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[Herald Interview] Hybe training and development leader Shin Seon-jeong behind K-pop stars' success

March 20, 2023 - 09:03 By Hong Yoo
Hybe's training and development department leader, Shin Seon-jeong, talks to The Korea Herald about her career. (Hybe)

Unlike other entertainment agencies with separate training and development teams for each label, Hybe has only one T&D department in charge of educating and nurturing the trainees of all its labels.

That’s the key to Hybe’s differentiated competitiveness in the K-pop scene, according to the leader of the T&D department at Hybe, Shin Seon-jeong.

“We are in charge of educating and nurturing trainees in a way that fits the color of each different label to create the best synergy, and I think that is our competitiveness -- diverse training programs and data bases. The T&D department always puts a lot of effort into helping artists who have the potential to present diverse musical styles make their debut,” said Shin.

Shin has landed on the Billboard Women in Music list, which honors today’s most influential female powerhouses shaping the music landscape.

"In our department, it is quite hard to see physical accomplishments, so I did not expect such a nomination. I'm very happy and honored that we got the recognition from the global music industry. There are a lot of staff in our department working for the development and growth of the music industry. I hope all of them can get their recognition in the global music industry as well," Shin said.

Last year, she also made it to the Billboard 40 Under 40 list, which honors young leaders under the age of 40.

She won recognition for developing a future artist training system for Hybe's multiple labels and for successfully debuting star artists such as BTS, Tomorrow X Together and Enhypen.

Shin currently leads Hybe’s T&D department and Hybe T&D Japan with the goal of creating a global education system, which is needed to train Korean and Japanese K-pop trainees.

Hybe is a multilabel company that has Big Hit Music, Belift Lab, Source Music, PLEDIS Entertainment, KOZ Entertainment, Ador and Hybe Labels Japan under its arm.

Hybe's T&D department does everything from planning and operating auditions to scouting talented potential artists, to providing necessary education programs in singing, dancing, foreign languages and more.

“We take into account the philosophy of each label and the capacity of trainees to provide a customized training fit for each one of them. Every month, we check the strengths and weaknesses of each trainee and their debut plans,” Shin said. “Through these processes, we give shape to artists’ debut plans to better accentuate their color and identity. We also try to provide the apt environment for the trainees to grow by experiencing many things.”

Hybe’s special curriculum features classes on diverse topics such as environmental issues, gender issues, multiculturalism and self-directed learning.

“We also have a professional psychiatrist that holds therapy sessions with our trainees once every week. And we have a program that we call ‘Showdown,’ in which trainees of all our labels gather to show off their dancing and music composing skills. Such experiences act as good stimulators for the trainees and give them stage experience,” Shin explained.

The T&D leader says that reminding herself of the reason educating trainees is important has helped her succeed in her career.

“It helped me to always come up with better ways and I like making small but meaningful changes. That is the driving force that helps me grow and be satisfied with what I do.”

Among the many trainees that she has helped debut, BTS is the group that she remembers the most.

“After joining Hybe, BTS was the first group that I was in charge of training and I tried to help them grow up better as artists. I tried to communicate with them a lot to help them come up with their own answer to what kind of artists they want to be,” Shin said.

Working behind the scenes in K-pop, Shin thinks that the K-pop industry has still more to show.

“The K-pop industry has continuously expanded beyond the Asian market into other markets including the American market. Thus, we need to make new and diverse attempts in the future. For that, I think we need talented artists and staff in the industry. I look forward to making new content with diverse, talented individuals.”