There are many talented Korean-American and Asian-American stars that dropped everything, and left everything and everyone they know, to go and live their dream in Korea. If that’s not striving for the American dream, then I don’t know what is! Of course everyone’s idea of it is different, and your individual “American dream” is personal to you. Yet these stars have worked hard, made their mark and are known internationally on an extremely large scale.
These individuals may or may not have already spoken the Korean language before leaving the United States, and I’m sure that they experienced a culture shock upon their arrival in Seoul.
I’ve assembled a list of 10 people, both male, and female who stand out to me a lot, and I feel are underrated and/or have a lot more to give and show for themselves. In no particular order!
10- Jay Park: Korean American
Of course Mr AOMG himself made the list! Jay Park is the definition of a self-made man. Born in Seattle, Washington Jay went from K-Pop idol to a multi-creative; rapper, singer, song writer, producer, dancer and CEO of his own hip-hop record label AOMG (Above Ordinary Music Group). He joined the panel on “Asia’s Got Talent”, and a staple judge of the ever famous rap show “Show Me The Money.” Not forgetting his subsidiary label H1gher Music, and his record deal with Roc Nation.
9- Cory Hong: Korean American
Cory is the leader of Choeun Entertainment’s internationally favoured sextet 24K 투포케이, and is from Portland, Oregon. He’s also appears on Arirang radio at times! Not only does he have a banging voice, he composes and arranges music. Did you know that he composed and arranged 24k’s “Only You” ? I love that song, it’s my absolute favourite 24K song! Cory is definitely one to watch in the future!
8- Nancy (MOMOLAND 모모랜드): Caucasian-American and Korean
Pretty as a picture! Nancy was born in Daegu, South Korea to a Korean mother and Caucasian American father. Since debuting in MOMOLAND her charms and angelically pitched voice have put her in the limelight. She was previously the emcee of Arirang’s “Pops In Seoul” which is an English presented K-Pop music, news and chart show. MOMOLAND are becoming more and more popular each day, and at the young age of 18, she’s just getting started!
7 – Eli Kim (U-KISS 유키스): Korean American
Eli is from Los Angeles, California and debuted with U-KISS in 2008. He was the handsome and bubbly host that always left you wanting more of Arirang’s “Simply Kpop” for 5 years and stepped down in February 2018.
Eli married his wife Ji Yeon Soo in 2014; both their marriage and pregnancy was kept a secret, in fear of what the fans and public might say. Of course there were negative comments, and Eli announced that action would be taken against malicious comments on social media.
Eli and his wife have the cutest baby boy, Minsoo (Michael) and Eli and his family openly gave a glimpse into their everyday lives on Korean television.
Much respect to Eli, as he didn’t go about it in “the Korean way”, with official statements etc. Instead he lived quietly, and continued working with his group. The fans flooded Eli and his family with gifts and well wishes. Hopefully U-KISS release some new music in the near future? This year does mark their 10 year anniversary.
6 – Amber Liu ( f(x) ) – Taiwanese American
Miss Amber! What I love the most about her is that she’s real and true to herself. She cares about the rights and wellbeing of others. As a K-Pop star you’re pressured to dress a certain way and be in wardrobe and make-up at almost all times. Amber’s style may be described as “Tomboy-ish” by some, but when I see her, I just think that this is very much herself.
Amber is another talented woman as she composes, writes and produces her own songs. She also gives us a peek into her life via her own YouTube channel; it doesn’t surprise me that she has this freedom as she did debut 9 years ago. Amber recently starred in an American indie film called “The Eagle and the Albatross.” I wonder what the future of f(x) is though?
5 – Jae Park (Day6 데이식스) – Korean American
Vocalist, composer and electric guitarist – what a mouth-full! Jae gained a lot of popularity and attention as one of the 6 finalists on the show “Survival Audition: K-Pop Star 서바이벌 오디션 K팝 스타.” Like Amber, the Cali boy has his own YouTube channel, and is very active and free on his Twitter account. Working alongside Kevin Woo and Park Jimin (15&) on “After School Club” his personality has become more familiar to fans as time goes on.
Finally Day6 is getting the recognition they deserve and I’m here for it! They got a taste of the USA last year, and will be embarking on their first world tour, which already started in Seoul at the end of June (2018). I can’t wait to hear his harmonious vocals live, next year!
4- Ailee 에일리: Korean American
Question. Where is Ailee right now? Why didn’t “Home” get the recognition and respect that it deserved?
She is still very much active on Social media, but no hints at new music any time soon. Ailee has a powerful voice, and she has had much success musically on a number of Korean music charts. Not to mention her healthy sized body.
Ailee did indeed debut in America in 2017, but it didn’t do as well as expected. A lot of people blame her American label and promo team. Anyway, onwards and upwards!
3- Mark 마크 (GOT7 갓세븐) – Taiwanese American
Mark Tuan left the 626 and is now 1/7 members of GOT7. Style, swag, acrobatics, modelling and now a clothing designer? Mark joined forces with Represent Clothing, a culture and community clothing brand. His line is only available for 2 weeks! So take a look at it here.
Mark has settled well in Korea, so well that I’ve been told he forgets English at times?
But don’t be fooled, he’s still a Cali boy at heart! His humble and timid persona has changed quite a bit over the years, and I’m sure he’ll continue to do well in all of his ventures.
2- Jessi 제시: Korean American
New York stand up! This is my girl! Having debuted in 2005, she released her first single “Get Up” which Jessi stated wasn’t her style. She came back in 2015 after a hiatus of 5 years as a member of Lucky J; she certainly found her feet and was the first runner up in season one of female-rapper survival programme “Unpretty Rapstar.” Jessi has been unstoppable since then, and is the cool girl-next-door that is real and upfront about everything. She’s a favourite on reality shows for this very reason.
We’re about to hear the lioness raw, with that unique and raspy voice of hers! As she’s about to release her latest single “Down” on the 6th July!
Let’s pray for a world tour this year!
1 – Eric Nam에릭남: Korean American
Last and definitely not least, we have the lovely Eric Nam! It hurts how underrated he is in Korea, and I just don’t understand. He comes from Atlanta, and has returned home to the states this summer to embark on his sold out, North American tour! He’s such a talented singer and does amazingly on variety shows, with After School club being my favourite! He left After School Club after 3 years, to focus on his music career. It’s just not the same without you Eric!
Let’s not forget that amazing collaboration he had with Gallant and Tablo in January of last year. I was ready for more, but I suppose patience is a virtue and all that!
Who are some of your favourite Asian American HallyU stars?