With the boom of the K-pop industry, the public has seen the emergence of some supremely talented individuals. One such is the rapper and dancer known as Kino, who mainly appears as part of Pentagon. Kino is well known for his sympathetic and compassionate nature that he extends both to his fellow bandmates and fans, and to victims of world events such as the wildfires in Australia. Kino has also made efforts to explore his musical inclinations outside of the band framework, and is notable for his many friendships within the K-pop industry. Kino is an extremely versatile dancer and choreographer and constantly entertains his fans with new and creative ventures.

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Early Life and Family

Kino was born as Kang Hyung-gu on 27 January 1988, Seongnam, South Korea – his birthname translates as ‘Light’, which is why he picked the Japanese name Kei, which has the same translation. Although the identity of his parents remains unknown, Kino does have a younger sister named Kang Min-Joo. Kino didn’t spend the entirety of his youth in his home country, as he and his family lived in the Philippines for a brief period of three months while he was still a child. Kino has strong bonds with his family members to this day, and maintains that his ultimate vacation would be spending time away with his family.


Kino attended Kumi Elementary School before he was able to put his dreams of performance and dance into practice.

After his time at Kumi Elementary School, Kino was admitted to the Hanlim School of Performing Arts after being ranked as the top potential candidate during the admissions process. During his time at the school, Kino worked exceptionally hard and truly lived up to his potential. After he matriculated in 2017, one year early due to his prowess, he was immediately offered a place as a Practical Dance Major at Sejong University. Kino is also fluent in Japanese, and English as well as Korean.


Early Career

Before he broke into the K-pop industry as a star in his own right, Kino played several minor roles. He appeared in G.Na’s music video and promotional work for “Secret”, as well as in “Rain Effect” by Rain. Originally a trainee at Power Vocal, Kino was part of a five-member dance troupe called Urban Boyz.


Although the troupe was never the most popular in the industry, they danced to the works of international singers such as the Filipino Jeff Bernat’s “If You Wonder”.


On 23 April 2016, Cube Entertainment began promoting their upcoming boy band survival series that would air on Mnet. The show, “Pentagon Maker” was yet another in a long line of similar shows, that would allow the public to help construct the ultimate K-pop band. The boys selected for the show all had considerable talent, and many, including Kino, already had some experience working in the professional industry.

The promise that Kino’s academic path hinted to, came to fruition during the run of the show. Competitors were tested in five different areas – teamwork, mind, talent, dance, and vocals or rap.

These five categories made up the points of the pentagraph – to become known as Pentagram. Although Kino’s start on “Pentagram Maker” started optimistically, with him being ranked second in the first week, his performance steadily degenerated until he was ranked lowest in week five. Although many followers of the show were certain that he would be eliminated, Kino made an impressive comeback, and shot all the way to number one in week seven, and became the first member of the band during week nine when he was the first to complete his pentagraph.

The other members of the group were finalized on 6 July 2016, which was quickly followed by the release of their first two songs on 9 July; “Young”, in collaboration with Dok2, and “Find Me”, with Tiger JK. Although the debut of the group was greatly anticipated, their appearance at Jamsil Indoor Stadium on 23 July 2016 was delayed due to internal matters at their label, Cube Entertainment.

Despite their shaky beginnings, their eventual debut on 10 October that same year was an undeniable success, with the tickets to the event being sold out within minutes of their availability. The group also released their first extended play (EP), “Pentagon”, that same day, which was highly successful, appearing in both the top 10 of the Gaon Chart and Japan Tower Record K-pop Weekly Chart, and was also a huge personal success for Kino. One of the tracks on the EP was “Gorilla”, which has become one of the most iconic songs in the group’s repertoire, one of the reasons being the spectacular choreography that accompanies the lyrics, with which Kino is credited. This marked the first of his many successes in the dance industry.

Kino went on to choreograph multiple other numbers for the group in the following years, including “Ceremony”, “Like This”, and “Runaway” (all in 2017), as well as “Follow” (2020).

Kino also displayed his musical aptitude in writing music and lyrics for Pentagon; he and the other members are collaboratively credited for the majority of the Pentagon discography, but Kino is still recognized as being amongst the most prolific of the boys.

At the debut of the showcase, Kino explained the origin of his stage name to the audience and what it meant to him, saying “I wanted to find a name that could show myself as a singer and in the team in the future,” and elaborated that “’INO’ is an acronym for innovation, and K is from my original family name, Kang’s K, Korea ‘K’.”

Solo Work

Kino has never been shy about branching out from the group and its genre, and enjoys producing his own music. He has recorded approximately 20 songs since 2017 which he makes available to the public for streaming on applications such as SoundCloud.

Among these, he has written, arranged and composed several of his own – “Lonely” (2017), “Badtiming” (2019), and “Gravity” (2020).


Make Our Lives Awesome (M.O.L.A), is an innovative music group originally started by UNIQ member SeungYeon, Park Jimin, and Lee KyoChang in 2015. The group differed from usual K-pop convention both my managing themselves independent of an agency, and by being a co-ed group – a rarity in the industry. Vernon (SEVENTEEN), HoHo, and Kino joined the group later on, and their blend of passion and innovation has set the group on a steady path to success. In addition to their musical contribution, M.O.L.A has also gone a long way in nurturing inter-band relationships, and has allowed for more collaboration and original work.

Television and Drama

K-pop is a staple of South Korean society, and comes with its own set of popular reality shows, band-centric series, and drama opportunities. In the case of Pentagon, this has included “Pentory” (2017), “Pentagon X Happiness Train” (2017), “Pentagon – Just do it Yo!” (2018), and “Star Road: Pentagon” (2019). Kino was also given the opportunity to appear on staple shows such as “Idol Room” (2018), “Idol Star Athletics Championship” (2019 and 2020), and “Idol on Quiz” (2020). He also played a role in the TV drama “Age of Youth 2”, alongside several of his bandmates.

Personal Life

Personality and Hobbies

Kino is much loved by fans for his compassionate and sensitive nature – although this often makes him the butt of the band’s jokes. He loves to express his appreciation and love for his fans in long, emotive messages.


Taking all this into account, he seems like the ideal candidate to be a kindergarten teacher – a job he claims he would love to have … for a day!

Kino also has a playful and fun-loving side, and loves to experiment with his versatile dancing abilities. While he can do a perfect rendition of the choreography of other boy bands, Kino has also tried his hand at some of the female choreography of K-pop groups such as AOA, Red Velvet, and Twice.

World Events

In January of 2020, Kino extended his characteristic sympathy to the victims of drought and wildfire in Australia; he was among various other K-pop stars to take a stance and took to Instagram with an emotive call to action. He bought the situation home to fans by explaining that the affected area was 100 times larger than Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, and urged his followers to donate to the relevant causes.

He also discussed the fate of the more than half a billion creatures that perished during the crisis. He shared a photo of an injured koala, and suggested that people donate to causes such as Wires, RSPCA, Salvation Army, and the Australian Red Cross.


On 30 January 2019, fans were devastated to hear that Kino would not be participating in any of the group’s performances. This was especially disappointing as the group was scheduled to be making a major comeback, but would now be doing so with only eight members. The post from Cube Entertainment shared that Kino would still be participating in all the other promotional activities, but wouldn’t be able to dance because of an ankle injury.

Although the extent of the injury was unknown at the time, Kino shared in an interview at Pentagon’s comeback showcase on 27 March that he had been on crutches, and was now starting rehabilitation.

He was disappointed with the state of affairs, but recognized the need to recover, as a previous attempt to ignore the injury had only aggravated it.


Kino has a fit and slender figure – as is the case with many K-pop stars – but he still manages to bring his brand of individuality to the table. Kino has been known to play with bold hair colors such as blue, red, white, and blonde, and has several ear piercings. He has a narrow jaw and often sports bangs. He is 5ft 10ins (1.77m) tall, and weighs around 130lbs (59kgs).

Net Worth and Salary

Kino has various sources of income, although most originate in the K-pop industry. The most obvious of these is his role in Pentagon, but he also produces music and performs with other artists and the band M.O.L.A. As of late-2020, Kino has a net worth of close to $500,000.

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