Former U-KISS Member Alexander Reveals The Hardships He Faced As A Foreign K-Pop Idol

“So frustrating!”

U-KISS‘s former member Alexander released a video with YouTube channel JAYKEEOUT x VWVB where he detailed his experiences as a trainee and idol. When he debuted in 2008 with “Not Young”, Alexander was one of the only foreign artists in the industry.

He explained how one of the main difficulties of being a foreign trainee was the language barrier between him and his peers.

When I first came to Korea, I couldn’t speak Korean, so I couldn’t even express myself. So frustrating!

— Alexander

Cultural differences were another huge barrier he had to overcome.

With cultural differences, for example my company would always say, ‘Do this and that!’ … It’s a very submissive culture here with all the hierarchy and seniority stuff.

— Alexander

Being the strong-minded person that he is, Alexander would always question the authorities on their decisions.

I’m the type who would always ask, ‘Why? Why? Why?’ One day I think my manager got mad at me and he was like, ‘Stop asking questions and just do as you’re told!’

— Alexander

Sometimes, however, he was simply too overwhelmed by the difference between him and his fellow members.

And then when I was like, learning dancing and choreography, I was horrible. Everyone else was so young. Dongho was only like 14, [but] he memorized the choreography. It was so easy for him. Eli learned taekwondo and learned quickly. Soohyun was a trainee for years at JYP Entertainment. Kevin and Kibum were from some other groups so they already had the basics. So I was the dead weight, the black hole.

— Alexander

As Alexander barely knew Korean, he could not even properly explain his hardships to his peers.

I always went to the toilet and cried because I didn’t know how to deal with it. And then sometimes people would ask me, ‘Why are you crying? What’s the problem?’ I would be like, ‘I…I am…!’ And I couldn’t even express myself.

— Alexander

Despite these hardships, he was thankful for Eli and Kevin who were the members he could easily communicate with.

I would always speak with them in English and so the company always said, ‘That’s why your Korean never improves!’ At least I could communicate with them. I felt much better. I relied more on them, that’s why Kevin, Eli, and I talked a lot.

— Alexander

Alexander also revealed the real reason he left U-KISS in the full interview below.