Promising Filipino-Korean idol trainee

K-pop has long welcomed foreign and mixed-heritage talents, with idols such as Blackpink’s Lisa and the soloist Somi. So far, 2 talents with Filipino heritage have debuted in South Korea as pop idols, but the title of the first Filipino K-pop boy group member has yet to be taken.

On 14 August, half-Filipino and half-Korean Youn Dong-yeon was cast into JYP Entertainment on the K-pop survival show Loud, which means he’s halfway into his K-pop boy group debut. Here are the things you should know about the hardworking, multi-talented Youn Dong-yeon that can instantly turn you into his fan.

1. He is 17 years old

Youn Dongyeon - Loud auditionYoun during his Loud audition
Image adapted from: SBS KPOP

On 26 September 2003, Youn Dong-yeon was born to a South Korean father and a Filipino mother. His English name is Justin Youn.

His real age is 17 years old, but he is considered 19 years old in South Korea. This is because, in the country, babies are considered 1 year old at birth. Another year is also added to one’s age every new calendar year, regardless of whether they’ve celebrated their birthday for the year or not.

Youn has known since middle school that he wants to be an idol, and while he is young, he is working hard to achieve his dreams.

2. He joined the K-pop boy group survival show Loud

Loud JYP and Psy
Loud judges – JYP Entertainment CEO Park Jin-young and P Nation CEO Psy
Image credit: @sbs_loud.official

Youn auditioned for Loud in the winter of 2020. For his audition, he performed a powerful dance cover of BTS’ song My Time.

Loud is a K-pop boy group survival reality show where entertainment company CEOs Park Jin-young or JYP of JYP Entertainment (JYPE) and Psy of P Nation will choose talented individuals to debut in 2 separate K-pop boy groups. It airs on SBS every Saturday at 9.05PM KST (8.05PM PST).

The show had auditionees from 64 countries and began with 73 contestants. As of the time of writing, the show has just finished its 5th round with 19 remaining contestants, including Youn.

3. His mother is from Negros Occidental

Youn Dongyeon - baby picture with Filipino mom
Baby Youn Dong-yeon with his Filipino mom, Crizelia Lajo.
Image credit: @youndongyeonph, SBS Entertainment

During his audition for Loud, Youn used the word “Philippines” to describe himself.

“This word means a lot to me. The Philippines is my mother’s home country and my second home. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to dance or stand on this stage,” he explained.

Youn’s mother, Crizelia Lajo, is from Negros Occidental, a province in the Western Visayas region in the Philippines.

4. He considers his mom his number 1 fan

Youn Dongyeon - graduation picture with Filipino mom
Youn’s graduation picture taken with his mom
Image credit: @youndongyeonph, SBS Entertainment

Before his 5th round performance on the 11th episode of Loud, Youn revealed that he considers his mom as his number 1 fan.

“When K-pop became popular in her country, the Philippines, she supported my dream of becoming an idol,” he shared. True enough, his mom often calls for people’s support for her son, asking them to vote for Youn on Loud on her Facebook account.

Youn also shared that he felt alive when he did his first busking performance in South Korea even though he didn’t have other fans then.

5. He’s skilled in dancing, singing, and drawing

Youn Dongyeon - Drawing
Youn’s drawing of him and his mother with the Philippine flag which he shared during his audition

Image adapted from: Youn Dongyeon PH, SBS Entertainment

As an aspiring K-pop idol, Youn’s speciality is dancing but he also sings well.

More impressively, he remains stable during his performances, meaning he sings well even when dancing a difficult choreography. This can be seen in his Round 3 performance when he covered I Need U by BTS with his groupmates.

On top of these, Youn also has a talent in art, as seen in the drawings he used to show the judges his life story during his audition.

6. He does an exercise routine every night before going to bed

Youn said he exercises every dayYoun shared on Loud that he has been following an exercise routine ever since he started dancing
Image credit: SBS Entertainment

Youn practices an exceptional amount of self-discipline to fulfil his dreams of becoming a K-pop idol.

He shared on the 11th episode of Loud that he fixed his posture first to dance well. On top of this, he also practices daily to improve his dancing.

When Psy commented on his physical improvement throughout the show, Youn shared that he does an exercise routine 30 to 40 minutes before going to bed, which he’s done ever since he began dancing.

Youn also said during the episode that he prefers a systematic training method like that of JYP Entertainment.

7. He was chosen to be a JYPE trainee

JYPE Loud group The 9 members of JYPE Loud, including Youn (far right, in black).
Image credit: @JYPELOUD

After passing all 5 casting rounds of the reality show Loud, Youn is now to compete in the debut group survival portion. Here, the contestants are already divided into 2 boy groups, but they can still be eliminated.  Youn has to pass 4 more rounds to secure his K-pop boy group debut under JYP Entertainment.

The K-pop survival show’s purpose is to debut 2 groups – 1 from JYP Entertainment and 1 from P Nation – but the debuting members will be determined by who stays in the competition. This means that although the contestants have been sorted into 2 groups, they can still be eliminated from their group in the next 4 rounds depending on their performance.

Youn was chosen by JYP to join his trainee group along with 8 other participants. On the other hand, there are 10 contestants in the P Nation Loud group.

8. Rapping about his multi-cultural background got him cast into the JYPE trainee group

 5th round performance Burn It Up Wanna OneA screenshot of Youn’s 5th round performance
Image credit: @youndongyeonph, SBS Entertainment

In his 5th round performance, Youn rapped about his experience as a multi-cultural child and his passion for pursuing his dream. He performed Burn It Up by Wanna One but changed some of the lyrics.

The rap lyric “two different-colored blood burn me up” which Youn wrote impressed the judges, especially JYP. 

The JYPE agency CEO said it was what made him decide to cast Youn into the JYPE trainee group.

“He told his story through the lyrics with confidence,” JYP said. “None of the other rap verses I saw [sic] on Loud pierced my heart this deeply.”

9. He could be the first Filipino K-pop boy group member

first selfie as a JYPE trainee
The first selfie Youn posted as a JYPE trainee
Image credit: @JYPELOUD

If Youn succeeds, he will be the first half-Filipino male artist to debut in Korea and the first K-pop boy group member with Filipino blood.

This is following the Filipino-American soloist Kriesha Chu and Cignature girl group member Belle who is also half-Filipino.

Youn’s K-pop boy group debut is still to be determined in the next 4 rounds of the competition. Loud’s final episode will air on 11 September and will be broadcasted live in South Korea.

Voting for Youn Dong-yeon on Loud

Youn Dong-yeon’s debut isn’t certain yet, but you can help him clear the upcoming rounds by voting for him on the Vlive website. Multiple accounts can be used to vote for him daily.

You can also vote for Youn Dong-yeon through the SuperStar JYPNATION App, SuperStar P NATION App, and The SuperStar App to help secure the Filipino-Korean trainee’s K-pop boy group debut.

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Cover image adapted from: @youndongyeonph/SBS Entertainment, Youn Dongyeon PH/SBS Entertainment, and Youn Dongyeon PH/SBS Entertainment


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