Believe it or not — sometimes becoming a K-pop singer isn’t an idol’s first ‘debut.’ Prior to becoming trainees, many familiar faces — from F.T. Island’s Hongki to BIGBANG’s Taeyang and G-Dragon — had their start in the industry through modeling or acting! For this installment of our ‘TMI’ series, we decided to eight popular idols you might not have known began as child actors, starring in commercials, TV dramas, and even major feature films! Let’s take a look, shall we?
GFRIEND’s Instagram, KBS2
G-FRIEND’s Eunha Acting debut year: 2007 (10 years old)
Prior to debuting with G-FRIEND back in 2015, Eunha was a child actress who worked under her birth name Jung Eunbi. Her most notable role was that of the character Im Suyoung in season 2 of the 2007 KBS2 series ‘The Clinic for Married Couples: Love and War,’ seen in the photo above!
CRAVITY’s Twitter, MBC
CRAVITY’s Wonjin Acting debut year: 2009 (9 years old)
Wonjin had quite an interesting journey on the way to debuting as a member of Starship’s new boy group CRAVITY! Not only did he used to train under Big Hit Entertainment, but prior to his trainee days, he was quite the busy child actor, having appeared in a steady schedule of dramas and feature films from 2009 to 2013. (He even had a bit role in the 2010 action film ‘The Man From Nowhere’ starring Won Bin!)
SF9’s Twitter, MBC
SF9’s Chani Acting debut year: 2006 (4 years old)
Chani is perhaps the most well-known of the child actors because he is still active as an actor to this day! However, not many K-Pop fans know that his acting career started far before his role in ‘SKY Castle,’ and he spent his pre-SF9 years active as a child actor and model. Chani’s bigger child actor roles include playing the younger version of SHINee member Minho’s character Taejoon in ‘To The Beautiful You’ and Seonwoo in the crime drama ‘Signal.’
TREASURE’s Official Twitter, ZooMoney
TREASURE’s Junghwan Acting debut year: 2014 (9 years old)
Junghwan may be TREASURE’s maknae, but he is also among the group members with the longest pre-debut career! Prior to becoming a YG Entertainment trainee, he was active as a child model and appeared in a number of commercials.
One of our favorites is a commercial for mobile banking service ZooMoney, where he plays a pint-sized but still very tsundere male lead in a K-drama style story. Check it out above!
Park Jihoon’s Instagram, Instiz
Park Jihoon Acting debut year: 2007 (8 years old)
Prior to becoming ‘Produce 101’s popular ‘wink boy,’ former Wanna One member Park Jihoon was an adorable and incredibly versatile child actor. Not only did he participate in dramas and commercials. However, due to his singing talent and his training at a performing arts middle school, he was also in a number of professional stage musicals, including ‘Peter Pan’! Jihoon’s child actor career spanned over five years before he began training to become an idol, and to this day, you can find plenty of fun clips and photos from his child acting days — including this cute one above!
Chan’s Instagram, Instiz
iKON’s Chan Acting debut year: 2006 (8 years old)
Back when Chan first appeared as a competing trainee on the YG Entertainment survival program ‘Mix & Match,’ news of his child actor days created a bit of a buzz! Prior to his idol years, he appeared in a number of acting roles, playing the younger version of Lee Minho in two of his titular drama roles — Junpyo in ‘Boys Over Flowers’ and Kim Tan in ‘The Heirs.’ In fact, Chan has made a whole career out of playing the younger version of a drama or film’s main character, assuming the role of the boy version of actors like Joo Jinmo, Lee Phillip, Shin Hyunjoon, Park Sangmin, and more!
Moonbin’s Instagram, SM Entertainment
ASTRO’s Moonbin Acting debut year: 2004 (6 years old)
Speaking of ‘Boys Over Flowers,’ this is a good time to introduce the child actor career of ASTRO’s Moonbin, who acted alongside Chan as the younger version of Kim Bum’s character Yijung in the drama. As a popular ‘ulzzang’ face, he appeared in a number of modeling gigs and was signed by Fantagio (which was primarily an acting/modeling agency at the time) when he was only in the fifth grade! Since debuting with ASTRO, he has continued his acting career, which is continuing to boost his popularity. Recently, he starred in ‘Moment of Eighteen’ with former Wanna One member Ong Seongwu and played the main role Woohyuk in two seasons of ‘The Mermaid Prince.’
Oh My Girl’s Instagram, KBS
Oh My Girl’s Binnie Acting debut year: 2008 (11 years old)
Did you know Binnie used to be a child actor and model too? Prior to becoming a WM Entertainment trainee, the idol played minor roles in a long list of popular dramas, including ‘Sungkyunkwan Scandal,’ ‘Bread, Love and Dreams,’ ‘I Love You, Don’t Cry,’ ‘More Charming by the Day,’ and ‘Beethoven Virus.’ Since Oh My Girl’s debut, Binnie has returned to drama acting, having starred in both ‘Living with a Ghost’ and ‘Sometoon 2020’ just in the past year!
Instiz, SM Entertainment
NCT Dream’s Jisung Acting debut year: 2011 (9 years old)
Lastly, we have none other than NCT Dream’s maknae Jisung, who somehow adorably looks exactly the same as he did when he was a young child actor!
The NCT member, who spent his childhood predominantly homeschooled, made his acting debut when he was 9 years old with a role in the historical drama ‘Tree with Deep Roots.’ He also appeared in the feature films ‘Go, Stop, Murder’ and ‘Boys, Be Curious.’ Check out his ‘Go, Stop, Murder’ acting above!
Finding out about idols’ pre-debut acting careers is pretty fun! Maybe the child actors we see in dramas and movies today might be the ‘it boys’ and it girls’ of the next K-Pop generation! * Wrapping this up with a bonus photo of iKON’s Chan (the bear), ASTRO’s Moonbin (the tiger), and SF9’s Chani (the pig) playing mini versions of TVXQ for their ‘Balloons’ MV in 2006. SO cute!
Has your favorite idol ever acted? Let us know in the comments!