The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

What is Next for “R U Next?”

Kennedi Tolbert
HYBE and BeLift hosted a Korean-Pop survival show “R U Next” to form a global girl group I’ll-IT. “R U Next” faced various controversies during and after the show ran on television. Mentions of favoritism, nepotism and rigging caused several scandals for the show in the media. Despite that, the final lineup for “R U Next” was released September 1. The group has not announced their debut plans yet, but after the creation of the group’s social media accounts, their official debut appears close.

R U Next?” aired as a Korean-Pop (K-Pop) survival show made in collaboration with HYBE and their subsidiary label BeLift to create a girl group called I’LL-IT. HYBE owns subsidiaries of companies such as Big Hit Music, Source Music, Pledis Entertainment, BeLift, KOZ and ADOR. Alongside this, HYBE manages groups such as  NewJeans, BTS and TXT. On K-pop survival shows, a group of trainees with hopes to debut receive mentorship from senior artists and producers to earn a spot in a debut group. In survival shows similar to “R U Next”, the viewers vote for their favorite trainee to make the debut lineup. The way people vote varies with each episode, but the company receives the majority say in the debut lineup. The debut line-up on “R U Next?” will remain permanent. The show’s controversies began after the first episode and round of voting. Fans suspected the survival show’s establishment served as an attempt to gain attention for the debuting group.

“I think Twice definitely got a lot of popularity from their survival show but I think that groups like Twice built their own name and that is why they are so popular. Most groups use survival shows to gain fans for the group but the actual lineup remains obvious. JYP’s recent survival shows didn’t have fan voting so no signs or complaints of corruption. That’s what other companies should do to avoid rigging scandals but still be rigged if they want, ” sophomore Fibi Omisore said.

During and after the show, accusations of nepotism and pretty privilege against the winner of the show Wonhee arose. Nepotism rumors appeared regarding her high ranking throughout the show without the apparent skills. During the show, Wonhee consistently placed 9th, but in the last hour of voting, she won first place. Her cousin, Hwang Suji, participated in the Korean dating show “Love Catcher in Bali” where she showed off her wealth and confirmed that she attended a prestigious school. Netizens used this information to confirm their suspensions, and videos comparing her dancing and stage presence to eliminate trainees started to trend. Countless people said she looked scared or in a constant state of shock with no stage presence, which caused people to bring up the idea of pretty privilege. Rumors began to spiral as Korean viewers and voters tended to choose stereotypically beautiful trainees, however, this does not come as a surprise because  Korea tends to choose beauty over talent. Beauty standards and outward appearance possess greater importance in the industry. When seemingly talented trainees appeared ready to debut and started to rank lower, the rumors spiraled out of control, further solidified by the fact Wonhee received first place while those who fans regarded as ready to debut got eliminated. 

“As JYP always says the textbook of half-air and half sound is Yerin Beak. Wonhee you have not trained for long, right? So, without meaning to, you had the best half-air sound thing going on. It sounded natural,” Judge Jo Kwon said.

The worst side of the rumors began when trainees who did act negatively toward Wonhee started to get eliminated. For example, Moa made a face when watching Wonhee’s performance, and Chanelle raised her voice at Wonhee. They both faced elimination soon after, despite holding high rankings beforehand. 

Chanelle, a popular trainee among fans of the show, maintained her top-six rank until her elimination in one of the final episodes. Chanelle’s elimination caused an uproar among fans of the show; An abundant number of the fans said they will not continue to stan the group after Chanelle’s elimination. The “R U Next?” Tiktok once boasted over 323,300 followers, and after Chanelle’s elimination, the account currently holds nearly 255,000 followers. 

Other discrepancies with the elimination of the show include HYBE using trainees such as Shimazaki Haruka, previously included in the debut lineup of LE SSERAFIM. Rumors regarding the show using Haruka for popularity circled when she joined the show’s lineup and then faced elimination, Shin Hyewon, known as Hyewon during the show, held the number one spot. Then immediately before her elimination, the show cut her screen time. Jeongeun won every single round before her elimination, however, she ranked low and continuously decreased in rank. Iris’s comments regarding wanting to get eliminated caused fans to think that the show seemed scripted. Since Iris became a foreigner at a young age, also staying by herself in a country where she barely spoke the language fans believed she could get easily manipulated into saying things she did not know or want to. She received a scolding for the same mistakes Wonhee made but the judges showcased two opposite reactions. Wonhee suffered from criticism by the public for similar actions but faced no judgment from the judges on the show, but still won first place.

The show resulted in the six-member girl group I’LL-IT, the members in the order of ranking: Wonhee, Youngseo, Minju, Iroha, Moka and Yunah. They have yet to confirm their debut date but the group opened social media accounts and started posting together which indicates a debut in the near future.

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About the Contributor
Kennedi Tolbert, Reporter
Kennedi Tolbert is a sophomore at NC that is involved in the magnet program and its council. She runs on the cross country and track teams at NC. Her primary interests include history, sociology, government and anything she doesn't know yet. 

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