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Top 10 Most Popular Korean Solo Artists

Anny spends most of her time on a quest of self improvement. She writes about her own experiences that she hopes can be useful to others.

Here are K-pop’s most popular soloists who are not in (or are no longer associated with) a K-pop group. These soloists have topped the charts many times and have gained incredibly large international fanbases throughout their careers.

  1. IU
  2. Zico
  3. BoA
  4. DEAN
  5. Sunmi
  6. Eric Name
  7. Chungha
  8. Kang Daniel
  9. Heize
  10. Crush

1. IU

Lee Ji-eun, otherwise known as IU, has gained tremendous popularity since her debut in 2007 and continues to do so. Born on May 16, 1993, she made her debut at the age of 15 with Lost and Found. It was not until the release of "Good Day" in 2010 that she became known nationwide and received the title of "Nation’s Little Sister."

Not only is she a singer, she is also a successful songwriter and an actress. She has starred in many dramas, one of them being the 2019 South Korean hit series Hotel del Luna. IU has been credited to writing over 50 songs in her career, including her own as well as others’.

IU’s Top Songs

  1. "Good Day" (2010)
  2. "Palette" ft. G-Dragon (2017)
  3. "Eight" ft. Suga (2020)

2. Zico

Woo Ji-ho, also known by his stage name Zico, was born on September 14, 1992. He made his debut in a duo with Park Kyung named Harmonics, and then again in 2011 with boy band Block-B, but eventually parted ways in 2018 when his contract ended. Not only is he widely known as a mainstream K-pop soloist, he also has quite a reputation in the underground hip-hop scene.

Although he is famous for being a rapper, Zico is also a songwriter and a record producer. He had written Kim Se-jeong’s "Flower Way," as well as Mino’s "Fear." His 2020 release of "Any Song" topped the charts and remained there for 27 weeks.

Zico’s Top Songs

  1. "Any Song" (2020)
  2. "Artist" (2017)
  3. "Actually" (2019)

3. BoA

Kwon Bo-ah, known as BoA, has been in the K-pop scene since 2000. She was born on November 5, 1986, and is considered one of the most successful Korean entertainers in the industry, receiving the title of "Queen of K-Pop." She debuted in 2000 at the age of 13 and expanded her career to become famously known throughout Korea and Japan. Not only has she made her debut in Korea and Japan, she has released singles in China and the US too.

She is also a songwriter, a record producer and an actress. BoA has participated in various shows, such as in Produce 101 season 2 as a vocal coach. Her multilingual skills (fluent in Japanese, Korean, and English, and speaks some Chinese) has been widely praised as she remains one of the most iconic artists in Asia.

BoA’s Top Songs

  1. "Valenti" (2002)
  2. "Only One" (2012)
  3. "No. 1" (2002)


Kwon Hyuk, better known by his stage name DEAN, was born on November 10, 1992. He debuted in the US and Korea in 2015, with his singles being mainly in the genres of alternative R&B and hip-hop. He is also a songwriter and a record producer. R&B's gaining popularity in Korea is also attributed to DEAN’s well-liked albums, with his nickname being "R&B Prince of Asia."

His stage name is derived from an actor, James Dean, and he began writing songs at the age of 18 under the name Deanfluenza. From then on, he has collaborated with many famous artists.

DEAN’s Top Songs

  1. "Instagram" (2017)
  2. "D (Half Moon)" (2016)
  3. "Bonnie & Clyde" (2016)

5. Sunmi

Lee Sun-mi is a singer-songwriter born on May 2, 1992 and was a former member of the girl group Wonder Girls. She debuted in 2007 in Wonder Girls, but temporarily left the group in 2010 to pursue an academic career. She then returned as a soloist in 2013 with her album Full Moon. Sunmi returned to her group activities in 2015 until their disbandment in 2017.

After the disbandment, her hit single "Gashina" was released and has remained an iconic song ever since. Sunmi was inspired by BoA (who debuted at the age of 13) when she was young, as she thought it was the fastest way to make money to take care of her sick father. Unfortunately, her father passed away just three months before her debut with Wonder Girls.

Sunmi’s Top Songs

  1. "Gashina" (2017)
  2. "LALALAY" (2019)
  3. "Siren" (2018)

6. Eric Nam

Eric Name was born November 17, 1988, and is an American singer-songwriter and television host. He was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. He spent a year studying abroad in China before deciding to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.

In 2012, Eric competed in the South Korean program Star Audition: Birth of a Great Star 2 and placed within the top 5 contestants. This kickstarted his career as an artist in Korea. He made his official debut in 2013 in South Korea with Cloud 9, and in 2016 in the US with his single "Into You." Eric is also famously known as a television host—for instance, he hosted The After School Club from 2013 to 2016, and 2016’s Yang and Nam Show.

Eric Nam’s Top Songs

  1. "Honestly" (2018)
  2. "Runaway" (2019)
  3. "Congratulations" (2019)

7. Chungha

Kim Chung-ha, known mononymously as Chungha, was born on February 9, 1996. She lived in Dallas, Texas for eight years before deciding to move to South Korea to pursue a career in music. She was a former member of Mnet’s survival program Produce 101 in season 1’s IOI, which disbanded in 2017. She made her solo debut right after with Hands on Me and has gained a tremendous fanbase ever since.

Chungha is known to be an exceptional dancer—she was hailed as the main dancer when she was in IOI. Not only is she a singer and dancer, she is also a choreographer. Both IU and BoA are named as her inspirations for continuing this career path. Her release of "Gotta Go" in 2019 won her first trophy, followed by "Snapping," which placed first on the charts.

Chungha’s Top Songs

  1. "Snapping" (2019)
  2. "Gotta Go" (2019)
  3. "Roller Coaster" (2018)

8. Kang Daniel

Kang Daniel (born Kang Eui-geon but legally changed his name to Daniel) was born on December 10, 1996. Like Chungha, he made his debut in the popular Mnet’s survival program Produce 101. He ranked first in Produce 101 season 2, making him debut as the center of Wanna One in 2017 before the group disbanded in 2018. He was given the nickname “Nation’s Center.”

After a lawsuit with his former agency, Kang Daniel established his own agency KONNECT, of which he is the current CEO. His solo debut came after in 2019 with Color on Me, which had the highest first-day and first-week sales of any solo artist in the history of K-pop.

Kang Daniel’s Top Songs

  1. "Touchin’"(2019)
  2. "2U" (2020)
  3. "What Are You up to" (2019)

9. Heize

Jang Da-hye, better known by her stage name Heize, was born on August 9, 1991. She debuted in 2014 with Heize, and gained the public’s attention in 2015 after appearing on a reality show Unpretty Rapstar 2. Heize is a singer, rapper, songwriter and composer signed under Studio Blu and Stone Music Entertainment.

Her genres include contemporary R&B, contemporary soul, pop, and hip hop. She has showcased her unique vocals and songwriting skills in her singles and dramas’ OSTs. Heize says that she writes her songs based on her life, and she regularly writes in her journal.

Heize’s Top Songs

  1. "And July" (2016)
  2. "You, Clouds, Rain" (2017)
  3. "Jenga" (2018)

10. Crush

Shin Hyo-seob, known by his stage name Crush, is an R&B and hip-hop artist. He was born on May 3, 1992 and made his debut in 2014 with his single "Sometimes" and later with his album Crush on You. Crush was inspired by Dynamic Duo’s Taxi Driver, which made him pursue music during the first year of middle school.

Not only is he famous for his distinctive vocals in his own songs, his OSTs are known widely throughout Korea, such as Goblin’s "Beautiful" and Crash Landing on You’s "Let Us Go."

Crush’s Top Songs

  1. "Woo-Ah" (2016)
  2. "Sofa" (2014)
  3. "Oasis" (2015)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Anny Taylor

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