Youngest K-Pop Idols to Ever Debut

10 Youngest K-Pop Idols to Ever Debut

K-pop agencies tend to recruit trainees when they’re quite young. Some trainees are only 10 years old when they join an agency and they’re trained for a few years before debuting with a group. While it might seem a little intense to thrust these kids in the spotlight, it’s the norm in the K-pop industry and it tends to work out. All of the idols on this list who debuted very young are still active in the industry.  Every single one of the idols on this list debuted as a young teenager. Nearly all of them were/are the maknae, or youngest member of their groups.

10. Krystal (October 24, 1994 – Present)

Age at Debut: 14 years, 10 months, 8 days
Year of Debut: September 5, 2009
Debut Group: f(x)
Position: Maknae, Lead Vocalist, Visual, and Center

photo source: K-Pop Wiki

 

Krystal, who is originally from California, was the maknae of the girl group f(x). The group made its debut in 2009, a few months before Krystal’s 15th birthday. Krystal was initially scouted by SM Entertainment when she was just five years old during her family’s trip to South Korea. SM wanted to train Krystal and her older sister Jessica Jung. However, Krystal’s parents felt she was way too young at time and only allowed Jessica to join the agency. Jessica went on to join Girls’ Generation, the most iconic girl group in K-pop.

In 2006, Krystal was finally allowed to join SM Entertainment. After three years of training, she debuted with f(x). After f(x) broke up, Krystal remained signed with SM Entertainment released some solo music. She has also been working as an actress. In 2020, Krystal signed with H& Entertainment after deciding not to renew with SM Entertainment.

Did You Know?

As a kid before her parents let her join SM Entertainment, Krystal appeared in TV commercials. Her first commercial was a Lotte ad with South Korean actress Han Ga-in.


9. Taemin (July 18, 1993 – Present)

Age at Debut: 14 years, 10 months, 4 days
Year of Debut: May 22, 2008
Debut Group: SHINee
Position: Maknae, Main Dancer, Lead Vocalist, Center, and Face of the Group

photo source: K-Pop Wiki

Taemin made his debut in 2008 with the incredibly popular boy band SHINee. He was nearly 15 years old at the time. SHINee was successful from the start and Taemin has become one of the most popular K-pop idols ever. Due to his influence, Taemin has been dubbed the “Idol’s Idol.”

In 2014, Taemin made his solo debut with his t extended play, Ace. The song peaked at number one on South Korea’s Gaon Album Chart. Taemin found solo success again in 2016 when his first solo studio album Press It, debuted at number one on the Gaon Album Chart. While SHINee is still active, following a hiatus after member Jonghyun’s death in 2017, Taemin is currently inactive due to serving his mandatory military service.

Did You Know?

In 2019, Taemin joined SuperM, SM Entertainment’s seven-member supergroup which features members of SHINee, EXO, NCT, and WayV.


8. Sohyun (August 30, 1994 – Present)

Age at Debut: 14 years, 9 months, 16 days
Year of Debut: June 15, 2009
Debut Group: 4Minute
Position: Maknae, Lead Dancer, Sub Vocalist, and Sub Rapper

photo source: K-Pop Wiki

Sohyun was the maknae of 4Minute and she was 14 years old when the group made its debut in 2009. When she was 12 years old, Sohyun was part of the child idol group Orange. Unfortunately, Orange disbanded after a few months due to cyber bullying and anti-fan internet cafes against the group. After being picked up as a trainee for Cube Entertainment, Sohyun was added to 4Minute to replace Soyou, who left the group before its debut.

After 4Minute broke up in 2016, Sohyun continued to work as an actress. She has also continued to make music, although less frequently than when 4Minute was active.

Did You Know?

In 2014, Sohyun took part in an archery competition in 2014 Idol Star Athletics Championship and won a gold medal against Sistar’s Bora.


7. Jiheon (April 17, 2003 – Present)

Age at Debut: 14 years, 9 months, 7 days
Year of Debut: January 24, 2018
Debut Group: fromis_9
Position: Maknae and Vocalist

photo source: K-Pop Wiki

Jiheon is currently the maknae of the group fromis_9. The group debuted in 2018, three months before Jiheon’s 15th birthday. In 2017, Jiheon was a contestant on reality survival show titled Idol School, which was launched by Mnet to form a new idol group. The final line up of formis_9 was solely decided through live and online votes of viewers. Jiheon finished in eight place.

Did You Know?

Before appearing on Idol School, Jiheon passed an audition for Woolim Entertainment but didn’t become a trainee.


6. HyunA (June 6, 1992 – Present)

Age at Debut: 14 years, 8 months, 7 days
Year of Debut: February 13, 2007
Debut Group: Wonder Girls
Position: Main Rapper, Main Dancer, and Vocalist

photo source: K-Pop Wiki

HyunA initially made her debut with Wonder Girls in 2007 when she was 14 years old. However, she left the group just a few months later due to major health concerns. After some time off, HyunA returned to the K-pop industry in 2009 when she joined 4Minute. The following year, HyunA made her solo debut.

Beginning around 2011, HyunA became pretty popular and continued to make music with 4Minute while pursuing solo projects. Over the years, HyunA has been a part of several acts, including the duo Trouble Maker with former Beast member Hyunseung. HyunA was also part of the trio Triple H with Pentagon members Hui and E’Dawn.

Did You Know?

In 2012, HyunA appeared in Psy’s viral music video for “Gangnam Style.” HyunA was personally selected by Psy and she later signed with his label P Nation in 2018.


5. Sohee (June 27, 1992 – Present)

Age at Debut: 14 years, 7 months, 17 days
Year of Debut: February 13, 2007
Debut Group: Wonder Girls
Position: Main Dancer, Vocalist, Visual, and Face of the Group

Soheephoto source: K-Pop Wiki

 

Wonder Girls was one of the most popular K-pop groups during the group’s heyday. The group was the first K-pop group to enter the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, with its hit “Nobody.” Sohee was the Wonder Girls’ maknae and she was only 14 years old when the group debuted in 2007. She was also a vocalist, the visual, and the face of the Wonder Girls.

When she was 12 years old, Sohee successfully auditioned to become a trainee under JYP Entertainment. Sohee left the Wonder Girls in 2013 when her contract expired and she chose to focus on her acting career instead. She had always been interested in acting and made her big screen debut in 2008, a year after debuting with the Wonder Girls. Sohee continues to work as an actress today.

Did You Know?

Although Sohee has appeared in a number of films, her most notable role so far was in the hit film Train to Busan. Unfortunately, Sohee’s acting performance in the movie was not well-received by fans.


4. Jisung (February 5, 2002 – Present)

Age at Debut: 14 years, 6 months, 20 days
Year of Debut: August 25, 2016
Debut Group: NCT (NCT Dream)
Position: Maknae, Dancer, Rapper, and Vocalist

photo source: K-Pop Wiki

Jisung is the youngest male K-pop idol to ever debut. He was 14 years old when NCT sub-unit NCT Dream released its first single “Chewing Gum.” Jisung is the maknae of NCT as well as one of the group’s dancers, rappers, and vocalists.

In 2013, Jisung joined SMROOKIES, SM Entertainment’s trainee group. As a trainee, Jisung appeared on Disney Channel Korea show The Mickey Mouse Club as a Mouseketeer alongside other SMROOKIES members. Jisung trained for his debut for about three years.

Did You Know?

In the 5th grade, Jisung tried out for the show Dancing 9 and was contacted by SM Entertainment after they saw his audition. Initially, he did not want to join SM Entertainment, but his mother convinced him.


3. Jiyoung (July 25, 2008 – Present)

Age at Debut: 14 years, 6 months, 6 days
Year of Debut: July 24, 2008
Debut Group: KARA
Position: Maknae and Vocalist

Jiyoungphoto source: baddestkpoplover.blogspot.com

Jiyoung, who also goes by JY, was the maknae of KARA. The group initially debuted in 2007 and about a year later, KARA made changes to its lineup. Jiyoung and Hara joined KARA after original member Kim Sung-hee left. The group in the new configuration with Jiyoung and Hara released their first song over the summer of 2008.

In 2014, Jiyoung left KARA after her contract expired. She chose not to renew and decided to focus on her studies with acting and language skills in London. Not long after, Jiyoung moved to Japan and signed with the agency Sweet Power to pursue acting. Jiyoung made her solo singing debut in 2015 under the name of JY. Today, Jiyoung is still living in Japan, working as an actress and singer.

Did You Know?

Jiyoung was the only Korean female singer to be featured on CDTV Japan’s Favorite Female Artist Ranking for 2011, where she was ranked at No. 21.


2. Wonyoung (August 31, 2004 – Present)

Age at Debut: 14 years, 1 month, 29 days
Year of Debut: October 29, 2018
Debut Group: IZ*ONE
Position: Maknae, Lead Dancer, Vocalist, Rapper, and Center

Wonyoungphoto source: K-Pop Wiki

Wonyoung made her debut at the age of 14, in 2018 with the group IZ*ONE. Earlier that year, she appeared on the Korean competition show Produce 48, which earned her a spot on IZ*ONE. On the show, Wongyoung represented Starship Entertainment, who scouted her on the streets.

Unfortunately, IZ*ONE only had a special contract that lasted for a few years and the group disbanded in early 2021. However, Wonyoung is going to continue her K-pop career. Wongyoung re-debuted with a new group called IVE. Her fellow former IZ*ONE group mate, Yujin is also part of IVE.

Did You Know?

As a child, Wonyoung studied flute, piano, violin, swimming, mathematics, and English.


1. BoA (November 5, 1986 – Present)

Age at Debut: 13 years, 9 months, 20 days
Year of Debut: August 25, 2000
Debut Group: N/A
Position: Solo Artist

BoAphoto source: K-Pop Wiki

 

BoA made her debut in 2000 at the age of 13 years, 9 months, and 20 days, which makes her the youngest K-pop idol to ever debut. Her debut album was titled ID;Peace B and it was moderately successful. BoA’s label, SM Entertainment decided to send her to Japan to see if she could find better luck there. Their gamble worked and BoA became the first K-pop idol to successfully enter the Japanese market.

BoA was initially discovered when she was 11 years old. She accompanied her older brother to an SM Entertainment talent search and talent scouts took great interest in BoA. Over 20 years later, BoA is still active in the K-pop industry and has been dubbed the “Queen of K-pop” for her success and influence in the world of K-pop.

 

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