Updated: Jul 2, 2019
Being born in Korea isn't a requirement to be a K-Pop star (though it helps!). In fact, some of our fave idols originally come from or spent substantial amount of time in the Great White North before settling down in good old Korea.
Let's take a 👀👀👀!!!
1. Henry Lau – Super Junior M
Hails from: Toronto, Canada
Fun fact: Henry went to Berklee College of Music, a famous American music school and studied Contemporary Writing.
Henry (헨리) is a Chinese-Canadian solo singer who was born in Toronto, Canada. Henry’s mom is Taiwanese while his dad is a Teochew (a Han Chinese native to the historical Chaozhou prefecture) who grew up in Hong Kong. Henry has a brother named Clinton and a sister named Whitney. His sister was the runner up in the Miss Toronto Chinese pageant. Henry’s nickname is Mochi because his skin is very fair and when he was a kid, he had chubby cheeks that resembled, you guessed it, mochi.
Henry is a true multi-talent, just look at his abilities. He speaks five languages fluently (English, Mandarin, Korean, French and Cantonese) and mastered four different musical instruments (the violin, piano, drums, and guitar). This guy is so good that the Canadian Royal Conservatory of Music awarded him a silver medal for his level 10 violin skills. A little known fact is that he played the violin on tracks for Super Junior’s debut album and composed EXO’s song The Eve.
Henry struck his luck when he attended the S.M. Entertainment Global Audition held in 2006 in Toronto and was selected from among 3000 contestants. He made his first music appearance as the dancing violinist in Super Junior’s 2007 MV Don’t Don and made his official Super Junior-M debut in 2008. Henry is the maknae of Super Junior M and the overall youngest member of all Super Junior. Apart from his contract as a singer, Henry also had a contract with SM Entertainment as a songwriter and producer. When he moved from Canada to Korea and met Super Junior, he was surprised by the close friendships between guys and the way they slapped each other’s butts, so he assumed they must be gay. He also though Heechul, who was blessed with feminine facial features and sported long hair at the time, was transgender.
Henry debuted as a soloist on June 7, 2013, under SM Entertainment. In May 2018, his contract with SM Entertainment ended and he decided to leave the company. Henry is now under a 1-person agency, Henry’s Workshop. Henry is close to f(x)’s Amber and he once mentioned that they always go out together. He is also good friends with Girls’ Generation‘s Sunny with whom he collaborated for a song called U&I. Henry and Ryeowook have always been especially close. In fact, his relationship with Ryeowook is said to have influenced the label’s decision to include him in Super Junior.
2. Somi – former member of I.O.I
Hails from: Woodstock, Canada Fun fact: Somi can do an impersonation of a chewing giraffe and has two cats named Cheese and Cookie.
Jeon So-mi (전소미) known as Somi (소미) is a very talented 17-year-old Canadian-Korean singer based in South Korea who finished first in Mnet’s K-Pop reality show Produce 101. Somi was born in Canada to a Korean mother Sunhee and a Dutch-Canadian father Matthew. When Somi was one year old her family moved to Korea. Somi has also a younger sister Evelyn. In Korea Sumi was constantly bullied for being mixed and mentioned she didn’t have a lot of friends back then. She even considered getting a plastic surgery to look more Korean. Huge props to her as this negative experience did not stop her from working hard to become a singer. Her family has been always involved with her career – her mother and her grandmother made a short appearance on the 187th episode of Hello Counselor and Sh also had a cameo role in the 2014 film Ode to My Father along with her father and sister. Her father also made an appearance at the drama Descendants of the Sun.
After winning Produce 101, Somi became the center of I.O.I. After I.O.I’s disbandment she joined different variety shows, such as Sister’s Slam Dunk Season 2 or Idol Drama Operation Team TV show where she appeared alongside other 6 female idols. They ended up creating a 7-members girl group called Girls Next Door, which debuted on July 14, 2017. On August 20, 2018 Somi terminated her contract with JYPE and had signed with a sub-company of YG Entertainment, called The Black Label. She debuted as a soloist on June 13, 2019, with the digital single Birthday. Somi nicknamed her fans Som-taengs and Som-mungchis. Somi's nickname is vitamin as well as maknae on top. Watch out because this gal holds 4th degree black belt in taekwondo. When she was a kid, Somi wanted to be a stewardess. Somi admires EXO's Kai, Bigbang and GOT7’s JB. She is huge fan of 2NE1 and her role model is Minzy.
3. Kris Wu – Soloist, a former member of EXO-M
Hails from: Vancouver, Canada Fun fact: Kris made his catwalk debut at Burberry’s Fall 2016 Men’s Show in London.
Website: Kris Wu
Facebook: Kris Wu
Wu Yifan (吴亦凡) aka Kris Wu is a Chinese-Canadian K-Idol known as a former member of EXO-M. Kris was born in Guangzhou, China. Kris' parents split when he was still a baby and he has never met his biological father and has no interest in connecting with him. At the age of 10 Kris along with his mother moved to Vancouver, Canada. When Kris turned 18, he auditioned for S.M. Entertainment’s Canadian Global Auditions held in Vancouver. In January 2008 after passing the auditions, Kris moved to South Korea and became a trainee at SM Entertainment. On February 17, 2012, Wu was introduced as the eleventh member of EXO but he left the group in 2014. Kris were really close with another Exo band mate Tao, so fans started creating fanfics and photoshopped pictures of the two being intimate. This resulted in Kris being weirded out and the two became distant.
On May 15, 2014 Kris decided to file a lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment asking for the termination of his contract. The main reason behind his decision was the fact that S.M. continuously mistreated their artists which caused Kris serious health issues. When Kris was diagnosed with myocarditis, S.M. completely ignored his health condition which lead to Kris losing trust in the company and which ultimately lead to his decision to leave. On July 21, 2016 S.M. Entertainment and Wu announced that they have reached a settlement and he can promote as a solo artist under S.M.’s management in Korea and Japan only (S.M. Entertainment will only get a share of his income until the original contact ends).
In November 2015, Kris released his first solo single Bad Girl and in November 2016 he released his first English single July that made it into Top 50 on iTunes. In October 2017, his EP Deserve reached number 1 on the US iTunes and made Kris the first Chinese artist ever claim this spot. In April 2018, Kris signed a record deal with Universal Records, one of America's biggest music labels.
As you can probably tell from the above pic Kris is a huge fashionisto. In May 2015, he was invited by Vogue China to attend the Met Gala. Along with Chen Kun, Kris was the first Chinese actor to attend the red carpet event. InStyle reported that Kris was the 4th most tweeted-about celebrity at the Met Gala (after Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Beyoncé). During 2015, Kris appeared on the cover of 17 magazines including Harper’s Bazaar, L’officiel Hommes, Grazia, Marie Claire, and Vogue China. Kris is currently the brand ambassador for Louis Vuitton. Kris is fluent in 4 languages: English, Cantonese, Mandarin and Korean. He’s a huge people person and loves playing basketball. He was a team captain of his school’s basketball team when he was 15. In February 2016, he participated in NBA All-Star Game as a member of Team Canada, coached by Drake. In fact, Kris was selected 3 years in a row for NBA All-Star (2016-2018). Basketball introduced him to the fascinating world of hip hop which Kris fell in love with. When not playing a ball or attending a fashion event, Kris travels a lot and he has residences in Beijing, Shanghai as well as Los Angeles.
4. Tablo – Epik High
Hails from: Vancouver, Canada Fun fact: In late 2008, Tablo published a book Pieces of You which ended up becoming a bestseller.
Daniel Armand Lee (born Lee Seon-Woong) known as Tablo is a Korean-Canadian idol born in Seoul, South Korea. This Korean hip-hop veteran and Epik High member has Canadian roots, believe it or not. Shortly after his birth, his parents together with Tablo and his older brother and sister moved to Jakarta, Indonesia where they spent 3 years. Tablo also lived in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Canada and South Korea; his family used to move a lot due to his father’s job. Tablo spent roughly eight years living in Vancouver with his family when he was in middle school and part of high school. The outspoken lyricist has even publicly mentioned his time in Canada in various interviews over the years, which shows some fondness of his time here.
In 2001, when Lee told his parents that he was going to be a hip-hop musician, they were horrified. They were thinking doctor or lawyer, not rapper. Tablo decided to focus on music against his parent’s wishes. He suffered from bouts of depression and saw hip hop as his way of coping. Despite not walking the path his parents imagined for him, Tablo earned his Bachelor’s Degree in English literature and Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from prestigious Stanford University.
Following his passion for music, Tablo decided to join Epik High, a three-member alternative hip-hop group. The group debuted in 2003 under Woolim Entertainment. From 2012 to 2018 they were under YG Entertainment. On October 2, 2018 it has been announced that their contracts with YG Entertainment expired and the group members decided not to renew.
Tablo's debut solo album, Fever’s End, was released in 2011. Currently, Tablo focuses on his career as a music producer and founder of HIGHGRND (read High Ground) – an independent music label which houses bands such as Hyukoh or The Black Skirts. On January 26, 2017, he collaborated with Gallant and Eric Nam on the single release of Cave Me In and music video which was shot in Hong Kong.
Tablo's nickname is Supreme T and he speaks both English and Korean. Tablo's biggest inspiration is Drunken Tiger (드렁큰 타이거) – a now disbanded Korean hip hop group that debuted in 1999 and has since released several albums and won numerous awards. They are known as pioneers of Korean hip-hop who helped bring the genre into the mainstream.
5. Sera – Former member of Nine Muses
Hails from: Toronto + Vancouver, Canada Fun fact: Sera's hobbies include reading manga and collecting stickers. Instagram: @ryuserasera
YouTube: Sera Ryu
Sera (세라) is a Korean singer and actress born in Busan. Sara spent her childhood in Canada and divided her time between the cities of Toronto and Vancouver before returning to her native Korea. Sera represents one of only a handful of Korean girl group members that have either lived or spent time in Vancouver, let alone Canada.
Sera was the original leader of Nine Muses but the position was given to former member Rana right before the group’s official debut. Sera became the leader once Rana left the group. In June 2014, Sara left the group as well as her contract with Star Empire Entertainment expired.
Sera has a younger brother and her nickname is a charismatic leader. She studied at four different schools in total: Gaewon Primary School, Hwamyung Middle School, New Westminster Secondary School and Han Dong University. Sera speaks both Korean and English fluently and can play the piano as well as the guitar.
6. Wendy – Red Velvet
Hails from: Richmond, Canada Fun fact: Wendy attended Richmond Hill High School in Richmond, BC.
Son Seung-wan, known as Wendy (웬디), is a member of the group Red Velvet. Wendy was born in 1994 in Seongbuk-dong, Seoul, South Korea and she moved with her parents and older sister Son Seung-hee to Canada after the fifth grade of Korean elementary school and then decided to pursue her studies in the United States. Wendy was a great student and received many prizes including one from Barack Obama – the Obama Presidential Awards in 8th grade and her name has been engraved at the school’s hall of fame. Wendy knew she wanted to become a singer since she was 5. She was a member of the Richmond Hill high school show choir and participated as a soprano. Wendy auditioned for S.M. Global Audition in 2012 and made a big impression as she not only sings but also plays piano, flute, guitar and saxophone. In 2014 she debuted with Red Velvet. Wendy was voted as having the least aegyo (a Korean term that refers to the act of people, particularly Korean girls, employing a cutesy behavior in an attempt to appear attractive) within the RV members. Wendy collaborated with many artists such as rapper Yuk Ji-dam for the song Return, Ricky Martin for Vente Pa’ Ca and Eric Nam for the song titled Spring Love.
Wendy's nicknames are Olaf and Wan-ah. Wendy used to make YouTube videos but later decided to delete her account. Wendy's favorite movies are Begin Again and The Fault in our Stars and two of her fave band is The 1975. Wendy is able to speak four different languages – English, Korean, Spanish and French. She would also like to learn Chinese and Japanese to be able to communicate with her fans.
7. Mark Lee – NCT
Hails from: Toronto + Vancouver, Canada Fun fact: Mark can't stand ketchup, seafood and green tea.
Lee Min Hyung (이민형) or Mark (마크) is a Korean-Canadian idol born in Toronto, Canada who moved to Vancouver at a very young age. Mark has an older brother who always encouraged him to pursue a music career. Mark is NCT's rapper and vocalist who was cast through the SM Global Audition in Vancouver. Mark was a trainee for 4 years and his specialty are rap and guitar.
Mark graduated from the School of Performing Arts Seoul on February 7, 2018. OH MY GIRL‘s Arin, GIRLKIND‘s Xeheun and GUGUDAN‘s Mina were Mark’s classmates. This guy is quite busy as he is the only NCT member who is in every NCT sub-unit: NCT U, NCT 127 and NCT Dream. Must be quite stressful being in three bands.
Mark has lived in four cities throughout his life: New York, Toronto, Vancouver and Seoul. He speaks both English and Korean. His favorite foods include bagels, cookies, chicken, kimchi, rice, watermelon, jajangmyeon (Korean black bean sauce noodles), chips, bread and chocolate and his favorite drinks are Coca-Cola and banana milk.
8. Young K – Day6
Hails from: Vancouver + Toronto, Canada Fun fact: Wants to be called Young K but everyone calls him by his English name Brian.
Kang Young-Hyun known by his stage name Young K (영케이) is a South Korean musician, singer, songwriter and rapper. He is best known as a bassist, vocalist, and rapper of South Korean rock band DAY6.
Young K, an only child, was born and raised in Ilsan, South Korea before moving to Canada. He spent time in Vancouver before heading to Toronto to attend a high school where he stayed for four years. He learnt English by watching Shrek on repeat (this piece of info was shared by our amazing events manager, temporary expat and a huge Young K fan Steph. Brian if you by any chance come across this, follow her on IG). While still in high school, Young K dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player. Life played out differently as he was scouted during his third grade by JYP Entertainment and invited to an audition. Young K was a member of the original formation of Day6 known as 5LIVE and he contributed a lot in terms of writing lots of songs for Day6.
His Canadian name is Brian and in 2017 he received his bachelor’s degree in Business Management at Dongguk University.
9. G.NA - (almost) Five Girls
Hails from: Edmonton + Vancouver, Canada Fun fact: G.NA appeared in 2PM’s debut 10 out of 10 (10점 만점에 10점) MV.
Gina Jane Choi (최지나), known by her stage name G.NA (지나), is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and actress based in South Korea. She was born in 1987 in Edmonton, Canada and attended Fraser Heights Secondary School in Surrey, British Columbia. G.NA was set to debut as the leader of the group Five Girls but the group disbanded shortly before their debut in 2007. She released her debut EP, Draw G’s First Breath, on July 14, 2010.
She was originally supposed to debut as the leader of Five Girls (with After School‘s UEE, Uni.T‘s Jiwon, Wonder Girls‘ Yubin, and Secret‘s Hyosung) under Good Entertainment, but the company went bankrupt before she could debut.
In early 2016, G.NA was indicted for allegedly having relations with a U.S. businessman for money. She denied these claims and said that the two were in a romantic relationship; however, she was fined 2 million KRW (1,772 USD) and did not re-sign with any agencies after her contract with Cube Entertainment expired.
10. Kevin Moon –The Boyz
Hails from: Vancouver, Canada Fun fact: Kevin’s parents named him after the main character Kevin in the legendary movie flick Home Alone. Instagram: N/A
Moon Hyung Seo or Kevin Moon (케빈) is a Korean-Canadian idol born in Vancouver, Canada. He is a member of South Korean boy group The Boyz. Kevin does not like being called by his Korean name and has an older sister, named Stella. Kevin attended Burnaby Mountain Secondary School – the same elementary school as Michael Bublé and won the Michael Bublé Prize in Grade 7 for his musical abilities. Kevin attended college focusing on fine arts and psychology for four days only before dropping out to join The Boyz.
Another fun fact is that Kevin was in the same singing class as his friend and fellow Canadian singer/cover artist and YouTube sensation Suggi. Now let's talk about Kevin's likes and dislikes: Kevin's fave ice cream flavor is mint chocolate, favorite color is olive and he is obsessed with Pixar/Disney movies. Put on Up and he'll love you forever. Kevin absolutely adores cats but is allergic to them. When it comes to his personal music taste, Kevin is a huge fan of Beyonce, Sam Kim and GOT7’s Mark. Kevin is also a very talented artist who designed The Boyz's logo. If you want to stay on good terms with him, stay away from licorice which Kevin can't stand.
11. Yejin – former member of Brave Girls
Hails from: Vancouver, Canada Fun fact: In January 2017, Yujin had decided to leave The Brave Girls in order to study abroad. Instagram: N/A
Han Ye-jin (한예진) or Yejin (예진) was born in Seoul, South Korea and lived in Vancouver, Canada. She graduated from the same high school as G.NA. This Brave Girls member and vocalist was recognized for her talents from a very young age. From winning a local beauty pageant to being able to play both violin and classical guitar, Yejin exercised her creative outlets quite a bit before being signed to Brave Entertainment and eventually debuting in the company’s first ever girl group in 2011 with just a few months of training behind her belt.
Lim Cheol, known as Dindin (딘딘), is a South Korean rapper under D.O Entertainment who was born in Seoul and who came to Vancouver to improve his English. He mentioned in an interview that he struggled since he was the only Korean student in his language class.
For those not familiar with DinDin, he made a name for himself after his audition on the 2nd season of Mnet’s hit hip-hop variety show “Show Me The Money” (FYI we play the biggest SMTM tracks in the Dark Room each Soju Sunday #shamelessselfpromo). Once the 2nd season of the popular Korean hip hop show ended, DinDin signed with 141 Entertainment, the same company that manages his Show Me The Money mentor DEUX’s Lee Hyun Do. The charismatic rapper debuted with the digital single No Limits on August 19, 2014 and collabed with Girl’s Day vocalist Minah on a track composed by Lee Hyun Do for his upcoming project album. Definitely keep an eye out for this rising hip-hop star, you'll hear from him in the near future.
13. Jacob – The Boyz
Hails from: Toronto, Canada Fun fact: Jacob is your breakfast kinda guy who is super into cereals and even more so into a good cuppa joe (read coffee). Instagram: N/A
Jacob Bae (배제이콥) known by his stage name Jacob (제이콥) is a Korean-Canadian singer managed by Cre.ker Entertainment who was born in 1997 in Toronto. Jacob is the vocalist of the boy group THE BOYZ and is known as the “mother” of the group. Since Jacob’s last name is Bae, he earned himself a special nickname baecop which in Korean means a belly button. He was always into sports, especially basketball which he played for 4 years and volleyball for 6 years where he held a position of a setter.
Jacob developed some truly special talents throughout his life which include (wait for it) beat-boxing while playing the guitar while at the same time performing the earthworm move (I would so love to see that) and on top of that he can imitate Elmo's voice. Jacob is a huge fan of Sam Kim and Mulan, a Disney movie he watched more than 10 times as a kid.
14. Daisy from Momoland
Hails from: Vancouver, Canada
Fun fact: Daisy is a former JYP trainee who almost joined Sixteen (the survival show which formed the group Twice) but left JYP before the show began.
Yoo Jung Ahn (유정안) aka Daisy (데이지) is a South Korean singer under MLD Entertainment. Daisy is the main rapper, main dancer and sub-vocalist of the girl group MOMOLAND. She was born in Seoul, South Korea and later spent 11 years living in Vancouver, Canada.
Daisy was one of the contestants of the survival reality show Finding Momoland. She ended up being eliminated but was later added on March 28, 2017. After joining MOMOLAND, she successfully debuted together with the additional member Taeha. Daisy is in charge as the main rapper, a position that was initially assigned to Yeonwoo. Daisy is close with majority of Twice members such as Momo, Tzuyu and Cha