It was by complete chance that G-Dragon was recruited by SM. Back then, SM wasn't the mega conglomerate that it is today. Lee Soo Man undeniably had a sharp eye for natural talent, and he saw that G-Dragon had what it takes to be a star. The SM founder discovered G-Dragon at a dance competition, and the current Big Bang leader trained with SM for a total of five years. In a past interview, the rapper fondly recalled playing on the Shinhwa members' laps and training alongside S.E.S and BoA. However, G-Dragon eventually moved on after hearing the Wu Tang Clan's music at a friend's house which compelled him to take free style rap lessons. Who knew that Wu Tang was G-Dragon's inspiration to transition into hip hop?
Adored and looked up to as one of the top divas of K-Pop, Lee Hyori had started off as a trainee at SM. If she had stayed she may well have debuted under S.E.S. rather than Fin.K.L!
Block B's Zico had dreams to make it big in K-Entertainment, and in his early days, he had even tried out for SM. Alas, he and SM weren't meant to be is seems, as he didn't make it into the company. Fast forward to now to Zico's immense success and popularity--I guess Zico didn't need SM after all!
'Fierce unnie' rapper Jessi tried out for SM a long ago and made it into the company; however, she realized that the image that the company pictured for her wasn't quite what she had in mind for herself, leading her to decide against joining the company. What's more, Jessi revealed on a past episode of 'Radio Star' that she had attended the same school as Tiffany, Jessica, and Stephanie. Jessie had quipped that she could have been in Girls' Generation--hard to imagine, isn't it?
Soyeon was so close to debuting as a member of Girls' Generation; so close, in fact, that she was a part of the final member line-up. However Soyeon withdrew the very last minute, citing "lack of determination and drive" as the reason for doing so. She had practiced to the point of exhaustion every single day but it was not enough for her. She felt an emptiness that quelled her desire to become a star, and she reevaluated whether she really possessed the necessary qualities to maker herself into an K-Pop idol.
BTS's Jin was offered to join SM by a recruiter he met on the streets, but he had rejected the offer, believing the whole thing a scam. Can you imagine Jin as a member of EXO? Well, lucky for us that he didn't end up joining the company because now, he is a part of BTS, one of the most beloved boy groups in K-Pop!
Yoo Yeon Jung
IOI's Yoo Yeon Jung is known to be former trainee of SM Entertainment. Things must not have worked out for her there as she eventually left the company to join Starship Entertainment.
Former KARA member Gyuri had contended for a top spot in one of the 'Big 3 (SM-YG-JYP) in the beginning of her entertainment career. When asked on a past airing of 'Entertainment Relay' why she chose DSP, Gyuri had replied that she did "go to all three agencies," and trailed off in embarrassed laughter, implying that she did not make the audition at any of the 'Big 3.'
Kim Ji Hoon
Kim Ji Hoon revealed on a recent episode of 'Taxi' that he had trained at SM with dreams to stand under the flashing lights as an idol. The actor even attended dancing and singing classes with the likes of Junsu, Yunho, Eunhyuk, and Leeteuk! However, SM saw more acting potential in Kim Ji Hoon rather than in idol-dom, leading him to ultimately give up his idol dreams.
Gong Seung Yeon
Much like Kim Ji Hoon, Gong Seung Yeon was a trainee at SM and on the path to idol-dom. However, after seven years of training at the agency, she ended up making an acting debut instead through a feminine hygiene product commercial.
Kwon Soon Il
It may be a bit hard to believe but indie/R&B trio Urban Zakapa's Kwon Soon Il could have debuted as a member of Super Junior. After winning an award at a singing competition hosted by SM, Kwon Soon Il trained for a total of three years at the label. Ultimately, the singer left SM on his own to do the kind of music that he loves. You go, Kwon Soon Il!