Not every K-Pop idol started their career at open auditions. Many were unexpectedly scouted out in public by agents from their companies—and some of those scouting stories are a little crazy!
1. EXO’s Sehun
Like most children, young Sehun was brought up being told never to trust strangers. So, when he was approached by an SM Entertainment scout as an elementary student, he did what any kid would do: he ran away!
Sehun was so afraid of the casting agent that he ran for 30 minutes to get away. But she never stopped chasing, and eventually caught up to him. When she did, she managed to convince Sehun to audition for SM Entertainment.
2. BTS’s Jungkook
It’s not all that wild to be scouted by two agencies. BLACKPINK’s Jisoo, for example, was scouted by SM Entertainment when she was already a trainee. But has anyone been scouted by as many agencies as Jungkook? Including Big Hit Entertainment, a whopping seven agencies wanted to sign Jungkook on an exclusive contract—including JYP Entertainment and Cube Entertainment.
So why did Jungkook choose Big Hit Entertainment despite being scouted by more successful companies? The story behind his choice might be one of the cutest signing stories in K-Pop—he went Big Hit Entertainment because he was a big fan of RM!
3. WayV’s Winwin
Sehun wasn’t the only SM Entertainment artist who was afraid of the casting agents—Winwin was too. When a recruiter spotted him outside his school in 2013, Winwin was so worried that he ended up giving them a fake phone number.
Thankfully, after seeing Winwin’s traditional Chinese dance performance at his school, SM Entertainment couldn’t just give up. They kept coming back for two years, and eventually Winwin gave in to an audition.
4. NCT’s Taeyong
When Taeyong was approached by an SM Entertainment casting agent on the street, he knew nothing about K-Pop. In fact, when the agent told Taeyong he was from one of the top 3 entertainment companies, Taeyong thought he meant SBS, KBS, and MBC!
At first, Taeyong wouldn’t give the recruiter an answer. Then, one day, the agent came back with a treat for Taeyong: toast. That was all the convincing he needed; since they bought him nice things, they must be nice people. To think, without that slice of toast, Taeyong might never have joined NCT!
5. SEVENTEEN’s Seungkwan
Seungkwan always loved singing, but he wasn’t recruited through an audition. Pledis Entertainment actually found him from a video his teacher posted online.
When Seungkwan sang Big Mama’s “Kite” at a singing competition, his art teacher was so impressed that they recorded the performance and posted it online. When a Pledis Entertainment agent came across it, they were just as impressed—so much so that they tracked him down and asked him to audition.
6. NCT’S Jaemin
Idols have been scouted in a huge variety of places, from concerts to city streets. But one time most people would never expect to be approached by a casting agent is when they’re picking up trash! But that’s exactly how NCT’s Jaemin was found.
The most touching part of this strange scouting story? Jaemin was volunteering with his mom at the time. To this day, he still volunteers whenever he has free time between NCT schedules.
There’s just one scouting location that’s weirder that Jaemin’s: a public bathroom. As a young aspiring idol, Suzy decided to participate in auditions for Mnet’s Superstar K. But before her turn even came, she needed to use the bathroom.
And lo and behold, on her way to the bathroom, she was followed by a casting agent from JYP Entertainment! The recruiter encouraged her to skip Superstar K entirely and come straight to JYP Entertainment, where she ended up joining Miss A after only 10 months of training.