‘Idol Moms’ shows why mothers are true star makers

By Hong Dam-young
  • Published : Jan 30, 2018 - 20:56
  • Updated : Jan 30, 2018 - 20:56

There were times when young K-pop wannabes had to confront parents who were unsupportive of their seemingly rugged dreams. But with K-pop’s recent global success, the situation is now vastly different, with mothers of idol hopefuls standing firmly at the forefront of raising their kids to be the next K-pop stars.

To deliver such a message, “Idol Moms,” Lifetime Korea’s new reality show co-produced with S.M Entertainment, focuses on the lives of such young K-pop wannabes and their mothers, who fully support their children’s dreams and even act as their managers. Inspired by popular American program “Dance Moms,” which centers on interactions between young wannabe dancers and their mothers, “Idol Moms” follows the progress of five youngsters, Yeom Da-hyun, Kim Nae-oh, Jung Jae-woong, Lee Hyun-jin and Yoo Chae-young, as they go through intensive trainings and missions to sign up with major entertainment agencies, with the help of their proactive mothers. The children, most of whom are elementary students, were selected through competitive auditions. 

From left: Kangta, participants of the program and their parents, vocal trainer Jang Jin-young and dance trainer Kim Tae-woo pose at a press conference for “Idol Moms” in Seoul on Tuesday. (Lifetime Korea)

Singer Kangta, formerly a member of K-pop boy group H.O.T. and a current board member of S.M., will serve as a host and mentor, while two of S.M.’s top trainers -- renowned vocal trainer Jang Jin-young and popular dance trainer Kim Tae-woo -- will train the participants.

“Those contestants, they have amazing mothers. And I think having such supportive mothers is a strong competitive edge for young K-pop wannabes. I’ve also been a trainee in the past, and parents used to oppose our decisions. But the culture has changed now,” said Kangta during a media conference for “Idol Moms” in Seoul on Tuesday, also attended by the children and their mothers. 

A poster for “Idol Moms” (Lifetime Korea)

In the world of K-pop, it has long been viewed that agencies, which pick out young talents and ”manufacture“ them into idols through years of rigorous training, held significant influence over any individual power. What has been shown to the public mostly are trainees struggling with their cutthroat schedules under the watchful eyes and tight supervision of agencies. But program director Park Seung-ho said he wanted to shed light on the roles of mothers, who fiercely jump into the star-making game, and their conflicts with their children in the process. In the program, mothers strictly manage their children’s health and diet plan, as well as their schedules.

“Unlike other audition shows, our program’s focus is not on competition. Rather, it aims to show how ‘Hallyu’ is created in intricate and difficult procedures. And mothers are ‘heroines’ in this show. We hope to depict how mothers and their children take their first step in dealing with the complications of making their kids into stars,” Park said.

The program director said the mothers hail from different backgrounds, including a former super model, and some of them enjoy dancing even more than their children.

Park also emphasized that he hopes the program avoids being called a commercial program for recruiting young participants and repressing their free will.

“I know some could have a critical view of the show for featuring young children, but all of them are starring in the show out of their own will. And we hope viewers will see the program’s keyword ‘family’ and its warmth,” Park said.

Viewers will also get a peek into S.M.’s systematic training systems in “Idol Moms,” which will feature other big name artists from the agency.

“Idol Moms” will air its first episode on Lifetime Korea, a channel launched by US-based global content company A+E Networks last year, on Thursday at 8 p.m. KST. It will also air in about 30 other countries through Lifetime Asia.