At the age of 26, K-pop star Jackson Wang can do it all. From a thriving solo hip hop career to a coveted self-designed fashion line, not to mention a former life as a Junior Olympic fencer, it's no wonder this Got7 member has earned a cultish following. He is the K-pop star shattering the idealized image of K-pop idols, keeping it real and actively engaging with his 19 million fans on his personal Instagram-something unheard of with larger K-pop groups like BTS. This break from tradition isn't the only thing that makes Wang one of the most exciting artists to emerge from K-pop into the Western hemisphere–his artistic endeavors and unique backstory make him one to watch.
Before pursuing music, Wang was raised by a family of professional athletes in Hong Kong, and had his own Olympic-level fencing career with Hong Kong’s junior fencing team before moving to South Korea in 2011 to spend the next few years training for his debut with Got7. He appeared in several Korean variety shows throughout his early career before moving to Chinese television as a game show host.
In 2017, Wang’s label in China announced the the hip hop artist’s venture into a solo career. From there, he released a series of singles in collaboration with other artists and brands, including the song “Fendiman” that established him as the face of Fendi China. He also created a capsule collection with the Italian luxury house, proving his sartorial chops. His notoriety in the U.S. grew in 2018 when he released a single featuring Gucci Mane, and by 2019, Wang released his first solo album Mirrors.
Since the release of his first album, Wang has been busy collaborating on a variety of music and visual projects, with a record-breaking music release in March this year. The single "100 Ways" dropped just in time for listeners to play it on repeat during the early days of quarantine, and the song quickly made the ranks of Mediabase's U.S. Top 40 chart–the first song by a K-pop solo artist to do so.
In the summer, Wang solidified his mark on the fashion world, launching his brand Team Wang in July after spending three years developing his first collection, The Original. As the creative director of the brand, Wang proved just how versatile he is as an artist.
Wang's diverse talents and bustling solo career are just some of the things that make him stand out amongst other K-pop stars. The culture surrounding the K-pop idol is a unique phenomenon, and Wang breaks the mold of what has become accepted as the traditional image of the "perfect" idol. Unlike counterparts in the industry, he fully embraces his masculinity, and shows up to Instagram lives with facial hair, sans make-up. Wang's personal Instagram account is also unique in the industry, as many K-pop idols are forbiddon from having their own personal accounts, let alone interacting with fans as much as Wang does.
This refusal to abide by the norm, coupled with a wide array of creative endeavors, make Wang one of the most influential names in his field. He keeps his followers on the edge of their seats between appearances, and intrigues those who aren't his fans–yet.