10 Smartest Korean Idols

Updated on April 20, 2016

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 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, 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.

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        Bbbbb 3 days ago

        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..

      • profile image

        chimmy chim 4 weeks ago

        i love Hani soooo much

      • profile image

        Nithiya 4 weeks ago

        ..onew oppa is best

      • profile image

        Nithiya 4 weeks ago

        onew oppa is best

      • profile image

        Zooip 4 weeks ago

        Kyung's not here O3O ?

      • profile image

        Kpoppangit 6 weeks ago

        Ow GOodness. Wheres GD? hes the smartest idol that i know ! Super Junior Henry Knows that

      • profile image

        bobongauthor 2 months ago

        Actually expecting Block B's Park Kyung to be here

      • profile image

        Gwyneth 3 months ago

        SEVENTEEN'S Woozi should be on the list too

      • profile image

        neeran 3 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        ok susan 3 months ago

        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

      • profile image

        chan 4 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        kim 5 months ago

        RM is the best ,no one can become like RM

      • profile image

        KOOKIE 6 months ago

        RapMON is the bestttt!!!!

      • profile image

        unknown 6 months ago

        RM and Hani

      • profile image

        kimmy 7 months ago


      • profile image

        Princess Piamonte 7 months ago


      • profile image

        Kookie 7 months ago

        I think rapmon is the best

      • profile image

        Mikayla 7 months ago

        I actually thought Park Kyung of Block B would be mentioned, since he's a member of Mensa International

      • profile image

        army 8 months ago

        rapmonster yeah ❤️

      • profile image

        Stephanie 8 months ago

        Right,RapMonster is the smartest korean boy.He can speak many languages..

      • profile image

        GG Bae 9 months ago

        This is an old article. Infact Block B Park Kyung has 156 iq, which make him the second smartest idol out there. Kyungie fighting !!! ^^

      • profile image

        rizza 9 months ago

        thats right rap mon is the smartest kpop boy

      • profile image

        LB 10 months ago

        i speak portuguese, tagalog, bahasa indonesia and english. yay, im a genius.lol

      • profile image

        Ricci 10 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Angel 11 months ago

        EXID Hani is also fluent in english

      • profile image

        Hello 12 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Daniela 12 months ago

        Rapmon is the best

      • profile image

        Skiues 12 months ago

        Rap Monster is ♥

      • profile image

        wilfred 14 months ago

        Wendy rv

      • profile image

        Bbhs 14 months ago

        I love Kyuhyun but about the languages bit, he just can't seem to get better at English. XD

      • profile image

        Lovely Rose_94 15 months ago

        My bias is the Best kim NamJoon

      • profile image

        twice 15 months ago


      • profile image

        Kim Unaa 17 months ago

        Woww Rapmon the first?this is amazing!

      • profile image

        rv 18 months ago

        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).

      • profile image

        ok 20 months ago

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

      • profile image

        cv 20 months ago

        KANG SEUNG YOON of WINNER too with over 140

      • profile image

        jhopeless 22 months 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

      • profile image

        Cue 22 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Throat Jammer 2 years ago

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

      • profile image

        Momo 2 years ago

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

      • profile image

        Park Zena 2 years ago

        ikr Rap Mon is the best

      • profile image

        jedsel 2 years ago

        yes rap monster is number 1

      • profile image

        kk 2 years ago

        Rap Monster deserved to be number 1 :)

      • profile image

        inspirit 3 years 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~

      • eternisemoi profile image

        eternisemoi 3 years ago

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

      • profile image

        PeculiarPurplePeach 3 years 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.

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

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


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