“Made in USA”, These Korean-American Idols Struggling While Adapting to Korean Cultures

eric jae

Not Only You, But These Korean-American Idols Are Also Struggling To Adapt to Korean Culture

Sometimes, it’s hard to be a K-Pop fan if you’re an international fan. We have to adapt to the language, the culture, even the food. Everything seems new, everything seems different from your own country. But since we love K-Pop so much, we don’t mind taking all the time necessary to adapt, especially now when K-Pop has become a global phenomenon. Then again, becoming an International fan might be hard, but it’s not that hard compared to these types of people that we’re going to talk about.

Do you know that besides us, foreign K-Pop fans, the idols who used to live overseas also find it hard to adapt to Korean culture? Not only just the language, but the whole thing makes them feel the culture shock even after years of living in Korea. As you might already know, there are a lot of Korean-American idols who have debuted as singers in Korea, whether they be solo artists, members of K-Pop groups, or even Korean bands. The culture of America is really different from Korean culture. And just like us, they also struggle to adjust to the Korean culture that can never be understood completely.

Well, then again, idols are also human just like us. If we as fans struggle, then their struggle must be even harder. Do you want to know which idols have opened up about their struggle of being a Korean-American idol? Let’s scroll down to find out who are they and what’s their story!

Jae of Day6 Stops Talking in Korean Program?

Do you know about the K-Pop rock band from JYP Entertainment, Day6? Among the five members of Day6, Jae the guitarist and vocalist, who is the eldest member of the group is also the only foreign member of the group. Unlike Young K the bassist who only spent his teenage life in Canada, Jae was born and raised outside Korea. He was born in Buenos Aires on September 15th, 1992. In his early life, he spent some years in Canada before he moved to Los Angeles and lived there.


Jae claimed that he once thought that he had lived in Korea before when he was so young, but then his mom confirmed that he only went there for holiday and to visit his relatives. That is why the first time Jae came to Korea was when he was 20 years old, and he found it hard to adapt to the Korean culture. Jae who passed the audition for the survival program K-Pop Star and became one of the Top 10 finalists, has not-really-good skills in speaking Korean which made him speak in English more instead of in Korean.

Years after that, he debuted with Day6 and everything has changed. Or… has it?

Back then when Day6 made their debut, they went to a Korean radio program to promote their song, the members proudly claimed that Jae’s Korean speaking has improved and his Korean is better now. Jae even said that the problem is actually not because his Korean is actually good, he just sounds good. It’s different.

However, the reality is not that easy sometimes. The MC of the radio program talked with an imperfect pronunciation that he couldn’t understand, which made Jae say weird things that even didn’t relate to the question.

Because of that unfortunate event, Jae never really speaks in Korean. Especially in Korean programs. However, his Korean speaking is improving years after they debuted. Let’s take a look at how good Jae’s Korean is from the short clips below!


Jae’s Korean is really improving, right? He looks cool and sounds even cuter when talking in Korean. We really want to see more of Jae speaking in Korean so please don’t be shy to show your Korean, Jae!

Even Eric Nam (And Jae Again) Find it Hard to be On Korean TV Programs


Another Korean-American idol who has opened up about their struggle to adapt in Korea is Eric Nam. For those of you who don’t know about him, Eric Nam is a Korean solo singer who debuted under B2M Entertainment with a song titled “Heaven’s Door.” Eric was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. He is fluent in English and conversational in Spanish, he also spoke some Korean the first time he came to Korea.

However, his Korean is not the only problem he faced when having to appear in Korean TV programs. Along with Jae, Eric talked about the difficulties of the transition of living in Korea and being an Asian-American. Jae who was the first one to talk about how awkward it was for him to be in a Korean TV program, gave Eric the courage to agree with him and also share his story about the six years of his life after debut. Eric said that he often found moments where everybody would laugh and he just couldn’t understand what was the funny thing.

However, Eric thinks that he and all the other Korean-American idols are quite lucky, despite the issues they have to face adapting since they have a job while living in Korea. He said that there were thousands of Korean-Americans who live in Korea and don’t have jobs. So then again, even with the difficulties to adapt, he was glad to be one of those fortunate people.

Anyway, Eric is now promoting in America as an American K-Pop star. He also has his own entertainment agency and has teamed up with his brother Eddie and Brian Nam. Beside releasing the album titled Love Die Young in 2019, Eric also launched some podcasts under Dive Studios where he talks about K-Pop in “K-pop Daebak W/ Eric Nam” and Korean dramas or movies in “Commit or Quit.” He also talked about what it was like to finally debut in America. Stay tuned to the podcast for more content of Eric Nam.

Eric Nam, Stephanie Lee, John Park, And Others Talk About The Struggles

In an episode of Happy Together titled “I Am From America,” there were five Korean artists who were born and raised, or lived for a long time, in America. They talked about the struggles of living in America as Asians, and also how hard it is to adapt again to work in Korea.

Stephanie Lee who is a model and actress said that what she finds it weird about Korean culture is that her name is shortened as Pany instead of Steph, Annie, Steffi, etc. This naming thing is also a problem for John Park whose name is pronounced as Jon Bak in Korean. Some Koreans even call him Jom Bak because of the Korean pronunciation, and he is also called Bak-ie yah or Bak-ah.


There are also funny things that they found when they first started living in Korea. Stephanie said that she was so shocked to find toilet paper while she was eating along with her colleagues. Eric Nam also said that he experienced the same thing. He was in the restaurant eating and then suddenly the toilet paper came out and it shocked him.

Not only that, but John Park also struggled when he first went out drinking in Korea with his friends. While in the States he used to just toast to the first glass and then just drink on his own. But in Korea, there is a different ritual which gave him a hard time. John also said that he always has to pour the drink to everyone in the gathering since he usually is the youngest there. He didn’t know that at first so his senior scold him because of that.

Peniel Talked About His Struggles that Caused Hair-Loss


Living life as an idol is hard, it’s even harder for a Korean-American like Peniel from BTOB. Peniel is a carefree type of guy who just can’t really understand the strict rules that are made for idols. When BTOB just made their debut, Peniel came up to the TV station to prepare for the music show with a comfortable outfit such as a V-neck top and flip flops. But then the manager scolded him for not dressing properly.

He also got scolded often because of his easy-going attitude. Peniel once met his female idol friend who he had known since he was a trainee. They talked comfortably in the backstage, how they haven’t met in a while and stuff, but he ended up getting scolded by his manager once again.

Due to the stress, Peniel found out that he is actually losing his hair and is starting to go bald. At first, it was just a small bald-spot on some parts of his head, but then it got bigger and he went completely bald because of that. He had to hide his bald head with a hat for a long time and made fans wondered. Peniel’s fellow members, Eunkwang, Minhyuk, and Hyunsik said that Peniel’s hair grew a little after he visited his family in the States, so they were thinking that maybe they should send him back home for a while. Then again, the struggle to be a K-Pop idol as a Korean-American must be really hard for Peniel.

Let’s take a look at Peniel finally opening up about his concerns.

Fortunately, Peniel is getting happier day by day. His hair grows back and he looks even better with his new hairstyle. Well, then again, the key to life is happiness. And hopefully, Peniel is happy with what he’s doing now. No matter what, BTOB and us fans will always support you, Peniel!