Anatomy of a K-Pop Idol

Anatomy of a K-Pop Idol

Korean Pop has begun to strike a major chord in the Western music world, notably with the rise of the all male group BTS. While this is not the first time K-Pop hits have crept into our playlists (cue Psy’s Gangnam Style), the K-Pop craze is swinging in full force, in what one can only dub as a Golden Age of K-Pop (at least on the Western side). I didn’t know much about K-Pop myself until my best friend Kimberly came over, brought bottles of wine, and educated me out of sobriety. From their incredible vocal talents to their equally incredible dance moves, K-Pop idols are like Olympic entertainment pop idols. How so? Here’s a little Fact vs Fiction to give some perspective on what it takes to be a K-Pop Idol.

When a label signs you, you are not guaranteed to become an Idol.

If you pass the audition to be a K-Pop Idol you become a trainee. Trainees are typically in training for a few years before they actually debut. While some can debut in as quick as 3 months, some trainees work for SEVEN YEARS. That’s seven years of five three-hour classes a day of singing, dancing, acting, etc.

All K-Pop idols are Korean.

While a majority of idols are Korean, you’d be surprised how many Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and even American idols make up these groups.

Jackson |GOT7
Momo | Twice
Ten | NCT
Vernon | Seventeen

You have to fly into Korea to audition for a company.

Believe it or not, companies audition and scout for talent all over the world!

Beauty is taken into major consideration when auditioning.

While talent is a must, at this time in K-Pop, natural beauty and weight are major factors making a debut. There have been controversies with several idols being pulled by their labels for being “too heavy.” Not saying I condone or agree with this, but at this time, it is a part of the Korean beauty standard. That said, there are some female K-Pop Idols paving the way for change and showing body positivity and confidence.

Schoolwork is forgotten once you become a trainee/idol.

Many idols still continue their high school education even while debuting. Notably, Jihoon from Wanna One recently graduated from high school, and Wanna One’s Jisung and GOT7’s Jaebum are both enrolled in college.

You need to know Korean before becoming an idol.

FICTION. Many companies will provide Korean classes for those not fluent in Korean. They also provide Chinese, Japanese and English classes for overseas promotion.

You don’t need to be a dancer if you’re an aspiring idol.

Now preferably, labels would like someone with the whole package -- but if you are honest from the start you may still be selected to be a trainee. Believe it or not, there are some idols who dance little to not at all!

Think you have what it takes to be the next K-Pop Idol? Whether you do or don’t, there is a lot of respect, dedication, and hard work that goes into crafting and being an idol. Many trainees and idols dedicate their youth to sharpen their craft and consistently improve. They live in dorms, they take classes, and don’t get very much sleep. After learning more about K-Pop, I definitely have more of an appreciation for the genre as a whole. And honestly, I may not know what they’re saying, but I know good music when I hear it. If you haven’t heard any K-Pop songs yet, I challenge you to find one you like. The Try Guys went the extra mile. Open your playlist to it!