Extra! Korea

July 7, 2010

Some K-pop trainees begin as young as 10 years old

Filed under: music, youth — extrakorea @ 2:44 am

Via OmonaTheyDidn’t comes an article from the Straits Times of Singapore about K-pop. Readers of this blog are probably familiar with most of what they say, though the following stood out:

Although there is no age limit, Ms Mei Han, JYP Entertainment’s publicist, says the hopefuls are getting younger, with some just 10 years old.

For how long might they train for?

They can train for anywhere between one and seven years, or sometimes even longer, in courses organised or sponsored by the talent management agencies which have cherry-picked them for grooming.

Jo Kwon, leader of ballad boyband 2AM, for example, trained for seven years and 10 days before he was selected to debut.

You might remember him.

How much does it cost to manufacture train one of these young wannabe stars?

Industry insiders in Singapore estimate that the total costs can range from SGD50,000 to SGD300,000 (USD36,000 to USD215,500) or more for each trainee, depending on how long he trains.

One of the Wonder Girls talked about something I’ve written about before: lack of sleep.

As Park Ye Eun, 20, from popular girl group Wonder Girls says: ‘Being a star now, I get very tired as I have to wake up early a lot. We have to wake up at 4 or 5am and catch up on sleep on planes. I miss sleeping comfortably on my bed the most.

With very few exceptions (e.g. the Wonder Girls in the United States), they don’t go on tours, so what keeps them so busy?

After they make their debut, there is yet more work. Their daily lives will revolve around promoting their albums, attending television and radio shows, appearing for autograph sessions and travelling to different parts of the world to meet their fans.

[ snip ]

Boyband F.cuz’s members agree, saying in an e-mail interview: ‘Our everyday life consists of going to the television and radio stations, going to the dance studios to practise our dance steps and vocals and going home to rest.’

(emphasis mine)

Yeah, they seem to make appearing on lowbrow slapstick “comedy” shows a higher priority than going on tours, learning how to play musical instrument, writing their own songs, etc.

Incidentally, here’s another example of how K-pop performers have no control over what clothes they wear (among other things).

Raina was recently featured for an interview with T-News, “At first when I heard about the concept of Orange Caramel, I was shocked. Honestly I was flustered and shocked. I didn’t know that we will end up doing such a concept. It was not a style I like.”

(from K-Bites and AllKPop)

Interestingly, representatives of SM Entertainment (who were responsible for some of the most infamous examples of “slave contracts”) have publicly appeared with National Assemblyman Cho Moon-hwan to promote better working environments for entertainers.
(from OmonaTheyDidn’t, AllKPop, and the Chosun Ilbo)


  1. Yeun actually did not say what I recall is correct. Yeun said “while touring Jonas Brothers, she always had to sleep in the shaking bed. She want to sleep on a stable bed rather than on the bunk bed in the bus.” I almost check every records and interviews and articles but there r no mention but hey I might be wrong. Please send me the link. So that I can quote it, too.

    Comment by Yohan — July 7, 2010 @ 6:23 am

    • It’s at the OmonaTheyDidn’t link. Unfortunately, you can’t read the Straits Times article, which is the source, unless you pay money.

      Comment by extrakorea — July 7, 2010 @ 7:19 am

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