1. Lee Hyori
Originally part of legendary girl group Fin.K.L. Lee Hyori was one of the main vocalists from their debut in 1998 to 2002. She released her solo debut in August 2003 with style and its hit single "10 Minutes." Since then Hyori has become one of the most popular and loved solo female artists of her time. She's a legend as evidenced from her solo albums to her presence on variety shows like 'Family Outing', 'Running Man', and most recently, 'Hyori's Bed and Breakfast.'
CL, also known as the "baddest female," debuted with YG Entertainment and 2NE1 in 2009. Since 2009, 2NE1 and CL came to be the hottest girl groups of that era and made their mark in K-POP history. CL proved to be a powerful leader collaborating with incredibly influential artists like G-Dragon and Teddy Park, she wrote and composed music for 2NE1 and herself. She also has collaborated with American artists such as Diplo, Riff Raff, OG Maco, Lil Yachty, and released an original single for the 'My Little Pony' movie. While 2NE1's career came to a sad ending, CL did everything she could to uplift herself and her members while she could. She also performed at the PyeongChang 2018 closing ceremony!
One of the most loved maknaes during the 2nd generation growth of K-POP, Minzy was an idol full of talent and skills. From her debut with 2NE1, Minzy always proved to be one of the most powerful idols from her dance, singing, rapping, and stage presence. Since her departure with 2NE1 in 2016, Minzy has built her own presence in the world. From her dance studio "Millennium Dance Academy" in 2015 to her recent solo debuts, Minzy has definitely made a name for herself outside of 2NE1 and BlackJacks could not be happier.
Hyorin began her journey as an artist since childhood. She auditioned for JYP two times before being accepted but soon left to join Starship Entertainment in 2010 to form SISTAR. Since then her fame grew from being in 'Dream High Season 2', singing OST's, and even sharing a stage with Stevie Wonder at the 'Mnet Asian Music Awards'. It's easy to say Hyorin is one of the most influential female idols out there. When SISTAR disbanded in 2017, she left Starship altogether and founded her own label, Bridʒ where she has continued to rise as a powerful R&B pop vocalist.
The rapper, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and television personality, Gary started his music career in 1999 and became part of Leessang in 2002 with his bandmate Gil. The group has been able to produce numerous hit albums. Gary released his first solo album in 2014 with Mr. Gae and his second in 2002. Some people he worked with were Koonta, Deepflow, Skull, Jay Park, DJ Pumkin, Park Myung ho, and more. Leessang disbanded in 2017 and Gary continued to build his solo career through entertainment and his music.
One of the biggest queens of Pop, HyunA is a singer, dancer, songwriter, and model rising to fame when she first joined Wonder Girls in the late 2000s. Due to her health, she left Wonder Girls but then quickly came back with 4minute in 2009. In 2011, HyunA released her first EP "Bubble Pop" that was the start of her solo stardom. In fact, her solo releases would get more popularity than her group releases at the time. She continued to make music with 4minute, her solo releases, and under the duo Trouble Maker with Jang Hyunseung. However, 4minute disbanded in 2016 but HyunA continued paving her path in the industry.
7. Jay Park
Probably one of the biggest controversies in K-POP history, Jay Park plays a rather large role in understanding the Korean American experience in K-POP. Born in Seattle, Washington, Jay Park lived a largely American lifestyle until he joined JYP and became the leader of 2PM in 2008. After netizens dragged out his past when he wrote an immature comment about Korea in 2005, Jay Park was basically forced to leave 2PM in early 2010. However, that didn't stop his career. He continued building with cover videos of "Nothin' on You" resulting in his first EP, 'Count on Me.' He eventually returned to Korea and re-debuted as a solo singer with "Take a Deeper Look" in 2011. Since then Jay Park has founded AOMG and H1GHR Music. He is also signed under Jay-Z's Roc Nation.
Sunmi first debuted in 2007 with Wonder Girls but left the group in 2010 to pursue her academic career. After a three year hiatus, she returned in August 2013 with her first digital single "24 Hours" that peaked at number 2 on Gaon Digital Chart. She was confirmed to rejoin Wonder Girls in 2015 but the group disbanded in 2017 when Sunmi and Yeeun decided not to renew their contracts. She is now one of the biggest solo female acts in K-pop.
Jessica is one of the original queens of Girls' Generation. She has been in the K-POP game since 2007 when she first debuted with Girls' Generation and became one of the best selling artists of Korea and the most popular girl group worldwide. Unfortunately, she had some issues with SM Entertainment and left the girl group in 2014. Since then she is a businesswoman by opening her own fashion brand 'Blanc & Eclare'. She also signed with Coridel Entertainment and has been releasing various solo material ever since.
10. Kim Chung Ha
Kim Chung Ha grew up in Dallas, Texas and auditioned for YG Entertainment but wasn't accepted. She later became a trainee for JYP Entertainment. Her big breakthrough came when she was a contestant on 'Produce 101' and ended up being one of the most popular girls, eventually leading her to debut with I.O.I. As we all know, I.O.I was only a temporary group and disbanded in 2017. She has had a very successful solo career ever since and you can make an argument that she is the most popular former member of I.O.I.