The first season of Produce 101 turned out to be one of the most unexpected hits of last year. The show took off like a rocket and spawned I.O.I, who became one of the industry’s top girl groups during their time together. Now all eyes are on season two, which aims to create the next nation’s boy band.
Episode one, of the new season, recently premiered and it didn’t disappoint. On top of all the talented, handsome, and cute trainees, the show provided plenty of hilarious and tense moments to keep viewers entertained. And this time around, the judges are even tougher, making it harder than ever before to receive a coveted ‘A’ ranking. While every trainee had a lot to offer, there were a handful that really stood out to me personally on the first episode. Here they are:
1. Justin (Yuehua Entertainment)
Justin was an instant standout when he entered the stage as the center of the Yuehua trainees, who stunned their fellow contestants with cute charm and charisma. The 16-year-old had one contestant fawning over his denim overalls, giving him burgeoning fashion icon status right off the bat.
2. Park Jihoon (Maroo Entertainment)
Park Jihoon found fame a month before Produce 101 had started airing after a GIF of him winking during the group’s “It’s Me” performance went viral. After gaining attention for his good looks, Jihoon was able to showcase his talent on the premiere by performing a Turbo classic alongside his fellow Maroo Entertainment trainees.
3. Samuel (Brave Entertainment)
After briefly promoting as part of hip-hop duo 1PUNCH, before almost joining SEVENTEEN, Samuel was a star prior to appearing on Produce 101. The 16-year-old lived up to his hype on the show’s premiere, blowing the judges away with his dance moves and vocals to become one of the few contestants to earn an ‘A’ grade. It’s clear that Samuel has a very bright future ahead of him in the K-Pop industry.
4. Ong Seong Woo (Fantagio)
This Fantagio trainee immediately stunned Produce 101’s female judges with his handsome looks, which resulted in Kahi and BoA saying that he had “actor visuals.” The 23-year-old’s charisma is undeniable, and luckily he was able to prove that he was more than just a pretty face with an impressive audition performance that even left his fellow contestants flustered.
5. Jang Moon Bok (ONO Entertainment)
Self-proclaimed ‘hip-hop president’ Jang Moon Bok has attracted a considerable amount of attention on Produce 101 due to his famous past appearance on Superstar K2. Mnet have capitalised off the 23-year-old’s growing fame by virtually centering the entire premiere around him; he was the last trainee to enter, he took the coveted No. 1 seat on stage, and the first episode ended with a Moon Bok cliffhanger. Whatever happens on the show, I can already see a bright future for Moon Bok as a big variety star.
6. Yoo Hoe-seung (FNC Entertainment)
Yoo Hoe-seung had an instant presence on the premiere due to being the sole trainee from FNC Entertainment; one of the larger agencies to take part in the show this year. The handsome 23-year-old then made his mark by winning an arm wrestling match against another contestant to snatch the coveted No. 1 seat on stage - only to later be dethroned by Jang Moon Bok! Hoe-seung is definitely one to watch.
7. Ahn Hyeong Seop (Yuehua Entertainment)
It was hard for the Yuehua boys to get individual spotlight with Justin taking center position and dominating screen time with his cuteness and denim overalls, but Hyeong Seop found a way! While judge BoA was singing along to I.O.I’s “Pick Me” during a break, Hyeong Seop rushed the stage and started enthusiastically performing the song. The cheeky 19-year-old worked his aegyo to the max and won over the judges, snatching himself a major standout moment on the premiere in the process.
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