Treasure finally to be let out of the box

On the same day we heard the sad news of X1’s disbandment came happier news that Treasure, the group formed by YG Entertainment via the survival show, “Treasure Box,” will finally debut after a year spent locked in YG’s Treasure Box.

I don’t know whether YG’s CEO at the time, Yang Hyun Suk, had any plans to actually debut the group. He had an alleged history of taking easy money from survival shows and gambling it away, leaving his groups in the lurch. He was forced to resign last year after a series of scandals.

Since then there have been some changes to the Treasure concept, with the boys finally being allowed to write their own music. The group, originally to be called Treasure13, a combination of the two units formed from the show, Treasure and Magnum, will now consist of one 12-member unit called Treasure.

Ha Yoon Bin’s profile photo from May 2019. He left YGE last month to pursue a solo career.

Members of the original Treasure unit are Haruto, Bang Ye Dam, So Jung Hwan, Kim Jun Kyu, Park Jeong Woo, Yoon Jae Hyuk and Choi Hyun Suk,

Members of the original Magnum unit are Mashiho, Kim Do Young, Yoshinori, Park Ji Hoon, Asahi, and Ha Yoon Bin, a rapper who left the company last month to launch a solo career.

Treasure is set to debut this month. Looking forward to seeing what they will come up with.

‘Treasure’ saga dragged on but saved fan-favorite Mashiho

By Nadine Kam I

The YG Treasure Box saga finally came to an end four days ago, when the entertainment company finally revealed the last six of it’s new boy group lineup.

We thought it was the end in late January, when the lineup for the seven-member group was revealed. On Jan. 27, I wrote that I wished YG would introduce a second group, particularly to debut Mashiho, the Japanese trainee who proved so deserving on its TV competition.

To my relief, Mashi was the first member named to the second group, which has been dubbed Magnum. (Stupid name.) Like the last few members of the prior group, the announcements of the members came days apart, prolonging the agony of fans who wanted to know whether their faves had made it.

Here’s the lineup for Magnum. For the original Treasure 7 lineup,
please see my post from Jan. 27.

I was rooting for another Japanese trainee, Keita, but as days passed, it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen because he is a rapper, and two other rappers had been named.

In the meantime, many were rooting for the “Silverboys,” the oldest of YG’s Korean trainees, who were part of the company’s A-Team, including Lee Byoung-gon, Kim Seung-hoon, Park Ji-hoon and Kim Do-young. The latter two made it, and in the aftermath, Byoung-gon and Seung-hoon left the company.

Kim Sung-hoon, left, and Lee Byoung-gon left YG after
failing to make the Treasure teams.

They are already 19 and 20 (20 and 21 in South Korea) and the sad reality is that ideally, debuts will come at or before age 18, so the company can make money off the boys for a full decade before they are required to enter the military. Contracts are generally for seven years, so 21 would be the absolute cut-off age.

Sadly, Keita didn’t make it either, and I wonder what his future holds as a five-year trainee.

The 13 members will debut as Treasure 13, then break off into subunits of Treasure and Magnum as needed. I am thinking Magnum may have been created to appeal to the Japanese market because the group is split evenly into three Korean members, and three Japanese.

👁 Watch: Keita (in red shirt) performing with Haruto, who made it to Treasure 7.

YG’s Treasure 7 revealed

By Nadine Kam I When I started watching “YG Treasure Box I had no intention of getting completely sucked in by it. I assumed it would be like any other American talent competition in which I never formed any kind of attachment to the contestants.

I just thought it would be interesting to watch the process that trainees go through en route to Kpop stardom. I knew it would be brutal, but intensity of the TV competition also turned out to be downright cruel, especially when friends teamed up because they thought they would be performing as a duo, only to find out later they would be in a competition with each other to stay or leave.

I’ve become quite accustomed to crying over the trials of idols I already know, but it was new to be crying over and worrying about these strangers I got to know over 10 weekly episodes.

The difference between the Korean and American shows is that in this country, there is the feeling that there is an element of luck involved in becoming a successful performer. You can work hard, but unless you get that lucky break or meet the right person, you may continue to work in obscurity. But you will be able to find work. There is also the feeling that if you don’t make it, you can find success on some other path. In Korea, these individuals train toward their goals from childhood, like elite athletes who give up friendships, love, normal schooling and other activities to make it in the industry. Because they give up so much, there is a feeling that they can’t reclaim that time or change course easily if they don’t succeed. Their destiny rests in only a handful of entertainment companies and the pain and anxiety they feel is palpable.

There were 29 candidates up for what would become seven spots in YG’s next boy band, and they were all so talented.

A couple were obvious choices who made it to the final team, such as the sweet voiced six-year YG veteran Bang Ye Dam, and the YG Japan team’s Haruto, a baritone rapper who sounds like YG’s rival to BTS’s Kim Taehyung, known throughout the industry for his deep, sultry voice, unusual in the high-pitched world of Kpop.

Many people were rooting for Treasure J’s Mashiho, who is shown in this video
wearing a pastel sweater. Now that I watch this video again, 
maybe his voice is too close in tone to Ye Dam’s for them to be in the same group.

Along the way I appreciated the talents of the Team J’s Keita and Mashiho, and prayed there would be a spot for talented rapper, singer, dancer Choi Hyun Suk, who seemed to get verbally pounded by the main producer Yang Hyun Suk at every turn. It made me sad to see this bright boy crying so much.

Seeing Hyunsuk cry is so heart-breaking.

I thought my ordeal and the suspense over who would make the final team would be over when the program ended Jan. 18. But to keep the attention and hype going, The company took a week longer to announce the winners one at a time, every other day. The waiting was killing me because I was so invested in seeing Hyun Suk, a three-year trainee win a spot.

When the show ended, we were left with four winners: the expected Ye Dam and Haruto, Junkyu, and unbelievably to fans, newer trainee So Jung Hwan, who beat out much more polished Team A treasures, called the Silverboys. They are talented individuals who had spent the most time as YG trainees.

How fans felt about YG producer Yang Hyun Suk due to the show’s outcome.


Even then, all hell was breaking loose for YG, with friends calling for the agency to debut all the Silverboys they had been rooting for since the start of the competition and calling for #justiceforsilverboys.

The first of the post-show winners to be announced was another young trainee, Park Jeong Woo. There were few quibbles over his selection. Though green, he has a pretty voice and the kind of sweet disposition that drives fans to want to take care of him. Plus, there were two spots left for my favorites, Hyun Suk and wildly popular Mashiho.

Baritone rapper Haruto had an easy victory, performing here as a team
with Park Jeong Woo.

But all hope was dashed with the next unpopular announcement of Soon Jae Hyuk. Nobody could see what he could contribute to the team. He was ranked last in the first assessment of the competition. Even toward the end, he had trouble singing the right notes. And although a lot of the other trainees thought he might have been selected as a visual, I don’t consider him good looking at all, and neither do most international fans from what I have read in IG and Twitter comments.

Choi Hyun Suk rap battle against his friend Jung Jun Hyuk.

By this point I had nearly lost hope that Hyun Suk would make it because the producer seemed to be favoring younger, newer trainees. I thought if the choice came down to him or Mashiho on this basis, Mashiho would win. The only case for Hyun Suk would have been his status as a rapper in a lineup that at that point only had one rapper. I crossed my fingers.

As soon as Jaehyuk was named the sixth member, the pleas for Mashiho flooded YG’s IG feed. Oh there was plenty of venom too. Edited images of the YG building going up in flames, and the burning of Yang’s photo, etc. They threatened to abandon YG and the Treasures and vowed to follow Big Hit’s new boy group TXT instead.

Sadly, Team J’s Keita (in blue) was sent home all too soon because he chose to take on the No. 1 rank singer Bang Ye Dam. He thought there was no honor
in the easy victory of challenging weaker members.

I hope there is a secret plan to debut two bands at the same time. Certainly the Team A treasures are all so deserving and were a tight, ready-to-debut ensemble before the series ever started.

Finally, the last announcement came yesterday and Choi Hyun Suk was named as the last member. I was so happy and stayed up until 2 a.m. to watch them come together and talk about their experience on Vlive. By the time I went to bed an hour-and-a-half later, they had generated 1.1 million views and more than 10 million hearts, phenomenal numbers for a group that has yet to debut.

Debuts add excitement to 2019

By Nadine Kam

2019 already got off to a good start with BTS Jimin’s release of his solo song “Promise” on New Year’s Eve in South Korea.

Given BTS’s success over the past year, the most awaited debut will be that of their parent company Big Hit Entertainment’s new boy group. Though Big Hit is not leaking any information about the group’s members, stalkers have kept an eye on the coming and going of potential members outside of the company’s headquarters and posted their videos to YouTube. The image at top allegedly shows some of the mystery members, said to have an average age of 17. The group is rumored to be debuting in March.

Also, with YG Entetainment’s broadcast of its “YG Treasure Box” series (10 p.m. Friday nights KST on Naver’s V Live, and again two hours later at midnight on YouTube) on the making of its next boy band from its “treasure box” of trainees, you can expect them to strike while interest is high and debut said band.

It’s anyone’s guess which of 29 hopefuls in “YG Treasure Box” will become the ones to debut as part of YG Entertainment’s next boy band. Here, three who initially made the band are being put to the test by challengers for their spots.

Along with debuts will come goodbyes in 2019.

Most prominent was the Dec. 31, 2018, disbandment of Wanna One, another group formed through a broadcast competition.

The group debuted in August 2017 following selection during the music survival show “Produce 101,” Season 2, reached the end of their contracts and although they were very popular and racked up 43 Korean and international awards and 49 Korean music program awards in its brief tenure, there was no plan by management company Swing Entertainment to renew their contract.

Fans will miss Wanna One after spring, but due to the group’s success over the year, individual members have plenty of prospects going forward.

With awards season continuing through spring, however, Wanna One will attend the award shows and will stage finale concerts in Seoul Jan. 24 through 27.

Although the disbandment was sad, given that they ended their year’s run on top of charts, the future looks bright. Although fans will miss them as a unit, it’s hard to feel sad for the individual members who will reap a small fortune from their year’s work. In that time, the group generated nearly 80 billion won (USD $71 million) in revenue since debut, with 44 billion won net profit, according to Sports Seoul, and each group member will walk away with a share in the income.

Here’s a look at some of their current plans:

Yoon Ji-sung: The group’s oldest member is slated to release a solo album on Feb. 20 February. He will also be starring in the musical, “The Days,” before enlisting in the South Korean military this spring.

Kang Daniel: Signed to the same agency as Yoon Ji-sung, he is planning to release solo music, although no details are available. He recently opened his own Instagram account to keep fans updated and picked up 1 million followers within 12 hours.

Kim Jae-hwan: He is said to be writing his own music with a solo career in mind.

Hwang Min Hyun: The former NU’EST member will be rejoining his former group under the Pledis Entertainment banner.

Lee Dae Hwi and Park Woo Jin: Have been signed by Brand New Music and will be making their debut in a group alongside MXM’s Lim Young Min and Kim Dong Hyun. The group’s lineup is still being finalized, but an April or May debut is expected.

Ha Sung Woon: Signed with Star Crew Entertainment. It is unclear whether he will be going solo or returning to his former band HOTSHOT.

Ong Seong-wu: Is exploring a future in acting and is reported to be joining a JTBC drama series.

Lai Kuan-Lin: Will be filming another reality TV show, then taking a role in a Chinese TV drama series.

Park Ji-hoon: Has also been offered acting roles but is currently considering his options as he also plans to continue singing, according to Maroo Entertaintment.

Bae Jinyoung: Will focus on acting, as well as forming another music team.

Due to contracts coming to an end in 2019, some groups that may come to an end this year due to relations with their companies or loss of members include B.A.P., AOA, Mr Mr, Cross Gene, BIGSTAR and 24K.

Other contracts coming to an end include that of Vixx and NU’EST, but with Hwang Min Hyun rejoining his former band, they are likely to continue with renewed energy.


Series peeks into YG Treasure Box

By Nadine Kam I YG Entertainment, one of the big three K-pop star makers opens the doors to its brutal training program via its reality survival series “YG Treasure Box,” which has racked up 25 million international views in its third week.

The series shows YG CEO/producer Yang Hyun Suk going through the process of selecting members for YG’s first new boy group in four years, from the company’s so-called “Treasure Box” of 29 promising trainees. From this field, only five to seven will make the final cut.


Treasure Box A’s performance of Wanna One’s “Energetic.”

Each trainee is already assigned to a group. Group A comprises long-term trainees. Singer Bang Ye Dam and Kim Seung Hun have the dubious distinction of being YG trainees the longest, at six and nine years, respectively. At that point, with advancing age, there must be the worrisome doubt as to whether one will ever debut.

Group B consists of relative newcomers to the company, with the least amount of experience. They reflect the company’s new initiative in putting a focus on beauty first, with Yang saying that YG had passed on too many success stories such as Rain, by focusing first on ability over looks.

Group C are the youngest and most uninhibited, at ages 14 and 15.

Group J was a surprise hidden team, arriving from Japan.

YG Treasure Box
YG photos
Only about five to seven of 29 hopefuls will be selected for YG’s next boy band.

The series shows the company’s grueling assessment sessions in which each member performs before a panel of judges and their fellow trainees. It often pits trainee against trainee in categories of voice, rap and dance. It’s impossible to not feel for the trainees who often lose confidence in light of the competition for a limited number of debut spots.

When they fail to meet expectations, they can be brutally dismissed from the company, walking out the door on the spot after perhaps years of training. One member—though a talented vocalist—felt the pressure and chose to leave after spending 2-1/2 years in the trainee program. I can only hope some other company might reach out to him, because he is certainly deserving of the spotlight.

It must be so frustrating to be in that type of situation. It was the type of circumstance that pitted BTS’s Kim Taehyung and Park Jimin against each other for so long and had them depressed because neither was certain he would debut. Tae was said to be a secret member, though fans are uncertain whether that meant he was kept under wraps because of extraordinary beauty that would wow the industry when he first showed his face, or whether that meant producers were unsure he would make the cut. His lyric baritone voice is certainly unusual in K-pop, which favors tenors. That made him a bit of a risk to cast, but certainly rewarding to Big Hit Entertainment in the long run.

Bang Ye Dam
Bang Ye Dam has waited six years to debut.

As expected, group A put on the best live performance for the judges. They are so polished, I thought they are all so deserving and could easily debut as a group right now. But they could not escape the vagaries of the company’s producers. It broke my heart to see them split apart when they are already a pretty tight family.

At the end of the third episode, two trainees each were selected from groups B and J for Team Treasure. Three more were selected from both groups A and C.

Watch to see what happens next. YG artist BlackPink will appear in the next episode to offer input. Episodes air 10 p.m. Friday nights (KST) on Naver’s V Live, and again two hours later at midnight on YouTube.