Most idols have a long journey of trainee life behind them, but ENHYPEN‘s Jake has a completely different story. In just one year, he went from a teen in an Australian high school to the winner of one of the biggest survival shows in K-Pop history. Here’s Jake’s surprising full journey.

Jake Sim, whose Korean name is Sim Jaeyoon, was born on November 15, 2002 in the Australian city of Brisbane, Queensland.

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Pre-debut Jake

When he was younger, Jake was more of an athlete than a performer. While attending school in Cairns, he played his favorite sport—soccer. In his Behind the Profile shoot, Jake revealed his special skill is working out, so it seems like his sporty nature has followed him to this day.

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Pre-debut Jake

Of course, despite his athleticism, Jake was musically inclined too. On I-LAND, he told viewers he’s been playing the violin for years.

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Pre-debut Jake

But Jake’s drive to become an idol didn’t truly hit him until 2017—November that year, to be specific. One day, 15-year-old Jake sat down to watch the American Music Awards, and one performance really stood out to him: BTS‘s “DNA”. It was then that Jake decided he wanted to be a star on stage just like them.

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BTS at the 2017 AMAs. | Billboard

And in 2019, it seems he finally got his shot. At the time, 16-year-old Jake was a hardworking student at St. Peters Lutheran College, a private school known for its impressive music program. In May that year, BTS’s agency, Big Hit Entertainment, announced they’d be holding global auditions around the world—including a date in Australia.

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Pre-debut Jake

Fans believe this is the audition Jake attended. The Sydney audition was hundreds of miles away from Jake’s home in Queensland, but distance wasn’t going to get in the way of his dream.

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Auditioning for Big Hit Entertainment in July 2019, Jake’s talent was so impressive, it even caught the attention of the company’s founder, Bang Si Hyuk. Bang personally chose Jake over 500 other trainees, offering him a trainee contract at the agency. Of course, the agency was located in Seoul, South Korea—over 4,000 miles from home.

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Moving to a new country would be a scary prospect for any 17-year-old, and in a recent interview with Teen Vogue, Jake confessed it wasn’t an easy decision. But luckily, Jake describes himself as “the type of person who has to do whatever they put their mind to“.

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| Mnet K-POP/YouTube

In the interview, Jake shared that being an idol was the one thing he wanted most in the world, and thankfully, his parents were right behind him. So, sometime in later 2019, Jake made the bold decision to move to South Korea on his own and become a trainee.

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| @ENHYPEN_members/Twitter

Most trainees have years to build up their skills before they face the public, but Jake’s opportunity of a lifetime came much, much quicker than that. Just nine months after he joined the company, Jake was announced as one of the contestants on Mnet‘s I-LAND—a survival show created by Big Hit Entertainment and CJ E&M.

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With the shortest trainee period out of anyone on the show, many viewers never expected Jake to succeed. But against all odds, the 17-year-old starlet showed incredible growth over the series of the show. In particular, his rap skills blossomed, and his charisma was overflowing.

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And all that hard work paid off. When I-LAND‘s winners were announced in late September 2020, Jake ranked in the top three with 1,179,633 votes, becoming an official member of ENHYPEN!

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| BE:LIFT

With the group’s debut fast approaching, Jake still has a long way to go. But, considering how far he’s come in such a short space of time, fans have no doubt he’ll continue to soar!

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| @ENHYPEN_members/Twitter