Fairlane is a devout Asian entertainment fan. On the side, she is a professional screenwriter and author.
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 K-pop 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 geniuses. Here are ten of the smartest Korean idols:
- Bangtan Boys' Rap Mon
- Brown Eyed Girl's Miryo
- Epik High's Tablo
- DBSK's Max Changmin
- DBSK's U Know Yunho
- Shinee's Onew
- ZE:A's Lim Si Wan
- EXID's Hani
- U-Kiss' AJ
- Super Junior's Kyuhyun
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 K-pop idols, but Rap Mon 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 lineup.
Factoids About Rap Mon's Genius
- Rapmon reportedly has an IQ of 148, making him a veritable genius.
- In case IQ numbersdon'tt 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.
Factoids About Miryo's 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 book smart; 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.
Factoids About Tablo's Genius
- Tablo reportedly has an IQ of 160.
- Has a master's degree in English from Stanford University.
- Was consistently getting As and A+s during one of his semesters at 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 three members and the management. Changmin is known for his distinctive voice, which can go much higher than the average K-pop idol.
Factoids About Max Changmin's 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 StatisticBrain.com, 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 and is fluent in Japanese and English.
- He graduated 9th in his school while already a DBSK member.
- He went on to pursue a dual degree (master's and Ph.D.) at Inha University.
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.
Factoids About U Know Yunho's 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.
Factoids About Onew's 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 also attended 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.
Factoids About Lim Si Wan's 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 their sexy performances, particularly Hani's, a fancam of which was 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).
Factoids About Hani's Genius
- Even though extremely beautiful women who became famous for their looks are usually expected to be airheads, Hani is anything but one. She has a reported IQ of 145.
- Hani is bilingual; she is fluent in both Chinese and Korean.
- She also scored a 900 out of 990 in the TOEIC, despite only studying English for two months prior to taking the test.
9. U-Kiss' AJ
AJ is the lead rapper and sub-vocalist of the seven-piece boyband 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.
Factoids About AJ's 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 two 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 K-pop supergroup Super Junior, as well as its subgroups 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.
Factoids About Kyuhyun's 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 could do well on his college entrance exams and be 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.
Factoids About Younha's Genius
- Reportedly has an IQ of 158.
- She's 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.
Lisa on September 10, 2020:
Where's Blackpink Lisa? She knows 5 languages! And learning 5 languages it's not easy!
Kpop Stan on September 09, 2020:
"learning five languages dosent make you make you smart" it doesnt but that doesnt mean that she isnt.
Has on August 21, 2020:
Lisa knowing 5 language makes her smart I bet you dumb haters can't learn 5 languages
acapellaluv on August 18, 2020:
▶▶YOU FORGOT: JIMIN & JUNGKOOK of BTS, both IQ= 128
▶JIMIN..Math Whiz-..Taught class when teacher not there
Formed own math formulas..Aced physics,chemistry,science Valedictorian¡¡ Class Pres.9x, Strategic thinker, ETC
▶WHILE he began as teen street freestyle Hip-Hop Dancer who
won many battles, he was #1 in Dance Classes..Soo good, his
teacher waived expensive fees he could no longer afford
▶WHILE #1 in 4 different Martial Arts Styles..Does all the
hardest stunts & high aerial in BTS' choreographies..Crazy flexible, from hard hip-hop to graceful contemporary & ballet, great core strength
▶WHILE doing great on many schoos Sports teams, like soccer,
basketball, track, table tennis, ETC
▶While he's softly handsome, but very athletic ➕ VERY SMART
"SOLO DANCE COMPILATION" https://youtu.be/YrrpKMYC8GY
Somebody on August 09, 2020:
gidle's yuqi as well
she went to the top high school in china and consistently received top marks, even the "elite" classes
Moa on July 24, 2020:
Where is Cha Eunwoo of ASTRO? He can speak excellent english...basic Japanese and Chinese and Korean! He was the top student and has very very exceptional IQ! He is just not face genius but a reagenuis as welll stop sleeping on his talents! He knows to act and play 5-6 different types of instruments! Gosh srsly! He was the top student and also school president in his high school yrs! Not no. 1 but at least top 10 he was really exceptional in studies and sports like basketball and etc
Hansika on June 22, 2020:
Where is Lisa not only because she can speak 4 languages fluently but also because of her memory power! I should'nt say she should be first but atleast she should be in TOP10!
Sooyoung on June 15, 2020:
Speaking 5 languages doesn't make you smart. It just means you can learn languages very fast. Nothing special about that.
Samantha on June 07, 2020:
Lisa is not your there. Just bc she speaks a lot of languages doesn't make her very smart
jimin❤rose on June 04, 2020:
i'm from singapore and i can speak japanese,korea, chinese and english.
Bunny Do on May 29, 2020:
I speak Bahasa Indonesia, Filipino, English, Norwegian, a little bit of Spanish, Korean and Japanese.
I feel smart (Not that anyone cares or anything, lol)
Melody on April 23, 2020:
Leia Tan, and? Rm should be up there so does Lisa, there's no reasoning for you saying that Rm should not be there.. Lets support them and not hate on them just for stupid reasons
Zara on April 23, 2020:
I think blackpink lisa also the smartest kpop idols bcz she can speak 5 languages.
Leia Tan on April 23, 2020:
Nooooo not any of them up there!(especially rap mon)IT SHOULD BE BLACK PINK LISA! Like seriously she speaks 4 languages its not fare!!!D: like the other k-pop groups don’t have such people like that who speaks 4 languages!You MUSTTTTT put at least Lisa up there and put rap mon down!
athena on January 02, 2020:
yoon jeonghan of seventeen too, he ranked 3rd overall when he graduated in highschool and was a natural science major. he also majored in advertising during college, and rumor says that he graduated already. and also if you watch seventeen videos you can see that he really is smart especially when solving math problems.
Neon Sandro on November 22, 2019:
actually korean idol such as RM shows that how intelligence is important unlike the American idols.
ji chang wook on November 21, 2019:
Everyone is cute but, BTS….
In short the best BTS!
KFP on September 26, 2019:
Baekhyun is literally known as the Genius Idol, and he is not on this list LMAO.
A Super Junior stan on September 09, 2019:
I was about to rage BUT then I saw Kyuhyun at #10 which is good enough to be honest.
lina on August 21, 2019:
Someone was wondering why BLACKPINK's Lisa isn't here because she speaks 4 languages. The main reason why is that Lalisa's IQ is either too low or unknown. Also, it's not shown or proven that she's taken any of these high academic tests. These people do speak several languages, but at least they also took these crazy tests and got such amazing scores on them. I'm not saying Lalisa is dumb because she hasn't taken any of those tests or got such high rankings, I'm just saying that the only recognition of smartness YG will let her send out is the languages she speaks.
Ratata on May 30, 2019:
Hmmm i dont think that your ranking is okay since block b park kyung was not in the list no offense but hey they are different in terms of intelligence so do not rank them
Some might say why their idols are not in the list its because the writer only know this much. Didn’t bother to look more information and just post what she/he knows.
nami on May 20, 2019:
bro can we get over this rapmon thing, he said he didn't like it like woh.
Soo-Min on May 11, 2019:
I’m really surprised that Lisa from Blackpink isn’t listed on here. She speaks Thai, English, Chinese, Japanese, & Korean.
Girl too on April 29, 2019:
Hani is a genius... But why she act like an airhead all the time lol?
Girl on December 10, 2018:
If RM is here, OK Taecyeon of 2PM should be here too. He speaks 4 language, scored perfect on his TOEIC, and 2100 on the SAT
av on August 24, 2018:
rm is my bias
aaaa wae on July 19, 2018:
Where is Block B's Park Kyung? he has an IQ of 156 and is apart of Mensa. I'm actually really surprised he wasn't mentioned.
Bbbbb on June 17, 2018:
Well, why bother with the ranking.
The fact that they are smart despite being an idol is awesome. And here I am, who can't even get a high score..
chimmy chim on May 21, 2018:
i love Hani soooo much
Nithiya on May 21, 2018:
..onew oppa is best
Nithiya on May 21, 2018:
onew oppa is best
Zooip on May 17, 2018:
Kyung's not here O3O ?
Kpoppangit on May 04, 2018:
Ow GOodness. Wheres GD? hes the smartest idol that i know ! Super Junior Henry Knows that
bobongauthor on April 03, 2018:
Actually expecting Block B's Park Kyung to be here
Gwyneth on March 16, 2018:
SEVENTEEN'S Woozi should be on the list too
neeran on March 13, 2018:
can you just all please stop arguing? "namjoon is the best", yes he is the best in so many ways but all of them are genius. don't make this a big deal. i'm an army, i love namjoon and i think they're all the best.
ok susan on February 22, 2018:
We get it, y'all love Namjoon, I do too.
But he's clearly not the smarted when his IQ is 148 and there's idols who's IQ are 160, 158 and 155 lmao
chan on February 12, 2018:
can y'all stfu? like, yes, namjoon is really fuckin' great, but he's not the best. a lot of the people on this list have worked as hard or even harder than he did, no offense, and y'all are clearly disregarding that fact and disrespecting these people. yes, we get it, you love your faves, but just because they're the best in your heart doesn't mean they're the best in fact. don't argue with me, bye.
kim on January 19, 2018:
RM is the best ,no one can become like RM
KOOKIE on December 20, 2017:
RapMON is the bestttt!!!!
unknown on December 04, 2017:
RM and Hani
kimmy on November 20, 2017:
RAP MONSTER IS THE BEST!!!
Princess Piamonte on November 18, 2017:
RAP MON IS THE SMARTEST BECAUSE OF THE ABILITY TO DANCE TO SING AND TO BE GREAT LEADER IN BTS
Kookie on November 09, 2017:
I think rapmon is the best
Mikayla on November 01, 2017:
I actually thought Park Kyung of Block B would be mentioned, since he's a member of Mensa International
army on October 21, 2017:
rapmonster yeah ❤️
Stephanie on October 15, 2017:
Right,RapMonster is the smartest korean boy.He can speak many languages..
GG Bae on September 21, 2017:
This is an old article. Infact Block B Park Kyung has 156 iq, which make him the second smartest idol out there. Kyungie fighting !!! ^^
rizza on August 26, 2017:
thats right rap mon is the smartest kpop boy
LB on August 20, 2017:
i speak portuguese, tagalog, bahasa indonesia and english. yay, im a genius.lol
Ricci on August 02, 2017:
Now Xiumin from EXO would need to be added to the list. He has a masters degree now and is currently working on his PhD.
Angel on July 18, 2017:
EXID Hani is also fluent in english
Hello on June 25, 2017:
How is knowing multiple languages valid enough to be called 'a genius'. I'm sorry but most of the people I know are fluent in at least two languages... Especially if you get high class training from a company it's not really special.
Daniela on June 13, 2017:
Rapmon is the best
Skiues on May 28, 2017:
Rap Monster is ♥
wilfred on April 24, 2017:
Bbhs on April 04, 2017:
I love Kyuhyun but about the languages bit, he just can't seem to get better at English. XD
Lovely Rose_94 on March 14, 2017:
My bias is the Best kim NamJoon
twice on March 01, 2017:
Kim Unaa on December 30, 2016:
Woww Rapmon the first?this is amazing!
rv on December 04, 2016:
Son Seungwan/Wendy from Red Velvet had A+ grades, was listed in her middle school's Hall of Fame (along with her sister) for the year 2009, placed fourth in a statewide Mathematics competition, received an award from Obama. Also, multilingual (Korean, English, Spanish, French).
ok on October 21, 2016:
I can't believe you didn't mention Kyung from Block B ahh
jhopeless on August 28, 2016:
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
Cue on August 02, 2016:
Kyuhyun won minister's award in mathletes Olympiad on NATIONAL level, not only in his high school lol.
Throat Jammer on June 18, 2016:
Yes, RM is the best. Also, where is Park Kyung
Momo on May 02, 2016:
U-Know Yunho's IQ is 142 (It was revealed in an episode of Family Outing with Yunho and Junsu)
Park Zena on March 07, 2016:
ikr Rap Mon is the best
jedsel on July 25, 2015:
yes rap monster is number 1
kk on July 05, 2015:
Rap Monster deserved to be number 1 :)
inspirit on May 15, 2015:
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~
eternisemoi on May 12, 2015:
Good list. Tablo is someone I really admire and respect because of his intelligence and pushing through that dark phase in his life.
PeculiarPurplePeach on April 21, 2015:
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.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 10, 2015:
Wow theSe idols iq are high, they aren't square box