Where Is She Now? The K-Pop Trainee Who Disappeared After Almost Debuting In MIXNINE

From “K-Pop Star” to “Produce 101,” she gave it her all.

A former trainee of 11 years who appeared on various audition programs revealed what she has been doing since her audition days.

Lee Soomin | @soomsenalee/Instagram

Lee Soomin gained attention for competing in various survival programs, such as SBS‘s K-Pop Star 6, where she made it to the semi-finals, and she also ranked 31 on Mnet‘s Produce 101. She made it to the final debut lineup for the girl group formed from JTBC‘s survival program Mix Nine, however, the girl group’s debut was cancelled.

Lee Soomin on “Mix Nine” | JTBC

On November 13, the YouTube channel Geunhwang Olympic, which translates into “update Olympics,” uploaded a video catching up with Lee Soomin.

After spending about 11 years as a trainee at a major entertainment company, Lee Soomin left the company and returned to her normal student life. Last July, she announced her decision to live a “normal life” in an Instagram post.

Looking more beautiful and grown up than when audiences saw on her audition programs, Lee Soomin sat with the host and gave an update of what she has been doing lately.

| Geunhwang Olympic/YouTube

She shared that she went to college, and she’s doing well there. Her TOEIC score was especially impressive.

It hasn’t been that long since I entered college. After leaving my company, I studied for the TOEIC and entered university as a language specialist… I got a perfect score for the TOEIC Speaking protion, and my Reading and Writing scores are around 970 to 975 points.

— Lee Soomin

Geunhwang Olympic/YouTube

After transferring to Dongduk Women’s University, Lee Soomin majored in International Business. When asked why she chose a major that is not related to the entertainment industry, she

I didn’t want to only stick with the arts, and if I were to get a second job, I wanted to have a more specialized job.

— Lee Soomin

The former trainee also shared that in the past, students would recognize her on campus. Now, she is able to walk around freely, and she joked that people only recognize her if she gains a bit of weight due to her looking bigger on camera than in person.

Lee Soomin on “K-Pop Star” Season 6 | SBS

Lee Soomin also surprised netizens by revealing she worked at an English academy and the clothing store, Zara, where customers sometimes recognized her. She claimed that she learned the value or earning money because it was her first time making money. Although it wasn’t easy, she said that it was a fun time for her.

This photo is for illustrative purposes only. | Unsplash

Despite achieving high rankings on audition programs, she expressed disappointment about not being able to continue her activities. She tried to suppress any expectations but this turned into negative thoughts that made her depressed.

It was upsetting. It felt like whenever something good happened, it was always taken away. So I got into a bad habit of always thinking negatively because if I anticipated or was eager for something, things wouldn’t work out even more. I would think, ‘Well, that won’t happen anyways.’ But thinking like this made me more depressed.

— Lee Soomin

Geunhwang Olympic/YouTube

Contrary to her expectations that she inevitably had for her music career, Lee Soomin felt relieved when she quit her trainee life.

I felt relieved when I quit because it was so hard. More than a ‘I’m tired.. It’s hard’ kind of feeling, it was like I lost the purpose of life. I was falling apart more and more. I decided, ‘I really need to quit.’ I reached the extent of my tiredness. For a while, I couldn’t listen to music and couldn’t watch TV.

— Lee Soomin

Music, which was once one of her favorite things in life, had become her pain. She explained how she felt listening to music now after the hardships she went through as a trainee.

When I used to listen to music, this may sound corny but I imagine myself standing on stage, thinking, ‘I should perform it this way.’ But now, when I listen to music, I don’t want to imagine that anymore. It’s all over now anyway, and I won’t be able to stand on stage, so it was difficult after I quit.

— Lee Soomin

Lee Soomin dancing | @soomsenalee/Instagram 

Her hardships after quitting music had impacted her so much that her family was concerned about her well-being. Despite not wanting to live anymore, Lee Soomin believed there was so much she had yet to do and kept working hard.

I didn’t want to live anymore. My family members were anxious about me, so they followed me when I went out to go exercise. But even after having these negative thoughts, it felt wasteful to end my life here. I was still young and there was so much I still wanted to do. And my life’s not over yet.

— Lee Soomin


She shared that reading encouraging comments would cheer her up and help her regain “mind control” over herself. Then, when her mother suggested she study for the TOEIC and go to college, she didn’t believe she could do it—until she did.

That’s when my confidence, which was on the ground, kind of came back up. I thought to myself, ‘Oh, there are things I can do outside of singing and dancing.’

— Lee Soomin

She realized that there was a lot more to life outside the trainee bubble she had spent over a decade in.


However, it looks like her music career is not completely over as she announced that she will be appearing in the musical Mary Shelley. She shared that deep down in her heart, nothing makes her happier than singing and that she believes this musical will be a positive experience for her.

I’m happy doing other things, like studying, but deep down in my heart, there’s no true joy. But when I sing, that joy comes back up. It’s so ironic; I was devastated and had a hard time because of [music], but doing it makes me the happiest. When I’m singing, I feel the coolest.

— Lee Soomin


In the future, Lee Soomin hopes to show people the passion she had since she was young.

I want to show people the passion I had when I was young. During my long trainee years, I became caged and dark, but in the past, I was bright and positive. So now I want to show my bright and positive moments. Even if I come out a little bit in the musical, I want people to remember me as a musical actress.

— Lee Soomin

Lee Soomin will be performing in Mary Shelley at Dongduk Women’s University Performing Arts Center from November 25 to March 17 of next year.

Source: Geunhwang Olympic/YouTube

Where Are They Now?