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Shreya Lenka Stands On The Cusp Of Becoming The First Indian K-Pop Idol

Hailing from Odisha, the 18-year-old is currently training under BLACKSWANs label DR Music

Divyansha Dongre Feb 02, 2022

Photo: Courtesy DR Music

For decades, K-pop has been home to artists from varying nationalities. While the ‘foreign K-pop idol’ community is largely dominated by artists from Thailand, Japan, China, America, Canada and Australia, India could soon make its entry. 

Shreya Lenka, an 18-year-old girl from Odisha, could be on her way to making a glorious debut as the first Indian K-pop idol. Currently training under the K-pop label DR Music (home to girl group BLACKSWAN), Lenka enrolled in the label’s global auditions to find the fifth member of BLACKSWAN late last year. Cruising through the initial rounds of online auditions, the singer is a month away from competing in the final round alongside Brazil’s Gabriela Dalcin.

Comprising Youngheun, Leia, Fatou, Judy and Hyeme, BLACKSWAN debuted on October 16th, 2020 with their first full album Goodbye Rania. Hyeme exited the group a month later leaving a spot vacant. Looking to fill the spot, Dalcin and Lenka are currently undergoing a thorough K-pop training boot camp in Seoul, South Korea. 

Like many aspiring idols, Lenka possesses an array of talents ranging from singing, dancing and is an ardent yoga practitioner. In an interview with The News Insight, the trainee was revealed to have trained in Hindustani classical music, Odishi (a major ancient Indian classical dance form) and contemporary dance forms.

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How You Can Join A K-pop Label

With the exponential rise of K-pop, having a foreign member in a group would vastly benefit their ability to interact with a wider fanbase. A classic example of this stems from SM Entertainment’s global idol group NCT (Neo Culture Culture) which has members fluent in English, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, German, Thai, Cantonese and Wenzhounese.

Believers of ‘talent knows no borders,’ several K-pop labels including the Big Four: HYBE Corp. (home to BTS, TXT, SEVENTEEN, ENHYPEN and more), SM Entertainment (the label that conceptualized the K-pop training system), YG Entertainment that currently represents the world’s biggest girl group (BLACKPINK) and JYP Entertainment that fosters chart-topping K-pop groups such as TWICE, Stray Kids, ITZY and more- regularly hosts global online auditions to find the next batch of trainees.

While the audition process differs from label to label, a standard application requires participants to upload a minute-long video spotlighting any skill in the vocal, dance, acting or production; the latter requires the applicant to submit a demo copy of their original produced work. Alongside this, some labels may require the applicant to submit photographs with minimal makeup and no digital touchups.

Prior knowledge of Korean is not a requirement at any step of the audition. You are, however, expected to submit a consent form signed by your parent or legal guardian if you are under 14. While labels are flexible when it comes to other aspects, they do stress on an age bracket. In the auditions held recently, labels are currently looking for potential trainees born on/after 2003. 

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In the recent past, K-pop labels such as HYBE have held auditions to find the next set of trainees to join their upcoming lineup of girl and boy groups. SM Entertainment recently joined the list with the announcement of their global audition KWANGYA. The application portal will be accepting submissions till February 10th, 2021. 

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