"Hello, hello," greeted Cindy while bowing to everyone in the dance practice room. She nervously peered up at the girls who had stopped to turn around to look at her. Others merely continued practicing, ignoring her entrance.
Cindy wasn't flustered by the lack of attention in the slightest. After all, she knew the arrangements coming into the room. Although she had explained to Taehyung that she was a Big Hit trainee, in fact, she wasn't officially one yet.
The words of Bang PD from their short meeting earlier resounded in her mind. "You will be competing against other girls to become a trainee at Big Hit, are you prepared for this? Your basic skills are below these girls, and you'll also have a hard time because of the language barrier. Will you be okay?"
Of course, the translator actually said these words, but Cindy saw the expression on Bang PD's face. She knew he was comparing her to Iris. He probably only gave her this chance because of their relation. Otherwise, Bang Shihyuk wouldn't cast her a second glance at her poor abilities.
'It's not like you expected everything to easily fall in place like on a golden platter.' Cindy lightly reprimanded herself. Her new life wouldn't be like her old one where everything she wanted, she got.
In a practical sense, she was the opposite of baepsae, the try-hards or the silver spoons as told by BTS in one of their songs. She didn't have to try hard in her old life, but now, she was literally starting from zero, a crow-tit, a small bird trying to become a stork by stretching her neck and legs.
"Hi, you are a new trainee at Big Hit?" A girl with short, black hair approached her with a friendly question. Cindy paused in her stretches on the ground for a moment, deciphering her words, before nodding vigorously up at the girl.
"Cool, I'm Kim Jiyeon," the girl offered her hand in greeting. Cindy took it and quickly stood up while holding her hand before bowing.
"Nice to meet you Jiyeon!" Cindy flashed a bright smile, making the short-haired girl smile in return.
At that moment, an instructor entered the room and clapped his hands. "Everyone, gather here." All the girls quickly moved in front of the instructor with somewhat confused yet curious expressions.
Once he saw that everyone was accounted for, the man announced, "As you all know, you're not officially trainees of Big Hit yet. We are currently in the process of making a girl group, an unexpected venture that will hopefully be successful and round out Big Hit's portfolio. Once the girls are chosen, everyone else will no longer be training here. That's why it's important to note that you are all just temporary trainees.
"With that said, this is how it's going to be for the next two months. You will compete against one another to gain a spot in the final lineup. The number of spots available are yet to be determined, so as long as you do well, the group's total number might adjust."
In truth, the number was actually already predetermined, but this was a way to motivate the trainees to work harder. Additionally, it would relieve some stress by making it seem that all the successful trainees could potentially form a group together. Thus, the competition factor was somewhat nullified.
What Bang PD hoped was that this one piece of information would be a hint for the girls to work together. The most important factor in his mind for a girl group was how well they worked and got along together as well as their individual capabilities and drive. This competition would root out those who were too ambitious in terms of caring only about themselves while highlighting those who would put the group first but still strove to be their best individually too.
"Your first challenge is to individually choreograph a dance routine for a specific instrumental. Or you can make lyrics and sing instead. You can also do both. Each person will be judged both by the teachers as well as your peers."
The girls looked at once another incredulously. They would judge on another?! Seeing their surprise, the instructor clarified, "Yes, you will be judging one another. Half of the score will come from the assessments by all the girls in this room. So nine people excluding yourself.
"One week from now, we will hold the evaluations. One week after in the next evaluation, two people will be disqualified as trainees."
The instructor didn't explain the second evaluation. Before leaving the room, he placed a CD of the instrumental by the music player.
As soon as he was gone, the ten girls released a heavy exhale. They felt a bit overwhelmed, but a sense of power also creeped temptingly into some of their minds. They potentially held the power to kick out their competition and form the group they wanted.
For Cindy, she was still trying to follow and remember the instructor's words. She could understand more Korean than she could speak, but it was still insufficient to grasp complete information at the speed of a native speaker.
While most of the girls began formulating their performance after listening to the instrumental, Cindy was stuck figuring out the details. All she knew was that they had to dance or sing or both to the music one week later.
Jiyeon noticed the quiet girl who had a troubled expression drawn over her face. She walked to Cindy's side and asked, "Are you okay? It's pretty crazy huh?"
Cindy blinked and pursed her lips. "I'm okay. Try figure out what guy said."
Jiyeon opened her mouth in a small o-shape. This foreign looking girl was indeed not a Korean native. She along with other girls had suspected it, but since her pronunciation was good, they thought she was another Jeon Somi. But after speaking more complex words, Jiyeon realized her initial impression was correct.
"The instructor said we have to dance and or sing to the instrumental." Jiyeon enunciated slowly and pointed to the music player. In one week, we perform. Then one week later, two trainees will be kicked out after the second evaluation."
Cindy nodded gratefully, and Jiyeon continued explaining how the scores were made. Afterwards, they began sharing ideas about what to do with the instrumental. Although their communication was rocky, Jiyeon was patient with Cindy. She was grateful for the girl's company and friendliness. The other girls were either too shy or didn't want to talk to her.
Cindy wasn't sure why, but Jiyeon had a good idea. After all, she shared the same initial impressions about Cindy. She was beautiful, the kind of striking that made anyone double take. Most of all, they could tell it was completely natural. She didn't even have make up on. According to Korean beauty standards, she fit them all to a T.
However, since girls tried to adhere to the nearly impossible standard, plastic surgery was common. They'd be criticized if they were natural, and they'd be criticized if they did plastic surgery to match the standard. That's why many of the girls instantly felt jealous when Cindy entered. In their minds, she was their biggest competition from a visual standpoint.
Additionally, Cindy had an imposing aura that inadvertently distanced herself from them—with the exception of Jiyeon. She was more intrigued by this foreign looking girl. Also, with quite a strong, confident personality herself, Jiyeon wasn't the least bit intimidated. And now she saw that Cindy was actually quite easy to get along with. She was eager to learn and tried her best.
As Jiyeon was beginning to realize, Cindy's foundations were actually very weak, but she admired the girl's tenacity and thick skin. Even Jiyeon was starting to get annoyed by the blatant whispers about Cindy as soon as the other girls realized that she didn't know the language well.
Of course, Cindy knew well enough to know that they were talking about her. She knew they were probably glad that her abilities weren't strong. But she didn't let it bother her. She merely hoped that Jiyeon was as authentic as she seemed.
But in the following days, the two girls would realize that they were actually quite similar. They didn't follow the crowd and group think, but Jiyeon was more of a rebel than her. She told Cindy about how she defied her parents back in Busan when they didn't support her dream. She just up and left the next day after the argument. This made Cindy belly-laugh at how animated Jiyeon was in narrating her story. She would furrow her brows and shake her hands in all sorts of entertaining gestures.
"You remind me my cousin a little. She left to Korea against parents wish." Cindy smiled with pride and some ruefulness.
Jiyeon's eyes widened. "Wait, are you—?" The girls had heard a rumor that a relative of the first Big Hit trainee was joining them.
Cindy quickly grasped what the girl might be alluding to and explained, "Iris Huang, my cousin."
"Iris who's on Produce 48 right now?" Jiyeon exclaimed excitedly. Seeing a Big Hit trainee appear and then do well on the show made Jiyeon hopeful that she could join the number one entertainment that she wanted. And sure enough, she discovered that Big Hit was looking covertly for girl trainees.
Cindy nodded with a smile. "I here because of her. Want to do something I love too."
They were conversing on the floor of the practice room, so Jiyeon patted Cindy's leg soundly in approval. "Good for you! We've got just one life to live, so I say screw whatever anyones says and just go get it!" She pumped her fist with a smirk.
Suddenly, another girl approached Cindy from behind Jiyeon. "Excuse me, did you say Iris Huang?"
Cindy looked up while Jiyeon swiveled her head around. A timid looking girl who had a cute but lovely appearance stood slightly hunched before them with big, brown eyes.
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