuse him for a backup dancer until his identity was later revealed by his bandmate, Heechul. Han Geng later became the leader to Super Junior’s Chinese sub-unit, Super Junior-M.
Han Geng has now established himself as a talented singer, actor, and dancer under Yuehua Entertainment. He’s won every music award nomination he received from 2010-2016, including the World’s Best Male Artist at the World Music Awards in 2014. He has also won multiple awards for his acting skills, particularly for the drama My Kingdom.
Model and actor Terada Takuya was the first fully Japanese K-pop idol who debuted with CROSS GENE in July 2012 under Amuse Entertainment. Well-mannered and respectful, Takuya became a part of Abnormal Summit in 2014 until he was replaced on the show by Yuta from NCT in 2015.
Since his surprise exit from CROSS GENE in early 2018, Takuya has signed with Different Company where he works as an actor and a model. Takuya appeared on King of Masked Singer in 2019 and has started his own YouTube channel, where he regularly uploads vlogs and challenge videos for his fans, Takumis.
The first Malaysian idol, IN2IT’s Isaac, debuted in 2017. He is still very hardworking and constantly trying to practice his Korean as well as the other five languages he knows: Malay, English, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Spanish. In fact, he often live streams to have fans help him practice his Spanish, as that is the language in which he’s still the least fluent.
Previously, Isaac was cast in the Japanese musical Altar Boyz with Super Junior’s Yesung, later commenting that he was very starstruck about getting to meet Yesung and some of the other actors in the cast. Currently, he hosts The Show with his bandmate Inho, where they meet new groups and do quick interviews with them after they perform.
The history of K-pop is quite rich and profound. Let us know what other idols have marked the wide world of K-pop in the comments!
Cover Image: Terada Takuya (Different Company)
Written by Danny Parotte