Korean music channel Mnet is launching a new pop idol contest called Girls Planet 999.
The show will include Chinese, Japanese, and Korean contestants aiming to form a multilingual, multicultural idol group. The competition will be accepting applicants until February 21, with the criteria including being Chinese, Korean, or Japanese and having been born before 2006.
The first trailer for Girls 999 came out this week, and shows three young women finding each other on a new planet. The video doesn’t refer to the group as Kpop, but instead claims the show is a joint project between Korea, Japan, and China.
According to promo for the new series, it will unfold in an imaginary world known as “Girls Planet.” Mnet is partnering with fandom platform UNIVERSE to provide a global voting system and various events for budding fans.
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Last year, Mnet partnered with BTS’s label Big Hit on idol survival show, I-Land.
Kpop has enjoyed huge popularity in China despite a soft ban implemented in 2016. Some of the country’s biggest pop stars, such as Kris Wu, Luhan and Jackson Wang, are former or current Kpop group members, while Thai Kpop idol Lisa from Blackpink has become a mainstay on Chinese variety shows like iQIYI’s Youth With You.
With members of various nationalities, Girls 999 will possibly circumvent the Kpop ban while tapping into the largest music markets in Asia.
There’s set to be plenty of competition in the talent show scene in China this year, however. One female-focused talent in show in particular looks set to be a hit in 2020: Tencent’s 黑怕女孩 (Hip Hop Girl) will be another in a string of hip hop-themed variety shows, while a slightly different female-oriented show entitled She Fighter will star members of Bon Bon Girls 303, formed at the end of hit show Produce Camp 2020. The latter will also be on Tencent and looks set to put the celebrities through their paces in a variety of martial arts.
Elsewhere, Meng Meiqi-fronted pop contest Stage Boom, which is also rumored to feature Kris Wu, promises to be a success.
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Whether or not Mnet’s new girl group will actually capture Asia or the world’s attention is unclear, but it is certainly the next step in the evolution of idol groups.
South Korea’s largest entertainment company, SM Entertainment, has long had “unit” groups with Chinese and Korean subunits within them. And with Kpop groups including members from across the world, a girl group that is focused on a larger audience from the get-go makes a lot of sense.
We can only hope that Girls 999 will prove that music is truly international.
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