More and more youngsters aspire to a showbiz career, putting pressure on parents to pay for classes so they can get into talent mills like JYP, SM and YG.
The companies' weekly auditions bring out long lines of hopefuls.
Most auditions end without any talent being spotted. But stage-struck youngsters are unfazed, and anywhere from 200 to 300 of them line up each time. They take private singing and dancing lessons that cost their parents up to W700,000 just to pass the auditions and get accepted as trainees (US$1=W1,165).
There are some 1,000 talent agencies in Korea, but only seven are successful enough to generate over W10 billion in annual revenues.
So many wannabes end up in small agencies, and fewer than one out of every 100 stand a chance of a debut, let alone becoming a star.