The Origin Stories Of K-Pop Stage Names

What’s in a name? That which we call a K-Pop act?

By Adriel Chiun 14 Jan, 2019 2:14 AMTags

"What's in a name?" once asked Shakespeare in the literary classic that everyone is incredibly familiar with: Romeo and Juliet — one of the easily quotable plays the Englishman has ever penned.

Names: They make us, some break us, while others have the ability to take us from unassuming Korean teen quartet, to instant international mega stardom. Well, not that we'd ever be able to comprehend; much less experience this level of fame. But we can all dream.

And what we do know is that the K-pop acts that we know and love dearly, by any other stage name, would still sound as sweet.

So here's a quick guide to the origin stories of how and why these Korean musical exports choose to christen their talent and attain household recognition, and find out the real meaning behind their sensational pseudonyms!

10 Things You Need To Know About BTS

1. BTS

The hoards of screaming girls that BTS have come to call their "Army" are all incredibly familiar with the Korean boy band's seven members. But what they are even more familiar with, are the two meanings of the band's name: Bangtan Sonyeondan (which literally translates to "Bulletproof Teenage Scouts), and the English-friendly alternative, Beyond the Scene.

Anthony Kwan/Getty Images


When something is seriously good, it's only natural for us to straight for seconds. And so, in the spirit of double or nothing, TWICE's record company revealed that the girl group is named with the intention of touching the hearts of their fans twice.

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3. EXO

Voted as the group with the best name branding, the Korean boy band EXO is made up of not one, not four, but TWELVE dashing men! And just as out of this world is the meaning behind that name. EXO is inspired by the world "Exoplanet" — which, we believe, refers to a planet that resides beyond our solar system because of its overwhelming talent. We can all relate.

SM Entertainment


Red Velvet is the iconic chart topping five-member Korean girl group that lit up the airwaves in 2014. And its music is exactly what its name suggests — sweet and widely adored. Often compared to the likes of Ariana Grande with more soul influences, Red Velvet has managed to make a sweet tooth out of us all.

Red Velvet Describes One Another In The Funniest Possible Way

5. iKON 

Our audio appetite for K-Pop knows no bounds, and there is no denying that we are all guilty of wanting more! We wish the world would be taken over by catchy Korean pop tunes! And the seven-member boy group iKON knows what we're talkin' about! Because by spelling the word "Icon" with "K", the guys hope to dominate the globe with K-Pop!


And just when you try to wrap your heads around the thought of splitting your love equally amongst a twelve-member boy band, here's Seventeen — a 13-member one — to give you a real headache! But fret not. They love you right back too. And it's right in their name: 13 members + 3 units (of vocals, hip hop and performance) + 1 MASSIVE group of fans = 17!


We are taught as students that, in the beginning, a big bang happened and created the universe. But what the Korean boy band Big Bang taught us is that since their founding in 2006 — akin to the cataclysmic occurrence — they awoke the relatively dormant Korean music scene with their music and transformed the airwaves with catchy pop tunes; creating the world as we know it now. And for that, we are forever thankful.


"Kiss And Make Up", their collaboration with Dua Lipa — Britain's reigning Queen of Pop — was our theme song last summer, and is still currently the earworm that we don't want to get rid of. And such is the enduring power of Korean girl band BLACKPINK's music. Clearly proving that the group is not just pretty and pink, and easy on the eyes, they also possess great talent to them as well — the literal meaning behind their name. How true! There's nothing quite like the colour black to offer edge and sophistication!