16 Korean Idols That Weren’t Actually Born And Raised In South Korea


You may be aware that not all K-Idols are, in fact, Korean. A lot of K-Pop groups have members that come from different countries and that have no Korean blood in them, most foreign idols are from Japan, Hong Kong, China and Thailand.

But what about the full Korean ones that were actually born and raised overseas? Here are 16 idols who are fully Korean, but grew up somewhere else in the world.


Born on February 11, 1997 in Auckland, New Zealand and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Roseanne Park, or ‘Rosé’, is the main vocalist of one of the most popular girl groups of this generation.

She left Australia to train at YG Entertainment at the age of 15 and is currently one of the most loved idols thanks to her sweet personality and her powerful vocals!

2. Mark (NCT)

NCT’s rapper, Mark, was actually born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, he has also lived in Toronto and New York. After he was cast through the SM Global Audition in Vancouver, Canada he left his home to pursue his dreams in Korea.

3. Johnny (NCT)

The tallest NCT member was born and raised in Chicago, USA. His english name is John Seo and his Korean name is Seo Young Ho, but everyone calls him Johnny.

He was accepted into SM Entertainment through the SM Global Audition in Chicago on September 2007, which means he trained for 8 years, he even trained with EXO until they started preparing for debut. He finally debuted with NCT 127 in January 2017.

4. Tiffany (Girls’ Generation)

The SNSD member and soloist is doing career at her birth-country right now. Born as Stephanie Hwang in San Francisco, California, she joined SM Entertainment when she was 15 years old.  After a couple of years of training, Tiffany debuted in August 2007 with the rest of the Girls’ Generation members.

She wasn’t fluent in Korean so she had to study it with the help of her members. On 27 June 2018, she made her debut in the United States under Paradigm Talent Agency, with the English single “Over My Skin”.  She released her second EP, Lips on Lips, in February 2019.

5. Jessica

Jessica was also born and raised in San Francisco, California. While vacationing in South Korea she and her sister Krystal were approached by an SM agent. Jessica entered SM Entertainment in 2000 by the SM Casting System.

After leaving Girls’ Generation in 2014 she focused in her fashion company, Blanc & Eclare and has been promoting as a solo artist since 2016.

6. Krystal [f(x)]

The f(x) member was, just like her sister Jessica, born in San Francisco, California. Along with Jessica, she was scouted by an SM Entertainment agent in a shopping mall in the year 2000.

She was cast in 2006 by the SM Casting System and debuted in f(x) as a singer and dancer in 2009. Since 2010, she has appeared in a number of drama series; her latest Drama was The Player where she played the character Cha A-Ryeong.

7. Sunny (Girls’ Generation)

Another Girls’ Generation’s member was also born outside of Korea. Sunny was born in May of 1989 in Los Angeles, California. A few moths later she and her family moved to Kuwait, but after the Gulf War begun they had to relocate to South Korea for safety reasons.

She joined Starlight Entertainment (a part of SM Academy) in 1998 and trained there for five years. In 2007 she became an SM Entertainment trainee and would later debut with Girls’ Generation after just a few months.

8. Jay Park

The former 2PM leader, Jay Park, is another US born and raised idol. Jay Park was born in Edmonds, Washington, USA. In 2004, he became a trainee for JYP Entertainment and 4 years later he debuted as the leader of 2PM. He officially left 2PM in 2010 after being criticized because of the posts he made against Korea on his Myspace page in 2005.

He has won numerous awards and was even a judge in Asia’s Got Talent in its 2nd and 3rd season.

9. Peniel (BTOB)

Shin Dong Geun, mostly known as Peniel, is one of BTOB’s rappers and also one of the many Korean-American idols.

He was born in Chicago, and lived there until 2010 when he went to Korea to be a trainee in JYP Entertainment. Two years later, he was transferred to Cube Entertainment where he debuted in BTOB.

10. BM (KARD)

The tallest member of the co-ed group KARD was born in 1992 as Matthew Lee. His mother is Korean and his father lived in Brazil, however BM is American by birth (he was born in Los Angeles).

In 2017, at the end of KARD’s concert in L.A., his American childhood friends went backstage to surprise him.

11. Sungyeon (formerly of PRISTIN)

Sungyeon was born as Shannon Bae in 1999. She grew up in Santa Ana, California.  She was the main vocalist of PRISTIN prior to the group’s disbandment. Despite her young age, Sungyeon writes and composes songs and is also a talented choreographer. Currently she is still signed under Pledis Entertainment, but there have been no updates on her activities.

12. Joshua (SEVENTEEN)

Joshua Jisoo Hong was born and raised in downtown Los Angeles, California. His parents taught him Korean starting when he was a baby so he managed to master the language. He was recruited by Pledis Entertainment at a Korean festival he attended in L.A., where he was playing the guitar.

Joshua moved to Korea at the end of 2012 to begin his training in that company. Three months before his debut, he returned to the United States to receive his high school diploma.

13. Aron (NU’EST)

Aaron Kwak, or Aron, had a totally different story from SEVENTEEN’s Joshua. Also born and raised in California he admitted the most difficult thing about moving to Korea was the language, since he did not understand much of it, thankfully the NU’EST members helped him a lot.

He was immediately accepted into Pledis when he auditioned and won 1st Place on the “2009 PLEDIS USA Personal Auditions” for captivating the judges with his voice. He had to graduate from high school in Los Angeles and shortly after his graduation, he returned to Korea.

14. Jacob (THE BOYZ)

Jacob was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. His full name is Bae Jacob, and his Korean name is Bae Joon Young, which led to his friends to nickname him as baecop (belly button).

From a young age he was interested in sports, he was in a basketball team for 4 years, and a setter in his volleyball team for 6 years.  He was selected in auditions in Toronto in May 2015. 

15. Bang Chan (Stray Kids)

Even though his birthplace is still unknown, it is rumored that Bang Chan (real name Chris Bang) moved to Sydney, Australia, when he was very young.

Because he came from Australia his members nicknamed him “Kangaroo” and “Koala”. Before leaving Sydney, he went to Newtown High School of the Performing Arts. His dream was to be a singer so he joined JYP Entertainment in 2010 after passing an audition in Australia.

16. Felix (Stray Kids)

He was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. His family consists in parents and two sisters. In Australia he went to St Patrick’s Marist College, a Catholic private school in Sydney. He is a very athletic and has won medals in Taekwondo and Swimming.

He’s really passionate about music and wanted to become a singer because of this reason. His favorite artists are Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar and Logic.

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