WEDNESDAYS WHEREABOUTS: I.O.I

Welcome back to Wednesdays Whereabouts! So, who have I got lined up for the fifth instalment? Well, if you’re a fan of Korean TV shows then you may have watched this group’s formation. Gracing our screens on Produce 101, this week’s Wednesday’s Whereabout comes in the form of the lovely I.O.I!

~Let’s start!~

Formed through the 2016 reality show Produce 101, I.O.I (Ideal of Idol) were an 11-member girl group consisting of: Lim Nayoung (Pledis Entertainment), Kim Chungha (M&H Entertainment), Kim Sejeong (Jellyfish Entertainment), Jung Chaeyeon (MBK Entertainment), Zhou Jieqiong (Pledis Entertainment), Kim Sohye (Red Line Entertainment/S&P Entertainment), Yoo Yeonjung (Starship Entertainment), Choi Yoojung (Fantagio), Kang Mina (Jellyfish Entertainment), Kim Doyeon (Fantagio) and Jeon Somi (JYP Entertainment).

Produce 101 offered trainees a chance to debut in a girl group who would actively promote for a year. The girls were selected from a pool of 101 trainees who over the week would slowly be eliminated until the top 11 were chosen by the viewers who had complete control over the girls through an online voting system. I.O.I debuted on 4th May 2016 with their first EP ‘Chrysalis’ (2016) and performed as a group until the end of January 2017, when the group disbanded and the members returned to their agencies.

So, where are they now? Are they safe? Eating? Sleeping?

All the important questions you may have will be answered and your minds put at ease!

Let me break it down for y ’all…

Nayoung – After ranking 10th out of the 11 winners Nayoung debuted onto the K-Pop music scene as I.O.I’s stone-faced leader. After the group’s disbandment Pledis Entertainment, who Nayoung had been training with, announced that she would be debuting again on 21st March 2017 as the leader of Pristin; the company’s new 10-member girl group. So far, the group has released 2 EPs: ‘Hi! Pristin’ (2017) and ‘Schxxl Out’ (2017).

In addition to being part of Pristin, Nayoung is also a member of their new sub-unit Pristin V who debuted on 28th May 2018, along with her fellow members Roa, Eunwoo, Rena, and Kyulkyung. Pristin V have one single so far: ‘Get It’ (2018) – honestly, I’ve never been so obsessed with a sub-unit until I heard this!

Chungha – Throughout Produce 101 Chungha was best known for being a very skilled dancer and the popularity she got from this saw her shoot into the top 11 girls, placing 4th in the final. A few weeks before I.O.I were set to disband it was announced in early January that she had been selected to be a host for EBS’ Ah! Sunday – A Running Miracle; where she would be demonstrating to the public how to improve their physical fitness and would be personally in charge of a team of contestants.

Since I.O.I, Chungha is focusing on crafting a solo career for herself and on 21st April 2017 Chungha’s pre-debut single ‘Week’ was released on the official M&H Entertainment YouTube account. The single was followed by ‘Hands on Me’, her debut EP which was released to the public on 7th June 2017 and had the title track ‘Why Don’t You Know’ – one of my personal favourites! In addition to her own debut solo album, Chungha also featured on the track ‘With U’ from Samuel Kim’s debut album; and also, in ‘LaLaLa’, a single by Babylon.

From early September onwards, she became a DJ for EBS’s radio show Listen, taking on the role from Kisum and later in the month became an MC for FashionN’s Please Take Care of My Vanity alongside fellow idols Super Junior’s Leeteuk and Han Chae-young. Chungha’s appearances on reality shows continued into November, when the first episode of her own reality show ‘Chungha’s Free Month’ was released both on YouTube and NaverTV.

Chungha returned to music in early 2018, releasing her second EP ‘Offset’ on 17th January which contained five songs, including ‘Roller Coaster’ the title track. A frew months later, on 26th June, M&H Entertainment announced that Chungha would make a comeback on 18th July – only a few days time! I’m super excited!

Sejeong – Finishing 2nd in Produce 101 and securing a place in I.O.I, Jellyfish Entertainment’s Sejeong did not actually take part in the initial unit promotions for the group as it was revealed by YMC Entertainment that she would be returning to Jellyfish to debut with their upcoming girl group, which would later be named Gugudan. She officially debuted as a member of Gugudan on 28th June 2016 whilst still as a member of I.O.I alongside fellow I.O.I member and Jellyfish trainee Mina. Later that year in the November, Sejeong participated in Jellyfish Entertainment’s Jelly Box – a music channel project – and released a single and music video for ‘Flower Way’ which had been produced by Zico. It was this single that saw her win her first solo music trophy on Show Champion.

In 2017, she released ‘If Only’ for the OST of ‘The Legend of the Blue Sea’, a Korean drama. Shortly after this, Sejeong became a permanent MC for OnStyle’s ‘Get It Beauty’. 2017 also saw her venture into acting, taking on her first major lead role in ‘School 2017’, KBS2’s teen drama – you go girl! After this, in late 2017 she collaborated with NCT’s Doyoung on the track ‘Star Blossom’ for SM Station.

Recently, Sejeong has taken on more acting roles alongside her career in Gugudan and in September 2017, it was confirmed that she will become a fixed cast member in ‘Busted!’ Netflix’s variety show.

Chaeyeon – Most contestants were a little confused when they saw Chaeyeon appear alongside them on Produce 101 as she had already debuted on 2015 as part of MBK Entertainment’s 8-member girl group DIA. However, it was revealed by MBK that Chaeyeon had already signed contracts with Produce 101 before she officially debuted in DIA. Regardless of already being a girl group member, Chaeyeon managed to win the hearts of the viewers and placed 7th out of the final top 11 girls and became a member of I.O.I.

A week after I.O.I released their debut EP, MBK announced that Chaeyeon was to return to DIA for their upcoming comeback and was to also be absent from I.O.I’s sub-unit promotions. DIA’s 2nd EP ‘Spell’ was released later in the year on 13th September 2016. Shortly after the release, Chaeyeon was featured on bi-weekly broadcasts of ‘Drinking Solo’; appeared on Hit the Stage with DIA member Eunjin; and starred alongside SHINee’s Onew in the variety series ‘Go Go with Mr Paik’. In addition to heavily appearing on TV, Chaeyeon was also revealed as the new face of jewelry brand Lamucha.

After all of this, she re-joined I.O.I for their second promotional cycle as a full group, releasing the EP ‘Miss Me?’ on 17th October 2016 with the lead single ‘Very Very Very’ – and its very, very, very catchy lol. Once things with I.O.I had come to an end in January 2017, she began modelling for Jill Stuart New York and is also featured in the drama ‘109 Strange Things’. In addition to ‘109 Strange Things’, Chaeyeon also featured in SBS’s romantic fantasy drama ‘Reunited Worlds’ and has also joined the cast of their reality show ‘Law of the Jungle’ for their Chile special. She also starred in the science fiction web drama ‘I Am’ where she played an android robot.

This year, 2018, has seen her star in KBS’ weekend drama ‘Marry Me Now’, and also be cast in her first film ‘Live Again, Love Again’ which had its premier back in February. Recently back in June, Chaeyeon was announced to be the new MC of SBS’ ‘Inkigayo’ and was also cast in KBS’ music drama ‘To Jenny’ and is her first leading role on TV.

Well…she certainly has been busy! LOL.

Kyulkyung/Zhou Jieqiong/Pinky – Throughout her time in the spotlight, Zhou Jieqiong has been known by several names: Zhou Jieqiong, Zhou, Pinky (as she was known on Produce 101) and Kyulkyung (her current stage name). After finishing in 6th place on Produce 101 and winning a place in I.O.I, Kyulkyung went on to debut alongside Nayoung in Pledis Entertainment’s girl group Pristin, who debuted on 21st March 2017 and have since released 2 Eps: ‘Hi! Pristin’ (2017) and ‘Schxxl Out’ (2017).

In 2018, she joined the sub-unit Pristin V with Nayoung and fellow Pristin members Roa, Eunwoo and Rena; and also became a cast member and dance mentor in the Chinese reality survival show ‘Idol Producer’ alongside GOT7’s Jackson Wang and EXO’s Lay.

Sohye – Sohye was always a little bit different than her Produce 101 co-stars as prior to joining the show she specialised in acting – and only acting, with zero experience in singing or dancing. Regardless, she persevered and manged to finish 5th, gaining a spot in I.O.I and their debut. Shortly after I.O.I’s debut, Sohye created her own management label S&P (Shark and Penguin) Entertainment and opened up Penguin’s Café, a coffee shop that allows her to connect with fans.

Since the disbandment of I.O.I Sohye has returned to acting and has been in multiple web dramas: ‘Queen of the Ring’, ‘Poetry Story’ and ‘Unexpected Heores’ (all 2017); and a Chuseok special drama ‘Drama Special: Kang Deok-soon’s Love History’ (2017) which was her first lead role. In addition to having acting roles, Sohye also MC’d 2 programmes: ‘English Lecture Program’ and ‘Follow Me 8S’ (both 2017).

Yeonjung – Produce 101’s audience saw Yeonjung finish 11th on the programme and secure her spot in I.O.I. and 3 months after debuting with I.O.I, it was announced by her company, Starship Entertainment, that she would become the final 13th member of the already debuted group Cosmic Girls.

Cosmic Girls are a Chinese/Korean girl group shared by Starship Entertainment (South Korea) and Yuehua Entertainment (Beijing, China). The group so far have a total of 1 studio album: ‘Happy Moment’ (2017); and 4 EPs: ‘Would You Like?’ (2016), ‘The Secret’ (2016), ‘From. WSJN’ (2017), and ‘Dream Your Dream’ (2018).

Recently, Cosmic Girls joined hands with Weki Meki to form a collaboration group called WJMK on 1st June 2018, releasing the single ‘Strong’.

Yoojung – Gaining fame as the first centre position of Produce 101, Yoojung finished the show in 3rd place. Since I.O.I’s disbandment, Yoojung’s agency Fantagio revealed that she would be a member of the company’s new girl group Weki Meki alongside fellow Produce 101 winner Doyeon. Weki Meki debuted on 8th August 2017 as an 8-member girl group with Yoojung being the main rapper and lead dancer.

So far, the group have released 2 EP’s: ‘WEME’ (2017) and ‘Lucky’ (2018) and 1 digital single ‘Butterfly’ which was released specially for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

In addition to being part of Weki Meki, Yoojung is also part of the sub-unit WJMK, a collaboration group with Cosmic Girls.

Mina – Out of the 11 girls set to debut in I.O.I, Mina won 9th place. Since the disbandment Mina debuted again with Sejeong on 28th June 2016 as a member of Jellyfish Entertainment’s 9-member girl group Gugudan.

Doyeon – Best known for finishing 8th in Produce 101, Doyeon is currently a lead vocalist and visual for Fantagio’s girl group Weki Meki. Alongisde Yoojung, she is currently part of the WJMK sub-unit.

Somi – The maknae of the group, Somi finished Produce 101 in 1st place, guaranteeing her a spot in I.O.I. In the beginning of January 2017, towards the end of I.O.I’s active period, Somi signed a formal contract with JPYE that enabled her to do solo activities such as variety shows. Later that month, she joined the cast of Sister’s Slam Dunk for their second season and also co-hosted the 26th Seoul Music Awards alongside Kim Heechul and Tak Jaehoon.

A few months after the disbandment of I.O.I, singer-songwriter Eric Nam teased a collaboration with Somi through his social media and on 9th March 2017 the single ‘You, Who?’ was released. Towards the end of March, it was announced that Somi was to dabble in acting and had been cast in KBS’s web entertainment show Idol Drama where she played Boram, a high school student. As part of the show’s soundtrack, Somi and her cast members, who formed a project group called Girls Next Door, released ‘Deep Blue Eyes’; which was co-written and co-composed by B1A4’s Jinyoung.

Further to releasing ‘Deep Blue Eyes’ with Girls Next Door, Somi also debuted on 12th May 2017 with Unnies – the project girl group for Sister’s Slam Dunk who have released two songs ‘Right?’ and ‘Lalala Song’. Her most recent project was featuring on the single ‘Nov to Feb’ by Jun.K which was released in November 2017.

Although short lived, their time spent on Produce 101 and as members of I.O.I will always have a special place in both their hearts and ours. Each member has found success after the group and are carving out some anticipated careers. We wish them all the best of luck and success and fingers crossed that we will be hearing and seeing more of them and their projects in the near future – I.O.I, thank you for entertaining us!~

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