The Top 6 Reasons Why Some Trainees Don’t Debut (Revealed By A Former K-Pop Trainee)

The Top 6 Reasons Why Some Trainees Don’t Debut (Revealed By A Former K-Pop Trainee)

The Top 6 Reasons Why Some Trainees Don’t Debut (Revealed By A Former K-Pop Trainee)

In an age where K-Pop trainees aren’t as well-hidden as they used to be, have you ever wondered why some seemingly talented stars never make it to the stage? Bianca Zhou, a former trainee who worked with heavy hitters like SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment coaches, recently revealed the top 6 reasons why some trainees don’t make it to debut.

1. Sudden concept changes

The K-Pop industry is always evolving, and this can sometimes lead to sudden changes in new group plans. According to Bianca, these sudden concept changes are a common roadblock for aspiring idols.

Red Velvet’s dual concept was reportedly chosen because of the members’ pre-debut urban dance skills. | SM Entertainment

The former trainee explained that companies sometimes have to change their long-planned strategies to meet market trends, and not every trainee will fit the new concept. They may have to change the number of members in a group, for example, or swap a cutesy concept for a more mature one. If a trainee isn’t adaptable, they won’t make the cut.

2. Missed expectations

The journey from being a young trainee to a confident idol is fraught with changes, including the physical development that comes with growing up. Bianca touched on this delicate subject, highlighting how the transformation that comes with puberty can sometimes derail a trainee’s career trajectory.

EXO’s Xiumin is known for having one of the best glow-ups, but not every young trainee experiences the same development. | SM Entertainment

A lot of trainees are casted when they are really young, and sometimes they don’t live up to the company’s expectations after they go through puberty.

— Bianca Zhou

Sadly, what a company initially saw in a young talent might not necessarily hold true as they grow and evolve.

3. Not matching up

Group harmony is one thing that sets K-Pop apart from other genres. So, it only stands to reason that how well the members match up with each other is often as important as their individual talents. Bianca explained that if one trainee doesn’t match up with the rest, this might spell trouble for their future.

Lovelyz’s Mijoo recently opened up about how her agency discouraged her from standing out and showing her individual charms. Woollim Entertainment

It depends on your peers and how you compare to them. Companies want to choose people that go well together… people who are like each other in visuals, age, body type, personality, etcetera.

— Bianca Zhou

Bianca gave the example of birth year. Sometimes, a company decides the debut lineup needs to be made up of people born between 2000 and 2004 for example, leaving trainees who are older or younger out in the cold.

Thankfully, this rule hasn’t applied to some of the most popular K-Pop stars (Red Velvet‘s Irene and Locationor THE SSERAFIM‘s Sakura and Eunchaefor example), but other companies are particularly strict about ages matching.

4. Scandals and conflicts

As most K-Pop fans know, getting into trouble is a fairly common way to get kicked from a company, whether you’re an established idol or a star-in-training. As Bianca explained, any controversial behavior, conflicts with managers or co-trainees, or involvement in scandals can derail a trainee’s path to debut.

In the wake of several idol bullying scandals, popular K-Drama “The Glory” recently highlighted how severe school harassment can be in South Korea. Netflix

Personality is extremely important in the K-Pop industry, and anyone who is slightly controversial prior to debut will be investigated.

— Bianca Zhou

This is especially true now more than ever, with recent scandals bullying pushing companies to check their trainees’ pasts more thoroughly.

5. Lack of money

Sadly, when it comes to the cutthroat K-Pop training world, talent and hard work (and even good looks) might not always be enough. Bianca Zhou says that financial backing can play a pivotal role in a trainee’s debut, and wealth often takes precedence over skill — particularly at small agencies.

Thankfully, many trainees who grew up in poverty (such as Sunmi) do make it to debut. ABYSS Company

[Sometimes] a person with a lot of sponsorship money comes in and takes their spot. This reason usually only applies to smaller companies, but it may also apply to the big four if their concept is really expensive.

— Bianca Zhou

In such cases, a rich trainee might end up taking the spot of a more seasoned trainee simply because they have the funds to back up their debut. Companies tend to choose the safer, financially backed option when they sense risk. “This is the worst because it’s largely random,” Bianca laments.

6. Plain bad luck

Finally, even when everything else falls into place, a trainee might still not make their debut due to something as arbitrary as bad luck. The former trainee highlighted the subjective nature of the industry as a key factor for debut.

Sadly, despite her talent, former SM Entertainment trainee and “Girls Planet 999” contestant An Jeongmin recently told fans she’s now too old to debut. Mnet

Sometimes the company is just biased towards one member and they decide that they want that member over another member who is also very talented and good looking, for whatever reason.

— Bianca Zhou

Ultimately, Bianca says, K-Pop is an arts industry, and art is subjective. “It really sucks,” she says, “but sometimes that happens.”

Bianca Zhou also talked more about how wealthy trainees can usurp their lower-income counterparts.

Rich Kids Really Do Snatch Other Trainees’ Spots, According To A Former K-Pop Trainee

Source: Bianca Zhou / TikTok