CULTURE South Korea's talent show 'Produce 101' breaks down barriers in China


South Korea's talent show 'Produce 101' breaks down barriers in China


05:11, October 03, 2018


The Chinese version of "Produce 101" holds its final in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, June 23, 2018. (Photo: VCG)

When the pop culture spotlight shines on Asia, K-pop stars often stand out above the rest.

Korean pop, the very genre which spawned international hits like Gangnam Style and D.N.A continues to dominate the Asian entertainment scene.

Just as the world thought K-pop couldn't get any bigger, South Korea's latest pop breakthrough continued to captivate audiences.

It came in the form of a hit talent survival show called "Produce 101", and it highlighted the process of how a multi-faceted music group becomes a K-pop success. 

Owned by South Korea's media conglomerate CJ E&M and aired on the country's popular music TV channel Mnet in 2016, the "Produce 101" franchise quickly spread to Thailand, Japan, and China.

Remakes of the show were aired in these countries in 2018.

One industry insider said this is all thanks to China's huge entertainment market.

"South Korea is a country with a small population, so it's [the idol industry] likely to expand its talent search into other countries with larger markets such as those in China, the US, and Europe. Because of its population, South Korea cannot just focus on nurturing artists for its own market consumption," said Cao Yongshou, president of Beijing AIMan Technology.

With China's booming number of pop fans coupled with a market full of young, eager talents anxious to be seen, Cao said it's only a matter of time before China stands out among leading pop culture industries like South Korea and Japan.

The show brings together many raw talents or "idol trainees," to compete for the chance to become a star – usually in the form of a male or female pop group.

Fans of the show decide through a voting system who they want staying until the end.

"I bought a streaming platform membership just so I could watch the show every Saturday. I voted for the contestants too," said a fan of the Chinese version of "Produce 101".

Buying streaming memberships and voting for the trainees are popular fan behaviors. Many interviewed said they've done the same.

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