Just how much reality behind South Korea’s idol industry is revealed in this show?
Idol School, a South Korean reality television series broadcast by Mnet, is out to tickle, squeeze, and possibly break a few hearts of K-pop idol fans. Having made its virgin debut on South Korean television just a couple of weeks ago, the series looks like a happy party with dozens of young, cute, uniform-wearing aspiring idols singing and dancing their hearts out, but is in fact a severe elimination competition that will eventually reduce the group of 41 participants down to the final nine who will acquire the chance to make their official debut.
As its title suggests, the program takes on a school theme, and the contestants, who are effectively the “students”, go through an intensive 11-week “education” programme which prepares them for the K-pop rat race. The 41 “students” are aged as young as 12, and hail from countries such as Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines, and the U.K., along with South Korea itself. Some of the girls have even had prior experience in the music industry.
▼ So many pretty girls!
Of course, there can’t be a school without teachers, and this idol school boasts a teaching cast made up of big names from the K-pop industry, including producers, choreographers, voice instructors, and celebrity fitness instructors, such as veteran idol Kim Hee Chul from Super Junior.
▼ Idol School’s school bus?
▼ Idol School’s school song
To idol fans and idol wannabes, the television series provides a chance to see the hard work idols put in behind-the-scenes in exchange for their glamorous on-stage selves.
▼ Strict and precise checks on the girls’ singing
▼ Of course, idols are expected to dance well too.
▼ Watch them perform!
Fans may also enjoy observing the growth of the “student” they support over the episodes, but at the end of the season, some may experience a moment of despair as the majority of the girls will be leaving the show without a shot at stardom.
However, one could say that in itself is a microscopic version of the music industry. The “graduation” from Idol School is but the start line to a long, harsh marathon in the highly competitive world of K-pop.