Why are Actor Agencies Going the Idol Way?
The K-Pop scene is certainly about to become a battlefield of idols, as the actor agencies Key East and Fantagio will be aiming to join the ranks of idol giants SM, JYP and YG.
Key East houses Bae Yong Jun, Im Soo Jung, Kim Soo Hyun, Choi Kang Hee, Joo Ji Hoon and Kim Hyun Joong, and also functions as an outsourcing production company, co-producing the drama Dream High.
Fantagio, at the other end of the court, is another actor-packed agency, with Ha Jung Woo, Yeom Jeong Ah, Ji Jin Hee, Kim Young Ae, Jung Il Woo and Jung Gyu Woon, and has also produced the films The Crucible and Love Fiction. These agencies boast a great resume with its actors, dramas and films, but now, they’re aiming to debut girl groups in spring and summer.
Fantagio will be collaborating with Pledis, label of Son Dambi and After School, to showcase a seven member girl group in April. The group has already started training for its first single with a dance piece by a famous composer, and will be promoted through the combined efforts of Pledis and Fantagio.
“They’ve trained for about a year and a half. Four members are from Fantagio and three are from Pledis, and after their debut, Fantagio will be managing the acting portions of their promotion while Pledis will be taking over variety,” an official from Fantagio said.
Key East’s girl group is aiming to charge forth in July. Because Kim Hyun Joong will be promoting his own album in April, the agency will try to concentrate all efforts on its idol after Kim Hyun Joong wraps up in summer.
“It has already become known that Kwon Ri Sae of The Great Birth will be joining a girl group. We’ve trained our trainees since a year ago to be idols, although we’re still undecided on the number of members, such as whether we’ll be making it a five member group led by Kwon Ri Sae. We’ll try to reveal the group to the public by summer after getting its debut single and deciding on its member composition,” a rep from Key East said.
The reason why big actor agencies have been eyeing the idol market is because they want to bring up big-name rookies. In the case of new actors, it’s difficult to place them in main roles for dramas, and because it’s hard to guarantee their acting skills, they can’t be made stars as quickly.
Idols, however, can debut after a short training period to promote, and the awareness can be used to push the members to various areas such as acting. Key East especially seems to have realized the importance of idols when it co-produced Dream High with JYPE, and when Kim Soo Hyun became a star after receiving idol training in dance and song for the drama.
It’s also learned how to manage artists after it signed Kim Hyun Joong in and had him release a series of albums.
The same goes for Fantagio. It’s learned that the influence and sales that idols draw surpass those brought on by actors, so it’s decided to debut its trainees as idols first. It kept its eye on the market for more than two years to evaluate, and then developed a new management system in close collaboration with its partner, Pledis.
Their group will be the first group in a while to have more than one agency step forth to manage it since g.o.d. Whether their group will be able to stand out as a big name in April is yet to be seen.
Photo credit: Key East, Kim Byung Kwan
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