It’s November, and as a K-Pop fan, you are probably overwhelmed by the number of group comebacks happening this month. But among these comebacks is the debut of a highly anticipated group, which is none other than the 12-member IZ*ONE!
IZ*ONE (pronounced as EYEZ-wun) is formed through Produce 48, the third season of MNet’s popular idol survival show, Produce 101. What made this season different, though, was that it was a collaboration between MNet and AKS, the latter of which is the talent agency managing the top groups under the 48Group system in Japan—AKB48, SKE48, and HKT48. As a result, several members under AKB48 and its sister groups participated in the reality show as well. (For a crash course on AKB48 and its sister groups, read our post here.)
Produce 48’s finale finally happened on August 31, 2018, declaring nine Korean trainees and three Japanese trainees as members of the final line-up. The name IZ*ONE was suggested by netizens through the official Produce 48 website, suggesting that “IZ” as a numeronym for the number 12 and “ONE” as for the group being one. Meanwhile, the asterisk sign symbolizes the 12 astrological signs of the zodiac.
After Produce 48 ended, IZ*ONE finally made their much-awaited debut on October 29 with the release of their EP, Color Iz. This contained their lead single, “La Vie En Rose.”
The group also held their debut showcase concert, “COLOR*IZ Show-Con”, at the Olympic Hall. The tickets were sold out within a minute of being on sale. Here, IZ*ONE performed other songs from their EP, including the Japanese songs “Suki ni Nacchau Darou (We’re in Love, Right?)” and “Yume wo Miteiru Aida (As We Dream)”. Both these songs were composed by AKB48’s producer, Akimoto Yasushi.
IZ*ONE’s debut was met with commercial success. Their EP sold over 34,000 copies on the day of its release, setting a record for the highest number of albums sold on the first day of a girl group’s debut release. The MV of “La Vie en Rose” also hit 4.5 million views within 24 hours of its release on YouTube, making it the most-watched debut music video by a Korean act in 24 hours.
Since they had just debuted, IZ*ONE has yet to set records in music shows. But while this hasn’t happened, let’s take the opportunity to get to know the members:
Real Name: Lee Chaeyeon
Date of Birth: January 11, 2000
Position: Main Dancer, Lead Vocalist
Agency: WM Entertainment
Official Color: Light Cyan
Chaeyeon is a survival show veteran, having appeared on Kpop Star season 3 and Sixteen, the latter being the show that had formed TWICE. Fortunately, she made it to the final lineup of IZ*ONE, placing 12th in the finale. She’s known to learn choreography quickly and extremely well. In fact, she’ll be able to accurately dance the chorus of the choreography after watching it once. Fun fact: her younger sister Chaeryeong is a trainee under JYP Entertainment and also participated in Sixteen.
Real Name: Kim Minjoo
Date of Birth: February 5, 2001
Position: Vocalist, Rapper, Visual
Agency: Urban Works
Official Color: White
Minju is a familiar face to those who have been following her friend and labelmate Kriesha Chu’s career. You can spot her making a cameo on Kriesha’s “Like Paradise” MV and on iKON’s “#WYD” MV. She also has a career in acting, having been part of the cast of The Great Seducer when she was a kid, as well as having a supporting role in the movie The Fault Is Not Yours.
Real Name: Kim Chaewon
Date of Birth: August 1, 2000
Position: Lead Vocalist
Agency: Woollim Entertainment
Official Color: Light Green
Golden Child fans will recognize Chaewon as the female lead in the “Let Me” music video. In Produce 48 and as a member of IZ*ONE, she’s known for belting the high notes in songs. It’s no wonder she’s good at it, as she looks up to Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon.
Real Name: Honda Hitomi
Date of Birth: October 6, 2001
Position: Lead Dancer, Vocalist
Official Color: Peach
Did you know that Hitomi (or Hiichan) is part of the Team 8 members that visited the Philippines during MNL48’s grand audition? She debuted as part of the AKB48 sub-unit in 2014, participating mostly in AKB48’s B-side songs. Dubbed as the Strawberry Princess, Hitomi was a cheerleader for four years and could do complex routines, contributing to her dancing skills. During IZ*ONE’s visit to her hometown in Tochigi, her parents also described her as a strong girl who never cried.
Real Name: Kang Hyewon
Date of Birth: July 5, 1999
Position: Lead Rapper, Vocalist
Agency: 8D Creative
Official Color: Red
Hyewon was first known on Produce 48 as the girl with a quiet voice and was scolded often. But she has come a long way, so far as to make it to the final lineup of IZ*ONE. She has admitted to being an anime fan, and based on what she has admitted on Idol Room, she’s probably tuned in to the third season of Attack on Titan.
Real Name: Kwon Eunbi
Date of Birth: September 27, 1995
Position: Leader, Main Vocalist, Lead Dancer
Agency: Woollim Entertainment
Official Color: Soft Violet
Before entering Woollim, Eunbi debuted as Kazoo with now disbanded girl group Ye-A. She is described by Woollim trainees as the mother figure, which is no surprise as to why she was eventually chosen as IZ*ONE’s leader. Despite seeming so serious, Eunbi has a wacky sense of humor, as proven several times on Produce 48. And did we mention her uncanny resemblance to Red Velvet’s Irene?
Real Name: Yabuki Nako
Date of Birth: June 18, 2001
Position: Lead Vocalist
Official Color: Sky Blue
Nako may be the shortest IZ*ONE member (at 150 cm), but she boasts a formidable career before ranking sixth in Produce 48’s finale. She debuted as a third-generation HKT48 member in 2013, becoming a center one month after her debut. (Watch her perform her center single, Wink wa Sankai, here.) Nako is also known as a TWICE fan, and her fangirl dreams probably came true when her favorite group took notice of her while she was participating in Produce 48. Talk about #goals!
Real Name: Ahn Yujin
Date of Birth: September 1, 2003
Position: Lead Vocalist, Lead Dancer
Agency: Starship Entertainment
Official Color: Soft Navy
Yujin is no stranger to the spotlight as she was a CF model before debut. Some of her most notable CFs were for Acuvue contact lenses and acne cream brand Clearteen with Astro’s Cha Eunwoo. She also appeared in numerous music videos, including Jeong Sewoon’s “Just U”, Soyou and Baekhyun’s “Rain”, Mad Clown and Ailee’s “Thirst”, and Yoo Seungwoo and Sandeul’s “Oppa.” Sharp-eyed The B will also recognize her as the female lead with member Juyeon in The Boyz’s KCon Japan 2018 VCR. She once confessed that she doesn’t like taking a bath, and she had never heard of facial wipes until they started taping for IZ*ONE CHU.
Real Name: Choi Yena
Date of Birth: September 29, 1999
Position: Main Rapper, Lead Dancer, Lead Vocalist
Agency: Yuehua Entertainment
Official Color: Soft Yellow
Yena is the younger sister of SPEED’s Choi Sungmin, which is no surprise that she decided to pursue the idol life as well. Known for being bright and energetic, the trainees on Produce 48 chose her as their one pick. With this personality, Yena has become the group’s variety queen-slash-meme as well. She also looks up to actress and former Sistar member Yoon Bora, and she expressed how ecstatic she was to meet and receive advice from her idol on her birthday. If that’s not #fangirlgoals, then we don’t know what is. And did you know that she learned to rap only before they recorded “La Vie en Rose”? Based on her performance, it didn’t feel like it!
Real Name: Jo Yuri
Date of Birth: October 22, 2001
Position: Main Vocalist
Agency: Stone Music
Official Color: Orange
Yuri is another idol survival show veteran, having been a contestant of Idol School. Before joining Idol School, Yuri was an independent trainee, meaning she has never gone through actual idol training before the show. She made waves among Produce 101 fans for her uncanny resemblance of former IOI and current Weki Meki member Yoojung. That aside, Yuri can hold out on her own, amazing everyone with her vocal skills. She also enjoys playing piano, guitar, and the drums. It’s no surprise that she’s the group’s main vocalist.
Real Name: Miyawaki Sakura
Date of Birth: March 19, 1998
Position: Vocalist, Visual
Official Color: Light Pink
Sakura is no stranger to taking a center role, having been center on several of AKB48’s major singles (with her first being AKB48’s 10th-anniversary single, Kimi wa Melody), plus becoming center for Produce 48’s “Pick Me.” She is one of HKT48’s first-generation members and has since become part of the Kami7, the 48 Group’s seven most popular members. Despite these accomplishments, Sakura remains to be your ordinary girl, her hobbies including reading, watching movies, and acting. She even has a gaming channel on YouTube. Plus, she admits to being a Red Velvet fan, even bringing her merchandise to Korea.
Real Name: Jang Wonyoung
Date of Birth: August 31, 2004
Position: Lead Dancer, Vocalist, Visual, Center, Maknae
Agency: Starship Entertainment
Official Color: Bright Pink/Magenta
Wonyoung is Produce 48’s Wink Girl and one of the youngest trainees of the show. And the latter doesn’t look like it because she manages to be one of the tallest trainees on Produce 48! She might look familiar as she appeared in YDPP’s “Love it Live it” MV. With being center at such a young age, we can’t wait to see what Wonyoung is capable of.
Who’s your IZ*ONE bias? And what are you looking forward to seeing from the girls after their debut? Let us know in the comments!
Clara Palma contributed to this article.