While there are so many great K-pop groups out there, there are just as many solo artists! From IU to Jessi, keep reading for all of the K-pop soloists that you *need* to know about.

If you know K-pop, you know IU. The singer-actress, whose real name is Lee Ji-eun, is one of the most famous stars in South Korea and is often referred to as the “Nation’s Little Sister.”

IU’s rise to fame is a classic rags to riches story, and a topic of inspiration throughout the country. Growing up, she always expressed interest in acting, taking classes for it until her family’s financial situation deteriorated after elementary school. The family was forced to move out of the city of Seoul, where IU ended up living with her grandmother, brother and cousin for over one year in conditions of great poverty. IU had little contact with her parents during this time.

“Because my parents both had to work, I had to live with my grandmother away from my parents,” she told the KBS show Win Win in 2015. “In this tiny room, I lived with my grandmother, cousin and brother. It was always cold and we never had enough to eat.”

IU was determined to make a name for herself, finding her passion for singing during middle school, which is also when she started to audition for South Korean music companies like JYP Entertainment (known for groups TWICE, 2PM and ITZY).

Now K-pop’s biggest solo artist, IU was rejected from 20 auditions at the time, and was also scammed by a few fake entertainment companies. Eventually, she would sign a contract with Leon Entertainment in 2007, where she would debut as a soloist at only 15 years old with the single “Lost Child.” It wasn’t until she released her legendary track “Good Day” in 2010, that she skyrocketed to fame.

Along with her music career, IU is also a notable actress.

“When I make music, I’m a producer, and I can use music to express and leave behind the thoughts I have in that moment of my life. But acting isn’t about me or my creation,” she told Marie Claire Korea in 2019. “In order to be an actor that can play any role, I think it’s best not to put limits on myself.”

But IU isn’t the only impressive soloist in South Korea! Click through the gallery to uncover all of the K-pop solo artists you *need* to know about.

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