About the creation and successful career of Enhypen!

by Helen Bosch
enhypen jungwon heeseung jay jake sunghoon sunoo ni-ki border: carnival posterenhypen jungwon heeseung jay jake sunghoon sunoo ni-ki border: carnival poster

Enhypen is a very young boy group that debuted at the end of November 2020, so they haven't even been active for a whole 10 months yet. Nevertheless, they already have a very large fan base; even before their debut, they had more than a million followers on the social media platforms TikTok, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, and V Live. This is because the members of the group were already known to fans through the survival show I-Land.

I-Land

In May 2020, television station Mnet announced a new survival show called "I-Land," in which 23 male trainees from "Belift Lab" competed against each other to win a spot in the planned seven-member boy group. Belift Lab was established in 2019 by CJ E&M - an entertainment and mass media company - and Hybe Corporation, the agency that owns Big Hit Music (formerly "Big Hit Entertainment"). Some of Belift Lab's trainees transferred from Big Hit Music to the new agency, while the others came from public castings. The first episode of I-Land aired on June 26, after several teasers and a music video of the singer IU were released earlier.

Among all the survival shows broadcast then and now, I-Land stands out for the fact that in the first rounds the participants themselves determine with their votes which 12 trainees were allowed to stay in the almost luxuriously furnished building, which like the show was called "I-Land", and who had to go to the "Ground", an out-of-the-way building with very plain furnishings.

The goal of the "Grounders" was to advance to I-Land, because after the first half of the show, all trainees who did not qualify for one of the 12 spots in I-Land after the last round were eliminated. The final decision on who would advance was no longer made by the trainees themselves, but by a viewer vote.

belift lab survival show i-land poster

The trainee voting system was merciless, because already after the first appearance of all participants the trainees had to vote which of them was allowed to live in the I-Land for the time being and which in the Ground. Over the rounds the decision became more and more difficult as the trainees became closer and closer through the show and team missions. There were definitely tears shed not only by the trainees, but also by the viewers. After all the emotions in Part 1, the fans were already cheering hard, but had to wait half a month until the first episode of the second part of the show was aired on August 14. The wait was at least shortened by a special episode on August 7, in which Part 1 of the show was summarized and glimpses of Part 2 were given. In Part 2, only the viewers and producers, including Big Hit founder Bang Shi Hyuk, were allowed to vote; the trainees no longer made any decisions. In the finale, only nine trainees were left. Six members of Enhypen were chosen by the viewers, and the seventh member was chosen by the producers.

Stage NameReal NameBirthday
HeeseungLee Heeseung15.10.2001
JayJay Park20.04.2002
JakeJake Sim15.11.2002
SunghoonPark Sunghoon08.12.2002
SunooKim Sunwoo24.06.2003
Jungwon (Leader)Yang Jungwon09.02.2004
Ni-ki (Maknae)Nishimura Riki09.12.2005

Heesung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, Jungwoon, and Ni-ki took the first places in the viewers' vote; Sunoo was voted the seventh member by the producers. The eldest Heesung has trained the longest, 3 years and one month, which is a relatively average amount of training time. Three members have trained for less than a year, the least being the youngest Ni-ki; he was a trainee for only eight months! Jungwon, Heeseung, Jay, Sunghoon were former trainees under Big Hit Entertainment.

During the finale of I-Land, "Enhypen" was introduced as the name of the new group. The name is derived from the symbol "-", which is called "Hyphen". Just as Hyphen connects words, Enhypen's goal is to connect and create something new together.

Enhypen debuted on November 30, 2020, not even two months after the finale of I-Land, which aired on September 18. The first album, "Border: Day One," featuring the title track "Given-Taken", was pre-ordered over 300,000 times, making it the best-selling K-pop debut album in 2020, reaching number two on both the Korean Gaon album chart and the Japanese Oricon album chart, and going platinum in February 2021. In late 2020, a music video was released for "Let Me In (20 Cube)", as well.

On April 26, 2021, the second album "Border: Carnival" followed, which was pre-ordered over 450,000 times! With the title song "Drunk-Dazed", Enhypen won a music show for the first time. First "The Show," then also "Show Champion" and "Music Bank." Carnival also topped the Oricon charts, ranking #18 on both the "Billboard 200 Charts" and the "Billboard Artist 100 Charts".

Just seven months after their debut in South Korea, Enhypen made their Japanese debut with the Japanese single "Border: Hakanai." In addition to Japanese versions of "Given-Taken" and "Let Me In," it also features the new song "Forget Me Not", which serves as the soundtrack for the anime "Re-Main." "Border: Hakanai" concluded the "Border" series.

The third Korean album was supposed to be released at the end of September, but after all members except Sunoo tested positive for Corona, the comeback had to be postponed. By mid-September, however, Belift Lab announced that all members had recovered and fans could exhale. The new release date for "Dimension: Dilemma" is October 12. Read more about the new album here!

In the meantime, "Dimension: Dilemma" has been pre-ordered over 600,000 times.

Enhypen has steadily improved in their short career so far and we can't wait to celebrate many more achievements with the boy group!

Have you watched I-Land? Who is your bias?

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