K-Pop stars often give themselves catchy stage names that can make them stand out, while making it easier for the fans to remember them. So for any trainee’s actual debut, the agencies carefully consider different stage name options to make sure that the final selection is something trendy yet meaningful, timeless and iconic. These 5 K-Pop idols have all ended up debuting as their current stage or legal names — but they all had other potential stage names as trainees.
IU almost went with the stage name “Ji Heun”. This stage name, which is actually very similar to her legal name Ji Eun, came from Jiwuhjin Heunjeok — meaning “deleted traces”. While Ji Heun would have been a poetic stage name, it ultimately got turned down for being too difficult to pronounce.
2. BTS’s Jungkook
BTS‘s Golden Maknae Jungkook debuted using his legal first name, but back when he was a trainee, he had “Seagull” as one of the stage names lined up for him. This rather eccentric stage name idea came from the fact that Jungkook hails from Busan, Korea where the seagulls fly free above the city’s beautiful beaches.
Contrary to what many K-Pop fans assume, Chungha is actually Chungha’s stage name and her full legal name is Kim Chan Mi. She almost debuted with stage names like “Seo An” or “Ji An” — or even “Se Ri” like actress Son Ye Jin‘s character from Crash Landing On You — but as she decided to include the “Ch-” sound from her legal name in her stage name, she settled with Chungha, meaning the “Calling for Summer”.
4. EXO’s Sehun
EXO‘s maknae-on-top Sehun also debuted using his legal first name, but he had his share of eccentric potential stage names as well. One that came closest to winning is “Seoul” (to be pronounced Se Wool), as suggested by SM Entertainment‘s Lee Soo Man himself, but the agency staff strongly fought against it for overlapping with the city Seoul.
5. GFRIEND’s Sowon
GFRIEND‘s Sowon almost debuted with the most straight-forward stage name of P.B, short for Perfect Beauty, or F.B, short for Fine Beauty. While either of those would not have been a lie, Sowon eventually turned it down for being in English, as opposed to her teammates’ stage names being in Korean.