In February 2020, Big Hit revealed the plans of upcoming Belif+ Entertainment’s first boy group’s observational reality show. In the coming months, I-Land was officially announced to be airing on June 26th with its 23 hopeful trainees. It is a week into the show and it is filled with new ideas for a Korean survival! Let’s breakdown what the show is about and its premiere episode!
I-Land is a project created by Big Hit Entertainment and CJENM in 2017 with a close to 20 million USD budget. The I-Land in question is an over 106,000 square foot oasis, completely hidden from view of the outside world. It has state-of-the-art facilities that any trainee could ever want, from spacious common room areas and an open kitchen with a fully stocked pantry to a room full of high-quality training uniforms and high-tech gear. The makeshift island also includes the actual studios where the trainees will show off their progress throughout the series.
As previously mentioned in the first episode, the I-Land is fitted with 37 CCTV cameras. Before the premiere, many expecting viewers picked up vibes from the show similar to popular western series, Big Brother. Big Brother is a series spanning multiple countries and versions where contestants are observed and cast votes against fellow housemates. A feature of the show is the 24/7 cam that runs online. With I-Land, they have a modified version called I-Land Cam. Viewers may tune into the I-Land Cam feed on the I-Land website, which shows 25 of the available CCTV feeds. The twist is that they are not live. The current loop available on the website is one hour after the broadcast finished, giving viewers a chance to see how the contestants roamed around their new homes.
The show also gained hype with the special signal song, sung by record-breaking soloist IU. The song is full of hope and unity as she sings about running to the end as if their lives depended on it. Later, it was re-released with the trainees’ vocals, giving the song extra heart as they sang with the passion the song talks about.
There are still many secrets to the I-Land we haven’t seen yet! But over these next weeks, we will see more and more what they have in store for viewers and the contestants.
The show consists of 23 bright and youthful trainees between the ages of 14 and 22. They range from American, Australian, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Korean. The official ratio being 8 foreign trainees to 15 Korean-born trainees. Their training periods are as long as 4 years to as short as 4 months. Though not everyone’s prior experiences aren’t completely clear, the group does include 3 known Big Hit trainees, among them a former national figure skater and a former member of the training group hoping to be in TXT. Through this new and rather difficult journey, they will find loyalty and strength in each other.
On the officials’ side, the show is hosted by beloved actor Namgoong Min, who tells the story of the trainees as they improve over 113 days. The judges include legendary performer Rain, hot and trendy artist Zico, and the genius producer himself Big Hit Entertainment CEO Bang Sihyuk. Also accompanying the team behind the scenes is famed Choreography Director of Big Hit Son Sungdeuk, performance director Doobu, known Big Hit producer Pdogg, and producer Wonderkid. With this team of seasoned professionals, the trainees have the upmost insight on how to improve on their skills and to create new ones.
With the first episode stretching out until the last moment, there’s a lot to talk about. In the introduction to the intimidating I-Land, our 23 trainees find themselves in the complex’s main stage, a black box with a moving LED platform and 23 spots awaiting them. With every entrance, a mysterious counter adds up until it reaches 12. The judges’ team, or in this case producer team, watches in a separate room as the trainees do their opening performances. Bang PD inserts many comments on his experience with observing the boys in previous practices.
The catch with this opening performance is the biggest twist so far in the series. The boys must vote who the 12 people officially entering the I-Land will be. Each trainee must receive more than 12 votes to gain entry. By the end of it, 16 trainees were allowed in and we were left with the eliminated 7. When the 16 arrived in the penthouse dormitory, they were given the news that they have 2 hours to decide which 4 will be eliminated among them, since the I-Land can only hold 12.
But to our relief, the eliminated trainees are not done yet. The 7 “dropouts” are guided to the Ground. The Ground is a smaller complex across from the I-Land, literally underground. In the Ground, you have no chance at debuting. But through improvement, Ground trainees will have the chance to reenter the I-Land and a chance at debuting again. We’re left off with a touching moment between Japanese trainees Niki and Taki. Though smaller than his younger half, Taki expresses the desire to debut with Niki. But Niki, in a narration, expresses worry for him. Leaving us with a nerve-wracking look into Niki’s moment at the voting screen, suggesting that he voted for Taki as one of the 4 to leave the I-Land.
Though something completely different from most popular survival shows in Korea, I-Land shows promise to provide a new experience. The first episode had many faults, including a large amount of poorly edited performances and suggestive editing of trainee commentary, viewers are hopeful for the futures of the trainees. A large disagreement with the trainees’ voting system is apparent as well, but with this new change where trainees see each other through to the end and have their futures completely in their hands, we hope to see more honesty with every vote and none of the pacts to vote certain trainees off to come up.
We are expecting another 90 minutes of dread tomorrow but we hope to see some of the trainees shine more like the charismatic boys they are!
Who are your picks so far? Who are your guesses for the 4 that will be sent to the Ground? Tweet us @TheHoneyPop or leave a comment below with your choices!
Featured image source: Twitter mnetiland