One of the most tragic events in the recent history of K-pop is the disbandment of the otherwise promising group, X1. Following the career trajectories of the project groups that resulted from the first three seasons of the Produce series – I.O.I, WANNA ONE and Iz*one, success for X1 was almost inevitable. And actually, if you consider the five months that the group was active, you could say that they did experience success albeit their limited lifespan. 657,000+ copies of their debut album sold, 11 music show wins for a single song (their only release, Flash), 100 million views on YouTube for their debut music video, numerous rookie of the year wins, all despite the persistent issue of vote manipulation that hounded them throughout their short-lived stint. And to think they were supposed to be promote as a group for five years, huh?
Let’s take a look back on what happened to X1 as they trekked their way to the top and start their careers individually as the rug was unceremoniously pulled from under them.
The initial phenomenon and the sudden pause
After Produce X 101’s run, the winning eleven contestants formed X1 and debuted under Stone Music’s Swing Entertainment, the same label that produced the music of Wanna One, the winners of Produce 101 Season 2. Amidst the brewing anticipation for the group’s debut, issues arose as a civil lawsuit was filed against Mnet as soon as allegations arose regarding producers of the show manipulating the votes and thus, the final lineup of the group. As early as that time, several brands have already pulled out of their endorsement deals with X1. Moreover, the agencies of some of the members refused to sign their talents to the X1 commitment until all allegations are cleared. Despite the delays and the unresolved issues, the group’s debut proceeded as planned.
On August 1, it was revealed that the group’s debut album would have the title Emergency: Quantum Leap and would have Flash as its title track, a song composed by Megatone, Score, and Onestar (producers of Taemin’s Criminal and Golden Child’s Burn It, among others) To further ingratiate the group to the public, their reality show, X1 Flash, premiered on August 21 on Mnet. Six days after the premiere of their reality show, the group’s debut showcase was held at Gocheok Sky Done.
The group’s first ever music show win happened during the second week of their promotions, on September 1 in SBS MTV’s The Show. This proved to be a record breaking moment for X1 as it made them the group to win in a music show the fastest – August 27 to September 1, which is a measly five days! Not even WANNA ONE, who had to wait for nine days to win. Thus, they broke the record previously held by WINNER who only had to wait for six days from debut to win for Empty. The song won ten more times, their 11th and final win happening on M Countdown on Spetember 19.
The EP and song also broke records as Emergency: Quantum Leap debuted into the Billboard World Albums Chart at number 15 and number 9 at the World Digital Songs Chart. So, not only was the group experiencing local success, but was also making a name in the international market. Also, by this time, aside from the vote manipulation accusations, the only controversy the group was involved in was connected to their debut song, Flash. Several sources then voiced out that K-Pop group’s song has very notable similarities to Tiesto’s remix of Chris Lake’s ‘Helium’. However, expert music producers also opined that the two songs have an intro in the same key while having very similar rhythmical and sound elements. Thus, the observations may not be conclusive enough to consider it as 100% plagiarism, although the song’s producers can be accused of being unoriginal.
As for the voting manipulation scandal, the civil case filed was due to allegations that label and entertainment company executives would supposedly wine and dine the producers of the show Produce 101 to make their trainee contestants rank higher and eventually become part of the final lineup for the group the show produced. So, it may appear that if these allegations were true, the results of the show were already determined by the producers even before the first episode aired, and the votes of the “public producers” will all be just for show and profits.
After their promotions for Emergency: Quantum Leap, the group had a lull in activities as the calls to investigate what really happened in the show intensified instead of dying out as expected, despite the group’s soaring popularity. For once, it seemed Mnet’s usual tactic of sweeping everything under the rug didn’t yield the expected results.
— Not Hypebeast (@styleguideform) January 6, 2020
Alas, things went awry as Ahn Joonyoung, the producer of the show where X1 came from, was arrested on November 5. During the investigation, he admitted to manipulating the rankings of the contestants to favor those who he wants to join the final lineup for X1. With that, Mnet decided to cancel all of the group’s appearances and put on hold all promotional activities. The year ended with CJ ENM announcing that Stone Music, the members, and their respective agencies were in discussion as to the group’s future.
As for the investigations, it was found that there was fraud in the first, third, and final rounds of voting for the show. As early as the first round, Timothee Anzardi was eliminated when he should have not. On the third round of voting, eliminated contestants were Kim Kookheon (of Music Works, formerly of the duo B.O.Y with fellow Produce X 101 contestant Song Yuvin) and Lee Jinwoo (of Maroo Entertainment, most known to have developed a close friendship with Up10TiON’s Jinhyuk during the show, now with GHOST9). With the final episode, three contestants were excluded from the final lineup of X1: Koo Jungmo (of Starship Entertainment, now with CRAVITY with Minhee and Hyeongjun), Lee Jinhyuk (of TOP Media with Wooseok,as in the “dad of Lee Jinwoo, still with UP10TION and has also debuted as a solo artist and actor), and Keum Donghyun (of C9 Entertainment, now known as Keum of the group Epex).
The bitter end of X1
The start of the year was tragic to say the least for X1 and their fans. Even before the world would be hit by the pandemic, the group was already in a crisis situation as representatives of the agencies and Swing Music stakeholders met on January 6 to decide the group’s future once and for all. After an hour of deliberations, a secret ballot was held by the nine agencies of the the eleven members (Hyeongjun, Minhee, Dohyun and Hangyul were under one agency). Prior to the vote, all agencies agreed that the group will continue only if the decision for them to stay as a group is unanimous, meaning if even just one agency objects to the group’s continuation, then the group would have to be disbanded.
Only four agencies voted for the continuation of X1, with four voting to disband and one agency casting an unclear vote. It should be noted that the members were not invited to the meeting, despite them wanting to attend. After the decision of the group’s disbandment, CJ ENM representatives suggested for the release of a winter song the group has already recorded to serve as their goodbye song. One agency representative also suggested to have the members record a final video. Both ideas were not agreed upon unanimously, with one of two agencies objecting to the suggestions. So, both did not push through.
A PR agency representing the group released a statement on the same day the meeting was adjourned, announcing the disbandment of X1. The fanbase of the group, One It, felt the action was unfair to the group and their members. They staged protests on the CJ ENM complex, demanding for the group to be relaunched. One It groups sent trucks with LED screens flashing their demands to the demonstration area to clarify their demands and close to 1,000 fans attended the three-hour long protest. All stakeholders stuck to their (dis)agreement and thus, X1 met its untimely end.
Where’s X1 now?
Yohan: The top-ranked trainee contestant joining the ranks of Somi, Daniel, and Winyoungm was packaged as a taekwondo expert who abandoned his career in athletics to start a new one as an idol trainee. Thus, when X1 was disbanded in the most anti-climatic of fashions, the first activity Yohan was rumored to participate in was a lead role in the School series as a taekwondo student athlete who had to undergo a life overhaul because of an injury. While his participation in the drama was confirmed as early as February 2020 for the series to be aired starting August, the pandemic and a casting controversy over the female lead forced KBS to cancel the series. But things have turned for the better since, with recastings and final agreements made. So, School 2020 became School 2021 and the drama finally saw the light of day in November 2021.
While the future of School 2021 was a bit unsure in 2020, Yohan was given another opportunity to flex his acting muscles with the web drama A Love So Beautiful, which is a Korean remake of a Chinese program of the same title. The drama ran on the Kakao TV platform from the end of 2020 to early 2021, and Yohan was also given the chance to showcase his singing talents by contributing to the show’s OST with the song Recently, released on January 11.
Apart from his acting debut, Yohan has also been a common fixture in variety shows, thanks to his relatable personality. Among his variety show appearances are Chick High Kick along with HaHa and Na Taejoo and The Greater Ocean Territory of Korea with Jung Sunghwa. He has also dabbled into hosting, starting with being the MC for the first day of the 26th Dream Concert “CONNECT:D“. Currently, he is one of the main hosts for SBS MTV’s music program The Show alongside Ateez’s Yeosang and Weeekly’s Jihan.
As for his idol career, on June 17, 2020, Oui Entertainment announced that they will be debuting a new boy group where he was expected to be part of with his labelmates Kim Donghan and Jang Daehyeon (of Produce 101 Season 2 and RAINZ fame), and Kang Seokhwa (who was with Yohan in Produce X 101 and finished 35th). A month later, the company launched social media accounts for their new boy group called “WEi” which Yohan has been confirmed to be a member of. He released a digital single with the title No More on August 25, 2020, ahead of his future debut with WEi. Finally, on October 5, 2020, he debuted with WEi with the mini album IDENTITY: First Sight, with title track “Twilight“. The group has so far released 3 EPs and a single Starry Night in October 2021.
Wooseok: Not to be confused with Pentagon’s Jung Wooseok, UP10TION’s Kim Wooseok finished second in Produce 101. As with Yohan, his first reported activity outside X1 was also a web drama, Twenty-Twenty, which premiered in August 15. However, his solo debut single came before, on May 25, to be exact. His debut extended play 1st Desire (Greed) along with the lead single Red Moon was released to favorable reception, as his EP peaked at #3 in the Gaon Albums Chart, selling more than 117,000 copies, which is quite a feat for a debuting idol coming from a group that was disgraced very recently. With this release, he was awarded New K-Wave Voice Award at the 4th Soribada Best K-Music Awards in 2020.
Close to nine months after, Wooseok made a comeback with 2nd Desire (Tasty), which peaked on top of the Gaon charts. The lead single Sugar gave Wooseok further recognition as he won his first music show trophy with the song on M Countdown and the song actually charted and peaked at #16 in the Gaon Digital Chart.
I miss kim wooseok during x1 days ;((( pic.twitter.com/hOM3lBCl8U
— aina ♡ (@mylovelywooseok) August 27, 2021
On the acting front, Wooseok has also made some strides with the drama Bulgasal, where he played Nam Doyoon, a high school student who becomes a sort of disciple of the show’s main character Dan Hwal (played by Lee Jinwook). The show is set to premiere in December on tvN and will also be available for streaming on Netflix.
Sengwoo: Third-ranked in Produce X 101 and eventual leader of X1, Seungwoo was one of the two members of Play M Entertainment boy group VICTON to join the Produce X 101, the other being Byungchan. It was actually Byungchan who started off the show in high ranking, but towards the end of the show, fans were treated to Seungwoo’s display of talent and leadership skills. Moreover, Byungchan pulled out of the show in the finale due an injury, which left Seungwoo the be the sole recipient of Alice’s (the name of VICTON’s fanbase) love and support.
But when X1 was dissolved after only six months since their debut, Han held a solo fan meeting and returned to VICTON, where he participated in the group’s EP Continuous, which was released in March. Seungwoo and Byungchan’s exposure in Produce X 101 proved to be beneficial for the group, as it was at that time the highest charting VICTON album, peaking at #2 and selling over 95,000 copies.
From April 14, 2020, he started a new career venture as a DJ with his groupmate Seungsik as they co-hosted the radio show Blanket Kick, which airs on Naver’s streaming app Naver NOW. Four months later, Seungwoo finally made his solo debut with the EP Fame and the single Sacrifice, which he wrote the lyrics for. 30,000 copies of the EP were sold on the first say and peaked at number 2 in the Gaon Album Chart. The EP would go on to sell more than 80,000 copies to date. Seungwoo’s acting debut also came via the web drama Love #Hashtag, which premiered in April 2021 and co-starred AOA’s Hyejung. In June, he released his second EP Fade, with the single See You Again. See You Again is his first song that charted in Gaon’s Digital Chart. Then, he announced his enlistment for mandatory military service to start in July. So, his groupmate Heochan took over his DJ duties in Blanket Kick and he is the first member of both Victon and X1 to enter the military. He is set to be discharged in late January 2023.
Hyeongjun and Minhee: Ranking 4th and 10th respectively, Starship Entertainment’s Hyeongjun and Minhee were announced to debut in a new boy group with their two labelmates who also participated in PDX101, Jungmo and Wonjin. Cravity, which debuted in April (three months after X1’s official disbandment), had the reputation of being 2020’s “Monster Rookies” as they were the first group to debut PDX101 members (VICTON is not considered since they already debuted before Byungchan and Seungwoo joined the show). They became the first rookie artists of the pandemic year to debut on the Billboard K-pop Hot 100 while also earned numerous awards including “New Artist of the Year” at the 12th Melon Music Awards, “Best of Next” at the 2020 Mnet Asian Music Awards and “Rookie Award” in the 4th Soribada Awards.
People did cast doubts on Minhee who was nowhere at the top 12 of PDX101 before the final episode, but once he was grouped together with Hyengjun and the other members to form Cravity (an amalgamation of the words “creativity” and “gravity”), it seems all those doubts have been set aside. The group has proven to be very successful, in line with other Starship groups such as SISTAR, Monsta X, and WJSN. All their albums, which include three EPs and one full album, have sold more than 110,000 copies. Their latest release, The Awakening: Written in the Stars, is their the full-length album released in August and peaked at #3 in Gaon’s Album Chart and has sold more than 164,000 copies.
Seungyoun aka Woodz: Prior to joining PDX101, Cho Seungyoun already started building his music career, having joined the group UNIQ in 2014 before joining the fifth season of the rap competition show Show Me the Money. While his groupmates in UNIQ opted to diversify their careers by taking on acting jobs, Seungyoun remained steadfast in developing his career in music. After successfully claiming a spot in X1, he actually thought his career as a “mainstream pop” idol would finally take off, but alas, fate had other plans.
After X1’s disbandment, Seungyoun took six months to finally launch his solo career as a solo artist. Taking Woodz as his artistic nom de guerre, his released Equal, his first EP on June 29, 2020, with the lead single Love Me Harder. His first official comeback as Woodz was done close to five months after Equal with Woops! being released on November 17, with the title track Bump Bump. His second comeback was launched on March 15, with the single album Set and the title track Feel Like. Finally, his third EP Only Lovers Left was released on October 5 and featured the double title tracks Kiss of Fire and Waiting. He co-produced and co-wrote three songs in English for the international fans as well as to leap himself globally and with this album, he achieved his first win as a soloist on The Show.
Dongpyo: The center of the PDX101’s Pick Me stage, Dongpyo has gone back to DSP Media, his agency. For the rest of 2020, it seemed that DSP was cooking something in the form of a group and alas, on February 5, 2021, Dongpyo was revealed as the fourth member of a new group, MIRAE. MIRAE debuted on March 17 with their first mini album Killa. The group’s name is also the Korean word for future, as DSP believes that they will be the leaders of K-pop in the future.
Dongpyo’s group has shown promise so far, with their first two comebacks, Killa and Splash, selling 30,000+ and close to 50,000 units, respectively.
Hangyul and Dohyun: The two trainees from MBK who debuted in X1 also started their career outside it together as they formed the duo H&D in April of 2020. The duo released one more special album in September before getting integrated into the Pocketdol Studio’s (an MBK subsidiary) newest boy group, BAE173, which debuted in November the same years with a mini-album Intersection : Spark. The group’s follow-up EP was released on April 8, 2021, entitled Intersection: Trace and its lead single Loved You. The EPs sold close to 19,000 and more than 21,000 copies, respectively.
Junho: Following the success of Eunbi and Chaewon as Woollim representatives in Produce 48, the company succeeded again in PDX101, when Junho, who many regarded as Infinite (which also happens to be a Woollim group) L’s lookalike, also took a spot in X1. It would be ten months after X1’s dissolution when Junho re-debuted, this time as a member of the company’s newest group DRIPPIN. Six of the seven DRIPPIN members joined PDX101 and the company added another trainee, Alex to the group when they debuted with the EP Boyager.
Five months after their debut, the group released their second EP, A Better Tomorrow. Their three release have so far met considerable success, selling 52,000+, 47,000+, and 37,000+ copies, respectively.
I just realized that memories were released in their birth month too, Kim Wooseok and Lee Eunsang
— smyˣ¹ 이슴희 (@5my_yaa) October 14, 2021
Eunsang: The X of X1, Eunsang chose to debut as a solo artist in August 2020 with the single album Beautiful Scar, the title track of which was a collaboration with Brand New Music labelmate and former WANNA ONE and current AB6IX member Park Woojin. In October 2020, Eunsang collaborated with former X1 groupmate Wooseok for the single Memories. Finally, he released his second single album on September 1, 2021, with its lead single Lemonade.
Aside from singing, Eunsang has also embarked on an acting career, starring in the web drama Part-Time Melo with SF9’s Dawon and the drama Idol: The Coup, where he shares the screen with idols Hani (as in EXID Hani), Solbin (Laboum), Exy (WJSN), and Green (Redsquare).
Looks like everyone from X1 has recovered beautifully since that mess of a scandal. Here’s hoping we can still see then reunite on stage in the future.
Featured Image: Still from X1’s music video “Flash” on Youtube.