List of Korean-American Idols Who Are Still Active In the Korean Entertainment Industry: RED VELVET’s Wendy, BTOB’s Peniel, Eric Nam, and More

Can’t Speak Korean? Don’t Worry About Language Barrier, Here Are the List of Korean American in K-Pop Industry

Are you, a foreigner who likes K-pop but doesn’t understand Korean, tired of always not understand the video that you watch about your favorite Korean idols that still doesn’t provide any English subtitles? Have you ever wondered to be able to talk with your Korean idols but it could be impossible because of the language barrier? Well, you shouldn’t be worried if the Korean idols that you like was born or/and raised in the States and Canada. Because we got you lists of K-pop idols who are Asian-American.

Most Korean entertainment agencies held a global audition to search for real talents outside Korea. North America is one of the stop for the global audition, including USA and Canada. You don’t have to be a Korean to pass the audition, even though mostly participants whom passed the audition was a overseas Korean who has been living in America for years. Just like the lists of idols that we’re going to discuss in this article.

But passing a global audition then becoming a trainee is not the only thing that led these Korean-Americans to become K-pop idols. There are also idols who moved to Korea before they joined in any Korean entertainment agencies as a trainee.

So, not only that these idols have talents such as singing, dancing, composing good music, etc. But they also can talk in English fluently. They usually becoming the English speaker in the group if they debuted in a group, or if they’re a solo artist, they will be their own English speaker. By that, they will gain more international fans since they can reach the non-Korean speaker fans easily. What a good way of marketing!

Anyway, let’s take a look at these Korean-American K-pop that can understand your spazzing English tweets who have debuted in a group or as a solo artist!



Wendy of Red Velvet is one of the popular Korean-American among international fans. As the only English speaker in Red Velvet, Wendy helped her group to interact with fans during international activities such as world tour, interview with American media, etc.

But do you know that Wendy is not an American born?

Wendy was born with a name Son Seung-wan on February 21, 1994 in Seoul. When she was around 10 years old, or when she was in the fifth grade of elementary school, Wendg along with her family moved to Canada. Wendy and her older sister attend a school in their neighborhood in Ontario. So the stage name ‘Wendy’ is not just a stage name for her, but also an English name that she used while she was living overseas.

The start of her journer as a K-pop idol was when Wendy accompanied her friend to join SM Global audition in 2012. She who has been joining Koreaboo and Cube Entertainment competition in 2011, passed the SM Global audition after singing a song by Korean singer Kim Gun-mo, called “Moon of Seoul”. Wendy also have participated in YG audition said by Yang Hyun-suk, however she didn’t get accepted. But it was a fortunate since we wouldn’t see Wendy as a Red Velvet member if she got accepted in YG, right?

After Wendy passed the SM Global audition, she became a trainee in SM and also got introdued as one of SM Rookies earlier in 2014. On August, 2014, she debuted with Red Velvet and released a debut song called “Happiness”.

Let’s take a look at how English speaker Wendy greet international fans!

If you’re biasing Wendy and made her as one of your favorite K-pop idols, you don’t need to be worried since you can reach her by saying something in English to Wendy!

BTOB Peniel


Just like Wendy, Peniel from BTOB is the only English speaker from his group that contains of 7 members. With the help of Peniel, BTOB can interact with international melodies so easily during interview, concert, or even social media. If you ever wondered how he got his stage name, it’s because Peniel was his English name. Or more like, the only name that he used since he was born and raised in Chicago. He also has a Korean name Shin Dong-geun, but only few people calling him with that name, and he is more often to address himself as Peniel Shin instead.

Now if you wondered about how Peniel got into K-pop, well, his audition story was quite entertaining. Many melodies are curious about his back story before becoming BTOB member and how they never heard any interview of Peniel about that. But finally in K-Pop Daebak podcast hosted by Eric Nam, Peniel told us his audition story and how he turned out to be K-pop idol.

Back then in his school life while he was living in Chicago, his hometown, Peniel never really been a fan of K-pop. He was just found K-pop interesting since his friends told him about it, but never really pay attention to it. One day, his friend told him about audition from JYP. Peniel who was clueless about JYP before was told by his friend that this agency is the same agency that mange 2PM, Wonder Girls, etc. And then Peniel decided to join as well even though he was never interested in dance or sing before. He chose the modeling field where he was just need to pose for three times. Although Peniel was kind of awkward and he thought that he messed up, but he ended up getting called by JYP representative few months after that.

However, it was too bad that Peniel didn’t debut under JYP entertainment. On 2012, he debuted as one of the members of BTOB. And Peniel who once said that rapping, singing and dancing is not his style, back then in Chicago when he was younger, finally debuting as a rapper in a K-pop group. Then again, Peniel chose the right path because if he didn’t join the audition we wouldn’t meet him as the Peniel that we know. BTOB won’t be the same without Peniel, right?

And now let’s see the compilation of Peniel speaking in English, the language that he’s most comfortable talking with.

Seeing Peniel speaking in English made us relate with him and it just made him to be more likeable, don’t you think? Peniel really out here making us fall in love even just being himself.

Rapper Jessi


Do you know that Jessi the rapper that participated in survival show Unpretty Rapstar, was born and raised in the United States? Jessi was born with a name Jessica Hyun-ju Ho in New York on December 17, 1988 and raised in New Jersey. She spent her childhood to teenager life in the States, and moved to the motherland where she reached the age 15. In 2003, she got accepted by one of music agency in Korea called Doremi Media and released her debut album two years later in 2005.

In high school, Jessi was a classmate of Jessica and Tiffany from SNSD as well as solo singer Stephany Kim in a school called Korea Kent Foreign School. Being raised in the States, Jessi claimed that she struggled with the Korean culture. Jessi even said that she once spent the nights in sauna dealing with the culture shock.

Not only with the Korean culture, the rapper who appeared on “Unpretty Rapstar” survival show also said that she has been facing a racism back then when she was younger. Jessi lived in a town where there aren’t many Koreans, and then there was that one boy who always disturbing her for four years. Jessi held that back for that long, but she finally stand up and fight for her right. After she fight that bully, Jessi was no longer getting disturbed.

That is one of the reason why Jessi as a rapper always talk about being real and honest. Her past has build not only that her looks and style, but also her attitude as she is right now. We really can’t find a rapper like Jessi who got that swag, talent, visual, and lots of love for her fans, Jebbies.

Let’s take a look at how cute Jessi is when she forgot about how to speak in Korean. (maybe because she was too nervous!)

Ladies Code Ashley


Unlike Jessi and Peniel, Ashley from Ladies Code was born and spent her childhood in Korea. The same case as Wendy, Ashley was born in Incheon on November 9, 1991 with a Korean name Choi Bitna. At the age of 8, Ashley’s family moved to the States. In US, Ashley the second lead vocalist in Ladies Code spent her teenage life in Queens, New York.

This making her to be fluent in both English and Korean. That is why her code name in Ladies Code is Global Code. Ashley may now be a leader of Ladies Code now, but back then in New York she was popular by doing dance cover videos on her YouTube channel since 2007 with a name ashleych0i.

After that she moved to Korea to be a trainee in Cube Entertainment. However, instead of debuting as a girl group member in Cube Entertainment, Ashley joined Polaris Entertainment and debuted as a leader in Ladies Code in 2013. Being one of Korean American idols also make her to be friends with some other Korean American idols such as Woosung of The Rose, BM of K.A.R.D, Jae of Day6, etc.

Ashley is also a radio DJ in Arirang where she speak in English for the entire program. Let’s take a listen first!

Soloist Hee-jun Han


If you watch Arirang’s TV program called “After School Club” regularly, or at least have watched one or more episodes of the show, you must be familiar with this Korean American idol that we’re talking about. It’s Hee-jun Han or Han Hee-jun, the soloist as well as MC of After School Club or ASC along with Jamie Park.


Almost similar with Ashley, Hee-jun was also born and spent his childhood in Korea. He was born in Anyang, Gyeonggi, on April 20, 1989. At the age of 12, Hee-jun and his family moved to Flushing, New York and he spent his teenager life there. Before he debuted in Korea, Hee-jun was active as a nonprofit organization from Milal Mission in New York. Hee-jun was focusing on helped the children with special needs there.

As he has a talented soothing voice, the people from his organization asked him to join American Idol. Luckily, he got accepted as he auditioned on the eleventh season of “American Idol” in 2012. He performed a song called “How Am I Supposed to Life Without You” and successfully wowed Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. On American Idol, Hee-jun made to the Top 9 contestants before he got eliminated.

After American Idol, Hee-jun has been invited as a guest or to sing in some shows such as “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”, “The 700 Club”, etc.

In 2013, Hee-jun went back to Korea to participated in a show called “K-pop Star Season 3”. He was on the same show as Bernard Park, Sam Kim, etc. There, Hee-jun made to the Top 10 and signed with Polaris Entertainment, the same agency as Ashley as well as Ladies Code. After that, Hee-jun started his journey as a K-pop soloist and has released many songs such as “Starry Night” and “Q&A” with Tiffany Young.

heejun tiffany