Over the years, K-pop has grown into something more global, and we have begun to see a rise in foreign idols entering the K-pop industry and making their debut. In fact, there are plenty of K-pop groups today whose several members are from different countries. With the amount of foreign K-pop idols today, there is bound to be someone who is the first in their country to join K-pop.
With that, here are the first idols to become a K-pop idol from their country.
*Excludes idols of Korean descent from foreign countries
1. 2PM Nickhun – Thailand
(Photo : Instagram: @khunsta0624)
Nickhun became the first-ever Thai to debut as a K-pop idol. He debuted as a member of 2PM under JYP Entertainment back in 2008 after moving to South Korea in 2006. Following his debut as a K-pop idol, other notable Thai idols that emerged in the industry include NCT Ten, BLACKPINK Lisa, (G)I-DLE Minnie, GOT7 BamBam, and more.
2. Ex-Super Junior Han Geng – China
(Photo : Weibo: 韩庚)
In November 2005, Han Geng debuted as a member of Super Junior and its Mandarin-language unit Super Junior-M. With his debut with Super Junior, Han Geng became the first-ever Chinese to debut in the K-pop industry. Today, there are countless Chinese idols in the K-pop industry, such as aespa NingNing, EVERGLOW Yiren, EXO Lay, and more.
3. BLACKSWAN Fatou – Senegal
(Photo : Facebook: BLACKSWAN)
In June 2020, Fatou made her debut as a member of BLACKSWAN, thus making her the first-ever African K-pop idol from Senegal, where she lived until she was 12 years old. Currently, Fatou is the only active African idol in the industry.
4. BLACKSWAN Sriya Lenka – India
(Photo : Instagram: @blackswan___official)
BLACKSWAN Sriya Lenka
Another BLACKSWAN member who became the first K-pop idol from her country is Sriya Lenka! The BLACKSWAN member is from India, and made her debut as a member of the group in just recently in May of this year.
5. Kriesha Chu – Philippines
(Photo : Instagram: @krieshachu_official)
Kriesha Chu is the first-ever Filipino K-pop idol. She didn’t debut in a group, rather, she debuted as a solo artist in 2017 after competing on the SBS competition program K-pop Star 6: The Last Chance, where she finished as a runner-up. Other well-known K-pop idols of Filipino descent include LAPILLUS Chanty.
BONUS: Ex-BP RANIA Alex Reid
(Photo : Instagram: @thealexreid)
Ex-BP RANIA Alex Reid
Although not a country, Alex Reid made history by becoming K-pop’s first ever African-American idol. She made her debut as the leader of BP RANIA back November 2015, an earlier version of the currently active group BLACKSWAN. Her debut allowed for African descent to enter in the industry.
Which other K-pop idols do you know are the first from their country?
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Written by Robyn Joan