K-Pop idols switch companies all the time, and some leave to find other companies and groups that fit them a whole lot better! Here are 18 idols who once trained at SM Entertainment, but eventually left to find other agencies and opportunities in other fields.
1. Former Stray Kids Member Woojin
Former Stray Kids‘ member Woojin, while competing on the survival show Stray Kids in 2017, revealed that he used to train under SM Entertainment before making the shift to JYP Entertainment, and ultimately debuting with Stray Kids in 2018. He is known to be close to NCT 127‘s Jungwoo, having become friends in their trainee days!
Woojin and jungwoo together predebut omg stayctzens make some noise pic.twitter.com/15UWHxII0v
— 钱锟 (@qianrenjun) October 19, 2018
2. WJSN’s Yeonjung
WJSN‘s Yeonjung is known to be the group’s powerful main vocalist and maknae, and is also an ex-SM trainee! She trained under the agency before moving to Starship Entertainment prior to Produce 101, and is known to be close friends with Red Velvet‘s Yeri, even today!
3. Seo Herin
A popular SM trainee, Seo Herin was introduced to the public as a part of the company’s pre-debut team called SM Rookies in 2015. She eventually left the agency to join the girl group survival show titled Idol School (the show which formed fromis_9), but after failing to make the cut, left the industry to pursue her studies, back in the UK. She is another ex trainee to still be on good terms with Yeri, and they meet up whenever they can!
4. New Kidd’s Ji Hansol
Also an SM Rookies member, Ji Hansol was introduced as a trainee of the agency in 2013, and fans were sure they would see him debuting as a part of NCT in the years to come. Hansol, however, ended up leaving the company and joining another agency, J-Flo Entertainment. He then joined the idol rebooting show The Unit, making the cut to debut with the temporary group formed from the show called UNB. After his promotions with UNB ceased, he finally debuted with J-Flo Ent.’s boy group New Kidd as the oldest member and their main dancer.
A 2003-liner, Lami was also introduced to the public in 2013 as a part of SM Rookies, and was one of their most famous female trainees. While not completely confirmed, most fans believe that Lami has left the agency, and is no longer a trainee. As SM Entertainment prepares to launch their new girl group sometime this year, fans believe that Lami either did not make the cut, or left on her own terms to pursue other interests. She has also opened an Instagram account, leading to further speculation about her status as a trainee.
Koeun is another SM Entertainment trainee that was a part of SM Rookies, and has been a long-term trainee under the agency. She joined the company in 2011, and has trained for 9 long years. Again, while not completely confirmed, Koeun is said to have left the agency after not making the cut for the newest girl group, and where she is and what she’s doing is more or less a mystery to everyone. She has also opened an Instagram account, again stirring doubt as to her trainee status.
7. BIGBANG’s G-Dragon
BIGBANG‘s G-Dragon is known as the group’s main rapper, and is famous for his skills as a musician and fashion designer/influencer. What many fans don’t know, is that prior to joining YG Entertainment, G-Dragon was a trainee under SM Entertainment for about 6 years, specializing in dance, before discovering his new-found love for hip-hop, and switching to YG Entertainment to train as a rapper. He eventually debuted as the leader and main rapper of BIGBANG in 2006, and the rest, as they say it, is history!
8. woo!ah!’s Nana and Wooyeon
wooh!ah! is a rookie girl group that debuted on May 15, 2020. Members Nana and Wooyeon are ex SM trainees, who ultimately ended up leaving the agency to join NV Entertainment, and finally made their debut as members of wooh!ah!
9. Rocket Punch’s Dahyun
Rocket Punch‘s Dahyun is said to have trained under SM Entertainment for a while, before eventually switching to Wollim Entertainment in 2017, and debuting as the maknae of Rocket Punch in 2019!
10. Weeekly’s Jihan
Weeekly‘s Jihan is also a former SM trainee! She trained at the agency for a while before making her way over to PlayM Entertainment, and finally making her debut as a member of Weeekly in June, 2020!
11. Gong Seung Yeon
As an actress, Gong Seung Yeon is known for her stellar visuals and accompanying skills (much like her sister, TWICE‘s Jeongyeon)! But she was also previously an idol trainee, and trained alongside members of Red Velvet and EXO under SM Entertainment! Ultimately deciding to switch careers, she ended up leaving the agency in 2012 and joined BH Entertainment, and has been promoting as an actress ever since!
12. Park Jungyeon
Park Jungyeon was one of the agency’s most famous trainees! As the rumors of the new girl group continued to swirl around the internet, many thought that Park Jungyeon would surely land a spot with her cute visuals and amazing vocals! Park Jungyeon, however, ended up leaving the agency and signing with KeyEast Entertainment, a subsidiary of the label. As KeyEast Entertainment is a company for actors, Park Jungyeon will most probably be promoting as an actress under the label.
13. Former T-ARA member Soyeon
Former T-ARA member Soyeon is a well-known ex-SM trainee! She was a long-running contender for a spot in Girls’ Generation, with many believing that she would debut as the leader and main vocalist if the group. She, however, ended up not making the cut and left the agency shortly after. Soyeon eventually found her way to MBK Entertainment, and debuted as the main vocalist of T-ARA in 2009!
14. HOTSHOT’s Junhyuk and Timoteo
Prior to debuting with HOTSHOT in 2014, Junhyuk and Timoteo were both trainees under SM Entertainment together! Timoteo is well-known to be great friends with SHINee‘s Taemin and EXO’s Kai, but both Junhyuk trained as a vocalist under the agency as well! They both eventually switched to Star Crew Entertainment, and finally made their debut as members of HOTSHOT!
15. PENTAGON’s Jinho
PENTAGON‘s Jinho is another member well-known for being an ex-SM trainee! He even debuted under the name Jino as a member of SM Entertainment’s music project group titled SM The Ballad, alongside SHINee’s Jonghyun, Super Junior‘s Kyuhyun and TRAX‘s Jay Kim. He was rumored to be a part of EXO’s debut lineup, but ultimately didn’t make the cut. Jinho eventually found his way to CUBE Entertainment, and debuted as the oldest member and main vocalist of PENTAGON in 2016!
16. Park Ji Hoon
When Park Ji Hoon was a contestant of the survival show Produce 101, he revealed that he previously trained under both SM Entertainment and Fantagio, before finally ending up under Maroo Entertainment. He eventually made the cut for Wanna One, and after the group’s promotional activities ceased, made his solo debut in 2019!