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NewJeans’ Minji was “not desperate” to become a K-pop star, says casting agent who discovered her

NewJeans singer Minji was apparently “not desperate” to debut as a K-pop idol, according to the casting agent who discovered her.

South Korean casting director Darren Won recently recalled the story of how he found and casted NewJeans’ Minji in a new interview with The Korea Times. “I invested a lot of time and effort to cast Minji, who was not so desperate about becoming a K-pop star at first,” he said, recalling first seeing her outside “a music academy in the city of Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, when she was 13”.

“Back then, I was urgently looking for some idol trainees and the academy’s director told me she had two students to recommend,” he added. One of the students was Minji, however Won noted that she had not “set her sights” on making a debut at the time, despite having aspirations of becoming a singer.

“Yet, I clearly saw the potential in her as soon as I met her, so I kept persuading her and ended up bringing her to Source Music, a K-pop label that I worked for at the time,” Won added. Her decision to sign with Source Music as a trainee later led her to become part of the sprawling roster of HYBE artists and trainees after the former company was acquired by the entertainment giant.

After some internal shuffling post-acquisition, Minji was transferred to Min Hee-jin’s newly established subsidiary, ADOR, and became part of the NewJeans line-up. “It feels so rewarding to see Minji making waves,” Won said. “As a casting agent, this kind of feeling is the biggest driving force for me.”

The five-piece – completed by bandmates Hanni, Haerin, Hyein and Danielle – most recently released an original single titled ‘Gods’ in partnership with the video game League of Legends. The song is this year’s League of Legends World Championship Anthem, and marked the 10th anniversary of anthems for the annual Esports tournament.

“It was fun to try a new genre and sound,” said the group about the new song and partnership when it was first announced in September. “Through this collaboration, we are happy to present a song that incorporates both NewJeans’ and League of Legends’ unique colours. We hope it brings you a new sense of empowerment!”

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