10 Best K-Pop Survival Shows, Ranked | ScreenRant
When it comes to Korean television, it’s not always about the K-dramas. There’s so much to explore, from fan-favorite reality/variety shows to competition K-Pop survival shows. What are K-Pop survival shows? Think of this genre of television similar to that of American Idol and The Voice, but with so much more at stake.
K-Pop dominates the Korean entertainment business and it is also popular around the world. Becoming an idol takes hard work, grueling hours, and proving your worth, so many Korean entertainment agencies have developed “survival shows.” On these shows, hopeful individuals go through training and a series so tests to see if they have what it takes to debut in a K-Pop group or as a soloist.
10 YG Treasure Box (2019)
One important thing to note about K-Pop survival shows is that they don’t tend to have a long run on television. In fact, many only last for one season. YG Treasure Box was a survival show that debuted in 2019 and was created by YG Entertainment. Fans of K-Pop know very well that YG Entertainment is one of the top agencies in South Korea and discovered K-Pop sensation Yang Hyung-Suk in 1996.
The 2019 show put 29 hopeful male trainees to the test to see who would debut in the new K-Pop group, TREASURE. The trainees were split into different groups, each member with their own skillset, from rapping and dancing to singing. As elimination went on, one trainee was picked from each category. In the end, 12 trainees became the chosen idols of TREASURE.
9 MixNine (2017 – 2018)
MixNine was another reality survival show by YG Entertainment. Lasting only one season, Yang Hyun-Suk traveled around South Korea looking for new trainees. Hyun-Suk and guest judges picked a total of 170 trainees, including male and female groups that would then go through various courses and training.
The trainees were separated into teams and given challenges to be judged by Hyun-Suk and the main judges. A fun aspect of the show was that different well-known artists were brought in to mentor and teach the trainees depending on their known talents, like rapping or dancing. The female and male teams go head to head to see who will debut as a new K-Pop group.
8 Idol Rebooting Project: The Unit (2017 – 2018)
The title for Idol Rebooting Project: The Unit gives audiences a pretty good idea of what the survival show entails. The series was created to give already debuted idols another shot at stardom. The show would create two groups, one male and one female, made up of nine members. Despite these contestants already being idols, they still have to show their worth and showcase talents they might not have been able to show before.
As the process goes on, contestants’ performances are voted on by the audience and get “Boots” depending on the number of votes they receive. If they get a “Super Boot,” they automatically get to join the show. If they don’t, the judges determine whether or not they can join.
7 The I-Land (2020)
The I-Land took reality/survival shows to new heights. The show started with a total of 23 trainee male contestants who had to prove their talent to debut as part of the final K-Pop group. But this show had a fun and interesting concept that set it apart from other shows in that the contestants were sent to a remote complex in the forest for 113 days.
The complex, named “The I-Land,” is a posh living area complete with gyms, studios, and much more. Only 12 contestants can reside in the complex, while the others go to the “Ground” – a much simpler and more mediocre living space. The contests from both complexes must pass a series of challenges to showcase their talents and determine who gets to go to the I-Land or be demoted to the Ground. The final winner was the group, Enhypen.
6 Road To Kingdom (2020)
Road to Kingdom was the follow-up show to the reality/survival show Queendom, but with male trainees. Much like its predecessor and other show in the genre, male trainees are grouped and put to the test to see if they’re worthy of becoming an idol and debuting as a K-Pop group.
The trainees were put into seven groups and were mostly unknown to the public. Each week, the groups would be given challenges and shots at performances to wow the judges and the audience. The groups with the lowest cumulative points after their performances must leave the show. The end purpose was for one group to secure a spot on the sequel show, Kingdom.
5 Kingdom: Legendary War (2021 – Present)
Kingdom: Legendary War is the sequel to Road to Kingdom and the groups that secured a spot have to once again compete for the big win. The Boys, Stray Kids, and Ateez were amongst the K-Pop groups that succeeded in securing their spot and entering the next round.
Kingdom: Legendary War puts six K-Pop groups against each other in four performance rounds. The last round determines the winner. Seeing as the participants are already known stars, the winner receives a special reality show and gets a “Kingdom Week” special show.
4 Produce 48 (2018)
Produce 48 was the third season of the hit franchise survival show, Produce 101. This season had a lot of different ways to determine the winner. The show set out to create a girl group out of 96 contestants from South Korea and Japan.
Audiences were not only responsible for picking the best performances and trainees, but everything else. The public voted and decide on the group’s concept, debut single, and name. 12 contestants made it to the finale and debuted as the group Iz*One. However, in 2021, the group officially disbanded.
3 Queendom (2019)
Queendom is tagged as a comeback battle of some of Korea’s most well-known female K-Pop groups. The show’s purpose was to determine which group is the best of the best by dropping each group’s new single at the same time. The contestants took part in three stages – three preliminary performances, digital points from the comeback single, and a live comeback stage.
The groups had to rely heavily on their three preliminary performances to accumulate enough points to get ahead of the competition. In the end, Mammamoo reigned supreme, coming in at first place and debuting their 10th mini-album, Travel.
2 Stray Kids (2017)
Stray Kids was a survival/reality show by JYP Entertainment. It was at first believed to be a new installment of another survival show, Sixteen, that led to the debut of the famed group, Twice. However, the new show would deviate from the previous formula and focus on male trainees.
Instead of focusing on individuals, the male trainees had to survive as a group to debut. They needed to compose their own songs, complete with vocals, choreography, and rap to show to the judges. The judges would score them individually and as a team. The show also gave viewers a look into the groups’ daily lives.
1 Produce 101 (2016)
Produce 101 was a one-season survival show that led to further franchise installments. The show started big, with 101 contestants from 46 entertainment companies, that had to be narrowed down to the final 11. Audiences liked the show, as there were no judges and the contestant’s future was solely dependant on public votes.
The public also decided the group’s concept, debut single, and name. The show focused on creating the next girl group and brought in known artists to act as mentors. The final winners debuted as the group I.O.I, but they would disband in 2017. Fans can recall the hit solo artists, ChungHa and Somi, as group members, as well as The Uncanny Counter K-drama actor, Kim Se-Jeong.
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