List of Artists Already Debuted Before Beginning Activities With Their Current Group, From JJ Project To Lee Gi-kwang | |

Debuting Before Debuting

Members of Korean girl groups or boy bands usually make their debut together with the other group members. Most often, they have been training for months, or even years, prior to their debut under the same agency. Yet not all groups are like that, some of them have members who have made their debut in the entertainment world before debuting with the group they are currently a member of. They even have released albums or singles first as members of another group or as solo artists. Who are they? What happened to the group after debuting with their current group? Find out here, at Channel-Korea! In addition, we will provide you with details on their debut, comebacks, and more about them, so stay tuned!

1. JJ Project

Pre-debut and Debut

Anyone who has watched the Korean drama Dream High 2 must have heard about the duo group JJ Project featured in the drama. The group consists of JB and Jr. (now known as Jinyoung). They were still trainees at JYP Entertainment at the time when they appeared in the drama in January 2012. On February 3rd, it was announced that the boys will make their debut in the middle of the year.

On May 8th, JYP launched a new website for JJ Project along with an official channel on YouTube and official fan page on Facebook. They also released a teaser video titled “Slot Machine.” Later, it was announced that JJ Project is a duo group consisting of JB and Jr.

On May 9th, they uploaded another teaser video titled “JYP 007” which was basically inspired by James Bond 007. The video shows JYP entering a dark room with a case. He opens it and finds an envelope with the writing “JYP New Project.” Inside the envelope, he finds a gadget and when he clicks it, we can see two boys from their chest to their feet ending with the logo and the date 2012.05.20, or May 20th, 2012, indicating their debut date.

On May 13th, they released another teaser video titled “Time 2 JJ” which doesn’t show any faces and ends with the same date of May 20th.

On May 14th, they launched the album cover and the tracklist of the album Bounce. The album was set to be released on May 23rd and consisted of four tracks. On May 15th, JYP released the teaser images of JJ Project for the album and two days later, they released the teaser video for the title track “Bounce.”

They officially debuted on May 20th and released the music video for “Bounce” on their official YouTube channel.

The video reached over 1 million views in just two days. Their debut became a huge thing since they had proven themselves in acting and received so much recognition through Dream High 2 before. The song is just like the title, it will make us bounce and jump around.

Controversies and Re-Debut as Got7

However, the duo also received negative comments due to their closeness which almost resembled a real couple. Later JB joined tvN’s show Romance & Idol where the idols would act like a real couple. As a result, both the idols were rarely seen together and another rumor hit them that they were not close anymore. Not long after that, both of them joined MBC’s drama titled When A Man Falls in Love as actors. After finishing the recording in 2013, JYP wrote on their official Twitter account saying that JJ Project would be making a comeback.

Yet, news about their comeback had not been heard until an announcement about JYP’s plan to debut a new boy group. It was announced on October 30th, 2013, but the decision regarding JJ Project’s involvement in the new group had not been made yet. On December 24th, JYP dropped more information about the new boy group and confirmed that JJ Project would be part of the new 7-member boy group which later was named Got7 and debuted in January 2014 with the release of their first EP Got It? and the title track “Girls Girls Girls.” It was then revealed that JJ Project has become Got7’s subunit.


Five years after their debut, JJ Project finally made their first comeback. On June 26th, 2017, it was announced that JJ Project would make a return soon. On July 15th, at midnight KST, JYP dropped JJ Project’s upcoming schedule during July on Twitter. On July 21st, they dropped news about the two track cards of their upcoming first EP Verse 2 titled “Coming Home” and “Tomorrow, Today,” which became their title track for the EP. The track cards appear to be narrated lyrics from the songs.

From July 22nd to July 24th, they kept releasing two track cards each day for a total of eight tracks of their EP including Jinyoung’s solo track “That Day,” and JB’s solo track “Fade Away.”

During this time, between July 24th and 27th, they released individual and group teaser images and videos for the album on their Twitter along with music video teaser for the title track “Tomorrow, Today” on their YouTube channel.

At the end of July, on the 31st, they finally dropped the “Tomorrow, Today” music video on their YouTube channel. They brought a totally different vibe compared to their debut. Let’s check it out below!

It’s nice to see how JYP managed to make JJ Project as the subunit of Got7 instead of disbanding them. Hopefully, we will see more album releases from the duo in the future!

2. Lee Gi-kwang

Solo Debut and Re-Debut as BEAST

Next, we have Lee Gi-kwang, a member of HIGHLIGHT (formerly named BEAST before moving to a new agency). Before debuting as a member of BEAST, Lee Gi-kwang made his debut as a solo artist under the name Ace Junior, or AJ, under Cube Entertainment.

He debuted by releasing the mini-album First Episode: New Hero on April 4th. He made his stage debut on April 2nd via Mnet’s M!Countdown with the track “Dancing Shoes.”

His fellow BEAST members, like Yoon Doo-joon, Yong Jun-hyung, Yang Yo-seob, and Jang Hyun-seung used to be back dancers for him. He was also dubbed as the next Rain by Korean media. He later appeared in MTV’s reality show Diary of AJ which showed the journey of his debut as AJ. It aired on May 9th for two episodes in total. Unfortunately, he received a backlash due to similar stage name with Paran’s AJ (later became U-KISS member). Six months after his debut, he re-debuted as BEAST member and now goes by his real name.


His solo activities didn’t stop right there. He returned as a solo artist and made his first solo comeback after debuting with BEAST on September 4th, 2017. He released his first mini-album One which consists of eight tracks with the title track “What You Like.” The other tracks include “One,” “Misunderstand,” “Dream (feat. Luizy),” “Look At Me Now,” “Trick (feat. Lil Boi),” “Only U,” and “What Are You (CD only).”

This year, the artist made a solo comeback and released a digital single album with the title track “Don’t Close Your Eyes (D.C.Y.E.)” before he enlisted in the military. On March 11th, 2019, he made an announcement about his solo comeback and released teaser images the next day.

On March 13th, he released the tracklist of the single album and revealed that the title track would feature Kid Milli. The album includes three other tracks: “Lonely (feat. Jiselle),” “MOOD,” and “Missing You.” Days later, he released music video teasers for the title track. He finally dropped the music video for “Don’t Close Your Eyes (D.C.Y.E.) (feat. Kid Milli)” on March 18th. It’s an R&B song which he himself co-composed.

He really has talent as a solo artist, especially when he was supposed to be one before finally re-debuting. He is currently serving in the military. Let’s wait for his solo comeback in the future!

3. MXM

Pre-debut and Debut

Apparently, JJ Project is not the only duo which later re-debuted with a larger group. Before debuting as AB6IX, its members Lim Young-min and Kim Dong-hyun had debuted as a duo called MXM under Brand New Music. Both of them previously represented the agency at Mnet’s survival program Produce 101 along with Lee Dae-hwi and Park Woo-jin. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it to Wanna One as Youngmin finished at 15th place and Donghyun was eliminated before the final episode. |

It was revealed that they had signed an exclusive contract with the agency before Produce 101 and had become Brand New Boys along with Daehwi and Woojin. However, due to Daehwi and Woojin’s results in Produce 101 which made them Wanna One members, they had to postpone the Brand New Boys debut. Instead, on July 12th, 2017, the agency announced that both Youngmin and Donghyun would debut in a project unit named MXM. The name MXM has dual meaning encompassing both “Mix & Match” and “More & More.” “Mix & Match” refers to the artists’ compatibility despite the different qualities and “More & More” refers to their determination to develop together.

Prior to their official debut, they released a promotional single consisting of two tracks, “Good Day” and “I Just Do” on July 27th. Donghyun and Youngmin wrote the lyrics for the second track as well as arranged and produced it with Kiggen (Brand New Music producer). On August 18th, the agency announced that MXM would debut and release a mini-album on September 6th. Days later, they dropped the jacket image of the album UNMIX on August 21st followed by teaser images for the album and a tracklist along with the producer’s commentary.

The album consists of seven tracks, including the previously-released promotional tracks and other five tracks like “I’m The One” (title track), “Objective Look,” “Just Come Out,” “Up to Here,” and “I’m The One” (Instrumental) (CD only). From August 31st until September 4th, they released individual as well as group teaser videos for the title track “I’m The One.”

Finally, on September 6th, they released the mini-album UNMIX and dropped the music video for the title track “I’m The One.”


It was revealed that MXM would make several comebacks and release an album following the “Mix-Match-More” series. At the end of December 2017 until early January 2018, they released teaser images and videos for their second mini-album Match Up with title track “Diamond Girl.”

On January 10th, 2018, they dropped the music video for the title track “Diamond Girl.”

Following the success of their second mini-album Match Up, they planned to drop a double-track single titled Rematch. From February 23rd until March 4th, they released the teaser images and videos for the album with the title track “Gone Cold” and another track “Love Me Now.”

On March 6th, they finally dropped the music video for “Gone Cold” which was written by Donghyun and produced by Primeboi.

To conclude the “Mix-Match-More” series, they made another comeback on August 14th by releasing their first studio album More Than Ever. The album consists of 14 tracks and it was revealed that the members were the overall producers of the album and participated in composing and writing lyrics for many tracks in the album. Prior to its release date, they dropped the teaser images and videos for the album and title tracks “YA YA YA” and “Checkmate.” They released the album in two versions: “More” and “Ever.”

On August 14th, they dropped the music video for their first title track “YA YA YA” which is a groovy and chill trap.

Later, on August 20th, they released another music video for their second title track “Checkmate.”

To wrap up 2018, MXM once again made a comeback by releasing a single album titled One More with the title track “Knock Knock” (TAK Remix). The album consists of three tracks including “You Look So Different” and “Serenade” (Donghyun Solo). The album was released on November 7th along with the music video for the title track.

Re-Debut as AB6IX

With the end of Wanna One’s contract on December 31st, 2019, Lee Dae-hwi and Park Woo-jin are expected to go back to their original group with Lim Young-min and Kim Dong-hyun in Brand New Boys. Previously, the agency CEO, Rhymer, mentioned about their upcoming debut in a four-member group in 2019. On March 26th, the agency revealed that the name of the upcoming boy group would be AB6IX which consists of former Wanna One members Lee Dae-hwi and Park Woo-jin, MXM members Lim Young-min and Kim Dong-hyun, as well as Jeon Woong who participated in Produce 101 too. They made their debut on May 22nd.

What about MXM? As mentioned before, MXM was meant to be a project unit for Youngmin and Donghyun while Daehwi and Woojin were promoting as Wanna One. There is no official statement whether the duo still exists or they have disbanded. Anyway, both the members have become members of AB6IX and have just made their debut so it is unlikely to hear about an MXM comeback in the meantime. Regardless, let’s support them both and their current group!