Stage names are used by artists, including K-pop idols, to create a persona that represents their identity apart from their regular selves.
While some performers use their legal name to create a stage moniker, others use unique titles with special meanings. The name is sometimes chosen by the agency of a K-pop idol based on the image they want the singer to project.
Singers often create an image that is not necessarily distinct from their true personality, but rather an extension of who they might be if their life had gone in a different direction. This article examines ten K-pop idols with distinctive stage names and the meanings behind them.
10 K-pop idols with unique and interesting stage names
1) SEVENTEEN's S.Coups
Choi Seung-cheol, the leader of the VERY NICE group, chose S.Coups as his stage name. Using the letters S and C from his full name, he added a twist with the phrase 'coup d'état,' which is defined as "a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics" by Merriam-Webster.
S.Coups could be manifesting SEVENTEEN's rise to stardom with his stage name, as they have certainly turned out to be a force to be reckoned with in the K-pop industry.
2) MAMAMOO's Solar
MAMAMOO's Solar, another leader with an unusual stage name, originally wanted her stage name to be Doremi, derived from the first three musical notes. Her agency, however, stepped in and suggested the notes Sol-la instead.
The name Solar has the added benefit of being related to her Korean name, Kim Yong-sun. Her first name means "The Sun" in Korean, making Solar a perfect stage name for the K-pop idol.
3) BTS' j-hope
Jung Ho-seok, BTS' main dancer and rapper, wanted his stage name to include the letter 'J' from his last name and the syllable 'ho' from his first name. The Gwangju native discovered the legend of Pandora's Box while playing with words. The Greek mythology tale became his source of inspiration, in which, after unleashing all of the world's pain and misery, the last thing left in Pandora's box was "hope." This led to the creation of "j-hope."
J-hope has been the living embodiment of the word "hope" since deciding to create his stage name after being inspired by the story. The Baseline rapper recently released his first full-length album, Jack in the Box, which contains elements of the Pandora's Box story, with one song named after the titular box.
4) SHINee's Onew
SHINee's Onew is a K-pop idol with a stage name that is very different from his real name. Lee Jin-ki was discovered by SM Entertainment and was frequently praised for his voice before being chosen as the leader of the Lucifer group, which debuted in 2008.
The name Onew, which means "soft and gentle," was reportedly given to the vocalist by Lee So-man, the CEO of SM Entertainment. The Dice singer has a stable voice, with the ability to be a dependable leader for SHINee, and his moniker suits him perfectly.
5) EXO's Suho
SM Entertainment must have a penchant for picking accurate stage names, because the next K-pop idol on this list is from SM Entertainment-led EXO.
Lee Jung-myeon was picked as the leader of the group. Suho has done a brilliant job of ushering the group into various new eras, and his chosen name, which means "guardian", was tailor-made for the 31 year-old singer.
The K-pop idol, formerly an iKon member, recently saw a surge in popularity after his song BTBT took over the minds of audiences worldwide with its sultry chorus and addictive choreography.
Kim Han-bin's stage name, B.I was said to mean "Be I," which basically refers to being oneself no matter what. The rapper once admitted that he chose his name by randomly selecting two letters from his given name.
7) NCT's Haechan
Lee Dong-hyuck promoted himself as Donghyuck when he was a trainee, but soon changed his name to Haechan after he debuted as part of NCT. SM Entertainment CEO Lee So-man gave him the name Haechan, which translates to "Full Sun."
Dong-huck's birth name meant "radiant", but Lee So-man wanted him to shine brightly and reinvent himself as a K-pop idol, so he chose the name Haechan. Whatever the reason, Haechan is an excellent choice for the NCT singer, who is currently a member of NCT Dream and NCT 127.
Often called the "idol of idols", Lee Ji-eun debuted when she was fifteen. Her stage name combines the abbreviated forms of "you" and "I," with the goal of uniting music fans.
Interestingly, her fans are referred to as 'Uaena,' or the phonetic sounds in 'You and I,' always connecting the singer with them.
9) MAMAMOO's Hwasa
Hwasa, one of K-most pop's most powerful voices, wanted a moniker because her real name, (Ahn) Hye-jin, is fairly common in Korea. Hwasa, Hye-jin's chosen name, means "to shine brightly."
The name appears to have served the Maria singer well, as she continues to release bangers as a solo artist and with MAMAMOO.
10) Agust D (BTS' SUGA)
Min Yoon-gi has several aliases. He chose the name SUGA for his debut as a member of BTS, referring to'shooting guard,' his position on the basketball team he used to play on when he was younger. The name appealed to Bang Si-hyuk, the then-CEO of BIGHIT MUSIC, because it referred to his sugar-like pale skin and sweet smile.
However, when SUGA decided to release music as a solo artist in 2016, he wanted something that distinguished the BTS SUGA from his solo persona. He got the cool pseudonym Agust D by reversing his first stage name and then adding the TD (which he got by turning around the letters from Daegu Town, where he was born).
From then on, all his projects as a producer and BTS member were tagged as SUGA, but his solo mixtapes, which showcased a rebel trying to fight against conformity, were released under the name Agust D.
Whatever the reason for these K-pop idols' stage names, there's no denying that they've had a lot of success since they got them. It is debatable whether they would be as popular under a different name, but fans should instead enjoy their music without becoming confused.
Poll : Which K-pop idol stage names is your favorite?
Agust D and j-hope
Suho and Haechan