While foreigners in K-pop are already common in the industry, them being non-Asian is still considered a rarity. Some fans don't know, however, is that non-Asian artists have been making their way into the K-pop industry as early as 1996!
Here is a list of famous non-Asian idols who were introduced to the public from 1996 to now.
1. Mikey Romeo
(Photo : YouTube)
African-American rapper Mikey Romeo debuted as a member of Roo'Ra in 1996, though the co-ed group had originally debuted in 1994. He joined the group after one of Roo'Ra's original members left to pursue a solo career. He was only in the group for a year as the group would disband in 1997.
2. Edward Brown
Edward Brown was part of a K-Pop duo named @. They never fully reached stardom and disbanded after one song. The duo was composed of Edward Brown, who hailed from Europe and Anthony Vergantino, who is half-Korean. Anthony sang in Korean while Edward Brown did the raps in English.
We were unable to find any photos of Edward Brown.
BONJOUR debuted in 2006 and was comprised of Julian Quintart from Belgium and Philippe and Thierry Riviere, from France. The trio released two songs before disbanding and Julian ended up pursuing a career in modeling in Korea after.
4. Kyle Moffat and Marco
Kyle Moffat, from Canada, debuted in 2011 with ESQ, the first interracial K-Pop group. Kyle would end up leaving the group soon after his debut and was replaced by Marco, from Italy, who stayed with the group until issues with his visa forced him to leave.
Marco was scouted for his dance videos and he still posts videos to to his channel to this day, called "Seoul Mafia."
Other than these two non-Asians, all of the members are Canada natives but are of Asian descent.
5. Brad Moore
(Photo : Pacific Standard)
Brad Moore had joined the band Busker Busker (previously known as Pinky Pinky) after the original drummer left to complete his military service. The trio participated on "Superstar K3," where they won 2nd place.
Brad had stood out and made headlines for being Caucasian and only spoke minimal Korean. The band was highly successful but haven't had any activities since 2013 after the band announced a temporary disbandment.
6. Chad Future
(Photo : Soundcloud)
Before making his debut in K-Pop, Chad Future was born of the UK boy group Heart to Heart, which took influence from K-Pop boy groups. In 2012, he debuted an album called "A-K-Pop" that blended the styles of American pop and K-Pop. He received backlash, however, for never taking the time to fully learn Korean.
Despite that, he has collaborated with big name K-Pop idols including VIXX Ravi, NU'EST Aron, and BESTIE Yuji.
During the 5th anniversary of "A-K-Pop," he announced he will be making a comeback this 2020.
(Photo : OneHallyu)
Olivia was part of a pre-debut K-Pop girl group called The Gloss and was the first non-Asian female idol. The group never officially debuted and they barely lasted one year as a pre-debut group.
8. Alex Reid
(Photo : Kpop Asia Chan)
Alex Reid had joined BP Rania in 2015, though the group originally debuted in 2011 with the name Rania and had gone through several lineup changes even before her addition to the girl group.
She would perform with the group on music shows but would only get on stage during her parts of the song and would either be placed in the side or taken off stage after. She had tried to learn Korean while promoting with the group as she was not given the opportunity to learn Korean prior to it. She was also rarely provided translators.
She left the group in 2017. She spoke about her experience as an idol with Korean soloist Grace on her YouTube channel back in 2019.
9. EXP Edition
(Photo : Kprofiles)
EXP Edition is a four-member boy group. Within the members, only one was half-Asian, while the other three were either European or American. The group was made as an experiment to see if a non-Asian K-pop group could make it in the industry.
EXP Edition was met with intense backlash from international fan who criticized the group for trying to steal the spotlight from Asian talents and for not learning Korean before their debut.
Despite that, the boys showed skills in both singing and dancing, showing that they at least had some training.
10. Coco Avenue
(Photo : Pinterest)
Coco Avenue did not debut in Korea, but in Los Angeles, though they have performed in Seoul. Despite them being based in America, this African-American duo sang in Korean. They both started as K-Pop fans who uploaded videos to their own seperate YouTube channels.
After being constantly mistaken for one another, Jenny Lyric reached out to Jenna Rose and suggested they make covers together. The duo has disbanded.
(Photo : NextShark)
Sophia debuted as the main rapper and main dancer of O My Jewel and is Russian-Israeli. They only released one single before disbanding the same year they debuted.
During her time with the group, she was bashed for not being Asian in a K-Pop group. She was a pre-debut member of the group Blity. She is now active in Korea as a model.
(Photo : AsianWiki)
Romina is a German soloist based in Korea who went viral in Korea after her teacher uploaded a video of singing Lee Mija's "Camelia Young Lady" while she was a student at Hankuk University. She was invited to appear on a KBS Gayo stage in 2014 where she performed Lee Mija's "Lady."
Mija ended up inviting her to accompany her on tour. In 2018, she released her first mini-album.
13. Oli London
(Photo : IMDb)
To many, Oli London is not a K-Pop idol, as he neither trained nor learned Korean. Despite that, some people do consider him an idol, and a controversial one at that.
Oli London is known for undergoing numerous plastic surgery operations to look like his favorite idol, BTS Jimin. He has since released music, singing in both English and basic Korean.
(Photo : Kpop Wiki)
Lana is Korea's first Russian soloist who made her debut in June 2019. Upon debut, she was criticized for her music's poor production and for being a non-Asian in the K-Pop industry.
Despite that, Lana speaks Korean fluently and is a student at Sungkyunkwan University, studying political diplomacy. She has been mistaken for being half Korean, but has confirmed that she is Russian.
In 2020, she participated in the Chinese survival show "Produce Camp 2020," starting her career in China.
Prior to her debut, she starred in J-CAT's music video for "Facetime." She has also appeared on the shows "Abnormal Summit," "Welcome, First Time in Korea?," and "Problematic Men." She is a former Thought Entertainment trainee and Be Icon trainee.
(Photo : KStation TV)
UHSN is not an official girl group, but they did release one song together. The girls were part of Mnet's "U-Hak Sonyeo" or "Foreign School Girls," a show where international K-Pop fans all around the world come to Korea to learn about Korea and the K-Pop industry.
During the three weeks the girls were living together in Korea, they created a song called "Popsicle" and released a music video for it.
(Photo : HallyuLife)
KAACHI, like Oli London, is another controversial act to talk about, as many don't consider them K-Pop. Despite that, the girls have stressed that they are the UK's first ever K-Pop-based group.
Their debut song, "You Turn," received major backlash from K-Pop fans all around the world for the song's poor production, the unpracticed choreography, and for barely singing in Korean.
Only one member is Korean while the other members are European and are not fluent in the language. They were also the victims of false rumors, which caused the girls to receive a lot of hate.
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Alexa Lewis wrote this.
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