Mnet’s “Produce 101” (프로듀스 101) is a large scale idol group survival program with 101 trainees from different entertainment agencies. The aim is to select the best 11 trainees from the pool and “produce” a unit of idol group that will debut under a temporary contract.
While the first season featured female trainees, the show’s highly anticipated return will include male trainees from at least 39 companies. Hosted by SM Entertainment’s BoA, “Produce 101” season 2 is slated to make its premiere at 11pm KST (10pm Malaysian time) on 7th April.
Last week, the boys performed the show’s 2017 theme song, titled “Pick Me” aka “Me, It’s Me” (나야나), on “M!Countdown”. And as expected, the track has been gaining a lot of attention from both Korean and international netizens. The official performance video has since garnered more than 1.7 million views on YouTube.
However, not everything is sunshine and rainbows for the contestants.
Recently, one of the trainees was embroiled in a sexual harassment and bullying scandal while another is being heavily criticised for impersonating BIGBANG’s G-Dragon in the past. But despite the controversies, many other trainees in the pool have become well known for their talents (and good looks). Yes, we know, focusing on 101 people can be pretty taxing. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of contestants that you should look out for this season.
Check it out:
1. Lee Dae Hwi
Formerly a JYP trainee, Brand New Music’s Lee Dae Hwi was chosen as the centre of “Produce 101″‘s first “Pick Me” stage. According to insiders, the 17-year-old aspiring idol won the #1 spot due to his immense talent and “outstanding stage manner”. Besides that, he is also skilled in singing, dancing, acting, rap, composing, and songwriting. Seriously, is there anything that he can’t do?
2. Park Ji Hoon
Hailing from Maroo Entertainment, which houses “Running Man” star Kim Jong Kook, Park Ji Hoon is currently attending the School of Performing Arts in Seoul. But the adorable 18-year-old trainee melted our hearts when he winked at the camera during his “Pick Me” performance and hence earned him the nickname “Wink Boy”. Man, that’s one killer wink right there ;)
3. Jung Sae Woon
When we first saw Jung Sae Woon, he was a participant in SBS’ “K-Pop Star 3” in 2013. So you could say that we’ve been waiting for him to debut for a while now. During his time in the talent show, the Busan-born singer-songwriter impressed the judges (Park Jin Young, Yang Hyun Suk, and Yoo Hee Yeol) and viewers with his heavenly vocals as well as outstanding guitar skills. He is currently training under Starship Entertainment.
Psst, he kinda reminds us of singer Lee Seung Gi :)
4. Jang Moon Bok
Prior to joining Ono Entertainment, Jang Moon Bok auditioned for Mnet’s “Superstar K” (슈퍼스타 K) in 2010. During his participation, he was given the nickname “hip hop president” due to his passion for rap. But unlike most K-Rappers (most notably BIGBANG’s T.O.P.), 22-year-old Jang has a high-pitched rapping voice. While there’s no denying that he first caught our eye with his ridiculously luscious long hair, we hope to see new sides of him in the upcoming episodes.
5. Park Sung Woo
Believe it or not, this “Produce 101” contestant is 29 years old! He was dubbed the “tiptoe man” after a 7-second fancam of him tiptoeing went viral. The HIM Entertainment heartthrob is the eldest out of all the other contestants. He has probably completed his mandatory South Korean military training, so you don’t have to go through the torturous 2-year wait for him :)
6. Samuel Kim
Born in 2002, Samuel Kim aka Punch was a potential member of Pledis Entertainment’s large scale boy group, SEVENTEEN. Prior to joining “Produce 101”, he and rapper One formed a hip hop duo called 1PUNCH in 2015. Although the group disbanded shortly after, the Brave Entertainment trainee has always been popular among K-Pop fans due to his boyish charm and smooth singing voice.
Listen to his cover of Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” here.
7. Ong Seong Woo
23-year-old Ong Seong Woo is trainee from Fantagio Entertainment. Thanks to his good looks, many netizens who watched last week’s “Pick Me” performance dubbed him the “Jeon Somi of season 2”. The 179cm-tall model is also a talented drummer and dancer.
8. Yoon Yong Bin
“Real Man” Yoon Yong Bin is a 23-year-old trainee under EXID’s label, Banana Culture Entertainment. In an episode of “I Can See Your Voice”, the former SM Entertainment trainee revealed that he was in the running to become a member of EXO. However, he decided to leave the company to complete his studies. Apart from his attractive features and cute dimples, Yoon is also a brilliant singer and dancer.
9. NU’EST (Ren, Baekho, Minhyun, and JR)
Okay, so these boys aren’t exactly trainees. 1995’ers Ren, Baekho, Minhyun, and JR made their debut in 2012 through Pledis Entertainment’s 5-member idol boy group NU’EST. Their debut single, “FACE”, is one of the most viewed K-Pop debut MV on YouTube. So technically, we (like most of NU’EST’s fans) have mixed feelings about their participation in “Produce 101”, a program designed for trainees. It just makes no sense why Pledis would send seniors to the competition. While some say that it’s a PR move to regain/increase the group’s fame, others are speculating that NU’EST is heading towards disbandment. Whatever the reason, these boys are a talented bunch and we hope to see them do their best in the show. We’ll be rooting for you, NU’EST!
Note: It is believed that member Aron did not join the program due to conflicting schedules.
Think we left a promising contestant out of the list? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments box below!