16 Books About K-Pop That Should Be on Every Fan's Reading List
While K-pop has been around for decades, it's become especially popular in recent years. Groups like BTS and Blackpink are always at the top of the music charts. Seeing as K-pop is on everyone's mind right now, it's no surprise that a lot of authors have drawn inspiration from the K-pop industry and fan culture to pen their latest stories. So many books about K-pop focus on aspiring idols chasing their dreams and learning what it really takes to survive in the K-pop world. There are also stories about forbidden love between K-pop idols, as well as K-pop stars unexpectedly falling for non-famous people.
For those who prefer nonfiction, there are also plenty of books about K-pop dedicated to real-life groups. They often document stars' journey to fame — from their humble beginnings as trainees to their experiences as full-fledged K-pop idols. So if you're eager to learn more about the industry, here are 16 books about K-pop that you're sure to love.
And for all book lovers, check out the 2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.
"How to Speak K-Pop" by Jungho Park
"How to Speak K-Pop" ($12) is a guidebook that helps you learn and understand the most popular Korean words and phrases used in Korean popular culture. In addition to the definitions, the book provides the pronunciations and cultural backgrounds of the words as well. It even gives you real-life examples of how slang could be used among K-pop fans or in your favorite Korean dramas or movies.
"Once Upon a K-Prom" by Kat Cho
Elena Soo and Robbie Choi are childhood best friends who promised each other they'd go to prom together. However, after Robbie moves to Korea and becomes a famous K-pop idol, Elena thinks they'll never see each other again. That all changes when Robbie shows up at her door hoping to fulfill their childhood promise. Although she wants nothing more than to accept his invitation, Elena can't help but hesitate due to Robbie's legion of fans and the paparazzi that constantly follow him. Read how the story ends in "Once Upon a K-Prom" ($12).
"Beyond the Story: 10-Year Record of BTS" by BTS and Myeongseok Kang
"Beyond the Story: 10-Year Record of BTS" ($24) documents the past decade of BTS's career, from their time as trainees to becoming the world's biggest K-pop stars. The group's success story is told through interviews with all seven members of BTS, which were conducted by journalist Myeongseok Kang. The book also features unreleased photos of the group and over 330 QR codes that'll take readers directly to all the videos, songs, and blog posts mentioned by the members throughout the interviews.
"XOXO" by Axie Oh
"XOXO" ($11) centers on an aspiring cellist named Jenny who falls for a cute boy named Jaewoo after spending a magical night with him in Los Angeles. Jenny is forced to say goodbye to him when he returns home to Korea. However, when she begins attending an elite arts academy in Seoul, Jenny is surprised to run into Jaewoo at her new school and is even more shocked to learn that he's actually a famous K-pop idol. Because his company forbids him from dating, Jenny must choose whether she should follow her head and forget about Jaewoo or follow her heart and give their love a chance.
"K-Pop Confidential" by Stephan Lee
"K-Pop Confidential" ($11) follows a Korean American girl named Candace Park who has always dreamed of becoming a K-pop idol. One day, she decides to audition for a music label that represents SLK, her favorite K-pop group. However, with so many people competing for a spot in the company's new girl group, Candace never expected to actually be one of the lucky ones picked. When she's asked to become a trainee, Candace excitedly moves to Korea to follow her dreams — but quickly realizes that there's more to being a K-pop idol than just fame and glory.
"I Love BTS: An Unofficial Fan Journal" by Yerin Kim
Authored by POPSUGAR's own Yerin Kim, "I Love BTS: An Unofficial Fan Journal" ($10) is for everyone who loves the seven members of the Bangtan Boys. Celebrate what BTS mean to you with personalized guided journal prompts that will make you fall in love with the group all over again.
"I'll Be the One" by Lyla Lee
In "I'll Be the One" ($11), Skye Shin is determined to become the first plus-size K-pop idol. After nailing an audition for a major televised K-pop competition, Skye joins the show and tries her hardest to turn her dream of debuting into a reality. Although Skye learns that being in the spotlight isn't easy, especially with everyone having an opinion on her body, she's able to rely on her new friends, including fellow competitor Henry Cho, for support.
"Fireworks" by Alice Lin
"Fireworks" ($10) is about a 17-year-old girl named Lulu Li whose neighbor and childhood friend Kite Xu grew up to become a member of the K-pop group Karnival. After it's announced that Kite is taking a break from his group for unknown reasons, Lulu is surprised to learn that he's returned home and wants to reconnect with her. The two eventually develop feelings for each other, but Lulu questions whether they can make a relationship work with the pressures of fame looming over them.
"Shine" by Jessica Jung
"Shine" ($11) is a romance novel written by Girls' Generation member Jessica Jung. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at the rigorous training process aspiring idols must face before they debut. The story is told through the eyes of 17-year-old Rachel Kim, a Korean American working under DB Entertainment. Although Rachel thought the company's no-dating rule would be easy to follow, that all changes when she begins developing feelings for another K-pop star, Jason Lee.
"Blackpink: Queens of K-Pop" by Helen Brown
"Blackpink: Queens of K-Pop" ($11) is a fan guide dedicated to Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa, and Rosé. The book features profiles of each Blackpink member, as well as the story of how the girls became one of the biggest K-pop groups. It also comes with 25 photos of the girls and fun facts about their hit singles, choreography, fashion, and more.
"My K-Pop Secret" by J.L. Lee
When a member of the K-pop group CNTR suddenly disappears before a big performance at the VMAs, newcomer Haneul Kyung rushes to fill his spot. Fans instantly fall in love with him, but what they don't realize is that Haneul is actually a girl named Hana. As Haneul becomes more popular, it becomes harder for Hana to hide her secret, especially when she begins to fall for CNTR's leader, Jiho. Will she tell him the truth? Find out by reading "My K-Pop Secret" ($2).
"My Summer in Seoul" by Rachel Van Dyken
"My Summer in Seoul" ($20) is about a Korean American girl named Grace Lee who moves to Seoul to intern at her uncle's record label. Her first few days are a complete disaster as she makes a bad impression on the label's top superstars. Grace must learn to navigate the ugly side of the K-pop industry, from scandals to angry fans, all while dealing with her own drama.
"Twice: The Story of K-Pop's Greatest Girl Group" by Jamie Heal
"TWICE: The Story of K-Pop's Greatest Girl Group" ($14) chronicles the highs and lows of how Twice made it to the top of the K-pop industry. The book explains what makes Twice stand apart from other groups, as well as the strengths each member brings to the team. It also offers a glimpse behind the making of the group's biggest singles over the years, including "Like Ooh-Ahh," "Cheer Up," and "Likey."
"Idol Gossip" by Alexandra Leigh Young
"Idol Gossip" ($12) is about a 17-year-old girl named Alice Choy who begins a new life in Seoul after having lived in San Francisco. While adjusting to her new home, Alice finds comfort in singing at a karaoke bar every weekend. After finishing a karaoke session, Alice runs into an older woman who overheard her singing. The mysterious stranger turns out to be a talent scout who is so impressed with Alice's voice that she offers her a chance to join Top10 Entertainment's Star Academy. Alice accepts; however, her journey to stardom proves to be anything but easy.
"Bias — A K-Pop Romance" by Lucy Gold
"Bias — A K-Pop Romance" ($12) follows a K-pop star named Wooyeong who is set on having a career without any scandals. He promised himself he would never date in the public eye, but everything changes when he meets Madison. After developing feelings for her, Wooyeong must decide whether he's willing to risk everything he's built for love.
"Comeback: A K-Pop Novel" by Lyn Ashwood and Rachel Rose
"Comeback: A K-Pop Novel" ($14) follows a K-pop idol named Emery Jung who goes by the stage name M. As a member of the rising K-pop group Neon, Emery must be careful about his image, because one scandal could mean the end of his career. However, when he reunites with Alana Kim, a girl who once inspired him to chase his dreams, Emery can't help but risk everything to get to know her. Meanwhile, Alana tries to avoid all things music after experiencing a traumatic loss, but that proves to be easier said than done when Emery comes back into her life.