96 Korean, Japanese girls compete to win ‘golden tickets’ to K-pop stardom




Ninety-six female contestants from Korea and Japan, who will go head to head for a chance to be part of a new idol group, will kick off their competition Friday at 11:00 p.m. (KST) on Mnet’s survival reality show “Produce 48.” Only 12 will be allowed to join the group.

It’s the third season of “Produce 101,” which singled out 11 from many star wannabes through rounds of voting, giving birth to girl group I.O.I in 2016 and boy band Wanna One in 2017.

“Produce 48” is a combination of two systems — “Produce 101” and Japan’s AKB48, a massive J-pop girl group.

On May 10, 96 girls made their first performance via Mnet’s music show “M Countdown.” There were two “centers,” played by Ka-eun from K-pop girl group After School and Miyawaki Sakura from Japan. The girls sang the song “Pick Me.”

“Produce 48,” however, has been in the middle of controversy over some contestants being tied with Japanese nationalists. A portion of viewers are even debating whether the program is pertinent to the Lolita complex, a sexual obsession with immature girls.

The voting for contestants is only available in Korea, and the girl group finally formed will last for two and a half years.

Singer-actor Lee Seung-gi will be the host of the program, with Lee Hong-ki of K-pop boy band FTISLAND and Soyou of K-pop girl group Sistar serving as vocal trainers. Female rapper Cheetah will be in charge of rap coaching, with choreographers Bae Yoon-jung, Choi Young-joon, and May J Lee handling dance training.

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