Gary (rapper)

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Kang Gary.jpg
Gary performing at the SPICE Arena on September 16, 2017
Native name
Born (1978-02-24) February 24, 1978 (age 41)
South Korea
EducationYong In University
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • entrepreneur
  • record producer
  • television personality
unnamed (m. 2017)
Musical career
GenresHip hop
Years active1996–present
LabelsLeessang Company
Yangbans Nation
Associated acts
Revised RomanizationGaeri
Birth name
Revised RomanizationGang Hui-geon
McCune–ReischauerKang Hŭigŏn

Kang Hee-gun (Korean강희건; born February 24, 1978),[1] better known by his stage name Gary (Korean: 개리, often spelled as Garie[2]), is a South Korean rapper, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and television personality. Besides a solo artist, he is also the rapper and lyricist of the former hip hop duo Leessang. Since their formation in 2002, the group has produced a total of eight albums and had several hits under their belt. In 2014, Gary made his debut as a solo artist with the mini-album Mr.Gae. Despite the album being banned by all major TV broadcast stations for its 19+ content, his songs still managed to top several charts.[3] He and long time collaborator Jung-in later went on to form the duo, Jung In & Gary. The two released the singles "Your Scent" and "Bicycle."[4][5]

Aside from his own work, Gary has been featured in works by famous artists such as Psy, Baek Ji-young, Lee Hyori, Dynamic Duo, and MC Mong. He is also a former cast member of the variety show Running Man.[6]

Early life[edit]

Gary was born on February 24, 1978. His nickname in middle school was "Gae" (meaning "dog" in Korean), which he adapted to become his stage name, after deciding between "gaemi" (ant) and "Gary". In his younger years, he was more interested in dancing than rapping.[7] Gary revealed that he participated in a dance competition and actually won, defeating other competitors, Jang Woo Hyuk and Moon Hee Jun, who eventually became members of H.O.T. Lee Soo Man scouted all three boys, and offered them a contract to SM Entertainment. Ultimately, Gary rejected the offer.[8] Gary went to Yong In University and trained as a bodyguard.[9][10] He was an amateur boxer for 10 years.[11]

Musical and film career[edit]

1997–2001: X-Teen and Honey Family[edit]

In 1997, Gary joined X-Teen, a hip-hop group where he met his future Leessang partner, Gil. Gary participated in the group's album release in 1998 before being dropped along with Gil.[12] In an interview, Gary said they had neither the look or the talent which made them quit the group.[13]

Afterwards, Gary and Gil ended up joining "Honey Family" and released two albums in 1999 and 2000. Gary took part of the responsibility for the break up of the group by stating that he "started feeling like a celebrity" after their initial success.[13] Gary, Gil, and fellow Honey Family member Diggity decided to form "Leessam Trio" ("sam" means "three" in Korean). They released a compilation album called 2000 Korea, in the year 2000. When Diggity left the group, Gary and Gil changed the name to LeeSsang.[14]

2002–2017: Leessang[edit]

Leessang was created in 2002 by Gary and Gil. So far, the group has produced eight albums with numerous hits. Although the duo achieve critical success from their earlier albums, they remained underground. Their last three albums, Hexagonal, Asura Balbalta, and Unplugged broke numerous records and guided their entry to the mainstream Korean music industry.[15][16] The title song from Asura Balbalta, "Turn Off the TV" managed to stay at the top of the Melon chart for 25 days in a row.[13]

2014–present: Solo career[edit]

In January 2014, he released a mini album, Mr.Gae.[17] Three major TV broadcast stations, MBC, KBS, and SBS, all deemed the album unfitting for broadcast, stating reasons such as explicit lyrics and being too sexually provocative. Despite the ban, Gary‘s title track “Shower Later” clenched the number 1 spot on 8 real-time music charts.[18]

Gary later commented on the ban saying that he felt confined by his image and wanted to break the mold.

In May 2014, Gary and Jung-in released their first collaboration "Your Scent." The lyrics was penned by Gary while Jung-In and Duble Sidekick produced the music.[19] Despite not having any live promotions, Gary and Jung-In took the win on June 7 Music Core. In a testament to its popularity, the Gaon Chart ranked the single #6 on the year end national digital single ranking.[20] The two later released their second collaboration "Bicycle" in September 2014.[21]

In September 2015, Gary released his second solo album, 2002. The title track of the album is "Get Some Air" featuring Mi-woo of Leessang Company. Several other tracks in this album also featured Koonta, Deepflow, Skull, Jay Park, DJ Pumkin, Park Myung-ho Double K, Don Mills, Jung-in, John Park and Young-jun of Brown Eyed Souls.

In January 2016, Gary released a single, "Lonely Night" featuring Gaeko of Dynamic Duo. A music video was released on the same day, featuring actress and fellow castmate of Running Man, Song Ji-hyo. Gary was nominated as a no.1 candidate on SBS Inkigayo on January 10, 2016 and subsequently won the award.

Running Man (2010–2017)[edit]

In 2010, Gary joined Running Man as a co-host, an urban variety show, along with 6 other original cast members, including Yoo Jae-suk, Haha, Ji Suk-jin, Kim Jong-kook, Lee Kwang-soo and Song Joong-ki while the only female member, Song Ji-hyo, joined the cast a few episodes afterward.

In October 2016, the producers of Running Man announced the departure of Gary, who wanted to focus on his music career after being a regular member for nearly 7 years. His last filming with the main cast was for episode 324.[22] However, he made a brief return in the following episode 325 as a guest.

In January 2017, Gary appeared for Member's Week on episode 336.

Personal life[edit]

On April 5, 2017, Gary revealed on his social media account[23] that he had married a non-celebrity woman.[24] The news of his sudden marriage shocked the fans. On November 17, 2017, Gary and his wife welcomed their first child. [25]


Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Network
2014 Emergency Couple Cameo tvN
2015 The Girl Who Sees Smells Cameo with Running Man members SBS


Year Title Role
2008 Dachimawa Lee Cameo
2014 Wonderful Radio Cameo

Variety shows[edit]

Year Title Network Notes
2010–2017 Running Man SBS Cast member (ep. 1-324)
Guest (ep. 325, 336)
2017–present Kang Ceremony[26]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
  • Released: September 21, 2015
  • Label: Leessang Company
  • Formats: CD, digital download

Extended plays[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
Mr. Gae
  • Released: January 15, 2014
  • Label: Leessang Company
  • Formats: CD, digital download


Title Year Peak chart positions Album
As lead artist
"Shower Later" (조금 이따 샤워해)
feat. Crush
2014 1 Mr. Gae
"Zotto Mola" (XX몰라) 5
"Get Some Air" (바람이나 좀 쐐)
feat. Miwoo
2015 1 2002
"JOA" (엉덩이)
feat. Jay Park
"Lonely Night" (또 하루)
feat. Gaeko
1 Non-album singles
"Worry" (고민) 2017 61
"Sun" (태양)
feat. Chancellor
2018 64
"Purple Bikini" 2019 TBA
"Where Do You Wanna Go" (어디 갈래)
with Crush, Taewan
2013 20 Non-album singles
"Your Scent" (사람냄새)
with Jung-in
2014 1
"Bicycle" (자전거)
with Jung-in

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Tantara" (딴따라)
feat. Miwoo
2016 58 Entertainer OST


Year Artist Song
2002 Brown Eyes I Wanna Fall in Love With You
2004 Kim Bum-soo About Eternity
2005 BMK Rainbow
Dynamic Duo It's Alright
Eun Jiwon Gotta Go
2006 Jang Hye-jin Firework
2009 Fly to the Sky Hide and Seek
2010 Lee Hyori Swing
Kim Jong-kook Come Back to Me
Dynamic Duo Keep The Change
2011 Primary Happy Ending
2012 Miryo Party Rock
Baek Ji-young Voice
C-Luv, Crush Where Do You Wanna Go?
Kim Jong-kook Words I Want to Say to You
Haha, Taw Love
2013 Jung-in Let's Walk a Little
2014 MC Mong Broken Fan
2015 Youngjun Thinking of You
2016 Park Myung-ho Bed Room
San E Like An Airplane

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2002 Mnet Music Video Festival Hip-Hop Artist of the Year Leessang Won
2003 Hip-Hop Artist of the Year Nominated
2005 Korean Music Awards Hip-Hop Song of the Year Nominated
2007 Mnet/KM Music Awards Hip-Hop Song of the Year Nominated
Music Video of the Year Nominated
Song of the Year Nominated
2007 Cyworld Digital Music Awards Song of the Month Won
2009 Best Collaboration of the Year Won
MIAK Golden Disc Awards Hip-Hop Artist of the Year Nominated
Album of the Year Nominated
Mnet Asian Music Awards Music Video of the Year Nominated
Hip-Hop Artist of the Year Won
2010 4th SBS Entertainment Award Variety New Star Award Running Man Won
Cyworld Digital Music Awards Bonsang Leessang Won
Cyworld Digital Music Awards Best Collaboration of the Year Won
2011 MelOn Music Awards Top 10 Artists Won
Mnet Asian Music Awards Best Rap Performance Won
2012 5th SBS Entertainment Award Excellence Award in Variety Running Man Won
2013 NATE Awards Best Couple with Song Ji-hyo Won
7th SBS Entertainment Awards Best Couple Award with Song Ji-hyo Nominated
7th SBS Entertainment Awards Viewer's Most Popular Award (with Running Man members) Won
Melon Music Awards Rap/Hip-Hop Award Leessang – "Tears"
(Korean: 눈물)
MelOn Music Awards Song of the Year Nominated
2014 Mnet Asian Music Awards Best Rap Performance "Shower Later" Nominated
Best Collaboration with Jung-in "Your Scent" Nominated
Singapore Entertainment Awards OMY Hot Star with Song Ji-hyo[31][32] Nominated
2nd Annual DramaFever Awards Best Kiss with Song Ji-hyo Running Man Won
Best Couple Not Meant To Be with Song Ji-hyo Nominated
2015 2014 Youku Night Awards Entertainment Spirit Award[33] Won
Mnet Asian Music Awards Best Rap Performance[34] "Get Some Air"
(Korean: 바람이나 좀 쐐)
UnionPay Song of the Year[35] Nominated
9th SBS Entertainment Awards Top Excellence Award in Variety with Song Ji-hyo[36] Running Man Won
2016 Mnet Asian Music Awards Best Rap Performance "Lonely Night" Nominated
UnionPay Song of the Year Nominated


  1. ^ "Kang Gary / 개리". DramaFever. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  2. ^ 리쌍 개리 "뒤풀이! 독수리 오남매" (in Korean). 이투데이. November 8, 2011.
  3. ^ "Gary's "Shower Later" Ranks 1st on Music Charts Even Without TV Promotion". KpopStarz. January 21, 2014.
  4. ^ "Gary and Jung In achieve an all-kill with the release of collaborative digital single 'Your Scent'". AllKpop. May 27, 2014.
  5. ^ "Leessang's Gary and Jung In collaborate again with 'Bicycle'". AllKpop. August 31, 2014.
  6. ^ "Running Man Official SBS website" (in Korean). July 11, 2010. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  7. ^ Archived from the original on November 10, 2013. Retrieved February 6, 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "LeeSsang's Gary Was Supposed to Be a H.O.T. member?". mwave. May 23, 2012.
  9. ^ Ji Sung-hee (August 5, 2011). "개리 과거사진,아마추어 복싱선수?…'날렵한데'". OSEN (in Korean). JoongAng Ilbo. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  10. ^ "개리 권투 실력, 경호학과 나온 '10년차 복서'... "연예인 누구누구 이겼지?"". The Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). October 14, 2013. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  11. ^ '리쌍' 개리 예능감 뽐내...'입담마다 웃음 터져' : 네이버 뉴스 (in Korean). September 29, 2009. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
  12. ^ 힙합 듀오 리쌍 6집 음반 ‘헥새거늘’ 발표... 신곡 가요프로 1위 돌풍-국민일보 쿠키뉴스 (in Korean). October 21, 2009. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
  13. ^ a b c "[INTERVIEW] LeeSSang member Gary". editorial). September 9, 2011. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  14. ^ [스타백과사전2.0] 리쌍, 사람 마음을 쥐락펴락 ‘진정한 광대 (in Korean). May 25, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  15. ^ "Leessang's 7th album, 'AsuRA BalBalTa', achieves a perfect all-kill". August 24, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  16. ^ "Latest K-pop news, Korean drama & movie – enewsworld". May 25, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  17. ^ "Gary Reveals Jacket Photo and Album Name for His First Solo Project". January 7, 2014. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  18. ^ '19금 티저' 내건 개리 '조금이따샤워해', 8개 차트 1위 '대박' (in Korean). January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  19. ^ "Gary and Jung In achieve an all-kill with the release of collaborative digital single 'Your Scent'". May 27, 2014. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  20. ^ "Gaon Chart releases Yearly Album, Digital Ranking, Download, and Streaming Charts for 2014". AllKpop. January 13, 2015. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  21. ^ "Leessang's Gary and Jung In to return with new duet 'Bicycle'". AllKpop. August 27, 2014. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  22. ^ "Gary To Leave "Running Man" After 6 Years". soompi. soompi. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "[Breaking] Gary of Leessang announces marriage!".
  25. ^ "Gary and wife welcome their first baby!".
  26. ^ "KBS WORLD Radio". Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  27. ^ a b "Gaon Album Chart". Gaon Music Chart (in Korean).
  28. ^ "2015년 10월 Album Chart". Gaon Music Chart (in Korean). Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  29. ^ Cumulative sales of "Mr Gae":
  30. ^ a b "Gaon Digital Chart". Gaon Music Chart (in Korean).
    As lead artist: Collaborations: Soundtrack appearances:
  31. ^ Singapore E-Awards 2014 / 《新加坡e乐大赏》. (April 9, 2014). Retrieved on 2015-10-14.
  32. ^ Singapore Entertainment Awards 2014 Winners.
  33. ^ EXO, GOT7, and Kang Gary win awards at "2014 Youku Night" – Koreaboo. Retrieved on October 14, 2015.
  34. ^ "Nominees for Best Rap Performance Category". CJ E&M Mwave. Archived from the original on October 31, 2015. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  35. ^ "Voting page for all categories (see category #17 in page 5 for relevant information)". CJ E&M Mwave. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  36. ^ 정유진 (December 31, 2015). [포토엔]런닝맨 팀 등장에 코엑스가 들썩~(SBS연예대상2015). Newsen (in Korean). Retrieved January 3, 2016.

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