Following South Korean boy band BTS‘ rise to international fame and, K-pop has officially become mainstream. With that, so many fans are discovering new K-pop groups to obsess and fangirl over — but did you know that it’s pretty common for K-pop stars (also known as K-pop “idols”) to have friends outside of their immediate groups?

Take BLACKPINK‘s Lisa and GOT7‘s BamBam, for instance. Before becoming K-pop stars and debuting in their respective groups, they grew up together in Bangkok, Thailand and were both in a dance group called We Zaa Cool.

In a July 2021 podcast called “Park Sohyun’s Love Game,” BamBam spoke about his friendship with Lisa. “I mean, I’ve known Lisa since we were younger. But with Lisa, I only went up to Lisa’s waist [height-wise]. So I think naturally, I began calling her noona.”

“Noona” means “older sister” in Korean and is often used to address women who are older than you — BamBam calls Lisa noona as she is two months older than him.

“Now, I’m used to it, but I don’t call her noona when we speak in Korean,” BamBam explained. “I only call her noona when we speak in Thai.” In the same interview, BamBam also revealed that Lisa is one of the first people to listen to his songs before his albums are released.

Another pair of iconic K-pop friends are GOT7’s Jackson Wang and BTS’ RM! In a September 2019 interview on the Zach Sang Show, Jackson opened up about how he became friends with RM. He said, “[RM] and I go all the way back to when we were trainees. I was a trainee at JYP, and he was a trainee from Big Hit. We met through a friend, and he is the same age as me.”

K-pop stars often go through a few years of training to debut within a group and are known as “trainees” during that time.

Jackson added that he and RM are two very different people, explaining, “I goof off often, and I joke around. I’m more aggressive. RM is pretty calm, and he is very smart. He doesn’t talk too much, but whatever he says, it just feels right. He’s like the conclusion to me.”

From ATEEZ’ Wooyoung and TXT’s Yeonjun to Red Velvet’s Yeri and TWICE’s Nayeon, scroll through our gallery to uncover more iconic K-pop friendships!

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