While it’s no secret that many K-pop idols often embark on acting careers alongside their musical ventures, the idea of veteran and seasoned actors stepping into the industry as K-pop trainees first might seem odd to many.
However, there are quite a handful of actors who were once trainees, and who, somewhere along the line, shifted to acting. Given that most K-pop idols need to go through a training period before they debut, many trainees change their minds or shift careers once they get to experience the idol life.
Many famous K-drama actors have surprised fans with their history as K-pop trainees, and fans can’t help but imagine what it would’ve been like had these actors gone ahead with their plans to become K-pop idols. From Reply 1988‘s Park Bo-gum to Big Mouth‘s Lee Jong-suk, quite an interesting group of people appear on the list of K-drama actors who were once K-pop trainees.
5 male K-drama actors who initially kickstarted their careers as K-pop trainees
1) Kim Min-kyu
Business Proposal‘s Kim Min-kyu sits at the top of the list of K-drama actors who were K-pop trainees. In his confessional in an interview with MBC’s Radio Star, he revealed that before embarking on his career as an actor, Kim Min-kyu trained as a K-pop idol for about a month.
The group he trained under before their debut was, to everyone’s surprise, none other than SEVENTEEN. He also appeared on the reality TV show, I Can See Your Voice, and trained alongside other singers.
Though he entered the industry with the dream of becoming a singer, a month after his training period, Kim Min-kyu realized that the competition was quite tough and believed that he wasn’t good enough at singing and dancing to become a K-pop idol. Henceforth, he steered his career towards acting, which turned out to be a success.
2) Kim Min-jae
Kim Min-jae, who has appeared in diverse roles in hit series such as Do You Like Brahms?, Dr. Romantic, and Dali and Cocky Prince, showcasing various dimensions as an actor, also appears on the list of K-drama actors who were once K-pop trainees.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Kim Min-jae was a first generation trainee under CJ E & M. He trained under them for about four years alongside other K-drama actors like Kim Min-suk, A.C.E.’s Donghoon, Jun, and SF9’s Youngbin. All the members were supposed to be part of a fresh K-pop group, with Min-jae as the rapper of the group.
Interestingly, the artist also appeared on many music stages and music videos, and participated in the fourth season of the popular South Korean rap competition TV show, Show Me The Money. However, his interests drifted, and he instead debuted as an actor in 2014.
3) Ahn Hyo-seop
Another Business Proposal star who features in the list of actors who were K-pop trainees is Ahn Hyo-seop. The artist trained under one of the Big Three’s in the K-pop industry, JYP Entertainment, for three years and almost debuted along with GOT7. However, he declined the offer and shifted companies by signing with Starhaus Entertainment.
There, he worked on a few projects with other actors like Kwak Si-yang, Song Won-suk, and Kwan Do-kyun, as part of a group called One o One. Unfortunately, the group disbanded in 2019 with the release of only one single, Love You.
By then, Ahn Hyo-seop had already kickstarted his career as a K-drama actor by debuting in the 2015 show, Splash Splash Love. Following the group’s disbandment, he shifted all his attention to grow into an actor.
4) Kim Hyung-seok
Love Playlist star Kim Hyung-seok was another actor who kickstarted his career with the dream of becoming an idol. It was revealed in an interview back in 2019 that he became a trainee for a short period of time, and, ironically, it led him towards the path of becoming an actor.
As is classic for K-pop trainees, they are made to learn a bunch of skills essential for a K-pop idol like singing, dancing, and acting. Hyung-seok confessed that when he practiced his acting skills, he developed a newfound interest in the same, which urged him to shift careers.
5) Lee Jong-suk
Another popular face in the K-drama industry to feature on this list is Lee Jong-suk. In KBS 2TV’s Entertainment Relay back in 2013, the actor revealed that he had trained under SM Entertainment for about three months in order to debut with a K-pop group as a rapper.
However, Lee Jong-suk had always wanted to become an actor. His interest in the craft developed after watching Rain’s famous K-drama, Full House. However, while signing up with companies, he ended up in a modeling agency instead of an acting company, and moved to a music agency to train as an idol. To put an end to his chaotic jump from one field to another, he revealed that he ran away from being a trainee and took up acting in all seriousness.
With many famous K-drama actors having previously been K-pop trainees, it both intrigues and shocks fans to learn about their career history. While some grow curious as to how it would be if they turned out to be K-pop idols, many are thankful they chose to become actors instead, to present viewers with many binge-worthy K-dramas.