Korean boy group Wanna One, a creation of reality show “Produce 101,” recently dropped their latest single “Spring Breeze.” The song serves as the group’s final comeback since they are scheduled to disband by the end of the year – leaving fans around the world (including this writer) teary-eyed. Already earning countdown show wins on SBS’s “The Show,” MBC’s “Show Champion,” and Mnet’s “M Countdown” the 11 guys from across South Korea (and Taiwan) made their comeback stage on KBS’s “Music Bank” last Friday.
Catching the video minutes after it was initially uploaded to YouTube, it was emotions right away. The scene opens to a quiet and serene Hwang Min-hyun dropping a ring into what appeared to be water he was standing on. As the video progressed, one-by-one, viewers were getting glimpses of each of the guys (all of which were pure visuals in the video). Spliced throughout the video were scenes reminiscent of their “Wanna One Go” reality show, offering some laughs while remembering this is likely their last music video as a group.
However, it was not as emotional as the farewell video by I.O.I, the group created after the first season of “Produce 101.” “Downpour” was a heavily-emotional song (even sung as a vocal test during the second season) with shots of the girls working hard to achieve their goals. Not to say the boys’ video was less emotional, but the few giggles were a nice break (along with Park Woo-jin’s rapping in the middle that literally gets EVERYBODY moving).
After the video (and clicking repeat a few times) fell into a hole of reaction videos, mostly by fellow Wanna One fans (Wannables) telling themselves not to cry as they click play, yet the mere shot of their management companies flashing on the screen was already sentimental.
More than a regular fandom
There are a multitude of amazing groups coming out of South Korea and many of them have their own stories, but, personally, the “Produce 101” experience really bonded people to Wanna One. Whether it was seeing Ha Sung-woon from Hotshot or Minhyun of Nu’est looking for another break; witnessing Woo-jin consistently climb the rankings with his massive dancing and rapping talents to seal his place in the group; watching Kim Jae-hwan, with one of the most beautiful singing voices, trying to navigate his way as an unsigned artist; among other stories – it was that “drama” that endeared people to the journey.
Viewers also saw young talents like Bae Jin-yong, Lee Dae-hwi, and Lai Guanlin, along with veterans like Yoo Ji-sung, who had yet to get their big break and watching them achieve their goals (for many, the first step to even bigger careers) was beyond heartwarming.
Their fame has grown so much over the past year and a half, even my father is familiar with Park Ji-hoon’s “Jeojang.”
In the same way Jang Keun-suk read off the names of the final members of I.O.I in the first season, Boa provided the same exhilaration when she revealed who made the top 11.
‘Ongniel is Science’
If there is one thing that made the entire Wanna One experience all the more exciting, it was the “bromance” between Kang Daniel and Ong Seung-wu (personal bias). The friendship was an amazing partnership to witness and it was very clear what chemistry they had when the two were paired up on a mission during the first season of “Wanna One Go,” giving themselves the team name “Ongniel is Science.”
Even re-watching the first episodes of “Produce 101” – the auditions – Daniel was already enamored with Seung-wu during the latter’s audition, where he impressed judges and viewers alike with his dancing, singing, and now-iconic freestyle performance to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” (Guanlin later “reinterpreted” it on a later season of “Wanna One Go”).
Post-Wanna One, it is rumored Seung-wu may enter acting, which would be very much welcome. His performances on variety shows have proven he has the chops to move beyond the role of a pop star.
Shortly after Wanna One debuted, a short film displaying his acting skills dropped on YouTube and, needless to say, it was impressive.
Obviously, nobody knows what the future holds. When I.O.I disbanded, was already a massive fan of the groups that branched out – Gugudan, Pristin, WJSN, Weki Meki, etc.
Personal bias Kim Se-jeong, who finished second in her season, beyond standing out in Gugudan, has made a name for herself in acting, taking the lead role in KBS’ “School 2017” last year and winning the KBS Drama Award for ‘Best New Actress’ that year.
She also won the Baeksang Arts Award for ‘Best New Actress.’
Many of the girls, beyond joining other groups, have also gone into acting, hosted variety shows, and even debuted overseas – Zhou Jieqiong of Pristin recently dropped her first solo single in her native China.
Beyond Min-hyun returning to Nu’est and Hotshot making a recent comeback, there’s no telling where the guys will end up in the coming years and months; and, in addition to the rumors surrounding Seung-wu, there are also rumors Guanlin is in talks with a record company in Taiwan.
Regardless, as many have noticed with the cassette tape that has followed Wanna One around since their debut single “Energetic,” the tape forms an infinity symbol, which is symbolic of both the boys being forever immortalized as Wanna One and for wannables to always remember them as Wanna One./WDJ