No matter how messy the Produce series turned out, one cannot deny how big its influence to the music industry is. With its extremely high exposure and viewership, any Produce show is a good way to gain publicity.
Some companies send their trainees to the show to bring attention to an upcoming girl or boy group by which said trainees will be part of. Of course, plans may be disrupted if the trainees get to the final line-up, but nevertheless it seems to be the most common scenario.
However, some trainees don’t end up staying with their original companies or groups. Probably due to stagnated plans, delayed debut, or internal issues with the company, they leave after the show. This is where the name they made during Produce comes through as other companies whose trainees also appeared on the same show with a more certain debut grabbed those trainees (some made them leave on purpose) and debut them together. Confusing it may sound, but here they are for a clearer understanding.
Weki Meki (Fantagio) – Sei
During Produce 101, Lee Seojung was among the girls LOUDers Entertainment sent. She gained a unique nickname through the show, “Forehead Girl”, because of her… well… particularly wide forehead. In 2016, she left her former company to join Fantagio Entertainment.
Fantagio previously also sent trainees to Produce 101 where Kim Doyeon and Choi Yoojung ended up as IOI members. In 2017, they debuted together with other Fantagio trainees in girl group Weki Meki.
GHOST9 (Maroo) – Junseong
It’s a shame how Produce X 101 only focused on Kim Minkyu when there were two Jellyfish Entertainment trainees on the show. Nevertheless, Choi Junseong gained a bit of attention during Produce X 101 for his impressive dancing and main vocal level singing skills. Since Jellyfish just debuted a boy group the same year Produce X 101 happened, a new boy group will be almost impossible. In 2019, he left Jellyfish and joined Maroo Entertainment.
Maroo may be notable for trainee Lee Jinwoo in particular who was quite popular during the show. Their other trainees also got buzz, Lee Woojin for his visuals and Lee Taesung for his singing. Along with said Produce X 101 and other Maroo trainees, Junseong debuted last September with boy group GHOST9.
Rocket Punch (Woollim) – Juri
I remember being very shocked when I first read the news about Juri on the internet. This is possibly the most surprising Produce related transfer ever. Produce 48 was a very peculiar season for the Produce series for it was in collaboration with AKB48 and its sister groups. AKB48 sent many of its idols which are too many to mention and one of those was Takahashi Juri who was able to get in to the Top 20. The reason this came up as a big surprise is because Juri is immensely popular in Japan. She placed #12 in her last senbatsu and could have been the next AKB48 general manager. However, she then graduated from AKB48 and signed with Woollim Entertainment.
It was Woollim’s first time participating in a Produce show through Produce 48 where they sent Kwon Eunbi, Kim Chaewon, Kim Suyun, and Kim Sohee with the first two mentioned making it to IZ*ONE. In 2019, Woollim debuted Rocket Punch with Juri, the two Produce 48 trainees who didn’t make it to IZ*ONE, and other Woollim trainees.
LIMITLESS (ONO) – Heeseok & Hyunwoo
One of the victims of Mnet’s “evil editing” during Produce 101 Season 2 was then Jellyfish Entertainment trainee, Yoon Heeseok. He ended up being eliminated after the position evaluations. During the first round, Yoon Heeseok performed EXO’s “Call Me Baby” and among his groupmates were then The Vibe Label trainee Seong Hyunwoo and ONO Entertainment’s Jang Moonbok.
After Produce 101 Season 2, Yoon Heeseok left Jellyfish and Seong Hyunwoo left The Vibe Label. Soon after, they joined Jang Moonbok in ONO Entertainment and debuted in boy group LIMITLESS.
WEi (OUI) – Seokhwa
While the last two entries in this list aren’t technically “trainees” when they joined Produce, they’re still worth mentioning. Kang Seokhwa was an independent trainee when he joined Produce X 101. In my opinion, Produce X 101 is the season where independent trainees really shined a lot because of their talents and Kang Seokhwa is a really good singer in particular. In 2019, he joined OUI Entertainment.
Kim Yohan who placed 1st in Produce X 101 was the sole trainee of OUI in the show. After the legal issues of Produce X 101 and X1’s disbandment, OUI announced plans to debut a new boy group including Seokhwa, Kim Yohan, and Produce 101 Season 1’s Kim Donghan who then debuted as WEi last October.
Drippin (Woollim) – Hyeop
Lastly, Lee Hyeop is another independent trainee who gained popularity in Produce X 101. Despite their audition performance being cut from the show, Lee Hyeop made a name for himself with his powerful vocals. He became a hot topic with his singing in their performance of Seventeen’s “Clap” and his five-level high notes in “Monday to Sunday”. In 2019, he joined Woollim Entertainment after some Woollim trainees convinced him to do so.
Woollim sent six of their trainees to Produce X 101. They are Hwang Yunseong, Kim Dongyun, Joo Changuk, Kim Minseo, Moon Junho (who left Woollim after the show), and Cha Junho (who made it to X1). Woollim debuted their remaining trainees including Cha Junho and Lee Hyeop with boy group DRIPPIN last October.
Though Mnet seems to no longer have plans in creating a new Produce season in the future, we won’t be seeing the end of Produce trainees appearing here and there. Only a fraction of the trainees who joined the series got to debut and a very little fraction of that got humble success; it’s sickening how Mnet used these dreamers for their dirty businesses. Anyways, who are your favorite trainees from Produce? Know of any other trainees who debuted with their Produce competitors? Drop them at the comments down below!