Kai is the stage name of South Korean singer, actor and dancer Kim Jong-in, who is best known as a member of the South Korean-Chinese boy band EXO and its sub-group EXO-K. As part of the boy group, he has released four studio albums, five extended plays, and twenty one singles, and has sold over 30 million records in South Korea only. He was the second member of the band to sign S.M. Entertainment and is known as the lead dancer of the group. He branched into acting in 2016 with the web series 'Choco Bank', which earned record-breaking viewership. He also acted in 'First Seven Kisses', 'Andante', and the Japanese drama 'Spring Has Come'. He appeared on the cover of the December 2016 issue of 'The Big Issue', a magazine that offers employment options to homeless people. The issue sold over 20,000 copies within two days and holds the record for most sales since its inception in July 2016.
Rise to Stardom
Kai stated during EXO 90:2014 show in 2014 that he was inspired to become a singer after watching the South Korean boy band Shinhwa perform. At the age of 13, after winning the 10th 'S.M. Youth Best Contest' in 2007, he joined the company S.M. Entertainment. The following year, he made a brief appearance in TVXQ's music video, 'HaHaHa Song'.
In mid-2011, he was selected to be part of a new boy band put up by Lee Soo-man, who wanted to create a group further divided into two subgroups to promote the same music simultaneously in South Korea and China by performing songs in both Korean and Mandarin. The group was named 'EXO' after the word exoplanet, and was divided into the subgroups EXO-K and EXO-M. Kai was the first of twelve members of the band to be formally introduced to the public through teaser trailers on December 23, 2011. On December 29, 2011, he performed alongside fellow EXO members Luhan, Chen and Tao, and other artists signed to S.M. Entertainment, at the major annual end-of-the-year music program 'SBS Gayo Daejeon', broadcast on SBS television network.
The prologue single, 'What Is Love', by EXO-K and EXO-M, was released on January 30, 2012, in mainland China and South Korea. It reached No.88 on South Korea's 'Gaon Single Chart'. With their second prologue single 'History', released on March 9, the group peaked at No.68 on the 'Gaon Single Chart' and Number.6 on China's 'Sina Music Chart'. On April 8, they released their debut single 'Mama', which was followed by an EP of the same name the very next day. The Korean version of the album peaked at No.1 on the 'Gaon Album Chart', while the mandarin version reached No.2 on 'Sina Album Chart'; both the versions charted at No.8 and No.12 respectively on the 'Billboard World Albums Chart'.
Kai went on to work on the group's first studio album, 'XOXO' (2013), the two versions of which collectively peaked at No.1 on the 'Billboard World Album Chart' the following week. Their second studio album, 'Exodus' (2015), set a new record for domestic pre-sales, surpassing 500,000 within 24 hours. Their next two studio albums, 'Ex'Act' (2016) and 'The War' (2017), broke their own pre-orders record twice.
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Kai debuted as an actor in the lead role in the web drama series 'Choco Bank' in January 2016. In December 2016, he played the lead role on the special web drama 'First Seven Kisses' and appeared on two of eight episodes. In January 2017, he was cast in the lead role of high school student Lee Shi-kyung on the television series 'Andante'. The following month, he was cast as the lead on the Japanese drama 'Spring Has Come', becoming the first non-Japanese actor to play a lead role on a WOWOW drama production.
Kai or Kim Jong-in was born on January 14, 1994 in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, South Korea. According to him, his parents initially wanted him to learn the Korean martial art technique, Taekwondo. They also wanted him to learn the piano. However, he quickly lost interest in both and, at the age of eight, became interested in jazz dance instead. By the time he reached the third grade, he decided to train in ballet dancing after watching 'The Nutcracker'. After joining S.M. Entertainment, he developed technical expertise on hip hop, popping, and locking. He attended the School of Performing Arts Seoul, from where he graduated in 2012.
Back in April 2016, he had confirmed that he was dating Krystal, a fellow S.M. Entertainment artist and member of the girl group 'f(x)'. However, in mid-2017, S.M. Entertainment confirmed rumor that the star couple had decided to part ways. According to one report, they grew apart due to conflicting schedules.