How Stray Kids became the boy band we know and love!

by Helen Bosch
stray kids members sitting around a desk / all in album imagestray kids members sitting around a desk / all in album image

Stray Kids are Bang Chan, Changbin, Hyunjin, Han, Seungmin, I.N., Lee Know and Felix; we can't imagine it any other way. Still, it almost turned out differently. In JYP's survival show "Stray Kids" where the trainees were supposed to prove that they were ready for their debut, to the horror of the fans first Lee Know, who was still active under his real name Lee Minho, and shortly before the finale also Felix were eliminated by Park Jin Young, the founder of JYP Entertainment.

stray kids logo on black background

While the remaining trainees were preparing for the crucial live show, Park Jin Young surprised them with the return of Minho and Felix. He felt the group was incomplete without them and wanted to give them one last chance. In the live show, the trainees were to perform as both seven and nine for direct comparison, and fans were also to vote for which formation they liked better. They did; an overwhelming majority of 96% voted for the debut with all nine members. JYP was also convinced in the end and confirmed on December 19, in the finale of the show, that all nine trainees would debut together.
Before the show, the boy group released the pre-debut album "Mixtape" with seven songs that the members wrote, composed and, among other things, already performed in the show. "Hellevator" had already been released as a digital single before the Survival Show and served as a teaser for the show.

However, the mixtape was not the first thing fans got to hear before Stray Kids' debut. Already in 2016, JYP Entertainment founded the hip-hop unit "3Racha".

3Racha

The unit consists of Bang Chan, Changbin and Han. In January 2017, the trio uploaded their first untitled mixtape with seven tracks on Soundcloud. Before they released their second album, "3Days," on August 16, JYP announced that the three would be part of the Survival Show along with six other trainees. One day after the finale, in which their debut in Stray Kids was confirmed, 3Racha`s third album "Horizon" was released. At this point, at the latest, it was clear that the unit would continue to exist. On January 18, 2018, ten days after the mixtape of Stray Kids was released, the trio released the special single "Start Line" on Soundcloud to celebrate the first anniversary of 3 Racha. Since their debut in the nine-member boy group, the unit has released two more singles - "Zone" in September 2018 and "Carpe Diem" in January 2020.


You can find the soundcloud account with all their songs here!

Although the trio rarely releases music as a unit anymore, Bang Chan, Changbin and Han continue to write and compose songs together on a regular basis. To this day, their names regularly appear in the credits for all tracks on Stray Kids' albums. They are often listed there as 3Racha as well. Thus, Stray Kids is one of the few K-pop groups whose music is mainly produced by the members themselves.

stray kids i am who poster

Stray Kids

Stray Kids officially debuted on March 25 through a showcase in which they performed their new songs. The next day, the debut album "I Am Not" was released along with the music video for the title track "District 9". On March 31, a music video for "Grow Up" was also released. "I Am Not" ranked fourth on the Gaon Album Charts and is the prelude to a three-part album series called "I Am".

AlbumRelease dateTitle song
I Am NotMarch 26, 2018District 9
I Am WhoAugust 06, 2018My Pace
I Am YouOctober 22, 2018I Am You


The end of 2018 also marks the end of the "I Am" series. On March 25, 2018, to celebrate Stray Kid's first anniversary, "Clé 1: Miroh" is released with the title song "Miroh," which brought the boy group its first win in a music show. The album marks the beginning of a new three-part series.

AlbumRelease dateTitle song
Clé 1: MirohMarch 25, 2019Miroh
Clé 2: Yellow WoodJune 19, 2019Side Effects
Clé: LevanterDecember 09, 2019Levanter


After Stray Kids performed nine concerts from January to May, as part of their first world tour Unveil "I Am...", they released "Clé 2: Yellow Wood" in June. Subsequently, they finished the tour with another five dates from July to September. On October 9, the digital single "Double Knot" was released, followed by an album preview for "Clé: Levanter", the third part of the "Clé Album Series" the next day. At the end of the month, however, anticipation was dampened when JYP Entertainment announced that Woojin had left Stray Kids for personal reasons and the album's release, originally scheduled for Nov. 25, was postponed until Dec. 9. With "Astronaut", the first single without Woojin was uploaded on Youtube on November 13. Both "Double Knot" and "Astronaut" are included on "Clé: Levanter", which was then released on December 09 together with the title track of the same name.

Since Woojin left the group, Stray Kids has remained active with eight members to date.

Stage nameReal nameBirthdayPosition
Bang ChanBang Christopher03.10.1997Leader
Lee KnowLee Minho25.10.1998Main Dancer
ChangbinSeo Changbin11.08.1999Rapper
HyunjinHwang Hyunjin20.03.2000Main Dancer, Visual
HanHan Jisung14.09.2000Main Rapper
FelixLee Yongbok15.09.2000Lead Rapper & Dancer
SeungminKim Seungmin22.09.2000Main Vocal
I.N.Yang Jeongjin08.02.2001Maknae, Vocal


Both Bang Chan and Felix have a connection to Australia. Felix was born there and Bang Chan moved to Australia as a child. Both came to Korea after being accepted as trainees at JYP Entertainment. Felix was eliminated from the Survival Show mainly because of his poor Korean, as he had not even lived in Korea for a year at that point.

stray kids woojin

Former member

WoojinKim Woojin08.04.1997Main Vocal

Woojin made his solo debut on August 5, 2020 with the mini album "Moment: A Minor".

2020 until today

After the end of the "Clé" series in December 2019, Stray Kids released "Go Live" with the title track "God`s Menu" six months later, on June 17, 2020. The album was the first release to receive platinum certification from Gaon Chart for selling over 250,000 copies. "Go Live" topped the Gaon Album Charts and Stray Kids placed on the Gaon Download Charts for the first time with the album!

This milestone was followed by "In Life", Stray Kids' no less successful first repackage album, on September 14. The "Time" magazine even included the title track "Back Door" as the only Korean song in its list of the "10 best songs of 2020".

In 2021, Stray Kids competed in the survival show "Kingdom: Legendary War" against Ateez, The Boyz, BtoB, Ikon, and SF9 - without Hyunjin, who withdrew from activities in February due to bullying allegations - and carried off the victory in the finale in June! With that, the group won their own reality show as well as the special show "Kingdom Week" for their comeback.Like all the other contestants, Stray Kids released a new song for the show's finale: "Wolfgang".


March 19 saw the release of the single "Going Dumb", the group's first collaboration with Swedish producer Alesso and Chinese DJ Corsak. "Going Dumb" serves as the soundtrack for the mobile game "PUBG." To the great delight of fans, the song also features Hyunjin, who returns to Stray Kids activities in July. As if to celebrate the reunion, one month later they released the new album "Noeasy" with the title track "Thunderouswhich also contains "Wolfgang" among others.

Mixtape Project

Since 2020, Stray Kids has released several mixtape singles collectively referred to as the "Mixtape Project". The singles were released independently from the group's albums, but are each included on the next Physical album, so fans can still listen to the songs on CD.

Mixtape: Gone DaysDecember 26, 2019Included in "Go Live"
Mixtape: On TrackMarch 25, 2020Included in "Go Live"
Mixtape: OhJune 25, 2021Included in "Noeasy"


Fans know that exclusive on the physical versions of both the "I Am" and "Clé" album series, the mixtape songs #1 - #5 are also included. These five tracks are remakes of 3Racha`s songs that were released before Stray Kid`s debut. The remakes feature not only Bang Chan, Changbin and Han, but all members.

Japanese / English albums

Stray Kids released their first and so far only English single "Step Out of Clé" on January 24, 2020, which features English versions of "Double Knot" and "Levanter."

stray kids skz2020 album cover

In March 2020, Stray Kids made their Japan debut with the compilation album "SKZ2020". The album features 24 tracks; all Japanese versions of previously released Korean songs. This was followed in June by "Top", the first Japanese single album. The two brand new songs "Top" and "Slump" both serve as the soundtrack for the anime "Tower of God". Both songs were also released in Korean and English in May.

The last Japanese album to date, "All In", was released in October 2020 and includes "Top," "Slump," Japanese versions of "God`s Menu" and "Back Door," and three new songs, including the title track "All In," which was also released in Korean a short time later. Stray Kids performed the Korean version for the first time at their first online concert "Unlock: Go Live In Life".

Stray Kids fan base - dubbed "Stay" - won't have to wait long for news, as the boy group has already announced that they will present fans with their second Japanese single on October 13!

Are you looking forward to the single? We can't wait to hear it!

Bonus

Did you know that the songs "Road Not Taken" from "Clé 2: Yellow Wood" and "Stop" from "Clé: Levanter" belong together? "Stop" is an extension of "Road Not Taken" and follows on seamlessly from it. Quite a few fans may have wondered why "Stop" sounds so familiar. Did you notice?

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