While many K-Pop idols join their companies by going through a traditional audition process, there are some lucky idols who are discovered while going about their daily lives.
These 10 idols were each cast in unique ways, which led them to think they were being scammed.
Chuu | @Chuuo3o/Instagram
Former LOONA‘s Chuu revealed she received multiple casting offers from different companies while she attended the prestigious Hanlim Multi Art School, but revealed she had no intentions of becoming a K-Pop idol at the time, so she rejected most of the offers.
After the offers continued to come in, Chuu began to entertain the idea of becoming a K-Pop idol, but admitted the way she was scouted was “suspicious” as the offers were sent via DM and often seemed like scams.
If she felt the offer was too suspicious, she would hilariously tell the company that her mom didn’t want her to become an idol. She found an unconventional way of determining whether a talent scout was trustworthy, and eventually debuted with LOONA before making her solo debut this month.
2. Hwang Minhyun
Hwang Minhyun | @optimushwang/Instagram
Hwang Minhyun debuted in the K-Pop boy group NU’EST in 2012 and that fateful moment happened all because he stopped to get chicken skewers on his way to school.
At the time, there was an increase in street casting fraud, so he admitted he was suspicious when a casting agent from Pledis Entertainment handed him a card.
He gave his mom the business card, and she called the company to verify its legitimacy. Although Hwang Minhyun admitted it seemed sketchy, he auditioned for the company in a hotel hallway in Busan and was asked to audition again in Seoul. From there, he officially received an offer to become a trainee.
3. EXO’s Baekhyun
EXO’s Baekhyun | @baekhyunee_exo/Instagram
EXO Baekhyun‘s casting happened by chance when he was warming up his vocals in front of his school. During his vocal warm-ups, a street casting director approached him, asking if he was interested in becoming a celebrity.
The casting director refused to name the company they were representing, stating, “You don’t need to know that. Just give me your number.”
Having been scammed by multiple fake agencies in middle school, Baekhyun was understandably suspicious of the offer, but received a call from SM Entertainment later that night. To verify the company was actually SM Entertainment, Baekhyun hilariously quizzed them on the phone, asking them questions after information he learned on the company through a computer search during their conversation.
Eventually, he gained enough trust in the company and attended an in-person audition and later debuted as a member of EXO in 2012.
4. EXO’s Lay
EXO’s Lay | @layzhang/Instagram
Like Baekhyun, EXO’s Lay also had his doubts about the legitimacy of his casting offer. In an interview with Zach Sang, Lay revealed he was participating in a competition, expecting to just sing and dance, when he was approached by an SM Entertainment casting director.
The casting director asked him if he wanted to go to Korea to receive training, and he admitted he thought she was lying.
They had a long discussion, and Lay ultimately made the decision to go to Korea and begin life as a trainee with the Big 3 company before debuting with EXO in 2012.
5. SHINee’s Minho
SHINee’s Minho | @choiminho_1209/Instagram
SHINee‘s Minho was aggressively scouted by SM Entertainment in the most unexpected setting. The SHINee member told Jessi that he was at a ski resort with his family and was innocently eating tteokbokki when three ladies began chasing after him and his brother.
Though he avoided them, the three ladies eventually got a business card in his hand and explained they were from SM Entertainment.
He and his mom were convinced it was a scam, and his mom ended up tearing up the business card right in front of him. Luckily, when the casting directors handed him their card, they also got Minho’s home phone number, and they continued to contact him, even visiting his school until they convinced his mom they were trustworthy.
Minho was eventually able to audition with his mom’s blessing, and was able to debut with SHINee in 2008.
6. Stray Kids’ Hyunjin
Stray Kids’ Hyunjin | @realstraykids/Instagram
Before becoming a JYP Entertainment trainee, Hyunjin was out shopping with his mom when a stranger suddenly grabbed his wrist.
When Hyunjin asked the stranger who he was, he handed him a JYP Entertainment business card.
Hyunjin was immediately suspicious about the talent scout and their unexpected interaction and googled the stranger’s name, verifying he was indeed from JYP Entertainment.
Hyunjin decided to audition for the company and officially became a trainee, debuting with Stray Kids in 2018.
7. aespa’s NingNing
aespa’s NingNing | @imnotningning/Instagram
aespa‘s NingNing was contacted by SM Entertainment after they saw her appear on singing programs in China. The company told her they wanted to cast her after watching her videos.
| SM Entertainment
NingNing admitted she thought they were scamming her at first, but eventually joined the company and was revealed as a member of the project group, SM Rookies, before making her official debut in aespa in 2020.
8. aespa’s Winter
aespa’s Winter | @imwinter/Instagram
aespa’s Winter, like NingNing, also distrusted her offer to audition for SM Entertainment. The offer came unexpectedly when Winter was attending a dance festival.
At the festival, she was approached by a casting director, and like EXO Baekhyun’s experience, they refused to reveal which company they were representing.
| SM Entertainment
Despite her initial doubt, Winter decided to travel to Seoul to audition, and was accompanied by her parents who made sure it was safe for their daughter first.
9. aespa’s Karina
aespa’s Karina | @katarinabluu/Instagram
aespa’s Karina was scouted by SM Entertainment through social media, and admitted that she and her parents thought it was a scam when she received a casting offer via her DMs.
| SM Entertainment
Karina became a trainee in 2016 and appeared in SHINee Taemin‘s “WANT” music video and performed with EXO’s Kai before she officially debuted.
It seems only aespa’s Giselle had trust in her experience auditioning for SM Entertainment, as she attended the famous Saturday auditions, which are notoriously hard to pass, showing how impressive each member is!
10. BTS’s V
BTS’s V | @thv/Instagram
Many fans know that BTS‘s V accompanied his friend to a BIGHIT MUSIC (then BigHit Entertainment) audition to show support, but was offered an opportunity to audition instead.
It wasn’t V that felt he was being scammed by BIGHIT MUSIC, which was a small company at the time, but his teachers who showed concern for the young star.
According to a former student who attended V’s school, his teachers gathered together to research BIGHIT MUSIC and its founder, Bang Si Hyuk, and only after they were convinced of the company’s legitimacy did they approve of V becoming a trainee, showing how much they cared for the BTS member.
Luckily, each idol grew to trust their casting offer and became the talented household names they are today!