Being the maknae (youngest member) of any K-Pop act can be daunting. You need to know when to stand up for yourself against bossy older members, and when to toe the line to avoid rocking the boat. Sometimes, if you have talent, it can be hard to show it off, knowing that you may face resentment from your seniors if you do so.
That is not always the case, however. Dal Shabet’s most junior member, Subin, recently demonstrated her hitherto-unknown songwriting and production skills, co-writing and producing the entirety of her group’s latest mini album, perhaps proving once and for all that you should never write off a maknae just because of their age!
So join us as we look at ten of the most talented and all-round wonderful wunderkinds in the world of K-Pop – the most marvelous maknaes out there!
What can be said about Kyuhyun that has not already been said? Easily one of the best additions to any K-Pop act, at the tender age of 27, he has pretty much done it all already.
An accomplished musical star (appearing in musicals such as “The Three Musketeers,” “Robin Hood” and “Singin’ in the Rain”), in-demand TV show host, and chart-topping solo singer, it is easy to forget some of his achievements as a member of SM The Ballad
…as well as his collaborations with the likes of Henry and, more recently, Lee Moon Sae.
Oh, and he’s also a member of Super Junior, one of the biggest K-Pop acts in history. Does he find the time to sleep?
Another chart-topping solo singer in his own right, Taemin might be SHINee’s maknae, but he is certainly one of the groups’ standout personalities. Although there is no way of measuring things like this, I would hazard a guess that he may also be the group’s most popular member, although the rest of SHINee might beg to differ!
Musically, visually, and dance-wise Taemin’s debut mini-album last year “Ace” lived up to its name. Fans will fondly recall his “High Kick 3: Revenge of the Short-Legged” cameo in 2011, as well as his brief acting spree in “Dating Agency: Cyrano.” There was also this:
And this fantastically surreal Korn dance cover (which contains some NSFW language, by the way).
Zelo might be the youngest member of B.A.P, but for some fans, he is the act’s stand-out individual, and not just because he has the coolest name. His project release with Bang Yong Guk was one of the best uptempo rap songs of 2011, and he has risen to become the act’s lead rapper.
This Song Ji Eun collaboration was as much fun for B.A.P fans as it was for Secret enthusiasts.
Just like Dal Shabet’s Subin, he towers over the rest of his bandmates, earning himself the nickname “Giant Baby.” He also happens to be a gifted dancer.
And he was already proving that he had talent when he was only this old:
He originally intended to make his name as a soccer player, but thankfully for K-Pop fans, he shelved his sporting dreams in favor of a career in music.
If your nickname is “GoldMak” (Golden Maknae), you had better live up to it. Fortunately for Jungkook, he has done just that. A talented dancer
a solid vocalist
and a tireless prankster, as this episode of BTS’s online reality show more than confirms:
Jungkook adds a cute and playful edge to what is easily one of the most entertaining all-male K-Pop acts out there.
Female K-Pop fans have been in wonderland since 2PM debuted, and youngest member Chansung’s impressive physique has played no small part in his own (and possibly the group’s) enormous popularity. However, there is nothing easy about looking good, and Chansung takes his workout regime so seriously that he even owns his own gym, in partnership with his weight trainer, and the results have been noticeable to say the least…
Located in Seoul’s exclusive Nonhyun district (handily only a stone’s throw away from JYP Entertainment’s HQ), Chansung officially opened his gym in 2012, amid a shower of accolades from his friends and bandmates.
However, Chansung has managed to couple brains and brawn, and has also managed to develop an acting career and has even learned Japanese to the level where he was even cast as an all-action tough guy in a Japanese drama series for mega-channel TBS.
And by the way, if you just can’t get enough of Chansung, there is always this.
Moving onto the girls now – there are few better dancers out there period, so you just knew Minzy was going to make the list as soon as you saw this article’s title.
Despite her youth, Minzy has never looked out of place in 2NE1, despite the fact that she debuted alongside much older bandmates. She is only three years younger than CL, but she is a mere pup compared to Park Bom and Dara, who are both ten years her senior. She can rap, she can sing, but her forte is most certainly her ability to boogie on down.
This is still my favorite 2NE1 (or 2NE1 subunit) track. So much fierceness, so much fun, and Minzy is at the heart of it all.
The rest of Dal Shabet must be wishing they had a bit of whatever it is that Subin seems to have in spades. She was a great, energetic host of the ever-fun TV music show “Music Talk Talk Ma Bling,” and has also had a range of other TV roles. But it seems that Subin’s talents are not just restricted to exhibiting her bubbly personality and looking good, no matter what her hair color may be.
Earlier this month, she stunned the K-Pop world when she was revealed as the co-songwriter and producer of the latest Dal Shabet album “Joker Is Alive,” which features the delightfully controversial title track “Joker.” And, actually, the rest of the mini album is actually an incredibly diverse and fun piece of work (“Addict” is my personal favorite, and might have made an even better lead track).
Subin said of the album “certain aspects could have been better.” Well, if that is the case, we will all wait with bated breath for her next musical effort.
You cannot watch more than ten minutes of television in Korea without coming across an ad starring the unofficial CF Queen of the country, Suzy. At the tender age of 20, she has already achieved more than most stars might in a lifetime, including teaming up with the likes of Lee Seung Gi for top-level drama projects.
However, not content with just being a member of one of the biggest girl groups around, a movie star, a drama actress and the darling of variety and reality show casting directors, she has also found time to become the muse of this guy:
Lee Min Ho, who just happens to be one of the most popular actors in the whole continent.
Since debuting with miss A in 2010, Suzy’s popularity has soared year after year, and has even gone global. The Sina Weibo Night Awards committee even bestowed her with its prestigious “Goddess Award” earlier this year. Less of a mere maknae, Suzy is more like a force of nature.
Also at only 20 years old, Hyeri is already TV royalty, and possibly the most popular member of a very popular girl group, no easy feat when you consider that her bandmates include the vocal talents of Minah and Sojin, as well as the much-beloved Yura.
But MBC’s military-themed reality TV show “Real Men” unleashed a tidal wave of new-found affection for Hyeri when Girl’s Day’s youngest member was cast in the female soldiers special episodes of the show, leading to a cuteness overload episode that went viral.
Now you can barely walk down the street without seeing images of Hyeri dressed in combat gear, advertising something or other. Whenever Girl’s Day gets around to making a comeback, the charts may well implode.
There have been two Rainbow subunits, but Hyunyoung was included in both, because, let’s face it, if you are talking Rainbow, you are probably talking Hyunyoung. She is an ever-in-demand model, and has appeared on the front cover of men’s magazines:
As well as promoting video games:
However, Hyunyoung spent much of last year proving that she is more than just a pretty face, teaming up with rapper Sool J for a great (if slightly under-the-radar) collaboration track called “Honey.”
She also tried her hand at co-hosting a TV show – “Girl’s Wiki,” with groupmate Jisook, with whom she also recorded a song for the “Blade Man” soundtrack.
More surprisingly, though, she also moonlights as a songwriter and producer, and co-wrote/arranged this ultra-smooth track for R&B star Kye Bum Joo’s “24” album last year, under the pseudonym “Heidi.”
Well, you’ve read our list, now it’s over to you, Soompiers! Who is your favorite K-Pop maknae and why? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
timmydee is a music geek with a penchant for pop, an enthusiasm for electronica and a hankering for hip-hop. When he isn’t writing for Soompi, he is remixing your favorite K-Pop tracks – with sometimes astounding (but often catastrophic) results.
*The views expressed in this article solely reflect those of the author and do not represent Soompi as a whole.