Mnet’s “Produce 101”: Defining How to Become an Idol

Have you ever wished to have the chance to produce your own artist? Mnet, a broadcasting channel in South Korea made that dream possible to many fans by releasing “Produce 101“: a TV in which 101 young and talented girls from 46 different entertainment companies competed against each other in order to make it to the finals and become famous. Other than the beautiful girls and the talent, what brought great success to the show was the unique process in which the girls were eliminated: the crowd was given the power to “produce” the girl band that they desired through voting.

Members of “Produce 101” Season 1

South Korea has enjoyed enormous success with TV shows that feature their homegrown idols in competitions and games. With an already great number of artists in Korea, Mnet sought a new way to define how Korean celebrities were made: “Produce 101”. The first season aired in the Spring of 2016, and became an instant success despite the fact that the TV was not open to the general public.

“IOI”, the name given to the 11 member girl group, with their single “Very Very Very”, became one of the break-out groups of 2016 and garnered a lot of fame. Mnet as a broadcasting channel had the power to disseminate whichever idea it wished to communicate and perhaps the reason of the success of the show was that people felt a certain level of attachment to the artists they were rooting for. Mnet thus redefined what it meant to become famous by giving the people the power to choose who would become famous. I believe they used that power for good, and redefined the “meaning making” of idols in South Korea.

Mnet might have started a trend in the meaning making of idols in Korea. The first season of “Produce 101” was so successful that the second season featuring boys is on track, and creating a lot of excitement in the Korean youth, especially the girls. Many people are skeptical about season 2’s success but if Mnet is able to pull it off, then it will set a strong standard for idol making in Korea in the future. For more information on “meaning making practices in Korea”: Power and Meaning Making in South Korea




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