SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Korea Bizwire) — From television shows to magazine covers and advertisement billboards, it wasn’t too long ago when the 11 members of mega project group I.O.I, created through the audition show “Produce 101,” virtually dominated South Korea’s pop culture — it’s been seven months since I.O.I wrapped up their monthslong tenure.
But in show businesses, mere months out of the spotlight can sometimes feel like light years. CJ E&M, which owns “Produce 101,” naturally wouldn’t pass up on a good opportunity to recreate I.O.I’s success. With Wanna One, a project band formed of season two contestants, CJ E&M seems to have outdone itself, with its predebut hype reaching unprecedented heights for a rookie team.
“We’ve been busy preparing our album filming commercials and reality television and variety shows,” member Yoon Ji-sung said at a press conference held at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Monday.
The band was set to hold a debut showcase at Gocheok Sky Dome, the biggest single introductory event for a K-pop band to-date, at night. Thousands of fans, who don’t even knew the songs besides snippets of “Energetic” and “Burn It Up” (Fans were offered the chance to vote for the title track. “Energetic” won.) were lining up at the stadium since the wee hours. In the afternoon, the crowd mushroomed into tens of thousands despite a scorching heat wave.’
“1X1=1″ is the title of the EP record. It holds seven tracks, including “Energetic,” “Burn It Up,” “Never” and “Wanna Be (My Baby).” The name of the record, the first in a series of math-themed albums, is a metaphor of the band’s aspiration to become the No. 1 team together with its fans.
Sales figure is also a palpable index of how big the band already is. Pre-orders of Wanna One’s debut album have already surpassed 600,000 copies, which is on par with EXO and BTS, two of the biggest K-pop bands today. Television networks are also gobbling up the hype, lining up to book the team on their prime time TV shows.
“I remember watching EXO and BTS concert videos and telling myself ‘I’m going to stand on that stage one day.’ It’s like a dream come true debuting at Gocheok Sky Dome,” said member Kang Daniel.
Hwang Min-hyun agreed, “I’ve never imagined standing on such a big stage as Gocheok. It’s both flattering and nervous. I want to give a good time to the people who came here to celebrate our debut.”
As I.O.I, the team manged by YMC Entertainment, isn’t going to last forever, the members have big goals they want to achieve during their limited run until end of 2018.
“Throughout our run I want to present a truly legendary stage. I want to present a stage where people go ‘If it’s Wanna One its this or that performance,’” Oh Seung-woo said.
Despite the unprecedented fame and attention, the 11 members are still only debuting. After years of toiling through training, they’ve only reached their first-yet-important career milestone.
“Since my childhood, I’ve always challenged myself with the dream of becoming a singer. I was desperate and went through a lot of failures. I think I’ve matured a lot during the process,” recalled Kim Jae-hwan.
He added, “I’ve pushed myself to keep on challenging and never gave up. I hope (other trainees) keep their spirits. If you keep knocking your dreams will come true so I hope they never give up,’ said Kim.