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10 Korean Idols That Deserve to Go Solo

Updated on September 1, 2018

It’s arguable that a large number of the most popular Korean idols are currently part of idol groups. Given the loyalty that fans have to the group units themselves, it’s understandable if people would want said groups to remain together indefinitely. However, times do change and people eventually leave to go solo or retire. This is a list of Korean idols that haven’t gone solo yet, but absolutely deserve a shot at the solo spotlight:

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#1 U-Know Yunho of DBSK

In the Idol World

U-Know is currently a member of the pop duo DBSK, and was the leader of the group back when it was still a five-piece boyband. DBSK (an abbreviation of Dong Bang Shin Ki, which roughly translates to “Rising Gods of the East” is arguably the most successful boyband to have come out of Asia, boasting over 14 million physical records sold since 2004, and hailed as Kings of K-Pop.

Can you imagine Yang Seungho on piano, Leeteuk on sax, Jonghyun on bass and Siwon on drums in one one band? Click here.

What Should He Do

  • After being the leader of one of the most successful boybands in Asia for ten years, it’s time for U-Know to further broaden his horizons and try different things.
  • A decade of pop love songs should last U-Know for a while, and he should try following the path that Michael Jackson took during the Man in the Mirror era. This will allow him to better showcase his dancing skills alongside his singing prowess.
  • To set some distance between him and the usual pop love songs, he can write new songs that tackle more mature topics and present novel new ideas, the same way John Lennon did with Imagine when he left the Beatles.
  • U-Know can also try different genres or fuse existing ones, such as songs that blend modern and traditional Korean instruments.

#2. Max Changmin of DBSK

In the Idol World

The other half of pop duo DBSK, Max Changmin was one of the two members of the five-piece boyband who stuck it out and stayed when the group blew over contract issues with the management, leading to 3 members striking out on their own and Changmin and then-leader U-Know Yunho being relaunched as a duo. Despite initially not having dreams of being an idol, Changmin showed promise from the start, winning best singer and best artist award at the S.M. Entertainment-sponsored contest 6 Annual Youth Competition.

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What Should He Do

  • You can’t really take away the high notes from him since that’s a huge part of his appeal, but doing the same thing when he goes solo would be boring. He should branch out more and explore his vocal range more.
  • With his vocal abilities, he would do well exploring fusions of non-pop genres, such as classic and rock. He can also do songs where the instruments are minimal, which should help highlight his amazing voice.

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#3. Leeteuk of Super Junior

In the Idol World

A member of the boyband Super Junior, Leeteuk became the leader of the 10-man supergroup and also became part of its subgroups Super Junior-T and Super Junior-H. Leeteuk is known for being multidisciplinary as he has exceptional skill in performing beyond singing and dancing.

What Should He Do?

  • As mentioned above, Leeteuk has a lot more talent to fall back on besides singing and dancing. He can play the piano, drums, saxophone and guitar, and is also a decent actor.
  • He can write songs and play all the backing instruments, which should highlight how much he can do on his own, as well as give him more creative freedom.
  • Leeteuk can play it safe by going pop or R & B, but he is skilled enough to try mash-ups or skirting genre boundaries in order to create new sounds.

Super Junior, DBSK, BoA and DBSK wouldn't be who they are without Lee Soo Man. However, Lee Soo Man is more than just the "father" of these successful idol groups, he is also responsible for what Kpop is today.

#4. Jungkook of Bangtan Boys

In the Idol World

When Jungkook originally auditioned for Mnet’s Superstar K2, he was criticized because his dancing showed “no emotion” despite being well-versed in B-Boying. Instead of being discouraged, he went to the U.S. for dance training and learned various styles such as urban, contemporary, hip hop, even female dancing. When he came back to South Korea, he’s learned enough that he’s now considered one of the best dancers in the industry.

What Should He Do?

  • Jungkook is not only talented, he is determined enough to study in skill areas where he is lacking, making him one of the most well-rounded artists in the industry. He now has the voice and the dance moves to strike out on his own.
  • He needs to emancipate himself from the maknae image and go for a more urban-contemporary image, but without going overboard to the point of looking like a bad boy. With his exceptional rapping skills, the transition shouldn’t be too difficult.
  • He needs to come out with a straightforward hip hop album and collaborate with some of the underground hip hop artists in Korea and the U.S.

#5. Ok Taecyeon of 2PM

In the Idol World

As part of the 6-piece idol group 2PM, Ok Taecyon has proven himself talented enough to rise to the ranks as the group’s main rapper. He has also done some acting work, and gained accolades as one of the main characters in the KBS drama Dream High.

What Should He Do

  • Despite being known as an exceptional rapper, Ok Taecyeon also has a really good singing voice and can write music. Going solo should allow him to showcase these underrated skills.
  • He can emulate the same creative direction that Usher took during his early days, using slow R & B songs with mad dance routines.
  • He can also mix up dancing styles, by going sexy on one track while going all b-boy on the next.

#6. Eric of Shinhwa

In the Idol World

Eric of Shinhwa has all the requisite skills expected of an idol – he can sing, dance, and act. But he also showed an aptitude for the business side of the entertainment industry, as he has co-started a new management agency with his long time manager, and is also co-CEO of Shinhwa Company with Lee Min-woo (while the other members only serve as shareholders.)

What He Should Do

  • In Eric’s case, going solo is pretty much a foregone conclusion. While he has never really teased the possibility of striking out on his own, he has never done anything lately except help his fellow Shinhwa members with their own solo work. That alone makes him deserving of solo success.
  • While he’s too old to go toe to toe with the likes of Rap Monster, he can do a lot to elevate the status of hyungs to a different level.
  • He can also follow the stylings of rap artists who have aged but still remain viable, such as the Beastie Boys.

#7. Seungho of Mblaq

In the Idol World

The scary but well loved leader of Mblaq, Seungho is neither the lead vocalist nor the lead rapper nor the lead dancer but he is by far the most talented in the group. However, he has so far been buried in the background for no apparent reason.

Mblaq has had considerable amount of success but they definitely deserve more if managed right.

What Should He Do

Yang Seungho has the same kind of vibe as Paul Weller and Kelly Jones. They can rock 'n roll with a big orchestra behind them and still rise as the center. He has that bad@ss presence brought about by their ability to show so much sincerity without doing much but stand and sing. He can write his own songs with easy beat, deep thoughts and big background music for such big performances.

Then there is that side of him that can stand at the corner of a street and have nothing but a drum set or a piano or a guitar and reinterpret songs for a casual and intimate jam session.

Watch the videos below to understand more about the kind of musician Seungho can be.

#8. Hoya of Infinite

In the Idol World

As member of the seven-piece boyband Infinite, Hoya is primarily known for his singing and rapping abilities, although he has also done some work as an actor. His accomplishments are impressive considering that he only debuted in 2010 under Woollim Entertainment.

What Should He Do

  • Hoya has pretty much blended in with his equally-talented bandmates in Infinity, so going solo should let him show his true potential as the king of the dance floor in terms of dancing and singing.
  • His main approach should be to produce songs that can be primarily used on the dance floor, this is where his skills as a rapper and dancer will come into play. His rapping will fit in well with dance songs, and being a dancer himself will allow him to craft songs that are targeted towards dancers.

#9. Jackson of Got7

In the Idol World

Jackson is popular due to being part of the boy band Got7, but even outside of the music industry, he has gained fame for athleticism, as he is a former national fencer for the Hong Kong fencing team, managing to rank 11th in the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics and winning first place n the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships in 2011. This is not to downplay his musical skill, as he has trained under JYP for 2 and a half years before debuting in Got7.

What He Should Do

  • Even from within Got7, Jackson has already shown that he has the charisma and the vocal skills to support a solo stint. Going solo could do him a lot of good career-wise, instead of being just another member of a 7-piece boyband.
  • Genre-wise, Jackson has the chops to pull off an R & B repertoire, something in the same stylings as R. Kelly.
  • If he goes solo, he can pull in a lot of audience from his home land. Hong Kong fans are avid consumers of entertainment as well, but they can be pretty nationalistic and might be more inclined to check out a South Korean act if it hails from their own country.

#10. Mir of Mblaq

In the Idol World

The boyband MBLAQ is noteworthy because it was created by veteran international superstar RAIN, which kind of gives them the credit of being the idol’s idol group. It is in Mblaq where Mir showcased his skills as a dancer, rapper, and MC. Mir also does modeling and acting on the side, as is common with many current south Korean idols.

What Should He Do

  • It seems Mir is a perfect candidate to go solo as a hip-hop artist, as he has shown a determination to develop his rapping skills in order to be more faithful to the genre.
  • In order to avoid a cookie-cutter solo career, Mir needs to move away from pop. Experimenting on his own sound and style would be better, particularly one rooted in rap as that’s where he’s shown the most proficiency in.
  • Mir will benefit from collaborating with respected artists from similar genres, including Dok2, LeeSsang, Mad Clown, Dynamic Juo, Tiger JK, as well as experimenting with the sound of DUB FX and other percussion-based rappers.


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