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K-pop idols who have signed with US labels

  • Published : Aug 12, 2018 - 14:08
  • Updated : Aug 12, 2018 - 14:08

Although BTS appears to have changed the game, K-pop idols weren’t always well-known chart-toppers in the US market.

In 2009, the acclaimed Wonder Girls made its US debut with the English version of its hit song “Nobody” after dominating charts in Korea. The group toured the world with famous American boy band the Jonas Brothers. This market crossover was seemingly smooth, and the members received many promotional offers in the US, but complications with members’ personal lives led to their company scrapping the release of their English album.

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(Screen shot of Psy's Gangnam Style MV)
Then, Korean artist Psy’s “Gangnam Style” went unexpectedly viral worldwide and reached a billion views on YouTube in 2012. While it did introduce foreigners to K-pop and was massively popular, it was short-lived and didn’t result in Psy becoming a successful US artist.

Nevertheless, there are still Korean artists who have currently signed with US labels in hopes of finally breaking into the Western market.

1. Amber Liu

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(Twitter)
The most recent K-pop idol to join the US crossover movement is Amber Liu of girl group f(x). Although she is still with her Korean label S.M. Entertainment, the Los Angeles native signed with Steel Wool Entertainment in the US to pursue a new direction in her artistic career in July. Liu has stated that she hopes this will be an opportunity for her to collaborate with some of her favorite US artists.

2. Tiffany Young

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(Yonhap)
Another Korean-American, Tiffany who is a former member of Girls’ Generation, has returned to her home state of California to pursue a solo US debut. Now going by the name of Tiffany Young, the singer left her original Korean agency S.M. Entertainment to sign with Paradigm Talent Agency, a representative of fellow idol Eric Nam. Her debut single “Over My Skin” was released on June 28 this year.

3. Jay Park

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(Yonhap)
With his skills as a hip-hop, R&B and K-pop artist, Korean-American Jay Park is gearing up for his US debut. Entering the Korean entertainment industry as a member of boy group 2PM under JYP Entertainment, Park eventually reached the status where he was able to develop his own labels AOMG and H1GHER. In hopes of seeing similar success in the US, he signed with Roc Nation last year as the first Asian-American to join the prestigious label. Since then, he has collaborated with American artists like 2Chainz and Rich The Kid.

4. Eric Nam

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(Herald DB)
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Eric Nam moved to Korea after being discovered on an audition program. He is currently signed under CJ E&M Music in Korea as well as Paradigm Talent Agency. After gaining star status in Korea, he released his first US single “Into You” in collaboration with KOLAJ in 2016. During his last North America Tour, his Atlanta and New York City dates sold out -- a feat expected of the upcoming tour for his new album “Honestly.

5. CL

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(Herald DB)
Known as the talented and boldest member of the now disbanded group 2NE1, CL is on her fourth year of being signed with major label School Boy Entertainment. In a business run by well-known manager Scooter Braun, CL became label mates with the likes of Justin Bieber and The Black Eyed Peas along with K-pop artist Psy. However, even after the 2016 release of her debut US single “Lifted,” she continues to only remain in high demand in Asia. Though she is still signed with YG Entertainment to stay active in Asia, CL continues to work toward American success.

By Serena Soh, Intern reporter (sjsoh@heraldcorp.com)