YG trainees face off once again

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YG trainees face off once again


Chief producer of YG Entertainment, Yang Hyun-suk, fifth from left, poses on Tuesday during a press conference in Yeouido, southern Seoul, with nine contestants of “Mix & Match,” a survival audition program launched by the K-pop agency to decide who will debut as iKON, a new boy band. Provided by YG Entertainment

The chief producer of one of Korea’s most prominent music agencies, YG Entertainment, sees the entire world as a jungle.

“We live in competition,” said Yang Hyun-suk, 43, during a press conference held Tuesday in Apgujeong, southern Seoul. “No matter how cruel it may seem, people strengthen as they fight.”

Yang is known as the man behind K-pop megastars Big Bang and 2NE1, who regularly hold international tours due to their popularity overseas. But he knows better than anyone else that it takes unrelenting sacrifice and ambition to reach that level.

YG Entertainment revealed plans on Tuesday for an upcoming survival audition show with a theme similar to “Win: Who is Next,” which aired late last year.

Just like in the previous program, the company said it will choose potential members out of a group of rookie entertainers who have been training with the agency. The viewers will vote for the final winners.

The result of “Win: Who is Next” was the five-member all-male group Winner, which debuted last month with the album “2014 S/S.” Their songs snatched the top spot on many local music charts soon after their release.

The upcoming audition show “Mix & Match” will feature nine contestants, six of which were on the losing team in YG’s previous reality show.

The agency has already chosen three members of the losing team for the new boy group, with the remaining three competing against three other trainees for four more spots. A total of seven members will be selected to debut as a single group.

Each member will compete in three missions throughout the show, with judges including YG Entertainment’s producers and musicians as well as “outside professionals,” the company explained during the press conference.

In the last mission, which “covers more than 90 percent of the entire show in terms of significance,” according to the agency, viewers’ votes will represent 70 percent of the final decision for the winning boy band.

The rest will be based on votes by 30 YG Entertainment artists, including Big Bang and 2NE1.

“I’m actually relieved that B Team lost in the previous show,” Yang said.

(In “Win: Who is Next,” two teams - A Team and B Team - competed against each other. A Team debuted as Winner.)

“The deep wound has formed a callus in them,” said Yang, adding that they all handed in their cell phones voluntarily after the show to focus on practicing.

“Every week, I witnessed how rapidly they were developing their skills, and I look forward to seeing that effort shine through in the program,” he added.

When asked why only three members of B Team have qualified for the group, Yang answered that the other three have been training for a shorter period of time and “therefore, objectively speaking, aren’t as good as the chosen three.”

But, in the end, it’s not always about who performs better at this very moment, Yang added, because potential is something he can’t overlook.

“In a way, I’m no different from the viewers at home because I, too, am an observer,” he said.

“There are many things that I still don’t know about each trainee, which is why I look forward to learning more about them during the show.”

The winning team of “Mix & Match” will debut early next year under the name iKON.

Yang explained that he switched the C of icon to a K for Korea to infer that the new boy band will grow into an icon of K-pop and will thrive internationally like Psy.

“Who would have thought that Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ would turn out to be a global hit? Who would have thought that Big Bang would launch an international tour?” Yang asked, highlighting the he hopes that iKON, too, will win similar acclaim both in and out of Korea.

As for the two male contestants who will fail in the competition, Yang said he honestly “doesn’t know” what kind of future awaits them.

“I’m guessing they won’t be able to debut through YG Entertainment,” he said with a bitter smile.

The show will launch next Thursday at 11 p.m. on cable channel Mnet.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [selee@joongang.co.kr]

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