How often do you see a new idol group that debuts with an expiration date already set in stone, even before their first performance? With I.O.I, that’s exactly what happened.
This girl group was the product of a television show called Produce 101, and the premise went something like this: a bunch of agencies would send some of their trainees—101 in all—to compete in a reality show, which would be a melange of American Idol and Real World in that it featured both talent competitions and glimpses into their personal lives behind the scenes.
Every so often, the show would ask their television audience to vote on girls to be eliminated, adding an element vaguely reminiscent of Survivor. The last 11 girls standing would be formed into an idol group which would promote for one year under a third-party agency. I.O.I debuted in 2016 and would disband in 2017.
I.O.I kicked off a pretty unique genre of Korean idol groups, which continues to go strong to the present day with groups like Wanna One and Iz One debuting under Produce 101's later seasons. It’s now a pretty successful international franchise with two Korean seasons and a spate of pan-Asian spinoffs. (The whole voting-for-group-members thing has already been done to death in Japan, of course.)
As for the idols themselves, their post-I.O.I careers vary wildly. Some would go on to be part of debut groups that their agencies hoped would get the I.O.I push, like Kim Se Jeong and Choi Yoo Jung did with Gugudan and Weki Meki, respectively (we also got a glimpse of the latter in Astro’s music video for Breathless). Others would pop up in tidbits of TV dramas or variety programs here and there, like Kim So Hye and Jung Chae Yeon. And, of course, diehard fans have been clamoring for a reunion ever since their dissolution.
This is Goodbye Songs Week, where we go through some of the most heart-rending and saddening goodbye songs from K-Pop groups whose numbers came up before their time.