There’s nothing like the feeling of being inspired by your favorite K-pop idol(s) while chasing your dreams (maybe become a K-pop idol?). K-pop idols go through arduous training for many years before they reach where they are today. They had to take the first step by sacrificing time away from loved ones to chase their dream of becoming a singer. After they made it as a singer, they continued to expand their careers into acting, modelling and many more!Let’s start with the first K-pop star!
It’s none other than…
4. Kim Tae-Hyung (V from BTS)
Kim Tae-Hyung or V (his stage name) was born on December 30, 1995, in Daegu, South Korea. He will be 26 years old this year. He started his K-pop idol career after he debuted on 13 June 2013 in the group known as BTS (Bangtan Boys) with the other 6 boys (RM, Jimin, J-Hope, Jungkook, Jin, and Suga), and later on, he became a songwriter too. In the group, he’s the lead dancer, sub vocalist and visual. Big Hit Entertainment debuted BTS.
Which university did V attend?
V attended Global Cyber University and graduated with a major in Entertainment & Media. Global Cyber University is a university that conducts all classes online. In fact, on the university’s official website, the university is known as ‘BTS University‘ overseas. V chose to study at this university because it’s easier for him to attend classes while juggling their busy schedules as K-pop idols. He enrolled at the university same time as the other BTS members (except Jin who graduated from Konkuk University in 2017 and Jungkook who just enrolled in GCU last year).
At Global Cyber University, the Entertainment & Media degree course is meant for BTS. The department’s mission is ‘to cultivate artists who can lead the world’s cultural industry by providing character education as well as professional training’. In addition, they train artists to be sincere and real as that is what the present society appreciates in an artist. The course offers theory and field training to their students, which in my opinion is a well-rounded degree course. The courses specialize in ‘vocal & entertainment’, ‘entertainment & media’, ‘entertainment producer’ and general courses. For more info do check out the official page.
Update: In September 2020, V enrolled in Hanyang Cyber University‘s graduate school with Jimin for a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) program in Advertising & Media. The program can be done in two semesters. Check out the official website for more info here.
Accomplishments (K-pop related)
Back in 2018, V began to write songs starting with the song, ‘Hold Me Tight’ for BTS’s album The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1. Later on, he worked on songs such as:
- Fun Boyz (co-composed by bandmate Suga)
- Run (he composed a melody that was paired with original lyrics by Jungkook for the next album The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 2)
- Stigma (one of the songs in the album, Wings)
- Hug Me (a cover that was released unofficially with J-Hope)
- ‘Someone Like You’ (song by Adele, covered by V)
- Singularity (his second solo was released as the trailer for BTS’ album Love Yourself: Tear) which was added to the ‘Top 50 songs for the month of June 2018’ playlist by The Guardian, a British news and media website under Guardian Media Group) + Singularity was added by BillBoard into their ‘Critics’ list of the “Top 50 BTS songs”, ranking at number 2!
And many more achievements (what an inspiring young man)!
As a singer-songwriter, one of the most notable achievements is when V worked together with RM (BTS member), Hiss Noice and Adora wrote and released the song ‘Winter Bear‘. He directed the music video himself in Paris, France and the song was released in 2019. All the lyrics are in English, which is pretty amazing considering that his first language isn’t English. V took the next step as a K-pop idol!
Accomplishments (Non K-pop related)
Other than being a K-pop idol in the boy group, BTS (Bangtan Boys). He is also an inspiring actor and he made his acting debut as Han Sung Rang, the youngest ‘hwarang’ in the drama, Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth (available on Netflix!) which aired back in December 2016 and ended in February 2017. Through Hwarang, it made him realize many things he didn’t know as a K-pop idol.
“I was happy to be able to smile and cry together with Hansung in the drama, and to live as Hansung. I hope that the sincerity of Hansung that I felt was also conveyed to viewers.”– V (of BTS)
It was his first time acting and he felt a lot of pressure and was very nervous but he got through it and many fans loved how he portrayed Han Sung Rang in Hwarang! He actually won an award as ‘Best Idol Actor’ and ‘Best Acting Ensemble‘ along with the cast of Hwarang in the 13th Annual Soompi Awards in 2018! Not only that, but he was also nominated in the 2017 Melon Music Awards for ‘Best OST’ with the song ‘It’s Definitely You’ which he sang with Jin (BTS member) for Hwarang and the song was nominated as ‘Best Soundtrack’ in the Soompi Awards in 2018.
He also appeared in three BTS movies: ‘Burn the Stage: The Movie’ in 2018, ‘Love Yourself in Seoul’ and ‘Bring the Soul: The Movie‘ in 2019. All three movies were already a hit even before they came out in the cinemas as pre-order tickets sold out fast! After each movie screened on their respective dates in over 112 countries, ARMYs (BTS fandom name) rushed to the cinemas to watch it! Some fans even brought their lightsticks to the cinema, it’s like a mini BTS concert!
In terms of donations and charities, his fans do it every year before the day of his birthday which is on September 30. According to a report by AllKpop, here are the donations by his fans.
- 1,230 notebooks and 1,230,000 Vietnamese Dong (55 USD) in cash (displaced children at the orphanage)
- 3,012,000 VND scholarship (130 USD) (for Le Quy Don Primary School students who cannot afford the fees)
- A music school will be built under V’s name (in Guangxi, China) for the unprivileged and give them a chance to perfect their skills
V and his fans really have a big heart!
3. Kim Nam-Joon (Rap Monster/RM from BTS)
Kim Nam-Joon or better known as RM or Rap Monster (his stage name) was born on September 12, 1994 in Dongjak-gu, South Korea. He will be 27 years old this year. In BTS (Bangtan Boys), he is the leader, rapper, songwriter and record producer (Wow! Not everyone can produce songs easily). BTS is under Big Hit Entertainment.
Which university did RM attend?
RM attended Global Cyber University along with other five BTS members and graduated with a major in Entertainment & Media. It’s the same course mentioned above in V’s section. So, we won’t explain the same degree course again.
Currently, he’s attending Hanyang Cyber University with Suga, Jimin, J-Hope and V pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) program in Advertising & Media.
Accomplishments (K-pop related)
Here are some of RM’s past work/achievements :
- P.D.D (Please Don’t Die) with Warren G
- RM (first solo mixtape in 2015) -ranked 48th on ‘Spin’s “50 Best Hip Hop Albums of 2015″‘
- Mono (second solo mixtape in 2018) – a song by a Korean solo artist that was one of the most streamed on the ‘Billboard 200 chart’, ranked 26th (he made it into the TOP 30s!)
- Bucku Bucku (collaboration with hip hop project group MFBTY along with EE and Dino J as a feature)
- Bang Diggy Bang Bang (cameo in a MFBTY music video)
- Fantastic (collaboration with Marvel for ‘Fantastic Four‘s soundtrack’ in Korea, featuring Mandy Ventrice)
- Dilemma (co-produced by RM and Bang Si-Hyuk for vocal duo Homme)
- Change (collaboration with the Wale, an American rapper)
Back in January 2020, he was promoted from ‘associate to a full member’ of the Korea Music Copyright Association (now that’s a big achievement!)
As a songwriter, he produced the song ‘Party (XXO)’ as a debut single for the girl group Glam which Billboard praised as “one of the most forward-thinking songs out of a K-pop girl group in the past decade.”
As the leader of BTS (Bangtan Boys), RM represented the group and gave a very inspiring speech in English (pretty fluent in the language as he picked it up while watching the American TV series, Friends) during the launch of Generation Unlimited at the United Nations General Assembly. It was truly a historic moment for BTS as K-pop was proved once again a big influence to even more people around the world (ARMYs assemble!). Many research was done by professors and students from all over the world who analyzed his speech. The full speech can be found here.
Accomplishments (Non K-pop related)
Back in 2015, RM was a regular cast for the Korean variety show Problematic Men , where the cast had to solve puzzles and problems by sharing their own thoughts and experiences. After being in 22 episodes, he left the show for ‘BTS’ 2015 Red Bullet world tour‘. Other than that, he also hosted SBS’s Inkigayo (a weekly music program) alongside Sungjae (BtoB) in 2015 and Jin, Kei & Mijoo (Lovelyz) in 2016 for one of the respective episodes that were not mentioned.
When it comes to making donations, RM donated 100 million won to an art museum on his birthday! In fact, he also donated to Samsung’s Deaf School and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) Foundation (100 million won, about 84,563 US dollars) in the past few years. He’s such a generous human being that gives back to society.
There’s still a lot of achievements by him but let’s leave it at that.
2. Choi Si-Won (from Super Junior)
Choi Si-Won or Si-Won was born on April 7, 1986, in Seoul, South Korea. He will be 35 this year. In the boy group known as Super Junior, he’s the sub vocalist, visual and centre of the group and he’s under SM Entertainment. He’s also a songwriter, model and actor.
Which university did Choi Si-Won attend?
Si-Won graduated from Inha University in February 2012 with fellow Super Junior member, Kim Ryeowook with a major in Theater and Cinema. The university might have changed the name of the degree to Theater & Film Studies. The course can be completed in four years, pretty common for most degree programs.
Accomplishments (K-pop related)
Before he achieved alongside the super popular boy group Super Junior, he first trained as a solo singer in 2003 and was featured in The Grace’s Dana’s music video. Two years passed, he finally debuted on November 6, 2005 as part of the 12-member (now 9 members) rotational project group Super Junior 05 which aired on SBS music program Popular Songs. They performed their first single titled ‘Twins (Knock Out)’.
Super Junior eventually achieved global success thanks to their hit single ‘Sorry, Sorry’ that was released on June 8, 2009.
In 2020, Si-Won and SuperM were acknowledged with awards at the ‘Indonesian Television Awards’. They attended the award show virtually from South Korea. Si-Won received the ‘Most Prominent Korean Artist’ award while SuperM received a ‘Special Award’.
Accomplishments (Non K-pop related)
Si-Won is known for being an amazing actor in movies and dramas such as:
- A Battle of Wits (played the role of Liang Price in a Hong Kong film in 2006 – his film debut!)
- Attack on the Pin-UP Boys (along with other Super Junior members in 2007)
- Legend of Hyang Dan (MBC’s mini-series with 2 episodes)
- Oh! My Lady (SBS’ rom-com drama in 2010)
- Athena: Goddess of War (played the role of a data analyst and rookie elite agent, the drama is actually a spin-off of the popular drama Iris)
- Poseidon (KBS’ action drama aired back in 2011)
- Skip Beat! (Taiwanese drama alongside Ivy Chen and band member Donghae)
There were many movies and dramas that he acted in but there’s too much to list down (it’ll be at least another 3 pages long!). However, there’s one drama that he acted in as the second male lead. I’m sure most K-drama fans are familiar with ‘She Was Pretty‘ aired in 2015. He was nominated for the Excellence Award as an actor in a miniseries and the Popular Award as an actor in the 2015 MBC Drama Awards. (That’s one of the recommended dramas to watch of all time!)
When it comes to doing charity work, he has been with UNICEF since 2010. He was nominated as the special representative of the South Korea committee for UNICEF in 2015. After he finished his mandatory military service, he volunteered for a UNICEF campaign that was held in Vietnam for 5 days in 2017. The campaign’s title was ‘SMile for U’ and it was a music program organized especially for children with disabilities in ‘partnership with Choi’s agency’.
1. Kwon Ji Yong (G-dragon from Big Bang)
Kwon Ji-Yong or G-Dragon (GD) his stage name was born on August 18, 1988. He will be 33 this year but he still looks young for his age! Before he debuted as a member and leader of Big Bang, he was a trainee at YG Entertainment for six years. He debuted in 2006 with Big Bang. He mostly raps and as his career progressed, he became a singer-songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur and fashion designer (dubbed ‘King of Kpop‘), he really is a well-rounded K-pop star!
Which university did G-Dragon attend?
In 2008, GD enrolled at Kyung Hee University for post-modern music. However, he had to drop out due to his busy schedule. Instead, he did a Bachelor’s degree in Leisure Sports Studies at Gukje Cyber University and successfully graduated in 2013. His degree course was under the Department of Leisure Sport and it focuses on using a scientific approach to leisure activities and making an effort by boosting national fitness. Basically, the students are trained in a number of sports (Quite interesting, isn’t it?).
He continued with a Master’s degree in Content and Retail Distribution at Sejong University and graduated in 2016. After that, he had plans for a doctoral degree but it had to be delayed as it was time for him to join the military.
Accomplishments (K-pop related)
At only 6 years old, G-Dragon (GD) debuted in a group known as ‘Little Roo’Ra’. However, after they released a Christmas album, his group’s contract was terminated by the company which was a shock to GD. When he grew up a bit more, he was scouted by SM Entertainment and was a trainee at the company for 5 years starting from the age of 8. He mostly danced while he was at SM Ent but he left soon after.
Fast forward to his discovery for his love in rapping!
Thanks to a friend, he was inspired by an American rap group called ‘Wu-Tang Clan’. He began taking classes and slowly he progressed. Eventually, he participated in the making of the Korean hip-hop album Flex under People Crew’s tutelage in 2001. He became the youngest Korean rapper at only 13 years old (what were you doing at that age?). Even though his English was weak but he still wrote his own lyrics and the story behind the lyrics was the typical ‘I’m young but I’m the best’ story (well everyone needs that confidence, right?). This was when he was friends with Choi Seung-Hyun (T.O.P) and would enjoy dancing and rapping together but not so much after GD moved to another neighborhood.
GD almost debuted with Dong Young-Bae (Tae-yang), who’s another trainee at YG Ent. The hip hop duo was to be called GDYB. They were featured in albums by other artists and had a few singles with Dong. That’s when YG Entertainment decided to cancel the idea of debuting the hip hop duo and moved on to the idea of a boy brand instead. This is when the five members of Big Bang came together. Their debut was quite a success as they sold more than 100,000 albums, including G-Dragon’s first solo which was a cover of the ‘American alternative rock group’ Maroon 5’s This Love. GD then starting writing songs like Lies (2007) that shot the group to fame, Last Farewell and Day By Day. All of the songs did very well!
And here are more of G-Dragon’s past work/achievements:
- Hot (Tae-yang’s debut extended play (EP) in 2008)
- Only Look At Me (Part Two of Tae-Yang’s EP lead single)
- Super Fly (GD featured in Lexy’s song with Tae-yang and T.O.P)
- Rain is Fallin’/Hybrid Dream (collaboration with the Japanese boy band, W-inds)
- Heartbreaker (GD’s first solo album where he collab with a few amazing artists) – it won Album of The Year in the 2009 Mnet Asian Music Awards
- Shine a Light (GD’s live album where Flo Rida was featured)
- GD & TOP (album by G-dragon and T.O.P) included songs such as High-High, Oh Yeah & Knock Out
- Having An Affair (a song by GD and Park Myung Soo featuring Park Bom (2NE1), especially for the 2011 Seohae Ahn Highway Sng Festival)
- One of A Kind (first EP in 2012 – got first place on the Billboard World Album Chart & entered the chart at 161)
And many more!
Accomplishments (Non K-pop related)
GD has earned himself the title King of Fashion in the fashion world and has attended many fashion shows held in New York, Paris, and Italy. He’s known for creating fashion trends that nobody would think of! In fact, he was selected as the Best Dressed Celebrity of 2012 by The Chosun Ilbo (a leading daily newspaper in South Korea). Not only that, New York selected him as one of the Best-Dressed Street Style Starts in 2014!
In the following years (2015 & 2016), he was included in the list of Business of Fashion’s 500 Global Fashion Leaders (how amazing is that!). He’s actually one of the five Koreans and the only K-pop star on the list. Hypebeast also included him in Hypebeast’s 100 Innovators list and he was the only Korean.
GD launched his own fashion brand Peaceminusone (an online store) in October 2016 with his stylist Gee Eun. His brand appeared on few fashion runway shows before. Later on, a physical store was opened in London on Dover Street Market and another in Seoul. A few years later, after GD completed his military service, he collaborated with Nike for the Nike Air Force 1 Para-Noise in November 2019. He became the first Korean singer to have this special collaboration. He even became a model for a famous China beverage brand ‘Chapai’ in Nongpushan of China.
GD’s first business venture was a pension hotel that he built and gifted his family in 2012. Fans can actually stay there and it is run by his parents in Pocheon, South Korea. it’s known as Dolce Bita. Next, GD opened his first cafe known as ‘Monsant Cafe‘ on 20 October 2015 on Jeju Island (omg the view is SO beautiful)! Then, he opened his second cafe ‘Untitled, 2017‘ which was inspired by his recent single and a bowling alley was built at the same time. He designed both of them and it’s located within ‘YG Entertainment’s YG Republique building complex YG Town of Jeju’s Shinhwa World resort (he’s the ambassador).
He also supported a number of charity organizations starting from 2013.
- Helped to build a school in Nepal (collaboration with YG Entertainment’s With Campaign)
- Donated to a fishery in Haiti (a booth was open to fans during the final concert of his world)
- Donated 9.9 tons of rice (with the help of fans from 14 countries)
- Donated 81.8 million won (80,000 US dollars) on his birthday every year
- Donated 50 million won (43,4000 US dollars) in 2011, fans donated under his name
- Privately donated to Seoul National University to help children suffering from diseases to get treated
- Raised funds for UN Refugee Agency and the Red Campaign (AIDS)
- Fruit harvested from the citrus tree forest (named Kwon Ji-Yong, his real name) in Seogwipo on Jeju Island will be donated to charity events (May 2017)
All these inspirational K-pop stars continue to amaze us with their talents and generosity towards society! Their country must be proud of their achievements! The challenges they had to go through to become the person they are today and the fans that supported them until today. It must have not been an easy life for them as K-pop stars.
Now let’s carry on and continue to reach our goals one step at a time because ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.
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