When an idol group hits the big time, there is money to be made for everyone. Some of them, however, are born blessed with money. These lists of five idols born with a silver spoon are not just rich: they’re also good, hard-working people who don’t throw their wealth around (even if their group members do).
Choi Siwon, Super Junior
Who is he: The first Kpop Music video I ever watched was Super Junior’s Sorry Sorry, and the first member I ever learned about was Choi Siwon: “He is super religious, and also super-rich.” Making his debut in 2005, the years have not been kind to the number of members in Super Junior (what started as 13 is now 9) but Siwon is still there with his famed CEO image.
Why is He rich: Siwon’s father, Choi Kiho worked at Hanwha Group and Hanwha Distribution, and at one point was the CEO of Boryung Medience, a pharmacology company that has shifted into the manufacture and sale of mother and baby healthcare products. The family also owns Hyundai Department Stores.
Proof: When Siwon was accepted as a trainee at SM Entertainment, his father was initially not happy. Like a Korean drama where the chaebol son gets cast out of his home, he did stints working at a gas station and lived with fellow member Yesung and his family when they were trainees. Eventually, his father forgave him. Generous towards his members, Siwon allowed them to use his expensive skincare products before the group hit it big. One of the stories always repeated by Super Junior is that when Leeteuk, his fellow group mate was going to drop him off in front of the building where he lived, Siwon asked him to drop him off a few streets off. When asked why, he said, “the other house is being renovated.” His wealth is a point of pride for Super Junior: in their eyes, an idol is only rich if they are as rich as Siwon.
Nichkhun Horvejkul, 2PM
Who is He: A member of the six-member group 2PM, Nichkhun, from Thailand, was one of the first foreign idols to make his name in the Korean music industry. Born in California and educated in the United States, Thailand, and New Zealand, Nichkhun was accepted by JYP Entertainment in 2006 and made his debut in 2008.
Why is He Rich: In 2011, Nichkhun’s mother, Yenchit Horvejkul made headlines when she was named CEO of Thai pharmaceutical company Union Medical, established in 1976 and one of the leading pharma importers and distributors in Thailand. It is unknown if she still holds the position today.
Proof: 2PM is my favorite group ever, and while I remember the announcement about Nichkhun’s mother being named CEO, I didn’t realize how rich he was until CLC member Sorn, she herself another Thai idol, mentioned it. “Nichkhun doesn’t talk about it on TV but everyone in Thailand knows how rich he is,” she said on Happy Together. His house was also featured on Running Man’s iconic Bangkok episode.
Park Hyungsik, ZE:A
Who is he: while his group ZE:A never made it big, Park Hyungshik is known more as an idol-actor (ZE:A is also home to another famous idol-actor, Im Siwan). His dramas include The Heirs, High Society, Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, Strong Girl Bong-soon, and Suits. In a case of art imitating life, Hyungshik played a chaebol on both The Heirs and High Society.
Why is He Rich: Hyungshik’s father, at one point, was a member of the board that runs BMW Korea. There were rumors that his father was the CEO but this was just the exaggerated storytelling of fellow member, Hwang Kwanghee: “I had no other way to make Hyungsik more known, so I said it first on broadcast,” he admitted.
Proof: While Hyungshik’s father might not be the CEO of BMW Korea, he is still highly placed enough that according to Kwanghee, members from other idol groups will call Hyungshik and ask if he can get them a discount. At one point, news reports ranked him as richer than Siwon, an issue that Super Junior takes umbrage with. During an idol’s trainee period, this is usually when they are the poorest because school and training to be a pop star leave no time for work, but Kwanghee says that Hyungshik was the richest trainee he had ever met: “While we were poor trainees, I glanced at Park Hyung Sik’s bank statement, and he had about $16,000,” he disclosed (Hyungshik says this was all new year’s gift money saved by his mother and placed into his bank account).
Kim Junmyeon (Suho), EXO
Who is He: Suho was accepted into SM Entertainment in 2005, and made his debut in 2012 as the leader and one of the lead vocalists of top Korean million-selling idol group EXO. Now serving his mandatory military service, Suho has also dipped his toes in acting and musical theater, and last year released his first solo album Self-Portrait.
Why is He Rich: Suho’s father, Kim Young-ha is a professor at Sungkyunkwan University, and was once the head of the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs. None of those things particularly scream RICH, but his fellow EXO members always reiterate his wealth. Suho denies this and says the misunderstanding arose because he lived in the Apgujeong area and went to high school in the Gangnam school district, both wealthy areas in Seoul. According to Suho, he is on the whole is a pretty normal person who merely treated his members quite a bit during their trainee days with his allowance.
Proof: According to the members of EXO, it is good to have a wealthy leader, most especially when it comes to treating them with food. This happened a lot during their rookie years: one memorable reality show moment showed Suho sharing his credit card to fellow member Do Kyungsoo, who wanted food. Another member, Kai, once shared in 2013 that Suho spent 80k won (34,935.86 PHP) on treating members (this was when there were 12 of them). Nowadays, all the EXO members are rich, but Suho is still generous: he continues to treat the youngest member, Oh Sehun to meals (as the youngest, or the maknae, Sehun of course takes full advantage of this). According to another member, Byun Baekhyun, this is only right because Suho lives in Seoul’s exclusive Hyundai Apartments (coincidentally, next to Siwon). Just a few weeks ago, the oldest member of the group, Xiumin (there are nine of them today), mentioned that for special occasions, the group will eat out at Sushi Kurumi. This Seoul spot costs you 100k (4,376.60PHP) won per head for lunch and 275k won (12,034.34 PHP) per head for dinner. When asked who usually foots the bill, Xiumin replied “Each team usually has a leader, right? Our leader is rich.” A full, nine-member EXO meet-up is rare these days (one of them is in China, three are in the military) but if it were to happen, this means Suho would have to spend 247,5000 won all in all (108309.06 PHP). Phew.
Zhong Chenle, NCT and NCT Dream
Who is He: Zhong Chenle is one of the Chinese members of NCT and NCT Dream. Known for his career as a child singer, Chenle is one of NCT Dream’s main vocalists, and has the shortest trainee period of all SM artists: after two months of training, he was able to debut.
Why is He Rich: Reportedly the grandson of one of the richest businessmen in China, just a look at his childhood pictures will show off an aura of richness. In Seoul, Chenle is the only member of NCT who doesn’t live with the group and instead lives with his mother.
Proof: On the show Let Me Sleep For One Night, three Korean MCs spent the night at Chenle’s home, where they met his mother. Here is what we learned in the program: Chenle does not know what renting means. His family home is a luxury apartment in Shanghai, surrounded by a bamboo forest, and has his swimming pool. It takes quite a while from his gate to the front door. Chenle’s house has also been seen on ChenJi’s This and That, a youtube series with Park Jisung, his fellow NCT Dream Member. Jisung visited Shanghai and expressed shock at the site of Chenle’s Model X Tesla: “This is my first time riding a car where the seats go up!” he said. His nickname is President Chen, and his hobbies include recreational shooting. When Chenle was younger, his parents held a special concert for him to “preserve the memory of his voice before it changes.” When his older group members became adults, he gave them all Apple Watches, which goes against the grain of the eldest treating the younger members. Like all the wealthy idols, Chenle is quite recalcitrant to speak about his wealth, but couldn’t resist proposing to buy fellow member Haechan a computer just to win a game. He is so rich that even Super Junior members agree (remember, their standard of rich is only Siwon).
This list is ranked by debut date