About a shining star in the K-pop sky: Monsta X

by Helen Bosch
monsta x poster six membersmonsta x poster six members

Monsta X is a six-member boy group that burst onto the K-Pop scene in 2015 with a lot of power and is still one of the most popular groups of the third generation. Strong voices, an aggressive style and a combination of hip hop, EDM and pop continue to thrill fans of the boy group to this day!

NO.MERCY - The survival show where Monsta X was born.

On December 10, 2014, the first episode of "NO.MERCY" was broadcast. This is a survival show of Starship Entertainment, in which 12 trainees of the agency got the chance to realize their dream "debut".

monsta x survival show NO.MERCY poster 12 trainees

Starship was at that time the home of the girl group Sistar, the boy group Boyfriend and successful solo artists like K.Will and Mad Clown. So Monsta X was only Starship's second boy group and third idol group.

In a series of missions, the 12 trainees gave their all to prove their talent. In fact, 13 trainees participated in the end because a new contestant was added during the show. I.M joined after the first trainee was eliminated. At first, he was understandably not greeted joyfully, as he represented unexpected competition for the others. Over time, however, the trainees pulled together and I.M ended up being as much a part of the group as anyone else.

"NO.MERCY" was staged as the name suggests as a brutal fight for the debut. Seven winners emerged from this battle in the finale on February 11, 2015: Jooheon, Shownu, Kihyun, Hyungwon, Wonho, I.M, and Minhyuk

If you missed the trip or want to watch it again, you can find all 10 episodes of NO.MERCY on Youtube:

During the show, seven trainees were eliminated, most of whom are now active as idols: Yoonho debuted back in 2015 under his new stage name "Ayno" in "VAV," #Gun has been active as a rapper since 2016, Minkyun debuted in 2017 as "MK" in ONF, and Seokwon recently made it to the stage as well! In March 2021, he debuted as "Tan" with the boy group "Ciipher."


A reality show called "Deokspatch" aired alongside NO.MERCY, with seven- to ten-minute episodes so fans could get to know the trainees a little better. The first episode aired one week after the first episode of NO.MERCY. Likewise, the last episode was uploaded a week after the finale.

You can also watch Deokspatch on Youtube!

monsta x logo trespass era

Monsta X

The name Monsta X, which was announced in the finale of NO.MERCY, has not only one, but even two meanings!

The probably obvious one is that the name stands for monsters conquering the K-Pop scene. The X symbolizes the unknown. The second meaning is somewhat hidden: "Mon" means mine in French. So "Mon sta" can be translated to "My star".
The name of the fan base also fits this: "Monbebe" is also French and means "My baby" (mon bébé).

2015: Debut & Deokspatch X

On May 14, 2015, Monsta X debuted with their first album "Trespass" and the title track of the same name!

Jooheon and I.M participated in the lyrics of most of the songs. Jooheon also co-composed three out of seven. With Kihyun and Wonho, a total of four members worked on the lyrics.

Just one day after the music video, Deokspatch went into its second round! Until the end of June, weekly ten-minute episodes were again broadcast, in which the boy group mainly shows its funny side. The second season is called "Deokspatch X" and was also uploaded to Youtube.

monsta x second album rush cover image blue

Already on September 1, the boy group returned with their second album "Rush". This time, Jooheon and I.M are also mentioned in the credits for most of the song lyrics. In fact, the two names run throughout Monsta X's discography to this day. We won't mention it every time, but you can assume that Jooheon and I.M co-wrote almost every song on all subsequent albums. In addition, Wonho is also involved in individual songs again and again.

Because it was so nice, "Deokspatch X2" was even released in October.

So in just one year the boy group has released two albums and 3 reality shows! And that although Monsta X was founded only at the beginning of the year by NO.MERCY. At the end of the year, they were awarded the "Next Generation Asian Artist" prize by the Mnet Asian Music Awards for their achievements.

AlbumTitle SongRelease date

2016 - 2017: Japan debut, "The Clan" series.

The boy group started the year 2016 the way 2015 had ended. With a reality show! However, the Deokspatch series was not continued. The new show is called "Monsta X Rigt Now!" and consists of a total of eight episodes, each just under 50 minutes long. As you might guess, Right Now has also been uploaded to Youtube:

On May 18, Monsta X released the third album "The Clan Pt. 1 Lost." This marked the beginning of the three-part "The Clan" album series, which ended in March 2017. The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter was then followed by a repackage album called "Shine Forever" on June 19.

AlbumTitle SongRelease date
The Clan Pt. 1 LostAll In18.05.2016
The Clan Pt. 2 Guilty
The Clan Pt 2.5: The Final ChapterBeautiful21.03.2017
Shine ForeverShine Forever19.06.2017

Between albums, the members of Monsta X did not take a break, but regularly provided their fans with new content. In mid-July 2016, the boy group held their first solo concert titled The First Live "X-Clan Origins."
In August, they released a joint song called "Do Better" together with the girl group Cosmic Girls, which also belongs to Starship Entertainment, with their own music video.

At the end of 2016, Monsta X won another award at the Mnet Asian Music Awards; this time the "Next Male Artist" award.

The new year started once again with a new reality show! This one is called "Monsta X-Ray" and consists of eight episodes of about 50 minutes.

In May, the boy group made their Japanese debut with the single album Hero, which includes Japanese versions of two songs, "Hero" (from Rush) and "Stuck" (from Clan Pt. 1). Hero reached number two on the Japanese Oricon chart and number three on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 chart, which is an impressive feat for a debut from a foreign artist!

In July, a second season of Monsta X-Ray aired and a summer song called "Newton" was released.

Already in August, three months after "Hero", the second Japanese single "Beautiful" was released, topping the Oricon charts!

Then in November, Monsta X presented the new Korean album "The Code".

As if that wasn't enough, the guys then ended the very productive year with the special single "Lonely Christmas".

AlbumTitle SongRelease date
Hero (jap. Single)Hero17.05.2017
Beautiful (jap. Single)
The CodeDramarama14.11.2017


In the next two years, Monsta X was no less active. Fans could enjoy two new Japanese single albums, one Japanese album and four Korean albums!

AlbumTitle SongRelease date
Spotlight (jap. Single)Spotlight31.01.2018
The Connect: DejavuJealousy26.03.2017
Piece (jap.)Puzzle25.04.2018
Livin’ It Up (jap. Single)Livin’ It Up12.09.2018
Take.1 Are You There?Shoot Out22.10.2018
Take.2 We Are HereAlligator20.01.2019
Follow: Find YouFind You & Follow28.10.2019

In addition, the boy group released four English singles in 2019: "Play It Cool" featuring Steve Aoki, "Who Do You Love" feat French Montana, "Love You" and "Someone's Someone".

monsta x lens town kihyun promotional poster

Confident as ever, Monsta X was also present in other places in between all the releases.
In 2018, the group collaborated with Lens Town, a fashion eyewear and contact lens company and promoted the new Lip Tint cosmetics line by "Tony Moly" as well as the new store of the Italian clothing company "Moncler". They also set out on their first Japan tour in April.

Monsta X ended the year with an appearance on iHeartRadio's Jingle Ball Tour. This made them the first Korean group to perform at the event!

In 2019, the group partnered with international game development company NCSoft to develop a merchandise line revolving around specially designed bears (TwoTuckGom), each representing a Monsta X member. They also extended their exclusive contract with the clothing company "Litmus" for whom they have been modeling since their debut!

Wonho leaves Monsta X

monsta x album follow wonho poster

At the end of October, Starship Entertainment announced that Wonho was leaving the group. Shortly before, allegations of debt and the illegal use of marijuana surfaced on social media. Wonho himself decided to leave Monsta X in order not to further damage the group's reputation. However, Starship added that the agency would take legal action against the malicious and distorted allegations.

In March, Wonho was cleared of the drug charges and signed a contract with "Highline Entertainment," a subsidiary of Starship. In August 2020, he began a solo career with his first album, "Love Synonym Pt.1." Most recently, he released his third album "Blue Letter" in September.

Fans probably wish for nothing more than for Wonho to still be in Monsta X, but we're just happy that all seven guys continue to be successful on stage.

2020 - Today:

From Wonho's departure until today, Monsta X has released 10 more albums. A colorful mixture of Korean, Japanese and English, which shows that the boy group has long been very successful outside Korea!

The first English album "All About Luv", which was released on February 14, 2020, was almost like a farewell gift for the fans, because to their great surprise, Wonho was on it! Starship explained that the album was recorded before he left.

AlbumTitle SongRelease date
All About Luv (eng.)Who Do You Love14.02.2020
Wish On the Same Sky (jap. Single Album)Wish On the Same Sky15.04.2020
Fantasia XFantasia26.05.2020
Fatal LoveLove Killa02.11.2020
Love Killa (jap. Single Album)Love Killa16.12.2020
Wanted (jap. Single Album)Wanted10.02.2021
Flavors of Love (jap.)Flavors of Love05.05.2021
One of a KindGambler01.06.2021
No LimitRush Hour19.11.2021
The Dreaming(eng.)One Day10.12.2021
monsta x second english album the dreaming member version shownu product image

Monsta X leader Shownu was the first member of the boy group to start his military service. So since July the fans have to do without him for the time being. The album "No Limit", recently released in November, is the first without Shownu.

The second English album on the other hand, which was released a few days ago, was still recorded together with Shownu! "The Dreaming" is therefore a small consolation and makes the time without Shownu seem shorter.

Did you know that Monsta X is coming to Germany next year? "Kpop.Flex" is set to be the biggest Kpop festival in Europe, with 44,000 visitors and seven different Korean artists. So far, two have been announced: Monsta X and (G)I-dle. We are looking forward to more information in the future!

The Members

Stage NameReal NameBirthdayPosition
ShownuSon Hyunwoo18.06.1992Leader, Main Dancer
MinhyukLee Minhyuj03.11.1993Lead Vocal, Visual
KihyunYoo Kihyun22.11.1993Main Vocal
HyungwonChae Hyungwon15.01.1994Lead Dancer, Visual
JooheonLee Jooheon06.10.1994Main Rapper
I.MIm Changkyun26.01.1996Lead Rapper, Maknae


WonhoLee Hoseok01.03.1993Lead Vocal, Lead Dancer



In early February 2019, Jooheon officially adopted the new English stage name "Joohoney" for international activities. For example, this name is also listed in the credits of the first English album "All About Luv".

Jooheon probably had the new stage name in the back of his mind for a while, among other things because "Jooheon" is often misspelled. He also hopes the stage name will be easier for global fans.

Meanwhile, he also signs letters to his fans with "Joohoney."

It's a very cute name for a great rapper. What do you prefer to call him? Jooheon or Joohoney?

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