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Can Non Korean Be Kpop Idol?

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Last updated:

There are many successful K-pop idols who are not Korean. Actually, some of the biggest stars are not even of Korean nationality. Many stars grew up in places like the US or UK, then eventually relocated to South Korea where they took a bigger interest in the K-pop industry.

K-pop is a very big part of South Korea and its culture. This is where K-pop originated, and since it has become popular worldwide. After all, there is no other style of music that’s as uplifting and catchy as popular K-pop songs.

K-pop is just as the name would imply, Korean pop. However, one debate that has a lot of people talking is if non-Koreans can join a K-pop group. While most popular K-pop idols are of Korean heritage, there have been some K-pop stars breakout in the industry that is not Korean.

Are these non-Korean singers joining K-pop groups crossing the line with appropriation? Or does K-pop welcome all walks of life to join this global sensation? Keep reading to find out more.

Are There Any Non-Korean K-Pop Idols?

Black Pink is a girl group that has risen to international fame since they recorded “Ice Cream”, a song with popular US singer Selena Gomez. What many people didn’t know was that Black Pink member Rose (Roseanne Park) was born in New Zealand and grew up in Australia.

While Rose may be of Korean heritage, not every K-pop idol is. Boy group GOT7 has international members. Mark Tuan is an American who grew up in Los Angelos and is of Taiwanese heritage. While he may not have any family connections to South Korea, Mark was talented enough to make the band and become a success.

Rose and Mark are just two of many K-pop idols who are not Korean. There are some K-pop groups that have more international than Korean members. Some popular Kpop groups actually have just as many (if not more) members from different backgrounds.

Which Kpop Group Has the Most Foreigners?

NCT is a boy group that consists of 23 members and is always growing. This group debuted in 2016 and is managed by SM Entertainment. Out of the 23 members, only 10 of them are Korean. The other 13 come from all over the world. NCT consists of Japanese, Chinese, and American members.

They have members from all over the world, including Canada, Hong Kong, and more. Many K-pop idols from other areas of the world debuted on NCT. Yuta is a popular Japanese member of the group who is known for his upbeat singing. Johnny is an American from Chicago who catches eyes in all their videos.

Let’s take a look at where all of the foreign K pop idols from NCT are originally from:

  1. Johnny- USA
  2. Yuta- Japan
  3. Kun- China
  4. Ten- Thai
  5. Winwin- China
  6. Lucas- China
  7. Mark- Canada
  8. Xiaojun- China
  9. Hendery- China
  10. Renjen- China
  11. Yangyang- Taiwan
  12. Shotaro- Japan
  13. Shenele- China

NCT has the most members out of any K-pop group. However, usually, only a select amount of members will perform at a time. There are many other Kpop groups that feature a high foreign to Korea mix of members, such as:

  • Black Pink (2 non-Korean members)
  • (G)I-DLE (3)
  • GOT7 (3)
  • FX (3)
  • Twice (4)
  • Seventeen (4)

Is Kpop only For Koreans?

While K-pop does stand for Korea pop, it is not a Korean-only genre. Any ethnicity that appreciates K-pop music and the lifestyle is welcome to join a K-pop group. After all, regular pop music is nowhere near as catchy or uplifting as K-pop.

There’s something about this genre of music that has attracted listeners from all over the world. A K-pop idol can be from anywhere in the world. It’s what they bring to the group that matters. When putting a K-pop group together, most managers put talent above everything else.

Many idols who have found success singing K-pop music are not from South Korea but ended up there at some point. However, even if an idol hasn’t spent any time living in South Korea, they still might have what it takes to make it as a K-pop star. This can be achieved with the right training and dedication.

One thing to remember about K-pop is that it is a music genre. Music is open to people from every nationality. The K stands for where this genre of popular music originated from. Ever since K pop debuted, it has been intended to be shared with people all over the world.

Top 5 Caucasian Kpop Idols

K pop is one area of music that allows Asain talent to take a step into the spotlight. This is very important because there has been very little representation for Asain popstars in the industry. For this reason, it’s very rare to find a caucasian K-pop idol.

However, there are many mixed-race idols in K-pop and a few Caucasians that have debuted in this world of popular music. Most people who have become Kpop idols have Asain heritage. Some of the successful idols are mixed race, with one caucasian parent.

Let’s review 5 of the most popular caucasian (or half caucasian) Kpop idols:

EXP Edition

EXP Edition is a controversial K-pop group. This band was an experiment by Bora Kim, Karin Kuroda, and Samantha Shao to see how fans would respond to a non-Korean Kpop group. This band consists of 4 caucasian members.

They were originally formed as an experiment “I’m Making a Boy Band” for a documentary based on a thesis from Bora Kim. However, this all-American Kpop experiment turned into something more.

Vernon from Seventeen

Vernon is half Caucasian and half Korean. His mother is American and he was born in New York. However, his family moved to Korea when he was younger. This group member benefited from his time in New York because it prepared him for training as the group’s main rapper.

Nancy from Momoland

Nancy is a popular member of the girl group Momoland. She first hit the scene in 2011 when she competed on Korea’s Got Talent with her dance group Cutie Pies. Nancy does have Korean heritage from her mother, but her father is Irish which makes her half Caucasian.

While Nancy was born in the US, she moved to Korea with her family before she started school. She is now the lead vocalist of her girl group and has fans all over the world.

Jeon Somi- famous Kpop soloist

Jeon is another half Caucasian idol who is a member of the girl group Twice. This idol has roots that go all the way back to Europe. Her father is a Caucasian from Canada whose ancestors are from the Netherlands.

This makes Jeon a Dutch, Canadian, and Korean star. It’s safe to say she’s a multinational hit! Jeon has made a name for herself all over the globe and doesn’t let her background stop her from seeing great things wherever she goes. 

Huening Kai from TXT

Huening Kai is part German and American heritage from his father. His father is Caucasian and his mother is from Korea, which makes Kai one-half caucasian. He is the only member of the popular boy group that is half caucasian.

Kai has roots in the US and Europe, which makes him the only member of TXT that roots in many continents. Traveling all over the world comes naturally to Kai, as his parents were both travelers before they met. His father even had success as a singer internationally.


While K-pop is known for its roots in South Korea, this genre of music is open to people all over the world. When a Kpop group is formed, the most important quality each member must have is talent. A member’s artistic talents will set them up for a more successful career in Kpop than their ethnicity.

It’s very rare to find a Caucasian or African American member of a Kpop group because this genre of music believes Asain representation is very important. However, this doesn’t mean other ethnicities are discriminated against in the world of Kpop.

Every idol is Kpop has something that makes them special to the audience. Their ability to create a catchy song and maintain an upbeat tempo is what really makes a person a Kpop idol.

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    About The Author

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    Jason Park

    Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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