Oftentimes, when idols leave their group or stop being active, fans will often be curious about their next chapters. In this case, while some have used their K-pop experience as a launching pad to propel their career forward, others have opted to remain outside of the spotlight.
What are some of the former idols up to these days after leaving their entertainment companies? What are they currently doing in 2021? Let’s take a look at where all these selected talented stars have been doing in recent years.
1. Former MBLAQ member Lee Joon (이준)
Lee Joon made his debut with MBLAQ back in late 2009, where he took on the position of vocalist and main dancer, before departing from the group in October 2014 after his contract expired. The group has released three single albums, seven EPs, and one full-length studio album, with hit songs like “Y”, “Mona Lisa”, “It’s War”, just to name a few.
MBLAQ enjoyed a fairly great amount of success during their active time in the K-pop industry, selling over 300,000 albums overall, and despite that the remaining members — Seungho, G.O, and Mir — still haven’t technically disbanded, the group haven’t dropped any new songs for the past 8 years! Their last comeback was with the song titled “Mirror”, which was released in June 2015.
Even before he debuted as a K-Pop idol, Lee Joon began his career in acting at the age of 20 with a role in the sitcom “That Person Is Coming” (2008). Currently, Joon (now at age 33) has been mostly active in acting. He had participated in over 15 different TV series, including “The Vampire Detective”, “My Father Is Strange” and also the upcoming Netflix series “The Silent Sea”.
2. Former I.O.I Pristin Member Zhou Jieqiong (周洁琼)
The Chinese idol began training under Pledis Entertainment after she was scouted by the agency in 2009, at which point she moved from her home country to South Korea. She took part in the inaugural season of the survival show “Produce 101” in late 2015, and eventually finished in 6th place overall, which landed her a spot in the project group I.O.I.
Jieqiong remained active with I.O.I up until their scheduled disbandment in January 2017. She debuted with the Pledis Entertainment group PRISTIN only two months later, and also was chosen to be part of their sub-unit PRISTIN V that debuted in May 2018. In August of the same year, she started her solo career in China with the digital single “Why”, as well as participating in several TV OSTs and even started her acting career as well.
The 23-year-old starlet decided to stay with the company following PRISTIN’s disbandment in 2019. Since then, she has released OSTs for a couple of different Chinese dramas, and also continued acting as well. She starred as the main role in the iQiyi series “To Be With You” and also “Be My Princess”.
Her most recent appearance was when she reunited with the girls of I.O.I during their online live stream show “Yes” back on 4th May this year. Jieqiong appeared in a video call with her former members all the way from China.
3. Samuel Kim (김사무엘)
The Spanish-Korean-American singer debuted as a part of the short-lived hip-hop duo named 1Punch, which was formed through collaboration between Brave Entertainment and D-Business Entertainment. The duo ended up going their separate ways only eight months after they debuted when his co-member, One, got scouted by YG Entertainment.
He competed in the second season of Produce 101 in 2017, in which he ended up at the 18th place overall and (surprisingly) failed to make it into Wanna One. He debuted as a solo artist in August of the same year with the mini-album Sixteen, and from then until 2018, he released a total of one full-length studio album, two mini albums, and three digital singles.
After he moved back to his home state of California in mid-2019, his father was killed suddenly. Following the tragic event which made nationwide headlines at that time, in addition to his growing tensions with his now-former agency Brave Entertainment, Samuel has been fairly separate from the Hallyu scene since then.
However, he’s been very active on his TikTok and Instagram account, and has previously opened up about possibly setting up his own agency in the future! We can’t wait to hear more about that. ;)
4. Former Laboum member Yulhee
Yulhee originally debuted as a member of the girl group Laboum in the summer of 2014. However, at the peak of her blossoming career, she announced that she was going to tie the knot with FT Island’s drummer, Choi Min Hwan. Yulhee gave birth to their son in the same year and left her group soon after.
In 2020, Yulhee revealed that she had given birth to twin daughters. It’s safe to assume that the former idol has been busy with her mommy duties these days. Despite that, she’s been fairly active in posting videos on her YouTube channel, “Yulhee’s House”.
5. Former 6Mix member Lena (레나)
6MIX was a pre-debut group formed by JYP Entertainment that comprised of future TWICE members Jihyo, Jeongyeon, Sana, and Nayeon, and also two other trainees, Minyoung and Lena. Though the six-member girl group was originally set to debut between 2014 to 2015, they ended up disbanding with the four future TWICE members going on to join the survival show Sixteen that formed TWICE.
Despite the fact that she first gained attention for featuring in former label-mate Sunmi‘s “Full Moon” and had a bright future as a talented dancer and rapper in the K-Pop scene, she ended up leaving JYP before SIXTEEN aired for unknown reasons. After she left, she returned to States (her home country) in 2015, took part in and became one of the four winners of the Miss Korea USA pageant.
While Lena doesn’t spend much time in front of the camera as an entertainer these days, it is said that she actually works as a production designer at Warner Bros! She’s also active posting several updates on her personal Instagram page, @lenaahnn.
For those interested, read more on the girl group here.