What Agencies Do With 7-to-9-Year-Old Trainees, According To A Former K-Pop Trainee

“Younger trainees are there for potential, and older trainees are there for concrete skills.”

A former SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment trainee, Bianca Zhou, has recently taken to TikTok to share some new information on what an aspiring idol’s life looks like as a trainee. In one of her videos, Zhou answered one of the most popular questions K-Pop fans have about companies’ training programs right now: “What’s the oldest and youngest age [at] that you can become a K-Pop idol?

BTS’s Jungkook joined BIGHIT MUSIC at 13 years old. | Mnet

Bianca revealed that during her time as a trainee in each company, she was mentored by the same dance coaches who worked with K-Pop phenomenon BLACKPINK and Chungha.

While admitting each entertainment company in the K-Pop industry is different, Bianca said that, in general, they will accept kids that are aged 7-10 years old. Though, she clarified that at this age, most trainees aren’t offered a binding contract. Zhou explained that when companies come across young kids with huge potential, they allow them to train with their mentors or even work on certain projects.

Companies will take kids as young as 10 to seven years old… If a trainee is as young as seven, eight, or nine, though, usually they won’t offer them a training contract, but they will allow them to train with the company and work on specific projects.

— Bianza Zhou

SHINee’s Taemin joined SM Entertainment at 11 years old. | SM Entertainment

Zhou added that, depending on what the child trainee’s potential is, the company may ask the trainee to join a modeling class. Sometimes they even start teaching them some basic dancing and singing classes. At the end of the day, however, the trainee won’t have an exclusive official contract with that company until they are a bit older.

They might put that kid into modeling classes and start to teach them some dancing and singing. However, most companies won’t offer an official contract until the trainee is older.

— Bianca Zhou

Red Velvet’s Yeri joined SM Entertainment at 11 years old.

During her video, Zhou made sure to clarify a few things, starting with the fact that despite companies being willing to accept trainees aged only seven years old, this doesn’t mean that kids that age should join. She also explained that the period of time before the trainee is offered an official contract is called a “pre-trainee” phase, during which the company is simply considering the aspirant as a potential trainee.

Bianca also shared that at this age, the aspirant trainees have to continue attending classes at school and “require parental approval at all times.”

TREASURE’s Haruto joined YG Entertainment at 13 years old. | YG Entertainment

As for what companies are looking for when “scouting” these young trainees, Zhou shared that the main focus is potential, as well as good looks.

Younger trainees must be VERY good looking too, or have the potential for good visuals. Younger trainees are there for potential, and older trainees are there for concrete skills.

— Bianca Zhou

Watch Bianca’s full TikTok here:


Youngest and Oldest Kpop Trainee Ages! #kpop #kpoptrainee #ive #kpopaudition #kpopaudios #smentertainment #ygentertainment #jypentertainment #starshipentertainment #wonho #nmixx #kpopauditiontips

♬ After LIKE – IVE

Source: Bianca Zhou
Scroll to top