K-pop enthusiasts often find themselves amidst heated discussions when it comes to placing artists in age molds, and the “oldest K-pop idols” debate draws a lot of attention. The growing trend of young artists making their debut at a tender age has blurred the lines of the appropriate age to step into the industry.
Fans have also shown keen interest in the personal lives of their favorites, and age comes to the forefront of that interest quite often. The most recent chaos over Shohei, a SM entertainment rookie, speaks volumes about this tendency. The yet-to-debut rookie has allegedly been facing hate comments for his not-so-usual age (26) to debut.
However, K-pop fans’ quest to discover the oldest K-pop idols debuting in the industry is not new. This inquisitiveness also sparks discourse on social media, leading to false information, hate comments, and rumors. More often than not, the oldest K-pop idols to debut face constant rejections or years of incessant training before finally making their way into the K-pop world, one of the world’s most competitive music industries.
This article curates a list of some of the oldest K-pop idols who have debuted in the K-pop industry to date.
Girl’s Day Sojin, 2NE1’s Park Bom, and more: Five oldest K-pop idols to debut in the buzzing industry
1) Wanna One’s Yoon Ji-sung - 26 years old
Yoon Ji-sung was 26 years old when he made his official debut as the leader of the now-disbanded boy band Wanna One in 2017. He rose to fame after his appearance on Produce 101 alongside labelmates Kang Daniel, Joo Jin-woo, Kim Jae-han, and Choi Tae-woong.
As one of the oldest K-pop idols to debut in the industry, Yoon showcased his charisma and talent throughout his career as an idol before Wanna One’s disbandment in 2019. He then cemented his reputation as a soloist and released his first extended play, Aside, on February 20, 2019. His multi-talented persona also landed him the lead role in The Days, a musical.
2) 2NE1’s Park Bom - 25 years old
2NE1’s Park Bom began auditioning for YG Entertainment in 2006. After a strong battle of over 3 years, she finally made her official debut at the age of 25, making her one of the oldest K-pop idols to debut in the history of K-pop.
Not only did she have a grand breakthrough with the success of 2NE1 but her main vocalist status garnered her immense praise as well. However, before making her official debut, she featured in singles by artists like Big Bang, Lexy, and Masta Wu.
3) Girl’s Day Park So-jin - 25 years old
Park So-jin, also known as Sojin, debuted at 25 years of age as the leader of the South Korean girl group Girl's Day in 2010, marking her as one of the oldest K-pop idols to debut. The group marked their arrival into the industry with their debut single, Tilt My Head.
Sojin also had an impressive career as a solo artist. She released her first solo single, Our Love Like This, which was the OST for the K-drama Flames of Desire. The idol used to work as a vocal trainer for the K-pop boy band Ulala Session prior to her glorious debut under Dream T Entertainment.
4) GWSN’s Haruka Miyauchi - 25 years old
Hailing from Japan, Miya, also known as Haruka Miyauchi, made her official debut at the age of 25, making her one of the oldest K-pop idols to debut. She took on the lead rapper role for GWSN (Girls in the Park), a seven-member group under MILES Entertainment.
Prior to her debut, she was a trainee under Kiwi Pop and was revealed as a member of GWSN on June 21, 2018. The stunning artist stepped into the K-pop world on September 5, 2018, after the release of the group’s first mini-album THE PARK IN THE NIGHT part one.
5) PENTAGON’s Jo Jin-ho - 24 years old
Jo Jin-ho or Jinho made his debut with PENTAGON at the age of 24. He used to be a SM Entertainment trainee and joined CUBE Entertainment after his departure from the former in 2015.
Jinho has also served as a vocal coach for his labelmates (G)I-dle and Yoo Seon-ho. His official debut on October 10, 2016, with eight other members, was much-awaited by fans. Many other artists, such as KARD’s J.Seph and CHECKMATE’s Yongseok also made their debut at the age of 24, establishing themselves as the oldest K-pop idols to debut.
The debut age of K-pop idols often fuels debates and discussions on social media. While a section of people unequivocally argue that debuting in the 22-28 age bracket should not be a shocking revelation and that the growing trend of inducting minors into the industry is alarming. They strongly advocate for listing adults who can handle themselves in a competitive space rather than young individuals who make their way in the industry at the cost of their childhood and the carefree life that comes with it.