5 Idols Who Rose to Fame After Leaving Their Debut Group

S. Jin, Nov. 9, 2015, 3:22 p.m.


A career in the entertainment industry can sometimes be a hit or miss. Unfortunately, being able to debut doesn't always guarantee success, and sometimes, it takes a revamp (or several) for a star to rise against the current of talented entertainers in this dog-eat-dog business.

In fact, some stars don't get the recognition they deserve until they reinvent themselves, and in the case of idol groups, some members don't truly find fame until they leave and join a different group - or even a separate career. We've rounded up 5 famous stars that didn't quite "make it" until they left their initial idol groups to pursue bigger and better things!

1. WINNER's Song Minho (aka Mino)

Many fans are aware that Mino was an underground rapper who hung with the likes of Block B's Zico, Kyung, P.O, and M.I.B's SIMS, and he was even a contender for the group Block B. However, due to personal reasons, the rapper left the group before its debut. What many people don't know is that Mino actually debuted in a ballad group called BoM back in 2011, before he entered YG.

Later the group disbanded due to the group's (and the company's) lack of success. In 2013, Mino was recruited by YG Entertainment and went on to compete in YG's survival program 'Who is Next: WIN' in Team A. Team A went on to win the competition and debut as WINNER in 2014. Mino then went on to compete in the fourth season of 'Show Me the Money', where he was able to truly show off his talent and skills, ultimately taking home the title of runner-up at the end of the competition.

Despite being an idol rapper, Mino was able to break barriers and stereotypes with his sick flow and clever lyrics, finally earning him the recognition he deserves.


2. 2PM's Jay Park

Jay Park is a real success story when it comes to Korean-Americans in the Korean entertainment industry. Jay Park first debuted in 2008 with the JYP's hottest new act 2PM where he earned much love from HOTTESTs as the boy group's leader. However, in 2009, after netizens discovered unfavorable comments towards Korea made by Jay on his personal MySpace page back in 2005, Korean media and netizens had a field day. Despite Jay's public apology, explaining the unhappiness he had felt during his early trainee days in an unfamiliar country and the frustration that came with not being able to easily communicate in Korean, as well as dealing with cultural differences, the general public was not happy with his forgotten words, prompting them to advocate for Jay Park's removal from the idol group. Although JYP CEO Park Jin Young stated that Jay would not be leaving the group, the next day, Jay announced his official departure from 2PM, explaining that he didn't want to bring anymore harm to the rest of the members, and left for his hometown in Seattle, Washington. After much controversy and despite the pleading of fans, Jay Park never returned to 2PM, but instead made his comeback as a solo artist, and eventually grew to become CEO of his own label AOMG.

Jay Park has demonstrated that he's truly "above ordinary" by showcasing his talents in not only music, but acting and sketch comedy as well. Jay Park has become a worldwide Korean hip-hop legend, and still continues to reign the hip-hop scene today.


3. 4Minute's Hyuna

A lot of people forget the fact that Korea's top "sexy queen" Hyuna was once a Wonder Girls member, with a much more toned-down concept than her current self. In 2007, Hyuna first debuted with the Wonder Girls, a girl group that was highly anticipated by K-pop fans. Just as the group began gaining steam, Hyuna left the Wonder Girls due to health reasons.

Later, the singer re-debuted as a member of Cube Entertainment's girl group 4Minute. Although the group received much love from fans with hits such as 'What's Your Name?' and "Whatcha Doin' Today?', Hyuna herself earned great attention through the release of her first solo track 'Bubble Pop'. Later, she collaborated with BEAST's Hyunseung in their co-ed unit group Troublemaker, causing quite the stir with their sensual themes and sexy performances. Currently, Hyuna continues to dominate as one of Korea's top sex icons!


4. Sugar's Hwang Jung Eum

Successful and versatile actress Hwang Jung Eum was once an idol singer, too! Hwang Jung Eum first debuted in 2001 with the girl group Sugar, alongside members Ayumi (now known as Iconiq in Japan), Park Soojin, and Hye Seung.

Hwang Jung Eum was the first to withdraw from the group, followed by now-actress Park Soojin, to pursue a solo career in the entertainment industry. Jung Eum tried her hand at acting in 2007 through the drama 'The Person I Love', but really rose to stardom through her role in the hit sitcom 'High Kick Through the Roof'. Due to the success of the drama, Hwang Jung Eum garnered much attention for her talent, and began snagging numerous advertising contracts, hosting gigs on music and awards shows, and lead roles in dramas! Some of her hit productions include 'Giant', 'Can You Hear My Heart', 'Golden Time', 'Kill Me, Heal Me', and the current drama 'She Was Pretty'.


5. Chakra's Jung Ryeo Won

Actress Jung Ryeo Won used to be a member of girl group Chakra, specializing in Indian-inspired dance music. Chakra first debuted in 1999 as part of the megagroup Bros, but later disbanded in 2004, prompting Ryeo Won to pursue an acting career.

However, after failing 11 auditions that year, she began to question whether she had made the right career choice. Despite her unsuccessful auditions, Ryeo Won continued on and earned a role on the vampire sitcom 'Hello Franceska', a production that finally gained the actress some recognition. She then snagged her breakout role in the wildly popular 'My Name is Kim Sam Soon' as the second female lead.

Jung Ryeo Won continued to see success with 'Which Star Are You From?' and 'Castaway on the Moon'. Most recently, Jung Ryeo Won starred in the medical drama 'Medical Top Team' alongside actor Kwon Sang Woo, and now currently stars in 'Bubble Gum' with actor Lee Dong Wook.

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