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V is the only member of K-pop supergroup BTS whose stage name goes only by a letter. His real name is Kim Taehyung. Photo: Big Hit Entertainment

Who are Kim Taehyung, Han Jisung and Xu Minghao? 10 male K-pop stars and their real names

  • Stage names have been an integral part of K-pop since the industry first started, but diehard fans will usually know performers’ real names too
  • Whether it’s V of BTS or G Dragon of BigBang, do you know their given names before they were famous?
Tamar Hermanin United States

Fans chant the names of their idols when K-pop groups take the stage at concerts (at least in pre-Covid-19 times they did).

For many people who aren’t diehard fans though, the names being heard may come as a surprise, as they’re not their well-known stage monikers, but the given names of the stars.

Stage names have been an integral part of K-pop since the industry’s beginnings and many K-pop stars have them.

Here are some stars whose real names you may not know.

Doyoung from NCT. Photo: SM Entertainment

Kim Dong-young is Doyoung of NCT and NCT 127

Of the 23 members currently in NCT, many use stage names, but Doyoung’s is worth knowing because other members frequently refer to him by his given name considering it’s very similar to his stage name.

Kai of Exo. Photo: SM Entertainment

Kim Jong-in is Kai from Exo

Many other members of Exo also use stage names as well, such as Do Kyung-soo (D.O.) and Kim Jun-myeon (Suho).
Singer V from BTS. Photo: Big Hit Entertainment

Kim Taehyung is V from BTS

He is the only member of BTS that goes by a letter, but Suga (Min Yoon-gi) and J-Hope (Jung Ho-seok) also use stage names, while Kim Seok-jin uses the diminutive “Jin” as his and Kim Nam-joon goes by the acronym “RM”, a reference to his former stage name, “Rap Monster”.
G-Dragon of BigBang. Photo: YG Entertainment

Kwon Ji-yong is G-Dragon of BigBang

He released an EP in 2017 titled after his given name, Kwon Ji Yong, and explored what it means to be himself.

Astro’s Cha Eun-woo. Photo: Fantagio Entertainment

Lee Dong-min is Cha Eun-woo of Astro

Cha Eun-woo is one of the most surprising stage names in K-pop.

The popular singer-actor uses a completely different name from his given name, Lee Dong-min, creating a new identity for himself without any pop-star flare.

Onew from Shinee. Photo: SM Entertainment

Lee Jin-ki is Onew of Shinee

While Shinee’s Key, aka Kim Ki-bum, has a stage name that reflects his given name, Lee Jin-ki’s stage name reflects his gentle personality (“onewhada” in Korean means “to be gentle or kind”).
Han Jisung of Stray Kids. Photo: JYP Entertainment

Han Jisung is Han from Stray Kids

Han is one of many K-pop stars who uses his surname in place of his given name as a stage name.

There are several other Jisungs in the South Korean entertainment industry, including NCT’s Jisung and former Wanna One member Yoon Jisung.

Super Junior’s Leetuk. Photo: SM Entertainment

Park Jeong-su is Leeteuk from Super Junior

When Super Junior made their debut in 2005, stage names were quite common among K-pop stars, but now it’s more normal to hear artists referred to by their given names.

The group has multiple members still active, including Leeteuk, who also use stage names.

Shownu from Monsta X. Photo: Starship Entertainment

Son Hyun-woo is Shownu of Monsta X

The leader of Monsta X, Shownu is one of several band members who use a stage name.

He uses an amalgamation of his given name, Son Hyun-woo. Other members of the group who use stage names, such as rappers I.M and Joohoney, also incorporate their given names into their professional ones.

The8 of Seventeen. Photo: Pledis Entertainment

Xu Minghao is Seventeen’s The8

Several of the 13 members of Seventeen have stage names, but The8 is a stand-out one.

The meaning behind it? It’s said to reflect how the number eight is considered lucky regarding wealth and fortune in Chinese culture, and that the numeral “8” looks like an infinity symbol when turned on its side.

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