Many idols these days often promote under a different stage name, as opposed to their real names.
Sometimes, it’s due to having a name that’s the same as someone already working in the entertainment industry, or having a more common name. Other times, it’s purposely chosen, hand-crafted as if to create a whole new identity.
This is not a new phenomenon, as several first generation idols also often had unique stage names, such as H.O.T.’s Kangta, or Shinhwa’s Shin Hye Sung and Jun Jin.
Often times, these stage names also hold special meanings, at times signifying that person’s role or motivations.
Below are 10 idols who represent just a sampling of the many unique stage names that exist in K-Pop, and how each of them ended up with these names:
1. MAMAMOO’s Solar (real name Kim Yong Sun)
Supposedly, her stage name comes from taking the last syllable from her actual name, “sun,” using the literal English meaning “sun,” and changing it to Solar.
Another explanation is that if you go up the scale using solfège (do, re, mi, etc.), “so” and “ra” are next to each other. If you combine these two syllables, you get the Korean pronunciation of “Solar.”
2. B1A4’s Baro (real name Cha Sun Woo)
While there are a few theories surrounding the origin of his stage name, the main theory seems to be that it was given to him by his agency’s president, who told him to “live correctly.” His stage name is a play on words of this particular phrase in Korean.
Another, more amusing and less serious explanation is that he always wants things done “right now,” or “baro” in Korean.
3. EXO’s Suho (real name Kim Joon Myun)
As the leader of the EXO, Suho’s stage name quite literally comes from the Korean verb “suho,” which means to protect like a guardian. It reflects his attitude and sense of responsibility he carries as the leader.
4. Red Velvet’s Joy (real name Park Soo Young)
Joy became her stage name so that she would only encounter joyful things while she is active in the entertainment world. It fits the idol well, who is known for her bright smile.
5. SHINee’s Onew (real name Lee Jin Ki)
If you look up “oh neu,” the phonetic pronunciation of Onew, in the Korean dictionary, it means to have a soft and gentle personality, attitude, etc.
His stage name is also supposed to exemplify the smooth and gentle tone of his voice.
6. iKON’s B.I (real name Kim Han Bin)
As a rapper, a charismatic stage name is a must. His stage name is the abbreviated form of “Be I,” which was chosen to mean “I can become anything I want to be.”
7. IU (real name Lee Ji Eun)
IU is exactly what is sounds like; it is the combination of “I” and “You,” signifying that “you” as the audience become one with her through music.
8. GOT7’s Junior (real name Park Jin Young)
A name he personally likes, Junior was named because he’s literally “Park Jin Young Jr.,” since he is under JYP Entertainment.
9. VIXX’s N (real name Cha Hak Yeon)
The last syllable of his real name, “yeon,” is pronounced “en” in Japanese, which means fate or destiny (depending on the kanji). So, he reportedly decided on this stage name because he believed it was fate to stand on stage and meet his fans.
10. After School’s Raina (real name Oh Hye Rin)
Inspired by the Spanish term for queen, or reina, it also supposedly has a hidden meaning of tranquility, although the connection is unclear.