For most K-Pop groups, the position of leader is given to the eldest member as they are the usually ones with the most experience and maturity. This is not always the case. Uncommonly, some groups choose members who are not the eldest—and even rarer than that, some maknaes become the leaders.
The babies of the group they are not, instead acting as the representatives of their members in front of the company and entertainment industry.
Age is truly just a number for these idols. Check out some of the only maknae leaders below!
1. WINNER’s Seungyoon
WINNER‘s Seungyoon was not always the leader or the maknae of the group. He was a few months older than then-maknae Nam Taehyun, having been born in January 1994 and the latter in May 1994.
Moreover, MINO was the leader until Yang Hyun Suk gave Seungyoon the position during WIN: Who Is Next. Now Seungyoon is known among the members and fans as the pillar and rock of WINNER.
2. Woolim of PLAYBACK
Woolim was the youngest member of Playback when they debuted in 2015 with their song “PLAYBACK”. Born in 1996, she was years younger than members Yunji (1992), Hayoung (1993), and Yujin (1994).
Woolim was no longer the maknae-leader, however, when they made a comeback in 2017 with “Want You To Stay” as member Eunjin (1997) was added to the group.
3. CL of 2NE1
For a very short period after Minzy left 2NE1 in April 2016, CL became the youngest in the group. As she was already the leader since debut, this made her the maknae leader of one of K-Pop’s top girl groups until they disbanded in May 2016.
4. Seohyun of SNSD-TTS
Taeyeon may be the leader of Girls’ Generation but Seohyun was the leader of their unit group TTS. Taeyeon revealed in a 2014 broadcast of SBS‘s Power FM Kim Chang Ryul’s Old School Radio that she and Tiffany chose their maknae to lead the group.
When we’re promoting as TaeTiSeo, the leader is Seohyun. She seems pretty satisfied with it.
Tiffany agreed wholeheartedly.
Seohyun’s been following after the unnies for seven or eight years. It’s Seohyun’s generation now.
5. Jookyung of MyB
Like with Woolim, Jookyung was the youngest and the leader of the group before another member was added. Born in September 1997, she was a few months younger than members Ujung (February 1997), Moonhee (April 1997), and G-Won (July 1997), as well as a year younger than eldest Heejoo (1996).
Hayoon (1998) soon joined the group for their comeback “Ddoddo”.
6. Seo Taiji and Boys
Finally, Seo Taiji and Boys was the OG K-Pop group who was active from 1992-1996. Their leader and face, Seo Taiji, was also the youngest among the trio as he was born in February 1972.
In comparison, Lee Juno was born in February 1967 and Yang Hyun Suk was born in January 1970. Seo Taiji paved the way for leaders, maknaes, and maknae-leaders since the nineties!