Yes, We Still Love ‘Em!: A Year After I.O.I’s Disbandment
Introducing countless girl group hopefuls back in early 2016, Mnet’s Produce 101 became a craze due to its fun yet challenging concept. Inspiring numerous idol survival programs to follow suit, it is safe to say that Produce 101 has become a household name all over Korea and the Hallyu world. The show, through its two seasons, produced two of the most popular groups to have swept the entire nation, I.O.I and Wanna One. While Wanna One still remains one of today’s most popular boy groups, fans can’t help but feel emotional when talking about the already-disbanded female group I.O.I.
The Produce 48 Appearance
I.O.I, compared to Wanna One, was short-lived, given that the girl group’s contract length only lasted for several months. Despite this, I.O.I became widely popular when they debuted—sweeping charts one after another and taking home numerous rookie awards during the year-end shows. Just when they were at the height of their popularity, the girls of I.O.I had to part ways and return to their respective groups and agencies.
Just a few days ago, as part of the hype growing for the upcoming Produce 101 season, news has surfaced stating that all 11 members of I.O.I are to appear in an episode to cheer on the contestants of Produce 48. With this in mind, the public can’t help but feel ecstatic over the news, given that it will be the first time all 11 members will appear on broadcast. Given that it has been a year, things are a lot different—the members are now in their own different groups and are now focusing on their solo endeavors. But before we see the members on broadcast once again, why don’t we take a look at what the members of I.O.I have been up to, a year after they disbanded.
Yeonjung was added to WJSN (Cosmic Girls) in August 2016, even while she was promoting in I.O.I. She joined the group through their hit second single “Secret” and has been one of the key members of the group ever since. After I.O.I disbanded, Yeonjung scored a lot of solo OST deals, including one for the OCN drama Meloholic, starring TVXQ!’s Yunho and Kyung Soojin. For the most part, however, she has been busy with her activities promoting with WJSN, as the group became widely active for a whole year with their album releases, as well as a reality show that aired on JTBC. Earlier this year, WJSN made a comeback with their fourth mini-album, Dream Your Dream, which became their first album to reach the top of real-time album charts, proving their growing popularity.
Lim Nayoung and Zhou Kyulkyung
Nayoung and Kyulkyung debuted in their own group PRISTIN in March 2017, approximately two months after I.O.I’s disbandment. As part of PRISTIN, Nayoung and Kyulkyung focused on the promotions for their two mini-albums while juggling numerous variety guestings for shows such as King of Masked Singer, Idol School, and Hyena on the Keyboard. PRISTIN immediately gained success as a whole group, selling one of the most popular girl group EPs of 2017, as well as snagging the coveted “Female Rookie of the Year” award at the 2017 Mnet Asian Music Awards. Currently, in addition to being scheduled to appear on Produce 48, Nayoung and Kyulkyung are gearing up for PRISTIN’s comeback.
Kim Sejeong and Kang Mina
Much like Yeonjung, Mina and Sejeong debuted in their own group gugudan while they were in I.O.I. The two members, as part of gugudan, scored a high-ranking debut single through “Wonderland” and have been growing in popularity ever since. Mina also debuted in gugudan’s sub-group gugudan 5959, where she promoted with fellow member Hyeyeon. Sejeong, who became one of the most popular artists from the pool of Produce 101 participants, became a certified triple threat as she received awards for singing, acting, and variety shows. Her solo song “Flower Road” became one of the highest selling singles of 2016, and her first leading role in School 2017 earned her a rookie award for acting.
Choi Yoojung and Kim Doyeon
Doyeon and Yoojung debuted in Weki Meki on August 8, 2017, the same day Wanna One debuted. The girl group’s debut album WEME, which contained the infectious title track “I don’t like your Girlfriend,” became the highest physically-selling album released by any I.O.I related act, scoring more or less 50,000 in sales. The success of their debut was immediately followed by their preparations for their second mini-album, but was pushed back a few months later. Doyeon was subsequently cast in her first acting role, being the female lead of the OCN drama Short, which aired earlier this year. Yoojung, who had her own share of variety show appearances, is set to appear in KBS’s Battle Trip together with fellow I.O.I member Mina, where they will face off with Wanna One members Woojin and Jihoon.
Sohye, different from the other members of I.O.I, focused on her acting career after their disbandment. She was immediately cast in numerous projects, most of which were web dramas and music video appearances. She also pursued a career in variety, as she became a host for MBC Every1’s Star Show 360 and SBS’s Game Show. In 2017, she starred in her first national TV role as Kang Deoksoon in Kang Deok Soon’s Love History, a Chuseok movie special set in the early 20th century that depicted the story of camaraderie.
Chungha is the only member of I.O.I to pursue a solo singing career full-time, debuting in the summer of 2017 with the infectious “Why Don’t You Know?” The album immediately became a success on both the physical and digital charts, spawning the highest charting debut single for an I.O.I related artist. As people thought it would be a challenge to beat the success of her debut single, Chungha made a comeback in January 2018 with “Roller Coaster,” which doubled the success of her first release. To date, “Roller Coaster” is still high up in the charts and is currently one of the biggest and best-selling hits of the year.
Somi became a fixed cast member in numerous variety shows after I.O.I disbanded. Participating in KBS’s Idol Drama Operation Team and Unnie’s Slam Dunk 2, she released songs as part of the fictional units that appeared on both variety shows. Being part of Unnies, she provided vocals for one of the biggest songs of 2017, “Right?,” and enjoyed success through the variety show. She has been relatively quiet after her variety shows wrapped up, however, and while she had a few collaborations from time to time, it is believed that Somi has returned to diligently training in JYP Entertainment as she is widely rumored to be in JYP’s new girl group that is due to debut soon.
Four More Years ‘Til The Reunion
It’s wild seeing the numerous achievements I.O.I members have reached through their own paths. Being together for all of 2016 and seeing them unexpectedly bump into each other through music shows and variety shows makes us feel like the group never disbanded. It’s all thanks to I.O.I and Produce 101 that 2016 became one of the best years in Hallyu, as it not only introduced us to these great personalities, but the public was given great music through I.O.I and their respective groups. And while the official reunion of the group doesn’t happen for four more years, we still can’t wait for the group’s appearance on Produce 48! That should help with our thirst for an I.O.I reunion and a new I.O.I song!