Art and creativity has no limits and music proves that language is not a big enough barrier for people with dreams and ambitions. K-pop is famous for having some of the most talented artists from all over the world. K-pop does not only consist of idols who are fully Korean or were born and raised in Korea. Entertainment companies are known for scouting talented people not just from different parts of Korea, but from all over the world. Many individuals audition at entertainment companies and train for extensive periods, far away from home, to fulfill their dreams of becoming K-pop idols. Some people join competitions, events, and survival shows to get a chance at debuting and becoming an idol. K-pop idols come from countries like China, Japan, America, and Thailand. Some of the most famous K-pop idols are American idols. These idols were born and raised for a while in America before they moved to Korea to fulfill their goals. Some American idols have a single citizenship, while others have dual citizenship as well. Here are ten such American idols in K-pop.
1. Tiffany Young
Tiffany Young is an American member of the iconic K-pop girl group Girls' Generation and its sub-unit TTS. She is one of the most known American idols in K-pop. Tiffany was born in San Francisco into a Korean-American household. She grew up in Diamond Bar, California, until she moved to Seoul when she was 15. Tiffany, highly inspired by BoA, joined a singing contest after getting encouragement from her brother. An SM Entertainment representative spotted her, and after clearing the auditions, Tiffany moved to South Korea in three weeks. In 2007, she debuted with Girls' Generation. In 2018, she officially debuted in the US under Paradigm Talent Agency.
2. Ok Taecyeon
Taecyeon is the main rapper of the famous boy group 2 PM. Taecyeon was born in Korea but emigrated to Bedford, Massachusetts when he was ten. After his sister, Jihyen, noticed a JYP Entertainment promotion, she persuaded Taecyeon to audition for the company. Taecyeon traveled to New York City for his audition and left for South Korea after qualifying. Taecyeon participated in the Hot Blood Men and debuted as a member of 2 PM in 2008. Taecyeon earned praise as he gave up his American citizenship as he wanted to enlist for mandatory military service in Korea. He earned the nickname Captain Korea during his enlistment.
Peniel is an American singer and rapper and a member of the boy group BtoB. Peniel was born in Chicago, Illinois, where he completed elementary and middle school. He moved to Seoul, South Korea, to become a trainee and finished high school in Korea. He trained in JYP Entertainment before moving to Cube Entertainment and debuted as a lead rapper of BtoB. He released his first English mixtape, Homesick, in 2016. Peniel began hosting the podcast Get Real alongside fellow American idols.
Ailee is an American K-pop idol born in Denver, Colorado. She grew up in New Jersey and was always interested in music. She studied at Pace University before dropping out to pursue music. Ailee signed up with an American agency and had a YouTube channel to promote her music, but moved to Seoul, South Korea, in 2010 to finally pursue a career as a K-pop idol. Ailee debuted as a soloist and released her song, Heaven in 2012. Ailee is a talented vocalist and won many awards after debuting. Ailee received the Mnet America Rising Star Award by Mnet America at the pre-show of the 55th Grammy Awards.
Jessi is one of the most famous American K-pop idols, known by everyone for her confident and powerful aura. Jessi was born in New York and later moved to New Jersey, where she grew up. She moved to South Korea when she was 15 and went to Korea Kent Foreign School with SNSD members Tiffany and Jessica. Jessi first debuted in 2005 and released music till 2009. She returned to Korea in 2014, and in 2015, she went viral as the second-place winner on Unpretty Rapstar. Jessi's bold and charismatic attitude is reflected in her music. She makes music in both English and Korean.
Johnny Suh is an American member of the famous boy group NCT. Johnny is a rapper of the sub-unit NCT 127 and was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Johnny passed a Global Audition held by SM Entertainment in Chicago, where he sang a church praise song. Johnny became a trainee in Korea in 2008 and, after participating in various events, officially debuted in NCT 127 in 2016. Johnny is one of the members who communicate in English during interviews and events since he is fluent. The American idol is as funny as he is talented.
7. Mark Tuan
Mark Tuan is a member of the famous K-pop group Got7 and is an American rapper and songwriter. Mark was born in Los Angeles and returned to California after spending a few years in Brazil and Paraguay. A JYP Entertainment scout invited Mark to audition after seeing him at Arcadia High School in California. After getting encouraged by his parents and passing the audition, he moved to Korea in 2010 and learned martial arts and acrobatics while he trained. He debuted in Got7 in 2014. Mark has been an active rapper and songwriter, both for Got7 and his solo music.
8. Joshua Hong
Joshua is an American member of the K-pop group Seventeen. Joshua was born in Los Angeles and grew up there till he left for Korea. He grew up as a Korean-American and attended high school in California. Joshua was a talented singer in high school, and when he visited Koreatown, he was scouted by a Pledis Entertainment scout after he played the guitar. After assessing for a month, he got invited to audition, which he passed soon after. He moved to South Korea and joined Pledis Entertainment in 2013, and trained for two years and two months before debuting as a vocalist in Seventeen in 2015.
Woosung, also known as Sammy, is a popular Korean-American idol. He is the leader and main vocalist of the indie rock band The Rose. Woosung was born in Korea but moved to the US shortly after and lived in Los Angeles till he finished high school. He moved to Korea to participate in K-pop Star in 2011 but took a break from Music after getting eliminated. In 2016, he joined the band The Rose after knowing member Dojoon through a mutual. The band debuted in 2017, and Woosung became the main vocalist and guitarist. As one of the English-speaking idols, Woosung is very extroverted and social and is friends with other Korean-American idols.
Jay or Park Jongseong is a Korean-American member of the K-pop group Enhypen. Jay was born in Seattle, Washington, and grew up there till he was nine years old. He moved to Korea when he was nine and finished schooling at Hanlim Multi Arts School. Jay went to LP Dance Academy before joining BigHit Entertainment. He trained at BigHit for two years and eleven months before he joined the show I-Land. After securing second place, he debuted with Enhypen in 2020. Jay is known for his fluent English and is a multi-talented idol.