According to longtime fans of SM Entertainment K-Pop idols, there has been exactly 6 idols total so far who have managed to achieve the unlikely odds of debuting through the agency's infamous 'Saturday Open Auditions'.
As many of you know, there are many ways K-Pop idols can become trainees under agencies, such as by being street-cast via agents (after which idols must also go through an audition process), through domestic 'open auditions', as well as through global auditions. Particularly, global auditions have garnered popularity in recent years, as more agencies seek out talented idols who are capable of speaking various languages.
But SM Entertainment's 'Saturday Open Auditions' first began in the late 1990's. They've occurred regularly occurred each week on Saturdays without fail until recently, with hundreds of idol hopefuls coming out to audition at a time. Now, within the 20-year history of these 'Saturday Open Auditions', only 6 young idol-hopefuls have managed to survive the nearly impossible odds of being accepted as a trainee, surviving the rigorous idol training process, and fulfill the end goal of debut.
Here are the 6, below!
1. Super Junior's Heechul
Heechul passed the 'Saturday Open Auditions' in 2002, after arriving at the audition site 30 minutes late. He received a 'pass' after singing the national anthem, mostly because his visuals caught the eyes of the audition judges.
2. Girls' Generation's YoonA
YoonA also passed the 'Saturday Open Auditions' in 2002 with one of the highest scores of all auditioners. She sang WAX's "Please" and danced to Britney Spears's "Oops I Did It Again".
YoonA's audition footage (feat. other Girls' Generation members):
3. SHINee's Taemin
Taemin passed the 'Saturday Open Auditions' in 2005. The story of Taemin's audition is also legendary, as at the time, the judges told all of the auditioners to dance while staying behind a white-tape line. However, Taemin went against these instructions and crossed the line while dancing, which impressed the judges and earned Taemin his pass.
Taemin's famous audition clip:
4. Red Velvet's Seulgi
Seulgi passed the 'Saturday Open Auditions' in 2006 as a 6th grader. She sang Lee Ji Hoon's "Doll". After joining SM as a trainee, Seulgi's reputation as a talented trainee was well-known even by already debuted idols like SHINee, f(x), etc.
A random but adorable pre-debut video of Seulgi:
5. NCT's Haechan
Years later, Haechan passed the 'Saturday Open Auditions' in 2013. He sang Justin Bieber's "Baby" and danced to SHINee's "Sherlock".
6. NCT's Jungwoo
Last but not least, Jungwoo passed the 'Saturday Open Auditions' in 2014. Jungwoo was asked to come to the auditions by a friend, but unfortunately, his friend didn't make the cut. Like Heechul, it's said that Jungwoo only sang the national anthem for his audition.
Honorable mention: Red Velvet's Yeri
Yeri is also known for having auditioned initially through the 'Saturday Open Auditions'. However, it's said that after her original audition, the judges asked her to audition again through one of SM's global auditions, after which she ultimately earned her pass.