These are the youngest K-pop idols! Are they getting younger? (2024)

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by Helen Bosch

These are the youngest K-pop idols! Are they getting younger? (2)

These are the youngest K-pop idols! Are they getting younger? (3)

K-Pop Blog > Overview > The youngest K-Pop idols

At what age did the K-pop idols we cheer for and admire on stage make their debut? Were they 18, 16, or even as young as 14?

It has always been the case, that K-Pop Entertainments look for very young talents which debut when they are still teenagers. This could be due in part to the fact that the younger they start, the longer they can be active as an idol. For example, if a singer debuts at age 16, even after 10 years in the business, he or she is just 26 years old!

These are the youngest K-pop idols! Are they getting younger? (4)

Generally, Idols debut between the ages of 16 and 21. But 15-year-old Idols are not uncommon either, and last year in particular, there were frequently 14-year-olds as well.

Although teenagers on stage are nothing unusual in South Korea, fans often react critically when new Idols debut who are not yet 16 years old. They fear that the young singers are not yet ready for the entertainment industry. The entertainment industry, as we all know, is a tough business that doesn't always take everyone into consideration.

With the debut of rookie groups like IVE, Lightsum and NewJeans in 2021/ 2022, whose maknae's were all only 14 years old, there has been a lot of discussion among fans. Many fans worry that idols are getting younger and younger. But is that really true?

Let's go back in time together to answer this question!

  • Here you can find a list of the youngest K-Pop idols!

Are K-pop idols debuting younger and younger?

Already in the year 2000 we can find a clear example that speaks against it:
Solo singer BoA is now 36 years old and is considered a legend. She made her debut in August 2000 at the age of only 13 years and nine months! BoA thus set a record that was not broken until 2022. You'll find out by whom later in the article.

It took a long time for another idol to debut as young as BoA, but many others in the following years came close. For example, the youngest members of hit groups like TVXQ (2004) or Big Bang (2006) were only 15 years old at the time of their debut. They are Seungri of Big Bang and Changmin of TVXQ.

And from 2007 to 2009, they continued even younger! Wonder Girls (2007) had three 14-year-old members at once: Hyuna, Sohee & Sunmi! The other two - Yeeun & Sunye - were 17, respectively.

These are the youngest K-pop idols! Are they getting younger? (5)

The boy group SHINee debuted in 2008 with 14-year-old Taemin and the girl group Kara got a new member - Jiyoung - who was also only 14. In addition, solo singer IU, who had celebrated her 15th birthday a few months earlier, also launched her career in September 2008.

This was followed in 2009 by f(x) with 14-year-old Krystal and 4Minute with 14-year-old Kwon Sohyun.

As you can see, very young idols have already debuted in the first and second K-pop generations , not just in recent years. So our answer to the question of whether idols are getting younger and younger is "no".

Of course, this raises the question of why fans feel that Idols are debuting younger and younger these days.

Perhaps that's because 14- and 15-year-old Idols first became rarer in the years to come. Here are a the few examples we found for 2013 to 2019:

  • Jungkook (BTS) debuted in 2013 at the age of 15.
  • Jisung (NCT Dream) debuted in 2016 at the age of 14.
  • Jeon Somi (I.O.I) debuted in 2016 at the age of 15.
  • Jiheon (fromis_9) debuted in 2018 at the age of 14.
  • Wonyoung (IZ*ONE) debuted in 2018 at the age of 14.
  • Yuna (ITZY) debuted in 2019 at the age of 15.
  • Dahyun (Rocket Punch) debuted in 2019 at the age of 14.

These are the youngest K-pop idols! Are they getting younger? (6)

Wonyoung, by the way, caused a particularly big stir because she celebrated her 14th birthday just two months before her debut! In the survival show "Produce 48," where she competed for a spot in IZ*ONE, she was even only 13 years old!

However, as you may know, since 2020, idols at the age of 14 and 15 have debuted very frequently again, almost on a regular basis.

In 2020, for example, the three boy groups Treasure, Enhypen and P1Harmony made their debut. Treasure's youngest member was 15 at the time, and Ni-ki from Enhypen as well as Jongseob from P1Harmony were 14.

This was followed by at least five girl groups in 2021 and 2022, with Leeseo from IVE and Jian from Lightsum debuting in 2021 at 14. In 2022, NMIXX debuted with 15-year-old Kujin and NewJeans with 14-year-old Hyein.

The youngest of them all, however, is Haeun of the girl group Lapillus.

These are the youngest K-pop idols! Are they getting younger? (7)

When they released their first single album "Hit Ya!" in June 2022, Haeun was just 13 years and 7 months old! With that, Haeun even broke BoA's long-standing record, which was 13 years and 9 months!

In addition, there are rumors that a member of YG Entertainment's new girl group "Baby Monster" is also only 13 years old. It is unclear if she will make her debut before her 14th birthday, but either way, another very young idol will take the stage!

Again, back to the question of why fans think Idols are getting younger:

As we have since confirmed, even in the past Idols have often debuted at the age of 15, 14 or even 13. Nowadays, however, groups with such young members may be seen a bit more often, and it seems that even BoA's record at that time will soon cease to be a special one.

Moreover, the concepts of these young groups differ from back then. In the second generations, both boy and girl groups often started their careers with a cute and innocent image. Today, new groups often start earlier with more mature concepts.

When New Jeans released their debut single "Cookie" last year, heated discussions erupted. Many fans felt that the song's lyrics contained provocative innuendo and were inappropriate for minors.


Although we would currently answer "No" to the question "Are K-Pop Idols debuting younger and younger?", we do not rule out that this will change in the coming years. However, we assume that fans will continue to discuss and criticize the young age of K-Pop Idols as they have in the past. And that's a good thing.

Was denken Sie über das Thema? Lassen Sie es uns in den Kommentaren wissen!

Nachfolgend haben wir für Sie noch einmal alle im Artikel genannten Beispiele zusammengefasst. Das sind die neuesten K-Pop-Idole:

IdolGroupDebut yearAge at debut
HyunAWonder Girls200714
SoheeWonder Girls200714
SunmiWonder Girls200714
JisungNCT Dream201614
Jeon Somiformer I.O.I201615
WonyoungIVE / former IZ*ONE201814
DahyunRocket Punch201914
So JunghwanTreasure202015

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  • Rory TanakaApr 22, 2024

    You forgot GP BASIC

  • DevjaApr 22, 2024

    Janey from GP Basic was 11 when they debut…

  • Allanah Sep 15, 2023

    Thank you

These are the youngest K-pop idols! Are they getting younger? (2024)
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