One of the most interesting aspects of K-pop is how each group contains members with designated “roles”: the youngest, the main dancer, the main singer. Another fascinating title is that of the “leader,” a.k.a. the group member that helps control the band’s image, supports their bandmates and is pretty much the spokesperson for their group. Keep reading for our breakdown of some of the most well-known K-pop leaders, from BTS‘ RM to (G)I-DLE‘s Soyeon!
We can’t *not* start with BTS’ RM because the musician pretty much singlehandedly made his group what it is today. From spearheading all of the mega-band’s English interviews and live show appearances, to speaking at the U.N. and the White House, and, of course, producing most of BTS’ music — RM can seriously do it all!
“I started out as a teenage rapper, then BTS came along and it was all very intense,” RM (a.k.a. Kim Namjoon) told EFE in a June 2023 interview. “Now that the group is inactive, I’ve gone back to thinking about the beginnings and the real reasons why I joined BTS.”
ICYMI, RM started out as an underground rapper and joined Big Hit Entertainment in 2010, making him the first BTS member to join the company, and the first trainee the music label ever had!
Originally, RM had his sights set debuting with an all-rappers hip hop group. Obviously, that is not what ended up happening as the company decided to create a traditional idol group and added singers to the lineup to form BTS. One of those members was Jung Kook, who, after meeting RM and watching him write music, decided to join Big Hit rather than other well-known music companies that were scouting him at the time. So without RM, there would *definitely* be no BTS!
Another K-pop leader who pretty much created their own group was Stray Kids‘ Bang Chan. The K-pop boy group debuted in 2018, with Bang Chan handpicking the final lineup of members, which has literally never been done in the K-pop world. His company JYP Entertainment trusted his judgement, songwriting and producing skills after he was a trainee for the company for over 7 years.
With over 100 song credits to his name, he is known as Stray Kids’ main producer, writing most of the groups tracks.
“I don’t think I’ve ever fully focused on something that’s just for me,” he told Teen Vogue in January 2022. And nor does he want to! “I have learned and accepted that I am probably not going to be able to do anything without the members.”
Click through our gallery for some of the most well-known and respected K-pop leaders in the industry.
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