So You Want to Be a K-Pop Trainee…

Jayden Devereese, Music Fanatic

A kpop trainee. Who are they ? What is their purpose ? Well here’s the facts. Kpop trainees are “baby idols” to put it lightly. They are training for their debut, a day they all wish to come sooner. Kpop trainees can stay a trainee for as long as the company thinks it takes them to become “the best”. Trainees have stayed in this stage for anywhere from a few months to a few years. But how to become a trainee you may ask ? well here’s the answer.

Becoming a trainee is definitely not an easy task but many have successfully done it. To even get close to the trainee stage, you have to start by securing an audition. Most of the companies do auditions the same way but bigger companies like BigHit have extra steps on top of the ones discussed here. Some companies have open auditions, there’s scouts in the streets of Korea who may come to YOU looking for your beauty, or if you happen to buy an album from the right company there are pieces of paper within giving you an audition ticket. You got an audition ? Great, here’s what to prepare for.

Preparing for your audition is going to be a strenuous task but here’s what they expect. They expect a song and dance if your audition is for an idol (there are other auditions for models and actors). Your best bet is probably going to be setting aside ‘x’ amount of time each day to practice your vocals and show off your dance skills. When you think you’re ready, keep practicing, you can always improve! How will the audition be set up though ?

On audition day you’ll receive a number sticker and will be told to stand aside until you’re called, when you’re called you’ll be brought to a dance studio type room where you’ll see 1-5 judges. You sing, you dance, they ask a couple questions, you leave the room. At the end of auditions they’ll call out numbers for who they want to see again. If you’re called back, great! If not, don’t worry, you’re not alone, just keep practicing. If you made it through what happens next ?

You’ll go through some phase training in groups and be ranked based on your abilities. This ranking system has nothing to do with your debut date, it’s just a simple system to show where you’re standing with talent. You sign a contract with the company and you’ll have an “aim debut”, where you’re expected to have enough training by then to debut. 

Here comes the company’s part, they get to add terms into the contract. Some terms usually consist of a target body weight, how many hours a day you must practice etc. If the company decides they want you skinnier, they’ll put you on a diet; you’re expected to use makeup and skin care to keep yourself looking the best possible. The company also decides if you’ll be in a group or if you’ll be a solo artist. 

One thing that might be strange to US celebrities: generally no cellphone usage for trainees. The company doesn’t want you to do self-promotion – you’re not allowed to announce that you are a trainee even. They want strict control over your dating life and online presence generally. No social media for you, if you want to join the company you are now a carefully managed product, and basically not supposed to interact directly with the public without their management.

Congratulations! You get to live out a number of your days as a kpop trainee! We look forward to your debut, everyone will be behind you supporting! Train hard new recruits.