There have been numerous times that K-Pop idols that started in a group eventually started a solo career of their own. This might have been after disbandment, group promotions, or leaving the group on their own accord. Either way, they have found a path for themselves to create their style of music and chase their dreams.
While it doesn’t always turn out to be as successful as their groups, it remains a path they forged themselves. Here are some soloists that started in a group but went solo later on.
Taeyeon debuted as the leader and the main vocalist of Girls’ Generation in 2007 and other SM projects, including Girls’ Generation-TTS, SM the Ballad, and Girls’ Generation-Oh!GG. Before officially debuting as a solo singer, Taeyeon had recorded soundtracks for television dramas that proved successful on South Korean music charts, notably “If” and “Can You Hear Me” (2008). She released her debut extended play in 2015, which includes the Gaon Digital Chart number-one titular single. Her second extended play Why (2016) peaked atop the Gaon Album Chart and spawned two Gaon Digital Chart top-ten singles, “Starlight” and “Why.”
Her debut studio album, My Voice (2017), yielded the top-five singles “11:11”, “Fine,” and “Make Me Love You.” Taeyeon has further released two Korean EPs, This Christmas: Winter Is Coming (2017) and Something New (2018), and a Japanese EP, Voice (2019). She was a main cast on the JTBC reality show Begin Again (2019). Her second studio album, Purpose, was released in October 2019 and featured the top-two singles “Four Seasons” and “Spark.” As of February 2020, Taeyeon has received various awards and nominations, including six Golden Disc Awards, five Seoul Music Awards, three Gaon Chart Music Awards, three Melon Music Awards, and three Mnet Asian Music Awards.
2. TIFFANY YOUNG
Tiffany Young, or Tiffany, as she was known during her SNSD days, has made a name for herself as a soloist both in Korea and abroad. She has gained fame and recognition for her beautiful voice aboard from a global audience. In 2016, Tiffany became the second Girls’ Generation member to debut as a soloist with her first extended play, “I Just Wanna Dance.”
Although Tiffany remains a member of Girls’ Generation, she left SM Entertainment in October 2017. She is currently based in Los Angeles for her solo career. She joined Paradigm Talent Agency and signed with record label Transparent Arts before her 2019 extended play Lips on Lips. She won Best Solo Breakout at the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards, which aired on March 14, 2019
Sunmi debuted in 2007 as a part of Wonder Girls, leaving the group in 2010 to pursue an academic career. After a three year hiatus, she returned to her musical career as a soloist. In 2015, Sunmi was announced to be resuming promotion with the Wonder Girls until their disbandment in 2017. She subsequently left JYP Entertainment and joined Make us Entertainment, releasing the hit single “Gashina.” Her second extended play, Warning was released in 2018 and produced two other hit singles: “Heroine” and “Siren.” Sunmi returned with a single titled “Heroine” on January 18, 2018. She described the single as a prequel to “Gashina.”
On September 4, Sunmi released her second EP titled Warning along with the lead single “Siren.” “Siren” received an all-kill on six local music charts. Warning was named the third-best k-pop album of 2018 by Billboard and Bravo.”Addict” was named the eighth-best k-pop b-side by MTV. From February to June 2019, Sunmi held her first world tour titled “Warning.”She performed in 18 cities across Asia, America, and Europe. Amid the tour, on March 4, 2019, Sunmi released a single titled “Noir.”
After completing the world tour, she released her single “Lalalay” on August 27, 2019. On February 6, 2020, Sunmi released the single “Gotta Go,” and it’s instrumental as part of the original soundtrack of the web series XX in which she made a cameo. Two days later, a dance performance for the song was released, which later became the channel’s most popular video after reaching over 4 million views. On May 21, it was revealed that Sunmi would be making a comeback in late June. Her single “Pporappippam” was released on June 29. On August 12, she and long time friend and mentor J. Y. Park released the duet “When We Disco.”
HyunA started her career as a member of Wonder Girls but soon had to leave due to health problems. She then joined the girl group 4Minute under Cube Entertainment in 2009. A year later, she started focusing on her solo career as well as solo promotions. On January 4, 2010, she released the single “Change,” which charted highly on various online charts, turning her into an instant sensation.
After her group’s disbandment, she remained with Cube Entertainment. She continued promoting as a soloist until, in 2018, her announcement of the relationship between her and E’Dawn from PENTAGON, also under Cube Entertainment, led to both of them leaving the company. In 2019, both of them signed with P Nation together and made successful comebacks. They were received warmly by their fans, who supported their relationship wholeheartedly.
Zico started his career in the underground hip-hop scene under the pseudonym ‘Nacseo.’ In 2011, he debuted as the K-Pop group BLOCK B and had his first solo release in 2014. Zico is notable for his crossover skills within the Korean hip hop scene, maintaining an underground reputation and mainstream appeal as a Korean idol. He is a record producer of both K-pop and Korean hip hop music.
He is also part of the crew Fancy Child, which he formed in 2016. In 2019, he released his first full-length solo album, Thinking. On January 13, 2020, Zico released the single “Any Song.” The song achieved an “all-kill,” topping all Korean real-time digital charts. Also, the song gained popularity on the video-sharing app TikTok with the hashtag “Any Song Challenge.” On July 9, the Gaon Music Chart certified “Any Song” as platinum in streaming and listed the song as the most-streamed in Korea for the first half of 2020. On July 1, Zico released his third EP, Random Box, with its title track “Summer Hate,” featuring Rain.