Survival Shows - Casting shows with a difference!

by Helen Bosch
survival show girls planet 999 postersurvival show girls planet 999 poster

Wanna One , I.O.I, IZ*ONE, Twice, Stray Kids, Treasure, iKON, Winner, MonstaX, NiziU, fromis_9, Pentagon, VIXX und AKMU.

Probably even new fans know a few of these names, because some of these bands are very successful and it's almost impossible to pass them by if you're into K-Pop on a regular basis.

If you are now wondering what all these bands have in common, you will get a detailed answer in this article:

The most important in brief

  • Korean survival shows are really nothing more than casting shows, although some are very different from the programs we know.
  • Entertainments like JYP, YG and Starship produce their own survival shows in which their trainees compete for debut.
  • Successful groups like Twice, Stray Kids and IZ*ONE were created in Survival shows.

  • On August 6, the first episode of the new show "Girls Planet 999" will air.

What is a survival show?

We all know casting shows: shows in which individual contestants or groups compete against each other and are eliminated piece by piece until one or more winners remain. Korean survival shows are really nothing more than casting shows, but some are very different from the programs we know in Europe. To let you know what they are really all about, here are a few examples.

K-Pop Star

kpop star poster boa park jinyoung jyp yg

In general, the concept of K-Pop Star is very simple. Anyone who wants to can go to a casting and audition. The show's production team decides whether the hopeful applicants will be admitted to the main casting; the first round that is televised. There, they will meet the three-member jury consisting of none other than Yang Hyun-suk, the founder of YG Entertainment, Park Jin-young, the founder of JYP Entertainment, and BoA, a successful singer from SM Entertainment.

Applicants must convince at least two of the three jury members to advance to the next round. From here on, things get exciting: the contestants choose one of the jury members from whom they would like to receive advice and help before the next round. This concept continues throughout the season, with the jury themselves deciding in the casting round who they want to "cast" and continue teaching, with those who are not cast automatically eliminated.

When there are only 10 contestants left, the live shows as we know them begin. From this point on, the viewers are allowed to vote for who will go on, with jury voting also still playing a role.

In a previous round, all contestants form groups to show how they can work together with others. It can happen that the jury decides in this round that they will only vote for a group of participants as a team, which will then compete together against the others. Of course, it also happens that already in the casting participants apply as a team, sometimes only a part of the team survives the round and continues alone from then on. The winner of the last live show gets a cash prize, a brand new car and a contract with an entertainment company of his choice.

kpop star poster park jinyoung jyp you heeyeol

The first season of the popular survival show aired in 2011. In the third season, BoA is replaced by You Hee-yeol, the founder of Antenna Music. This jury constellation remained until the 6th season, which aired in 2016 and was announced in advance as the final season.

Here, even trainees and already debuted singers could participate and the winner was promoted jointly by all three entertainments.

Probably the most famous winners of K-Pop Star are the sibling duo AKMU (Akdong Musician), consisting of Lee Chan-hyuk and his younger sister Lee Soo-hyun, who won the second season.


However, some fans may also be familiar with Lee Hi and Bang Yedam in particular, who each took second place. Yedam debuted in 2020 as part of the boy group "Treasure" from YG Entertainment.


Intra-entertainment survival shows

Over the years, there have always been entertainments that have pitted their trainees against each other in a survival show to decide who will debut in the new group. In some cases, there were live shows and audience voting, but in general, the entertainments have been the ultimate word.

park jinyoung jyp with trainees from survival show sixteen future twice members

Participants of Sixteen with Park Jin-young

JYP Entertainment is very suitable as an example because founder Park Jin Young has formed three groups at once through survival shows. Twice Twice was formed through Sixteen Stray Kids Stray Kids through a show of the same name, and NiziU through Nizi Project. Nizi Project is different from the other two shows because it doesn't pit trainees against each other, but talents selected through auditions. Just a week ago, a second season of Nizi Project was officially announced, in which members are sought for a boy band.

yg entertainment survival show win: who is next poster


YG Entertainment has also produced several of its own survival shows in recent years. For example, the boy group Treasure was created through "YG Treasure Box."

n "WIN: Who Is Next," two trainee groups, Team A and Team B competed against each other to make their debut. Team A won the show and later debuted under the name "WinnerThe six members of Team B were joined by three more trainees in another survival show called "Mix & Match" and individually competed for a spot in the boy group "iKON" which debuted in September 2015 with seven members.

In addition, Cube Entertainment formed the boy group "Pentagon," Jellyfish Entertainment formed with "MyDol" the boy group " VIXX" and Starship formed with "No.Mercy," the boy group "MonstaX".

The examples listed here are only a fraction of the entertainment-internal survival shows already on the air, and new ones are guaranteed to be added in the future.

Produce Series

In 2016, "Produce 101" was broadcast, the prelude to a successful series of survival shows produced by the entertainment and mass media company CJ E&M and aired on the channel "Mnet", which is owned by CJ E&M. Produce 101 is the first survival show in which trainees from different entertainments come together to form a project group. 101 female trainees compete in various missions to make their debut.


A special feature of the show is that although there is a team of coaches who teach the trainees how to sing and dance, there is no jury. Which trainees advance to the next round and eventually get a place in the final group is to be decided 100 percent by the viewers.

It is already known at the beginning of the show that the final girl group will have eleven members and will only exist for a temporary period. Produce 101 gives rise to the girl group "I.O.I," which debuted in May 2016 and disbanded in January 2017 after nine months as planned. After the end of I.O.I, the members returned to their entertainments and debuted there as solo singers or part of a new group.

i.o.i dream girls poster

I.O.I


Debido al enorme éxito de Produce 101 e I.O.I, el programa volvió en 2017 con una segunda temporada: "Produce 101 Season 2".

This time, 101 male trainees competed for their debut. Again, a temporary project group with eleven members was created, this time under the name "Wanna One" Wanna One debuted in August 2017 and ended its activities in January 2019 after 18 months.

In 2018, the third season will be aired under the name "Produce 48". This time, the 101 participants were not only composed of trainees, but were joined by members of the Japanese girl group AKB48. (AKB48 consists of around 100 rotating members divided into many different teams). From this squadron, the twelve-member girl group "IZ*ONE" emerged, consisting of nine Korean and three Japanese members, and was active in both Korea and Japan. IZ*ONE debuted in October 2018 and disbanded in April 2021 after two and a half years.

x1 group selfie


In 2019, the fourth and final season was broadcast under the name "Produce X 101". However, the eleven-member boy group "X1", which was supposed to be active for 5 years, disbanded after less than five months. The reason for this was that it became known that the producers of the show had manipulated the audience voting in all seasons. The producers had already decided before the finale which members would end up in the band.

X1 had just debuted when the scandal broke and disbanded in its wake.


IZ*ONE who were still active at that time, interrupted their activities for 3 months.

Because of the scandalous end of the Produce series, the upcoming survival show "Girls Planet 999", which will also be aired on Mnet, is being eyed very critically by some fans.

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Girls Planet 999

The first episode of the new survival show is scheduled to air on August 6. In "Girls Planet 999," 99 trainees and idols from Korea, Japan and China will compete against each other; 33 from each country. The goal of the competition is to debut a new 9-member girl group with members from all three countries. Meanwhile, it is also known that Choi Yujin from CLC, Heo Jiwon and Kim Bora from Cherry Bullet, and Kim Doah and Lee Nayeon from Fanatics, among others, will be part of the show.

Además de los ejemplos mencionados aquí, también hay programas como "Kingdom" y "Queendom", en los que grupos ya debutantes como Ateez, Stray Kids and The Boyz compete against each other to show a new side of themselves and ultimately choose a winner.

n 2017, "The Unit" even aired a show in which exclusively former idols or those who are not particularly well known were given a new chance at success. The show spawned the temporary boy group "UNB," whose members included Chan from A.C.E U-KISS's Jun, and the temporary girl group "Uni.T," which included DIA's Yebin and Sonamoo's Euijin.

As you can see, survival shows enjoy great popularity in Korea.

With all the shows, it's no wonder that some idols went through several competitions on their way to debut or after.

Chaeyeon of IZ*ONE for example, participated with her younger sister Chaeryeong, who is now a part of ITZY , in both Season 3 of Kpop Star in 2013 and JYP's survival show Sixteen, where Twice was formed. Without her sister, she also competed in "Produce 48" where she placed twelfth, winning a spot in IZ*ONE. Then this year, "Street Woman Fighter", a dance show in which 8 teams compete for victory, whose first episode will air on August 24.


Have you ever watched one of these survival shows? If not, are you planning to? Feel free to let us know in the comments! ^-^

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