IOI is one of the biggest K-Pop groups out right now. From various performances, commercials, variety shows, to their own reality shows, IOI is virtually everywhere. Ultimately, though, their contract with YMC Entertainment only lasts 10 months, after which the group will officially disband in front of the thousands of fans they have made over the past few months from Produce101.
Many fans argue that IOI should be a permanent group, and that if they disband they will never reach the popularity they’ve gained when they debut under their own agencies. Agencies are adding IOI members to their currently existing groups or debuting them in an entirely new group, despite the backlash from fans. Fans have been wondering if the groups the members will be joining after IOI would gain the traction that they previously had, because of Produce101.
To start off, Chaeyeon was added back to DIA for their June comeback with the mini album, Happy Ending. The album sales have yet to reach IOI’s debut mini album sales, which, as of writing, has reached over 64,000 on Gaon. Despite this, they have already sold twice as many albums in one month than they did in almost an entire year with their first full album, Do It Amazing. They have also held numerous busking performances, with one lasting almost eight hours to celebrate them breaking into the top 30 on Melon with their title track, On The Road.
The problem that lies is that MBK is pushing Chaeyeon to the front of the group, leaving the rest of the members nameless (with the exception of Heehyun, who was also a contestant on Produce101) to the general public. Chaeyeon herself has many solo appearances and will be starring in her own drama thanks to her personal success in IOI. DIA seems to be heading in the right direction, but if MBK keeps pushing Chaeyeon more than the other girls, we could have another Hyuna and the back-up dancers.
Sejeong & Mina
Sejeong and Mina are the first members of IOI to be a part of a debuting group. Both girls made their official debut under Jellyfish in gugudan, their company’s response to the let’s-put-a-bunch-of-girls-in-a-group-and-hope-for-the-best phenomenon. gugudan debuted in June (close to DIA’s comeback) with their first mini album Act.1 The Little Mermaid and title track Wonderland. Surprisingly, their title track debuted pretty high on most music charts, a seemingly impossible feat in the wave of multiple girl group debuts.
Despite their current success, fans are complaining about the song and music video, which doesn’t live up to the quality that Jellyfish established with senior group VIXX. The song mostly consists of its chorus (over individual member parts) and the music video consists of cuts of the girls playing around and then of the girls dancing. Fans have also accused Jellyfish of copying the group’s logo (from Snuper) and their greeting (from TWICE). This debut, personally, looks like it was put together at the last second with Jellyfish’s goal being to ride on IOI’s success (which, arguably, they have been able to). Let’s hope that Jellyfish learns from this and plans, in advance, gugudan’s future activities.
Yeonjung will be the next member of IOI to join a pre-existing group, WJSN, Starship’s newest girl group in collaboration with Yuehua Entertainment. WJSN debuted earlier this year with the mini album, Would You Like? and title track MoMoMo. Though their first mini album exceeds over 10,000 sales, the group gained little to no popularity when they first debuted. The group has 12 (now 13) members, following the recent trend of bigger girl groups, making it difficult for non-fans to recognize each individual member of the group.
Starship made a last-minute decision to officially add Yeonjung in the group in order to gain that popularity they wanted for WJSN since the beginning. Unfortunately, adding a member to a group doesn’t always guarantee the popularity of said group. Some fans are angered by this decision, hoping Yeonjung would go solo or be added to a smaller group later on. Starship didn’t have much time to hesitate as WJSN’s planned comeback will be in August; we will just have to see if Yeonjung can launch the group into popularity or keep them in nugu-dom.
The rest of the girls have yet to make their official debut in their agencies (with the exception of Sohye, who plans to debut as an actress under her one-man agency S&P Entertainment). The agencies who have yet to debut their girls seem to be waiting for IOI to disband, either because they are focusing on current groups or they are focusing on preparing their current trainees for debut. Do you think IOI will reach success under their own agencies, or do you think IOI’s popularity will only last for so long?