10 Smartest Korean Idols

Celebrities, particularly pop stars, are usually stereotyped as not being the sharpest tools in the shed, and many of them do prove the critics right from time to time. However, many Kpop idols are proving to be an exception as despite the glitz, glamour, and happy-go-lucky images, many of them are actually very intelligent and can even be considered a genius. Here are ten of the smartest Korean idols:

#1. Bangtan Boys' Rap Mon

Bangtan Boys’ Kim Nanjoon’s reputation in the music industry is easily seen in his nom de guerre – he’s dubbed as Rap Monster because he is one. Dancing and singing skills are pretty much a requirement for kpop idols, but Rapmon also managed to prove himself an exceptional rapper. He’s also a notable member of Bangtan Boys because he’s the only member left from the original line up.

All About His/her Genius

  • Rapmon reportedly has an IQ of 148, making him a veritable genius
  • In case IQ numbers don’t impress you, Rap Mon also scored 900 on the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) while he was in middle school
  • He is also in the top 1.3% of the nation in the preparatory university entrance exams.

#2. Brown Eyed Girl's Miryo

BEG’s Miryo is a veteran in the industry, starting her career in 1999 when she was featured in one of Honey Family’s songs, before eventually joining the group for their second album. She caught the eye of JeA and was invited to join Brown Eyed Girls, she accepted the offer and became the group’s de facto rapper.

All About His/her Genius

  • Miryo dropped out of high school, which doesn’t seem like something a smart person would do, but then she took the GED and managed to gain entry into one of the most prestigious schools in Korea, Joongang University.
  • She’s not only booksmart, Miryo also has a lot of business smarts. Besides rapping, she is also a songwriter and lyricist but she knows how to protect her IP, and owns the copyright to the songs she wrote for Honey Family and BEG.
  • Miryo won the title of “Most Knowledgeable” on KBS2TV’s “Idol Brain Collision,” as she managed to answer questions that are too esoteric, including the name of an independence activist who threw a lunch bomb in Shanhai’s Hongkeowoo Park.

#3. Epik High's Tablo

Tablo first came to fame as the leader and rapper of the Korean hip hop group Epik High, and has since risen to the top as a producer and songwriter of almost all of Epik High’s songs. Tablo has also produced and performed in many songs from several artists, bringing various musical influences into the songs, ranging from electronica, to hip hop, and even rock.

All About His/her Genius

  • Tablo reportedly has an IQ of 160
  • Has a masters degree in English from Stanford University
  • Was consistently getting As and A+s during one of his semesters in Stanford

#4. DBSK's Max Changmin

A founding member of one of the most successful asian boybands, DBSK, Max Changmin is also one of the two members left when the group was relaunched as a duo, following a contract dispute between 3 members and the management. Changmin is known for his distinctive voice, which can go much higher than the average kpop idol.

All About His/her Genius

  • His vocal pitch isn’t the only thing that reaches sky high levels: Max’s IQ is 155. South Korea’s national average, according to, is 106.
  • During DBSK’s early days, Arirang International ranked Changmin as one of the brainiest/most intelligent Kpop stars, a recognition that was also repeated by Pop in Seoul.
  • He is also a linguist, fluent in Japanese and english
  • He graduated 9th in his school while already a DBSK member
  • He is currently pursuing a Dual Degree (Masters and Ph.D) at Inha University.

Thanks to @peachpurle

#5. DBSK's U Know Yunho

Former leader of DBSK and one of the two remaining members (alongside the previous entry in this list), U Know Yunho has always stood out in the group for being the total package. He doesn’t specialize in belting out high notes like Changmin, but he’s well rounded and can go toe to toe with the other members, whether it’s singing, or just plain charisma. However, he really shines with dancing as he has been dubbed as K-pop’s dancing king by critics.

All About His/her Genius

  • Several members of Yunho’s family are working in the legal industry, and Yunho would have followed in their footsteps as he was dreaming of becoming a prosecutor.
  • Before making it big, Yunho balanced his time with training in Seoul, doing part time jobs in the city (including waiting tables and working in snow removal), and even schoolwork.
  • Yunho graduated from Myongji University in 2011 but went ahead and pursued a master’s degree at Chungwoon University.
  • Yunho is bilingual, as he is also fluent in Japanese.

#6. Shinee's Onew

Onew is the current leader of the boyband Shinee, but he is more notable because he was discovered at a Girls’ Generation debut showcase when SM Entertainment’s founder Lee Soo-man personally noticed him and asked to hear him sing in an on-the-spot audition. He was signed with SM after that. Aside from performing with Shinee, Onew is also an accomplished stage actor as he has been taking part in various musicals since 2010, which includes fronting the Korean production of Rock of Ages.

All About His/her Genius

  • During his senior year in high school, Onew was the second highest ranking student in his grade.
  • Onew had the highest national score for their school during their high school SATs.
  • He is currently enrolled in Chungwoon University.

#7. ZE:A's Lim Si Wan

Lim Si Wan is a member of the nine-piece boyband ZE:A, where he managed to become one of the more popular members (an impressive feat considering the number of its members and the fact that they are all equally talented and good looking.) Aside from being a singer and dancer, Si Wan is also an accomplished actor, best known for the film The Attorney and the cable series Misaeng.

All About His/her Genius

  • Before he became an idol, Lim Si Wan was studying mechanical engineering
  • Lim Si Wan’s feats include being able to solve a Rubik’s cube in under 40 seconds

#8. EXID's Hani

Hani is a member of the five piece girlband EXID (short for Exceed in Dreaming), which is under Gamgak Entertainment and targeted more towards a slightly older market due to their sexy act. The group’s popularity is helped by the their sexy performances, particularly Hani’s, a fancam of which was recently uploaded on Youtube and went viral, resulting in the song being performed, Up & Down, to shoot up the charts (even though it originally failed to rank when it was first released.)

All About His/her Genius

  • Even though extremely beautiful women, who became famous for their looks are usually expected to be an airhead, Hani is anything but one. She has a reported IQ of 145.
  • Hani is bilingual, as she is fluent in both Chinese and Korean.
  • She also scored a 900 out of 990 in the TOEIC, despite only studying English for 2 months prior to taking the test.

#9. U-Kiss' AJ

AJ is the lead rapper and sub vocalist of the seven-piece boyban U-KISS, which is under NH Media. AJ is not an original member, as he only joined after the departure of Alexander and Kim Kibum in 2011, however, he soon proved to be a perfect addition to the group as his singing, dancing, and rapping skills helped keep the band’s music well-rounded.

All About His/her Genius

  • Before debuting with U-Kiss, AJ had 2 and a half years of free time, which he used to study in preparation for entering Columbia University in the U.S. Note that C.U. is currently #4 in the US and #10 in the world according to the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of best colleges, and he most likely used the 2 and a half years of preparation to take the SAT, a few SAT II, and the AP exams as he is an international student.
  • He took part in an episode of KBS 2’s quiz show 1 vs. 100, where he managed to reach the fourth level before being eliminated.

#10. Super Junior's Kyuhyun

Kyuhyun is a member of the kpop supergroup Super Junior, as well as its sub groups Super Junior-M and Super Junior-K.R.Y. His career is notable because he managed to make a name for himself and rose among the ranks of Super Junior, despite the group consisting of very talented and charismatic individuals. Kyuhyun is also one of the first four Korean artists to appear on Chinese postage stamps.

All About His/her Genius

  • Kyuhyun was originally being urged to study law, and would have succeeded as one if he didn’t become a singer instead. His father, a businessman who owns a school, values education so much that he initially went against Kyuhyun’s dreams of becoming an idol. The condition was Kyuhyun would only be allowed to pursue a singing career if he can do well on his college entrance exams and accepted into a university. Kyuhyun met the condition by enrolling in Kyunghee University and receiving a bachelor’s degree in 2013.
  • Kyuhyun is a math wizard, with enough skill to win the Math Olympics in his school.
  • He is also known to be adept at picking up foreign languages.

Honorable Mention: Younha

Younha deserves an honorable mention here, mainly because most people don’t readily consider her as a Kpop idol; she originally had middling success in South Korea, but went to Japan and shot to fame (to the point where even non-music fans became familiar with her, after getting her song featured in the mega popular Bleach anime.) She has since restarted her career in Korea and managed to leverage her success in the Japanese market to finally break through.

All About His/her Genius

  • Reportedly has an IQ of 158
  • Multilingual – fluent in Korean and Japanese, as well as having enough knowledge of basic English to carry a conversation
  • Graduated from Korean University of Languages, majoring in Japanese
  • Can play classical instruments such as flute, traditional drum, piano, and is self-taught in many of them.

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Comments 13 comments

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 20 months ago from Home Sweet Home

Wow theSe idols iq are high, they aren't square box

PeculiarPurplePeach 18 months ago

You seem to know very little about Changmin. Here is some info you missed:


He is fluent in Japanese, also.

He graduated 9th in his school while being a DBSK member (!)

He is currently pursuing a Dual Degree (Masters and Ph.D) at Inha University.

eternisemoi profile image

eternisemoi 17 months ago

Good list. Tablo is someone I really admire and respect because of his intelligence and pushing through that dark phase in his life.

inspirit 17 months ago

Sunggyu came fourth in The Genius Game season 1, the director stated that Sunggyu was the best player grasping the game quickly. He went up against people who had exceptional IQ and outlast 9 of them, just saying~

kk 15 months ago

Rap Monster deserved to be number 1 :)

jedsel 15 months ago

yes rap monster is number 1

Park Zena 7 months ago

ikr Rap Mon is the best

Momo 5 months ago

U-Know Yunho's IQ is 142 (It was revealed in an episode of Family Outing with Yunho and Junsu)

Throat Jammer 4 months ago

Yes, RM is the best. Also, where is Park Kyung

Cue 2 months ago

Kyuhyun won minister's award in mathletes Olympiad on NATIONAL level, not only in his high school lol.

jhopeless 7 weeks ago

Rap Monster also taught himself English, was in all level 1 (country's top 4%) classes except for math (level 3, top 23%), received over 50 academic awards and was recognized by South Korea's Prime Minister for his academic excellency

cv 2 weeks ago

KANG SEUNG YOON of WINNER too with over 140

ok 33 hours ago

I can't believe you didn't mention Kyung from Block B ahh

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