Meet 8 of the youngest K-pop leaders: ENHYPEN’s Jungwon, NMIXX’s Haewon, and more

youngest K-pop leaders: ENHYPEN’s Jungwon, NMIXX’s Haewon, and more (Image via Sportskeeda)
ENHYPEN’s Jungwon, NMIXX’s Haewon are some of the youngest K-pop leaders (Image via Sportskeeda)

The K-pop industry is known for having one of the youngest K-pop leaders. While these groups are known for their success, the success often overshadows the group leaders.

The Korean music industry has been making history with its talented groups and generating more money than ever. K-pop groups like BTS and EXO have proven time and again how important the group leader is for any group to maintain harmony and equally represent all the members. If members go down a rough path or face any challenges, the group's leader helps them find the best possible solution.

BTS' leader Kim Nam-joon (Image via Twitter/@bts_bighit)
BTS' leader Kim Nam-joon (Image via Twitter/@bts_bighit)

BTS' Kim Nam-joon, EXO's Suho, TWICE’s Jihyo, and GOT7's Jay B are some examples of the best leaders whose contribution as a leader is always praised by fans. Often, the group leaders are some of the eldest members.

However, there are some groups where younger members have come forward to lead the groups and despite their age, they lead very well.

These talented young leaders are paving the way for the K-pop world with their new and fresh perspectives. Here is a list of some of the youngest K-pop leaders among the active groups. The list ranges from popular to the most underrated groups like ENHYPEN, NMIXX and Lapillus.

The list is ranked in the order of the idol's birthdates.


Top 8 youngest K-pop leaders

8) Lee Eun-sang - Younite (October 26, 2002)

One of the youngest K-pop leaders Younite's Lee Eun-sang (Image via Twitter/@YOUNITE_offcl)
One of the youngest K-pop leaders Younite's Lee Eun-sang (Image via Twitter/@YOUNITE_offcl)

The 19-year-old Korean singer and actor Lee Eun-sang is also known as Eunsang. He is the co-leader of Younite, a boy group under the Brand New Music, making him one of the youngest K-pop leaders.

On February 14, 2022, the singer was confirmed to be part of the Brand New Music group Younite. On April 20, 2022, he debuted as a member of Younite with their first EP, Youni-Birth.

Lee Eun-sang is also a former member of X1. He debuted as a soloist on August 31, 2020. The teenager debuted his single album Beautiful Scar as a soloist.

At the Asia Artist Awards 2021, the K-pop idol was nominated for the Male Solo Singer Popularity Award. At the 2021 Golden Disc Awards, he was also nominated for the category Rookie Artist of the Year.


7) Taehun - TNX (November 19, 2002)

One of the youngest K-pop leaders TNX's Taehun (Image via Twitter/@TNX_Official)
One of the youngest K-pop leaders TNX's Taehun (Image via Twitter/@TNX_Official)

Taehun, also known as Choi Tae-hun, is the 19-year-old leader of the boy group TNX under P NATION. TNX was formed through the reality survival program LOUD by P Nation. On May 20, the singer was confirmed as a contestant for SBS's audition show LOUD. In the final round of the show, Taehun was recruited by PSY and became part of the group.

On May 17, 2022, one of the youngest K-pop leaders, Taehun debuted as a member of TNX with the release of its mini album Way Up. TNX’s Taehun was the first trainee under the agency P NATION and is also a former Black Label trainee. In the K-Global Heart Dream Awards 2022, TNX also won the K-Global Rising Star Award.


6) Haewon - NMIXX (February 25, 2003)

One of the youngest K-pop leaders NMIXX's Haewon (Image via Twitter/@NMIXX_official)
One of the youngest K-pop leaders NMIXX's Haewon (Image via Twitter/@NMIXX_official)

Haewon, a 19-year-old South Korean singer under JYP Entertainment, is the leader of the K-pop girl group NMIXX. She is one of the youngest K-pop leaders among popular girl groups in the industry. On November 5, 2021, Haewon was confirmed as the group's sixth member. On February 22, 2022, the group NMIXX debuted with the single album Ad Mare.

NMIXX trended as soon as the group made its debut with the track O.O because of its unique discography with a mix of a couple different genres including trap and Baile funk. According to JYP, this combination is a significant quality of NMIXX's music style, titled MIXX POP.


5) Shana - Lapillus (March 13, 2003)

One of the youngest K-pop leaders Lapillus' Shana (Image via Instagram/official.lapillus)
One of the youngest K-pop leaders Lapillus' Shana (Image via Instagram/official.lapillus)

Shana is a 19-year-old Japanese singer under the agency MLD Entertainment. She is the leader of the K-pop girl group Lapillus. Shana, one of the youngest K-pop leaders, is renowned for her performances as a contestant on the Korean reality survival program, Girls Planet 999.

Lapillus revealed its first two members on May 23, 2022, including Shana and Haeun. The group debuted on June 20, 2022, with the digital single Hit Ya!. Lapillus is MLD Entertainment's first new girl group in six years after the girl group Momoland. Lapillus also released new music just three months after its debut.

K-pop group Lapillus (Image via Instagram/@official.lapillus)
K-pop group Lapillus (Image via Instagram/@official.lapillus)

The group is also popular with international audiences and since its debut, the group has been meeting international fans. The group went for a fan meet and greet in the Philippines which had around 8000 fans. Lapillus was also appointed as honorary ambassadors of the Philippines' northern province of Ilocos Sur.


4) An Yu-jin - IVE (September 1, 2003)

One of the youngest K-pop leaders IVE's An Yu-jin for L'Officiel (Image via Twitter/L'Officiel)
One of the youngest K-pop leaders IVE's An Yu-jin for L'Officiel (Image via Twitter/L'Officiel)

A 19-year-old female Korean idol, An Yu-jin, also known as Yujin, is a member of popular girl group IVE. The singer is also a former member of the girl group IZ*ONE. IVE is also the first girl group under Starship Entertainment since WJSN in 2016. An Yu-jin was IVE's first member who was revealed.

The group, founded by Starship Entertainment, made its debut on December 1, 2021, with the hit single album Eleven. One of the youngest K-pop leaders, An Yu-jin, was also featured on the cover of the fall/winter issue of the magazine L'Officiel YK Edition. The singer's pictorial in the magazine also stunned fans.

K-pop girl group IVE (Image via Twitter/@IVEstarship)
K-pop girl group IVE (Image via Twitter/@IVEstarship)

Meanwhile, the girl group garnered high rankings on the Billboard Charts in the week of April 23, 2022. Love Dive ranked No. 10 on the Global Excl. US charts. This was the group's first song to achieve this milestone. According to Hanteo Chart, IVE's album was included in the top ten all-time list of the highest girl group weekly album sales, with having one of the youngest K-pop leaders.


3) Hong Hyeju - CLASS:y (December 9, 2003)

One of the youngest K-pop leaders CLASS:y's Hong Hyeju for My Teenage Girl (Image via Twitter/MBC)
One of the youngest K-pop leaders CLASS:y's Hong Hyeju for My Teenage Girl (Image via Twitter/MBC)

An 18-year-old South Korean rapper and singer, Hong Hyeju, also known as Hyeju, is the leader of CLASS:y. She is one of the youngest K-pop leaders in the industry. The singer participated on MBC's survival show My Teenage Girl. The singer was featured in the trailer for the show My Teenage Girl on September 8, 2022, revealing her participation in the program.

For the entrance audition, the singer performed Friends by Anne-Marie and Marshmello. Hong Hyeju qualified with 3 votes from the mentors. During the show's finale, she ranked 4th overall. It made her a member of the girl group CLASS:y co-managed by M25 (a subsidiary of MBK Entertainment) and Universal Music Japan.

K-pop girl group CLASS:y (Image via Nylon magazine)
K-pop girl group CLASS:y (Image via Nylon magazine)

The K-pop group debuted on May 5, 2022 with their mini album Class Is Over. On May 26, 2022, the group released the second series of their debut EP Lives Across. On September 20, it was confirmed that CLASS:y is set to make a comeback with a new album on October 26, 2022.


2) Jungwon - ENHYPEN (February 9, 2004)

One of the youngest K-pop leaders ENHYPEN's Jungwon (Image via Twitter/@ENHYPEN)
One of the youngest K-pop leaders ENHYPEN's Jungwon (Image via Twitter/@ENHYPEN)

Jungwon is a 18-year-old South Korean singer under the agency Belift Lab, which is a joint venture between CJ ENM and Hybe Corporation. The singer is a member and leader of the popular K-pop boy group ENHYPEN. The group debuted on November 30, 2020 with its first mini album Border: Day One.

Jungwon was only 16 when the group debuted, making him one of the youngest K-pop leaders of all time. On June 2, 2020, Jungwon was confirmed as a contestant on CJ ENM and Big Hit Entertainment's reality survival show I-LAND. The singer ranked 1st place through votes worldwide, which made him a member of ENHYPEN on September 18, 2020.

ENHYPEN (Image via Twitter/@ENHYPEN)
ENHYPEN (Image via Twitter/@ENHYPEN)

The group’s notable tracks Tamed-Dashed and Drunk-Dazed in Japanese versions were released on May 3, 2022. It became the group's first No. 1 on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 selling 386,142 units in the first week.

The single also became the group's first Japanese album to surpass sales of 300,000 copies, according to Oricon. It made ENHYPEN the 5th K-pop act to win the achievement within one week of its release.


1) Juhyeon - LIGHTSUM (April 8, 2004)

One of the youngest K-pop leaders LIGHTSUM's Juhyeon for Dancing High (Image via KBS2)
One of the youngest K-pop leaders LIGHTSUM's Juhyeon for Dancing High (Image via KBS2)

Juhyeon is a 18-year-old South Korean singer under Cube Entertainment. The singer is the leader and main dancer of the K-pop girl group LIGHTSUM. On April 19, 2021, Juhyeon was announced as the second member of LIGHTSUM. On June 10, 2021, the girl group debuted with their first single, Vanilla.

The singer, who was only 17 at the time of her debut, was also one of the contestants in The Unit: Idol Rebooting Project, a 2017 KBS show. The singer was also one of the contestants on KBS2's 2018 show Dancing High.

LIGHTSUM is also the agency's first girl group to debut after the (G)I-dle, which debuted in 2018 under Cube Entertainment. On May 24, 2022, LIGHTSUM published their first EP, Into the Light, with lead single Alive. The group also won the Female Rookie Idol award at the 2022 Korea First Brand Award. The group has been nominated for many award shows since its debut.

The major nominations include the 2021 Rookie Award – Female Group at the Hanteo Music Awards, and Artist of the Year at the Mnet Asian Music Awards 2021.


Being a young K-pop leader comes with a lot of responsibility, however, these idols have shown tha age is not a factor in leading the group. It is the leaders' dedication and discipline that pays off in the success of the group.

Regardless of their age, K-pop idols' hard work and talent is appreciated by fans solely for their music and versatility.

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Edited by Madhur Dave
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