Hey there! Did you know that K-Pop or Korean Pop music has taken the world by storm? It all started back in the early 2000s when K-Pop started gaining recognition domestically. But now, in just 22 years, K-Pop has become one of the most popular genres of music across the globe! Famous groups like BTS, Blackpink, and 2NE1 have even reached the US Billboard charts and performed in the well-renowned Coachella music festival. Thanks to the internet and social media, Korea's musicality spread like wildfire.
Social media platforms have paved the way for K-pop's virality. Specifically in South Korea, 19.1% of internet users follow influencers, while 18% of them follow actors and performers on social media. 9.4% also follow bands, singers, and musicians. This means that social media became an avenue for avid fans to keep track of their favorite idols' personal and professional lives.
K-Pop idols' popularity brought great value for marketing and advertising. The idol culture in South Korea made the market aspire to be closer to their idols, may it be through their lifestyle or through the products they use. An endorsement from a K-Pop idol would be given great weight by his fans because of the preexisting relationship they have. The loyalty and trust they have fostered throughout the years are extended to the brand's image. This made social media and influencer marketing top trends in South Korea.
If you're not very familiar with K-Pop culture, we're here to help. We have curated a list of the most-followed K-Pop idols on Instagram to assist you in grasping the K-Pop influencer landscape. This can bring insight on how you'd like to promote your brand when entering South Korea.
Top 17 K-Pop Idols on Instagram ⬇️
Username: @layzhang Followers: 14.2 million
Let's talk about Lay Zhang, the Chinese superstar who's got it all! He's a rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, actor, and entrepreneur. Lay made his debut in 2012 as a member of SM Entertainment's K-Pop boy group EXO and its Chinese sub-unit EXO-M. But in 2022, Lay departed from SM Entertainment, but still remained as a member of EXO. Talk about loyalty!
Followers: 14.4 million
If you're a fan of Girls' Generation, then you must know Yoona! She's not just a singer but also an actress from South Korea. Yoona debuted back in August 2007 as a member of the girl group Girls' Generation, which went on to become one of South Korea's best-selling artists and one of the most popular female groups. And did you know that she's also a member of the sub-unit Girls' Generation-Oh! GG? Impressive, right? On May 30, 2019, Yoona released her first solo album, A Walk to Remember, showcasing her vocal talent to the world.
Username: @bambam1a Followers: 17.4 million
Have you heard of BamBam? That's Kunpimook Bhuwakul's nickname, and he's a talented Thai rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Plus, he's also a member of the K-Pop boy band Got7! Last year, he and Blackpink's Lisa were even selected as the faces of a new 5G campaign by Thailand's largest mobile network operator, AIS. They make quite the power duo!
Username: @skuukzky Followers: 18.1 million
You might know Suzy as a South Korean actress and solo singer, but did you know she actually started her career as a member of the girl group MissA? That's right, she debuted with them back in 2010 under JYP Entertainment. And in 2012, she made her film debut in Architecture 101, where she stole the nation's heart and was even hailed as "The Nation's First Love" in Korea. Talk about making an impact!
Username: @hyunah_aa Followers: 18.6 million
If you're looking for a solo artist who's not afraid to be daring, then look no further than Kim Hyun-ah, better known as Hyuna. She's a South Korean singer-songwriter, rapper, and model who first debuted as a member of the girl group Wonder Girls back in February 2007. But in 2010, she struck out on her own with a performance-oriented music style that has since won her a huge following. Check out her feed for some serious style inspo!
Username: @taeyeon_ss Followers: 18.9 million
Let's talk about Kim Tae-yeon, the talented solo artist who first made her mark as a member of the iconic girl group Girls' Generation. Since then, she's become one of the best-selling solo artists in South Korea, with over one million physical albums and twenty million digital singles sold as of 2021! She's received plenty of awards and nominations for her music over the years, and it's not hard to see why. She's a true superstar!
Username: @xxxibgdrgn Followers: 22 million
Kwon Ji-yong, also known by his stage name G-Dragon, is a South Korean rapper, singer-songwriter, and fashion designer, known as the "King of K-pop". Dragon officially debuted in 2006, as the leader of the South Korean group, Big Bang. Widely recognized for his influence on culture, fashion , and music, G-Dragon was named by Forbes in 2016 as the most influential person under 30 in Asia's entertainment and sports.
Username: @dlwlrma Followers: 29.4 million
You may have heard of IU - a talented South Korean singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. Did you know that her stage name is a combination of "I" and "you", symbolizing the connection between her and her fans through music? With her girl-next-door charm and incredible vocal range, IU has earned the title of "The Nation's Sweetheart". Not only has she released chart-topping hits, but she's also hosted TV and radio shows and acted in popular dramas. IU has even partnered with big brands such as Samsung, Sony, and Guess - it's no wonder she's a household name in South Korea!
Followers: 31.5 million
Jackson Wang is a multitalented artist hailing from Hong Kong. He's a rapper, singer, fashion designer, dancer, and TV host, and he's a member of both the South Korean boy group Got7 and the Chinese hip-hop group Panthepack. In 2021, Jackson ranked in the top 10 on Forbes China Celebrity 100 list - a well-deserved recognition for his hard work and talent.
Username: @eunwo.o_c Followers: 33.3 million
Cha Eun-woo is a triple threat - he's a singer, actor, and model from South Korea. He's part of the boy group Astro, and in February 2021, he became Penshoppe's international ambassador. Cha has also been selected as a brand ambassador for Burberry - talk about a fashion icon! With his good looks and talent, it's no surprise that he's making waves in the entertainment industry.
Username: @rkive Followers: 42.1 million
If you're a fan of K-pop, you've probably heard of RM, the leader of BTS. He's not just a rapper - he's also an accomplished songwriter and producer, having contributed to much of the group's discography. RM's stage name was originally "Rap Monster", which is fitting given his incredible skills on the mic. In fact, he was even featured on American hip-hop magazine XXL's list of "10 Korean Rappers You Should Know". With his talent and leadership skills, RM is a key figure in the global success of BTS.
Followers: 43.3 million
Suga, also known as Agust D, is a South Korean rapper, songwriter and record producer. He debuted as a member of the South Korean boy band BTS in 2013. Originally joining the company as a music producer, Suga trained under Big Hit Entertainment for three years alongside members J-Hope and RM. In 2021, Suga recomposed Samsung's signature ringtone, "Over The Horizon".
Followers: 48 million
Ah, Jimin! He's one of the talented members of the K-pop sensation BTS. Did you know that he's not just a singer and a dancer, but also a record producer and songwriter? Back in 2014, he teamed up with his bandmate Jungkook to create a Korean version of Justin Bieber's "Mistletoe" called "Christmas Day". Jimin even wrote the Korean lyrics himself!
Username: @roses_are_rosie Followers: 67.4 million
Roseanne Park, more known as Rosé, is a Korean-New Zealand singer and dancer. Born in New Zealand and raised in Australia, Rosé signed with South Korean label YG Entertainment following a successful audition in 2012. She debuted as a member of the girl group Blackpink in August 2016.
In July 2020, Rosé was named the global ambassador for Yves Saint Laurent. In April 2021, Rosé was also revealed as Tiffany & Co's newest global ambassador
Username: @sooyaaa__ Followers: 69.1 million
Jisoo from Blackpink is not just a talented singer and actress, but she's also a popular model. Before her debut with Blackpink in 2016, she was featured in commercials for big brands like Samsonite, Smart Uniform, LG Electronics, and Nikon. In 2019, she even became a local ambassador for Dior's cosmetics brand, Dior Beauty.
Username: @jennierubyjane43 Followers: 74.6 million
Jennie from Blackpink is known for her smooth vocals and impressive rapping skills. She spent five years studying in New Zealand before returning to South Korea and debuting as a member of Blackpink. Jennie has worked with international brands like Samsung and Lotte, and was even chosen as the new muse for Chanel Korea Beauty in 2018. Talk about a fashion icon!
Username: @lalalalisa_m Followers: 76.8 million
Lisa, or Lalisa Manoban, is the dancing queen of Blackpink. Her moves are simply mesmerizing! In September 2021, she made her solo debut with her album "Lalisa" which broke records by selling a whopping 736,000 copies in its release week. And that's not all - the music video for its lead single recorded 73.6 million views on YouTube in the first 24 hours, making it the most-viewed music video by a solo artist in that time period. Lisa has collaborated with big brands like AIS, Samsung, Adidas, MAC, Bulgari, and Celine. She's a true style icon!
The Power of Instagram
Instagram has become an essential marketing platform for K-Pop groups and solo artists. Instagram empowers fans to take a sneak peek into their idols' personal lives, and to take a look at their lifestyle outside the cameras and the stage lights. K-Pop idols also use this platform to truly connect with their loyal followers.
Blackpink is a prime example of utilizing Instagram to connect with fans, promote their music, and document their daily life away from the public sphere. For this reason, it is no surprise that the four members of Blackpink have taken the top spots on this list.
Instagram's personal character humanize K-Pop idols, making them more reachable and authentic to the public eye. The idols' posts allows fans to know how these artists live their lives, what they eat, what they use, and where they buy products. This is also why influencer marketing collaborations with K-Pop stars has risen as one of the best ways to promote a brand in South Korea.
We hope this list has helped you in your research on the top K-Pop idols you could work with on your campaign.
AJ Marketing | Unlock the Power of Influence