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“I Sold My Child To Them”—Why The Parent Of A Former SM Entertainment Idol Cried When He Signed His Contract

He remembers the day it happened.

Former Super Junior member Hangeng was the first non-Korean K-Pop idol. He became a trainee of SM Entertainment after passing their 2002 auditions in Beijing.

He debuted three years later with “Twins (Knock Out)” and stayed in the group until he filed for the termination of his contract in 2009.

In a recent interview, the now-40 year old actor looked back on the very first years of his career starting from his pre-debut days. He remembered how desperate and hopeful he felt when he was given the contract to become a trainee.

I don’t come from a wealthy family. That’s why I joined SM Entertainment: to make good money from fame. I signed a contract with them at the age of 19.


The problem with the contract was clear: he was bound to the company for over a decade. Standard K-Pop contracts at present span around seven years. Hangeng’s, however, was almost twice that—yet he was willing to overlook it in order to have the chance to debut.

It was a 13-year contract. When I signed the contract, I thought, ‘Hurry up and sign it.’ I said I only had one choice so at that time I just took a look at it casually.


His father, on the other hand, was much more cautious.

My dad, he said, ‘You thought about it, but you didn’t read it carefully.’ As I said earlier, it’s very harsh. You can’t do anything for 13 years, you can only serve the company.


Hangeng signed the contract anyway, and his father couldn’t help but cry. The latter felt like he had “sold” his son to SM Entertainment so that the whole family could live a better life.

After signing my 13-year contract with them, my dad cried. He was like, ‘I sold my child to them.’


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Hangeng eventually debuted and made a name for himself in both South Korea and China. He is now focusing on his budding acting career.

| SM Entertainment



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