Last week, actress Eugene (star of SBS‘s “Penthouse” and member of first-generation K-Pop group S.E.S) charmed the hosts and viewers of Tiki-TaCAR. Alongside expressing her love for BTS, she revealed the surprising way she was cast by SM Entertainment—and it sounds like something straight out of a fanfiction plot!
Before she was an actress, 40-year-old Eugene made her debut as an idol back in 1997. Then just 16 years old, Eugene was a member of SM Entertainment‘s first-generation idol group S.E.S, who once held the top-selling girl group record (until TWICE broke it in 2019). But the way she began part of the group is so surprising, it sounds like a fangirl’s daydream.
Talking to the Tiki-TaCAR hosts, Eugene explained that when she was younger, she used to live in Guam. Born in South Korea, she moved to Micronesian island at the age of around 11, attending school there for several years. Naturally, when “OG” SM Entertainment boy group H.O.T debuted in 1996, Eugene says she became a big fan.
And, luckily for Eugene, the group happened to make a visit to Guam sometime in the spring of 1997. Like any true K-Pop fangirl, Eugene revealed she was desperate to see the members, so she headed to the airport to spot them. But while she likely hoped to meet the H.O.T boys, she ended meeting someone who could change her life forever: SM Entertainment’s founder and former CEO, Lee Soo Man.
Given Eugene’s incredible visuals, Lee Soo Man instantly saw her star potential and scouted her on the spot! After exchanging numbers, Eugene says the CEO called her a few days later and asked her to come to South Korea and visit SM Entertainment’s headquarters. Of course, who could say no to that? Eugene went on to reveal that when she made the trip, Lee Soo Man asked her if she wanted to debut as a girl group idol.
I told him, ‘Yes.’
If you didn’t know Eugene’s story was real, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was plucked straight from a self-insert fanfiction. After all, what fan wouldn’t love the opportunity to debut alongside their idols? That said, the surprises in Eugene’s casting story don’t stop there. Since Eugene was still a high schooler, she ended up returning back to Guam to continue her studies.
Instead of training in South Korea, Eugene says Lee Soo Man sent her dance videos so she could practice her skills over the summer break. Eugene didn’t end up moving back to Seoul until September that year—but she managed to debut in S.E.S just two months later!
Had things had gone differently, Eugene explained she wouldn’t ever have become an idol or an actress, pursuing a career in fine art instead. “If I hadn’t gone to see H.O.T. and met Lee Soo Man on that day,” said Eugene, “I wouldn’t be here right now.”
Surprisingly, Eugene isn’t the only idol with a casting story that most fans could only dream of. ITZY‘s Ryujin, for example, was discovered at a GOT7 fan meeting back in 2015.