6 Talented Korean Female Solo Artists to Keep Your Eye On
As time goes on and Korean music continues to grow around the world with acts such as BTS, Rain, BLACKPINK, and so many more, we’ve reached a point in the Korean music scene that contains some truly amazing artists. Of course, most of us know about the most famous boy and girl groups in K-pop—BTS and BLACKPINK. And many of us know about the more popular solo artists in Korean music—like, Rain or Ailee. But there are plenty of other solo artists that you should give a listen to. Not only because they have amazing talent, but they’re some of the biggest powerhouses in Korea right now. For this blog, we’ll focus mostly on Korean female solo artists.
So, without further delay, here are the top six Korean female solo artists you’ll want to check out!
Korean Female Solo Artists: Pop
You might’ve heard this name in passing—or perhaps you’ve seen her name with the hundreds of award nominations she’s gained throughout her career. IU, or Lee Ji-eun, is one of the top female solo artists in South Korea right now. She’s not only extremely talented in singing, but she’s just as talented on the big screen.
IU first made her debut in 2008 with her EP Lost and Found. At the time, IU was fifteen years old. But it wasn’t long until IU began gaining traction in the Korean music scene. In the following albums after her first—Growing Up, IU…IM, and Real—she garnered attention from both Korean and international audiences. One of her earliest popular songs came out in 2010 with a music video in early 2011. The song is from her Real album, called “Good Day.”
Throughout her entire career, though, IU has had some stunning vocals. A couple personal favorites of her songs for me include “Love Poem” or “Eight.” Her voice is so delicate, yet powerful, throughout each of these songs that it just moves you. Whether or not you understand Korean, you’ll understand the emotions IU is telling you in her songs. This makes her one of the most powerful Korean female solo artists.
If you’re more of a Korean drama person, IU has acted in a ton of amazing dramas. Including “Hotel Del Luna,” “My Mister,” and “Persona.” With each new drama that she takes on, IU is gaining more and more attention. But she deserves it. So be sure to check out some of her work. You might find a new artist to add to your playlists!
Much like IU, HyunA is one of the female solo artists that made her first debut before 2010. However, HyunA followed a slightly different path than IU—not beginning as a solo artist.
In 2007, HyunA—or Kim Hyun-ah—made her first debut with the girl group Wonder Girls. However, HyunA left the group shortly after their debut. After a company change, she joined the girl group 4Minute—which debuted in 2009. After a year of successfully becoming one of the biggest girl groups in South Korea, HyunA made her solo debut in 2010 with her song “Change.”
Her solo career soared. She gained tons of public recognition as one of the top Korean female solo artists in the industry and broke a lot of records throughout her career. And she’s still going. In 2021, HyunA released her seventh EP I’m Not Cool. The title track has the same name.
Since her debut, HyunA has had a delicate yet powerful vocal range. She not only sings, but she also raps throughout her songs. Truly, it’s a great talent to have, and HyunA uses it well. This is why she’s one of the top female solo artists from Korea today.
A personal favorite song of hers for me is her song “Flower Shower”—which came out at the end of 2019. It’s a poppy tune, but it’s got a unique backing track and beat that you can’t help but love. Give it and some of her other songs a listen! There are bound to be a few you might enjoy.
Go Younha, known by her mononym Younha, is a South Korean singer-songwriter that’s made quite the impression since her debut. Uniquely, Younha first made her debut in 2004 in Japan. She gained the nickname “Oricon Comet” for her grand success on the Japanese music chart. In 2006, she officially debuted in South Korea with her song—and album—“Audition.”
She has one the most powerful vocals on this list—her vocals are beyond strong and they bring about so many moving emotions. She’s regarded as one of the most popular female solo artists in both South Korea and Japan.
In recent years, Younha released two EPs, Stable Mindset (2019) and Unstable Mindset (2020). In the latter EP, Younha had a collaboration song with RM from BTS called “Winter Flower.” This song became so popular that it reached the top of the US iTunes chart. Because of this feat, Younha became the first Korean female solo artist to reach the top of the US iTunes chart. And it’s a beautiful track that shows off how truly beautiful Younha’s voice is.
Korean Female Solo Artists: R&B / Soul
If you’re looking for more R&B/Soul Korean female solo artists, then we’ve got a couple of powerhouse performers you’ll want to add to your list.
Debuting in 2014, Heize broke into popularity within a year later. Her appearance on the second season of Unpretty Rapstar skyrocketed her into stardom. Her songs topped music charts and she’s still gaining popularity. At the end of 2019, her first full-length album, She’s Fine, made it onto Billboard’s Top 25 Best K-Pop Albums of 2019 list. This album brought such raw emotion and power, that it clearly deserved its spot on the list.
You can listen to the one title track, “She’s Fine,” here:
Throughout her entire career, Heize has stacked up on a multitude of collaborations. Including powerhouse performers such as Gaeko, Crush, Dean, Epik High, and so many more. Her powerful vocals and rap skills gave her the chance to work with artists of all genres. My personal favorite collaboration of hers is the 2016 track “And July” which featured Dean. The fun-loving beat and the entertaining music video can’t help but bring a smile to your face. Check it out!
Seori, or Baek Seori, is the youngest female solo artist included in this list. She also debuted only a year ago. Yet, her vocals are so strong that she’s grown in popularity quickly. She’s attracted attention from big-name artists including Day6’s Jae and BTS’ Jungkook. And recently, she’s featured on TXT’s latest title track “1X0=LOVESONG (I know I Love You).”
Seori first began on YouTube. She was a cover artist, covering songs of both Western and Eastern countries. Because of her covers, she gained attention and was officially able to debut in May of 2020.
Her debut album, ?Depacse Ohw, made quite the impression on lovers of Korean music. The title track of the album, “Running through the night,” is a soft and catchy tune that proves Seori can have delicate yet strong vocals. It’s a really beautiful song.
Recently, Seori has put out a single album—The Long Night—and a digital single—“Lovers in the Night.” “The Long Night,” from the single album of the same name, is such a powerful song. Seori’s voice is unique and hard to even explain. But her music is definitely worth giving a listen to because she’s one of the Korean female solo artists you’ll want to keep an eye on. She’s already gaining a lot of recognition a year after her debut… who’s to say how far she’ll be able to reach?
Korean Female Solo Artists: Hip-Hop
Of course, if we’re going to talk about some of the top Korean female solo artists, we need to include Jessi. Jessi, or Jessica Ho, is a Korean-American rapper who’s based in South Korea. Though she was born in New York (and raised in New Jersey), she moved to South Korea when she was fifteen.
Jessi made her first debut in 2005 with the single album Get Up. At the time, she went by Jessica H.O. And in 2009, she released her second single album The Rebirth. The track off this 2009 single album received a lot of love.
After a few years of hiatus, Jessi returned as a member of the hip-hop trio Lucky J. And later, in 2015, she participated in the first season of Unpretty Rapstar. Much like it did for Heize, Jessi’s participation in the show brought her stardom. Though she was the second-place winner, it brought her a lot of opportunities. Her first individual rap song, “Ssenunni,” came out later in the same year.
After starting her own variety show, Jessi’s Showterview, and joining the cast of Hangout with Yoo, Jessi continued to grow in popularity. Her most recent single, “What Type of X,” already has 45 million views on YouTube since its release in March of this year (2021).
Which of these Korean female solo artists has made it onto your playlist?
I know there’s a lot of information and amazing female solo artists to look at, but I’m sure you found one or two that you like from this list. Each of these artists has such strong vocals and grand talent that it’s hard not to find yourself swaying along to their songs.
If you’d like to discover even more Korean music artists to check out, you can glance through our Music Category! For K-pop-specific artists, you can glance through our K-Pop Category. We’ve written about a lot of incredible artists, so be sure to give them a chance!