China’s booming market for K-pop is inspiring domestic hopefuls to train for a career in the industry

Ten years ago, a skinny Chinese-Canadian teenager arrived at the Vancouver stop of Global Auditions, a televised talent-search organized by South Korea’s SM Entertainment, and earned himself a spot in one of Korean pop’s most successful boy bands to date.

Kris Wu may have since abandoned EXO and its kitschy music to pursue his passion for rap in China, but his story is still a model to thousands of young Chinese hoping to make a career in the global cultural phenomenon that is K-pop.

Li Yachu, a 17-year-old from Taiwan, is one of them. Two years ago, on her first visit to Seoul, Li and her friends stumbled upon a photo shoot for finalists on Idol School, another reality show in which aspiring K-pop artists compete for a spot in a nine-girl group.

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Seoul Train is a story from our issue, “Funny Business.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


author Eduardo Baptista

Eduardo Baptista is a former editorial intern at The World of Chinese. He is a fan of rap, basketball, and the TV rom-coms “Yanxi Palace” and “First Half of My Life.” Eduardo studied history at the University of Cambridge.

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