K-Pop idols go through intense trainee programs in order to chase their dreams and debut as an artist, no matter which company they work for or which group they end up in. However, some idols have been in the industry for longer just due to how long their trainee period was. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they had it harder, but it shows how much dedication and determination they have to debut. Just imagine if it took you over a decade to finally reach your goal!
Here are 17 idols with some of the longest trainee periods, whether within their group or in the idol world at large.
1. BTS’s RM (4 years)
While perhaps not as long as some idols, RM had the longest trainee period out of anyone in BTS at BigHit Entertainment.
2. Red Velvet’s Seulgi (7 years)
Seulgi began training during her first year of middle school back in 2007!
3. TWICE’s Jihyo (10 years)
Jihyo started training at the extremely young age of 8, and spent most of her childhood preparing to become an idol.
4. BLACKPINK’s Jennie (6 years)
She started training at YG Entertainment in 2010, and gained attention in 2012 when she was introduced as a potential member for the company’s second girl group.
5. BIGBANG’s G-Dragon (11 years)
In his 11 years as a trainee, G-Dragon spent 5 of them at SM Entertainment and the other 6 at YG Entertainment.
6. ITZY’s Chaeryeong (5 years)
The younger sister of IZ*ONE‘s Chaeyeon, Chaeryeong competed alongside her sibling on the rivalry show SIXTEEN, and after the show ended stayed at JYP Entertainment until she debuted in ITZY.
7. SEVENTEEN’s S.Coups (6 years)
S.Coups trained for the longest out of all the SEVENTEEN members, and was actually one of PLEDIS Entertainment’s very first male trainees that almost debuted with NU’EST.
8. NCT’s Johnny (9 years)
Johnny actually has the longest trainee period of anyone in SM Entertainment. He joined the company in 2008 – the same year that SHINee debuted – and though he could have debuted with EXO in 2012, he didn’t feel ready and waited until NCT’s debut in 2017 to start his career.
9. TXT’s Yeonjun (4 years)
Yeonjun had the longest training period of the members in TXT, and is the oldest member of the group as the only one born in the 20th century.
10. MOMOLAND’s Nancy (6 years)
Nancy originally trained under Nega Network, but later earned first place on the reality show Finding Momoland which then created the group she’s in now.
11. (G)I-DLE’s Miyeon (8 years)
Miyeon was a trainee at YG Entertainment for 5 years and could have possibly debuted with BLACKPINK, but she moved to Cube Entertainment in 2015 where she was able to join (G)I-DLE.
12. GOT7’s Jinyoung (4 years)
Along JB, Jinyoung applied for the JYP Open Audition and formed a team with the other future GOT7 member. They tied for first place and started training together on the same day.
13. GOT7’s JB (4 years)
JB and Jinyoung also made music under their duo stage name, JJ Project.
14. MONSTA X’s Shownu (7 years)
He originally trained under JYP Entertainment for 2 years before moving to Starship Entertainment to become the leader of MONSTA X.
15. EXO’s Suho (6 years)
This leader of EXO had the longest trainee period out of anyone in the group, after he auditioned for SM Entertainment’s global casting auditions in Changsha.
16. A.C.E.’s Jun (9 years)
Jun was a trainee at Jellyfish Entertainment for 7 years, Stone Entertainment for 1 year, and Beat Interactive for another year before debuting in the group A.C.E.
17. G.Soul (15 years)
G.Soul easily has the longest trainee period out of any idol, working for 15 years under JYP Entertainment before finally debuting as a solo artist in 2015.