Wondering what happened to the producers of Produce X 101 after the disbandment of Korean boy group X1?

The producers of the South Korean music reality show, in which contestants compete to be chosen for a new idol group, have received jail sentences for vote-rigging.

Ahn Joon Young, producer of the Produce series, was given two years’ jail, while chief producer Kim Yong Beom got 20 months in prison last Friday (May 29), Yonhap News Agency reported.

They were found guilty of manipulating the results of the votes such that preferred contestants would be chosen as members of a new boy band. They were also found to have accepted bribes from talent agencies which had sent their trainees to the audition show.

The Produce series, the flagship audition show of music channel Mnet, debuted in 2016 and had given rise to popular groups such as I.O.I, Wanna One and Iz*One.

The police started to investigate Produce X 101 (2019), the fourth season of the series, in late 2019 after viewers complained about voting irregularities. Ten people, including Ahn and Kim, were hauled up for questioning.

Ahn admitted to vote-rigging during the investigation and was referred to the prosecutors.

The scandal led girl band Iz*One to postpone the release of their new album from last November to February this year. The boy band formed at the end of Produce X 101, X1, were disbanded in January.

Korean boyband X1, an 11-member group formed through a survival audition TV programme Produce X 101, just announced their disbandment.

Their agencies said that they had agreed for the members to part ways after it was revealed that the producer of the show rigged the results for the final member line-up.

A survival audition show is a reality TV show where trainees from different agencies come together to compete to debut as a solo artist or in a unit group.

They released a joint statement:

This is Play M Entertainment, Yuehua Entertainment, TOP Media, OUI Entertainment, MBK Entertainment, Woollim Entertainment, DSP Media, Starship Entertainment, and Brand New Music.

The X1 members and each of the agencies negotiated under the condition of unanimous agreement, but we could not come to an agreement, so we have decided on their disbandment.

Produce X 101 is the fourth season of the Produce 101 series, a survival audition show distributed by CJ E&M and aired on Mnet. CJ E&M released a statement saying that they had worked hard for X1 to resume activities, but decided to respect the agencies’ stance to disband.

Last year, viewers of Produce X 101 filed a lawsuit against Mnet, accusing them of manipulating the votes for the contestants during the finale after they noticed numerical patterns in number of votes. As each vote cost 100won (12 cents), the police launched an investigation and found evidence that the producer had pre-selected the winners of the show even before the finals. Police found that votes from eliminated trainees were added to the total number of votes garnered by the X1 members. This led to two to three trainees losing their spots in the top 11.

The ranking of the X1 members on the final episode was announced to be as follows.

1. Kim Yo Han (OUI Entertainment)

2. Kim Woo Seok (TOP Media)

3. Han Seung Woo (Plan A Entertainment)

4. Song Hyeong Jun(Starship Entertainment)

5. Cho Seung Youn (Yuehua Entertainment)

6. Son Dong Pyo (DSP Media)

7. Lee Han Gyul (MBK Entertainment)

8. Nam Do Hyon (MBK Entertainment)

9. Cha Jun Ho (Woollim Entertainment)

10. Kang Min Hee (Starship Entertainment)

X. Lee Eun Sang (Brand New Music)

The X ranking refers to the trainee who has the most number of votes accumulates throughout the season.

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Ahn Joon Young and Kim Yong Bum, the producers for the Produce 101 series, were arrested in November last year. The former later admitted to rigging the results of all four seasons of the show, which saw the debut of I.O.I, Wanna One, IZ*ONE and X1.

Both the producers and six representatives from entertainment agencies were indicted of various charges, including fraud and bribery.

Following the arrest, Mnet released a statement where they would employ an “observer system” for their ongoing and future programmes, whereby external parties will oversee the votes.

IZ*ONE and X1 were excluded as nominees for the recent Golden Disk Awards. The Golden Disc Executive Committee said that in light of the indicment, it wasn’t right to judge groups that were formed unlawfully.

Image: TPG/Click Photos

Text: Hidayah Idris, Lim Ruey Yan / The Straits Times / May 2020
Additional text: Sally Manik