In 2016, Mnet, a South Korean pay television music channel, launched a girl group survival reality called Produce 101. The show is about girl trainees from various companies competing with each other and public vote score is the thing that decides whether the trainee will win this competition to debut as a girl group or not. It became very successful and as a consequence the same company, Mnet, released the Produce 101 Season 2 for boy trainees that became even more successful than the first one in the following year. The show’s franchise received a lot of attention from many countries and the show franchise got bought to recreate in China in 2018 and Japan in 2019. The popularity of the survival causes a new wave not only in the South Korean entertainment industry but also in China entertainment industry. In 2018, IQYI, a Chinese online platform, released a survival show called Idol Producer (before renamed to Youth With You in the following season) and in the same year another survival show named Produce 101 China (before renamed to Produce Camp in the following season) was released by 7-D Vision and Tencent Penguin Pictures. In 2019, Yoshimoto Kogyo and CJ E&M announced they would be co-producing a Japanese version of Produce 101 called Produce 101 Japan. The survival show became a new way for young boy and girl trainees to debut as an idol and gain reputation in the entertainment industry.

The 1st public evaluation stage of Produce Camp 2021

Joining the show is like playing a lucky draw

Nothing can guarantee that you will be successful. Although, you can sing, you can dance, or you have any talents. It doesn’t mean you will achieve this show. Every week, there will be somebody eliminated, or somebody might fall down to the last. So that, it depends on the fan club. It’s a common thing that everybody has their own taste, so getting fan club votes for you might depend on their tastes as well. Even though you are good at all of singing, dancing, and rapping, your character doesn’t match with audiences’ taste. It causes you don’t gain voting from them as much as you think. And, this show has a weekly ranking, if you have an improvement and good performance on the stage by the week, that would be a good sign to you to get your fan clubs to vote for you. But as we said, nothing can guarantee your success. You might get a top rank for this week but for next week you would fall down, or in the worst situation, you would be eliminated. Importantly, every challenger must have a continual improvement to prove that you are qualified to be in this show. Another factor that influences every challenger is “airtime”. Of course, we could not give every challenger to have an equal airtime for each week. So, when fan clubs see you on the screen, it could affect the challenger’s votes. Sometimes the editor may misrepresent your scene for gaining higher ratings or cut all of your screen time out. It’s really like playing a lucky draw. If you’re very talented but no one sees your potential or everyone misunderstands you, then you’re likely to lose in this game.

Ahn Joonyoung and Kim Yongbum, producers for the Produce 101 series in Korea were arrested after admitting to manipulating the rankings.

Voting manipulation

We all know that survival shows use the audience voting score to determine which trainee will be debuting in the final episode. Voting sound to be the most fair and realistic way to evaluate trainees. However, unfortunate events can always happen. In 2019, a number of viewers noticed that the total vote score in the Produce 101 series’ fourth season, Produce X 101 which is owned by Mnet was in numeric pattern. Some trainees’ total score in the final evaluation was multiplied by 7494.  The viewers then start to suspect that this might be some manipulation behind. This led to the investigation about the suspicious vote score and extra money charge in the on-site text voting service. Later the Seoul Metropolitan Police, who is responsible for the investigation process, reveal that some trainees that are supposed to be debut ranking got swapped and the production team also biased to the trainees. Furthermore, this doesn’t happen just in the fourth season of the Produce 101 series. They have found that this has happened since in the first season of the show which rankings for one trainee who was supposed to debut in I.O.I were swapped. At the end on November 5, 2019 Ahn Joonyoung and Kim Yongbum, producers for the Produce 101 series were arrested after admitting to manipulating the rankings varying amounts for all four seasons of the Produce 101 series. The name of contestants that got eliminated because of the manipulation was also revealed. This event has affected the reputation and reliability of Mnet. As a consequence, Mnet have declared that they will no longer produce any audition programs and will find a way to compensate trainees who got affected by this event.

Contestants re-arranged the theme song together in Produce Camp 2021

Criticism on Produce 101 format

When the 1st program of Produce 101 series, Produce 101 (2016), broadcasted, it gained much attention from the audiences because this style of survival programs is the new system for the entertainment industry. Because of the good feedback, this show continuously aired the next season and also expanded the franchise to other countries which are China and Japan. The Produce 101 franchise gave opportunities to small entertainment. In the entertainment industry, it is highly competitive. Basically, large entertainment companies gain an advantage over small companies for instance, the large companies have more connection with famous brands or producers that caused artists from those big companies easily be hired from the famous brands to be their ambassador or work with the famous producers from music studio, TV station, movie studio, and etc. Also the media and audiences always spotlight the artists from well known companies more than artists from small companies. The survival program provides opportunity to make the media and the audiences familiarize with the artists from the small agencies. So, almost all contestants are from small entertainment agencies. However, the impact of Produce 101 still be criticized. Some netizens said groups from Produce 101 ruin the normal entertainment industry system that each group gradually collects the reputation by using their abilities and works day by day. The netizens thought every group should start from the same point. It’s unfair to other groups. The success of Produce 101 makes the small agencies which don’t join the show difficulty promote their artists by themselves. It becomes “If trainees from small agencies want to be famous, they must join Produce 101” but the reputation from this show isn’t sustainable. It looks like those companies send their trainees to the show over and over again only for unsustainable popularity. Other netizens said Produce 101 gives benefits to capitalists who are the owner of each agency more than the artists because those agencies don’t need to spend a lot of money for promoting their artists or for training their trainees as much as before and the agencies will receive profits from the share even though they don’t treat their artists well, moreover, TV station which broadcasted the show will gain many profits from sponsors, advertising, and voting cost from the viewers, although they manipulate voting score, give some trainees screen time dramatically less than the others, or edit exaggerated scenes to the trainees. 

From left to right. Zhou Keyu, Zhang Jiayuan, Lin Mo, Mika, Santa, Liu Yu, Rikimaru, Nine, Bo Yuan, Patrick, Liu Zhang

In case you can’t imagine how the Produce 101 series look like, We’ll give you one of the example of current survival program shows that is Produce Camp 2021 as know as Chuang 2021 or 创造营2021 in Chinese which 90 contestants from different countries and agencies compete to be chosen in the debut group by voting from Citizen Producers (viewers). Only the last 11 trainees will debut in the international boy group. The show first broadcasted on February 17, 2021 (Every Wed & Sat 19:00 CST until episode 6 part 2, then every Sat 19:00 CST) and the final episode aired on April 24, 2021. The boy group from this program named INTO1

Previous Chuang series shows: Produce 101 China (2018) debuted Rocket Girls 101

Produce Camp 2019 or Chuang 2019 debuted R1SE

Produce Camp 2020 or Chuang 2020 debuted Bonbon Girls 303 

List of top 11 final contestants or 11 members of INTO1, including Zhou Keyu, Zhang Jiayuan, Lin Mo, Mika, Santa, Liu Yu, Rikimaru, Nine, Bo Yuan, Patrick, Liu Zhang

INTO1

Chuang 2021 has debuted a 11 member boy band that is considered as the most international boy band since the show has made. The band consists of 6 chinese members (Zhou Keyu, Zhang Jiayuan, Lin Mo, Liu Yu, Bo Yuan, Liu Zhang) 3 Japanese members (Mika, Santa, Rikimaru) and 2 Thai members (Nine, Patrick). Not only the nationality of the members is diverse but their talents are also versatile, too. Santa is a well known street dancer who has competed in many international competitions while Rikimaru is a talented choreographer with significant works. Plus, with Lin Mo and Patrick  eye catching performance skills INTO1 dance team is an intimidating one for the C-pop industry. Zhou Keyu and Zhang Jiayuan’s music composing skill is something you shouldn’t underestimate. These two have made an amazing rearrangement of Chuang 2021 theme song that got approved by fellow trainees and with Liu Zhang amazing rap writing skill INTO1 sure have a very strong composer team in their group. Mika and Nine can enchant you with their prince like visual and their unique charming voice. You might be worry that boy band that’s contain many foreign member might make it lose the sense of where the band really come from but don’t worry INTO1  got the all-rounder center Liu Yu who has been learning Chinese dance since 4 years old and got an advance skill in adapting Chinese dance style to make it more modern. Lastly, INTO1 also got Bo Yuan, big brother of the group who has been working in the C-pop industry as a Boy Band before entering INTO1, sure can give good care and guidance for his members.

The name INTO1 comes from INT that stands for international and internet, O means world which indicates the perfect gathering of teenagers and 1 means the 11 teens together attempt to fulfill the same dream and to be number 1.

Thank you for information and pictures from

รู้จัก 11 สมาชิก INTO1 จากเวที Chuang 2021 เดบิวต์วงบอยแบนน้องใหม่. (2021). ฉันท์ชมา. https://cities.trueid.net/article/รู้จัก-11-สมาชิก-into-1-จากเวที-chuang-2021-เดบิวต์วงบอยแบนน้องใหม่-trueidintrend_215705

Mnet Vote Manipulation Investigation | Produce 101 Wiki | Fandom. (2019). Produce 101 Wiki. https://produce-101.fandom.com/wiki/Mnet_Vote_Manipulation_Investigation

Produce camp 2021 (CHUANG 2021) CONTESTANTS profile and FACTS (UPDATED!). (2021). Joochanbabie. https://kprofiles.com/produce-camp-2021-chuang-2021-contestants-profile-and-facts/.