Posted by : cloudyday a October 02, 2013

There has been much hullabaloo surrounding YG's survival competition WIN: Who is Next since forever. It comes as no surprise though, given its extremely harsh do-or-die nature. One team debuts at the end of 3 months, the other team waits for another 4 years or disbands. What ever happened to YG being a family? Yet, this cruel show has been raking in pretty high viewer ratings for a show broadcast on cable TV. Given that this is YG's first boy group debut in 8 years, it is no wonder that there is much public interest and anticipation. What makes this all the more appealing is how the stakes in this survival competition is much higher than all other singing competitions. Competition will definitely be immensely intense - it's all or nothing.

I was pretty apprehensive about watching this, perhaps fearful of not being able to handle what I would see. Surprisingly, I'm finding myself being increasingly drawn to it. It is true that this whole show is set in a bubble screaming cruelty. Yet as I watched more of it, and became increasingly emotionally invested into it, there's really many heartwarming moments to witness and amaze you. Time and again, I am taken aback by how mature they are, and by how fiery their passion really burns - to pursue their simple desire to stand on stage; to bask in that single moment of fame, glory and pure bliss. Yet all in all, there's always the need for me to push the thought that one team has to go, right out of my mind. Sigh to the harsh but real cruelty of entertainment.

I'll be doing recaps for YG Win's episodes 3 at a time. Though new episodes have already been released, those recaps will be up in the next edition!

Episode 1 Recap - Announcement of Doom

CEO Yang Hyun Suk announces about the survival competition between both teams and of course receives the mixed reactions from all 11 trainees - stunned, shocked - as well as from Stars that featured on the show including JYP, PSY, 2NE1 and Big Bang members. We are introduced to both teams, where Team A consists of 5 members - Song Min Ho (Rapper, Leader), Kang Seungyoon (Vocal), Lee Seunghoon (Rapper), Kim Jinwoo (Vocal) and Nam Taehyun - with an average age of 20 while Team B consists of 6 members - B.I. (Rapper, Leader), Kim Jinhwan (Vocal), Bobby (Rapper), Gu Joonhye (Vocal), Kim Donghyuk (Vocal) and Soon Yoonhyung (Vocal) - with an average age of 17. 

Both teams perform for their monthly evaluation too - a tradition in YGE which allows CEO Yang to monitor their progress. Team A performed first with a shaky start as Seunghoon made a mistake and requested for a second chance. But even so, Team A seemed more divided and disorientated while Team B had more togetherness, unity and energy - even from the way they greeted at the start. CEO Yang commented that Team A was dull in relative to Team B, while criticizing Seunghoon (A) for still not being able to pronounce words right (he has a Busan dialect) and Jinwoo (A) for having over-the-top expressions. 
It seems like every episode they will some introduce members to us individually through videos / interviews of them or interviews with other people about them. In this episode, we are introduced to B.I. (B), Seungyoon (A), Seunghoon (A) and Jinwoo (A). B.I. is a rapper who was identified by YG during his shared stage with MC Mong when he was young. Because he too started activities at a young age and is a leader, Big Bang's G-Dragon finds many similarities between B.I. and himself and, hence, supports him personally. He is a great leader and helps Team B a lot with the monthly evaluations.

Jinwoo headed out to a small island out at sea to visit his Dad, a fisherman. He hasn't seen his dad in a long time and is moved to tears. His Dad gives him encouragement to win. 

Seunghoon was complimented for his choreography skills and ability to best use the stage. He is very hardworking, and thus has shown improvement in his pronunciation. 

Seungyoon is the only one out of the 11 trainees to have already debuted as a solo artist. He was a contestant on Superstar K2 before he signed with YG. I find that there is an overly confident air about him, though, perhaps because he has already secured his debut. Still, it is heartwarming how Team A members are so supportive of his solo career, and even visiting him at his performance stage to cheer him on. Cute. 

Episode 2 Recap - Reveal to the World
The 11 trainees are finally officially introduced as Team A and Team B to the public during a press conference by CEO Yang Hyun Suk and YG actress labelmate Yoo In Ah

Both teams are also preparing for their next monthly evaluation and both teams have their fair share of challenges. Team B encounters difficulty as main vocals Taehyun confessed that the song was hard to sing. He previously brought this up during practice but the others members took him lightly and kind of criticized him for not being a good main vocal. This made him feel like he has no presence in the team. For Team A, Donghyuk could not follow the beat. But all this also really proved that both teams are incredibly talented. Monthly evaluations are self-choreographed, and the songs are self-arranged too, with some guidance by a vocal trainer. Truly amazing. 
 CEO Yang complimented Team A for their ability to adapt to each other. The last 3 members that entered the team are considered beginners but after they entered the group, they received help from the 3 members that entered earlier and had immense improvement. 

Other than monthly evaluations, there are video evaluations that each team has to film to update CEO on their progress in preparing for the monthly evaluations - if the videos are not good, they'll have to change their performances for the monthly evaluations. 

CEO Yang felt that Team B needed to better their internal communication before they can have togetherness during performance. He sent Team B to go water rafting, where leader Minho was allowed to take charge of steering the boat while the members rowed on both sides. Epik High also visited both Teams to show support for the trainees. Team A is complimented to be better in singing while Team B in dance. 

CEO Yang popped by during their practice to see how preparations for monthly evaluations were coming along. He commented that it was Team B's worst performance and criticized main vocal & maknae Taehyun's (A) vocals, which caused him to eventually cry. Honestly, the comforting of the other members felt insincere here. But what Taehyun (A) said during an individual interview really moved me. With tears streaming down his eyes, he said this:
Taehyun: To tell you the truth there were times where i really wanted to give up. I started it because I like it. But as the days passed, there were times when I felt really tired. However, every time I thought about it, I would think of my mom and my family who have always believed in me, and I would continue on. I want to continue on and then in front of my parents and my friends, have her proudly tell everyone that I'm her son.
Member Introduction: Bobby (B). As CEO says, 'Bobby's skills surpass our imaginations'. He makes a videocall to his family in USA and was moved to tears. Again, another one with maturity beyond his years. 
Bobby: I miss them, a lot. I just hope that I won't make them worry about me. I want them to see the side of me that tries my very best.
3 members from Team B went to Jinhwan's (B) hometown Jeju Island. 

Episode 3 Recap - Horrors of Monthly Evaluation
Monthly evaulations are coming up. CEO predicts that they will give their all because he foresees that whichever group that does better in the evaluations will win the first round of votes. But of course, members are feeling the pressure. Seunghoon (A) is experiencing recurring back pains due to intense movement and goes for acupuncture while Seungyoon (A) is pretty much exhausted from both solo and team activities.

Team B on the other hand is having unsettling arguments too from the dongsaengs which make the hyungs feel kind of disorientated. It turned out to be a hidden camera to cheer up their hyung Jinhwan, who is praised by the members to be the nicest hyung. CEO likens him to Taeyang and compliments him in that the more he sees him the more sincere he appears to be. I completely agree.

Team A goes out to get clothes for monthly evaluations. Coincidentally, they receive advertisement flyers with the words winner on them and say 'we are the winners' happily. How cute. While Team B prepares for vacation, Team A really seems to be improving in terms of camaraderie and synchrony of ideas and minds within the team. Seungyoon (A) truly thinks they might have a shot of winning.

Monthly evaluations time - winning team gets to go to the beach while losing team goes back to their dorm. There is an audience of 30 members including Tablo and Lee Ha Yi, and they are given a placard to vote for either team at the end of both performances. There is marked improvement with Team A in terms of their team dynamics, though Team B is still better in terms of energy. Extremely nerve-wrecking, but Team B eventually won. And so Team B goes camping while Team A feels the pressure of having lost twice consecutively to Team B and continues to train hard. Team B had a lot of fun at the beach. Honestly, it was so rewarding to see those 6 kids play so happily and freely after being confined to the pressurizing training room. On the other hand, YG gives Team A a surprise meal and a banner in their room reading 'Be Strong'. Wow to their encouraging CEO. 

Both teams were treated to a meal at the company's cafeteria on another day. It should be considered a luxury for them, seeing how excited they are at the mere sight of pork. Jinhwan (B) said something really quite surprising and unbelievable here.
Jinhwan: If you eat too much of the company's food, you'll forget what it means to be grateful.
YG announces to them the tradition of JYP and YG trainees going head to head against each other in a battle. 11 trainees are evidently shaken. There's so much of company pride for them to protect.

Just into the first 3 episodes and I am really humbled by the attitude of all 11 trainees, who really give the phrase 'fighting for our dreams' a meaning. We all know that trainee life is tough, yet it kind of feels surreal to see trainee life up this close and personal. Seriously, how strong must their desire to debut be for them to be willing to let go of everything they are used to all their lives and train? There's so much sacrifice involved and yet blatantly speaking, its all just a risk their taking. Debuting is not a certainty guaranteed to them and they could be dropped anytime. Even they confess that each day they come to train, they have no idea what's in store for them. But to them, this risk is definitely one worth taking; it is about going all out for fame. It is marvelous how they are being driven forward by the power of their dream to debut and make it big. All I can say is that they are really admirable. Looking at how they train, its a great time for viewers to do some self-reflection and soul-searching.

Of course, there are all those challenges along the way. Already, many of the members are beginning to crack under the pressure. And it is kind of hurting at times to see how they have to go up against each other like that. Right now, the odds are in favor of Team B, but that can turn around quickly; Team A is catching up. Honestly, given how talented and passionate about music both teams are, I believe that the losing team would easily be able to make it in the music industry beyond YGE. But only time will be able to tell. 

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{ 7 comments... read them below or Comment }


    No, but thanks for writing this, honestly cause I lost motivation to even though I was watching the episodes. I'm more for Team A kinda cause they bring my feels out a little more but I honestly doubt YG would show Team B's faces and shit without debuting them later on. I mean, he wouldn't just kick them to the curb, would he?

  2. I honestly think YG wants to debut both groups, and he figured that the WIN show would be the best and most efficient way to promote both groups simultaneously (especially at a time when the idol marked is so over-saturated).

    Personally, I could easily see team A wining the show, and team B debuting a year or two later.

  3. I think Sylarah has a really good point. But I think the attention they put into showcasing each individual member may be to gauge the popularity, fandom, and profits they could squeeze from the first two points.

    For me, I could see ONE group debuting, with the most popular members of teams A and B. The 2nd group? Who knows? Maybe, maybe not.

  4. Oh, I agree. They are definitely using the WIN show to test the waters for both the groups AND each individual member.

    I wouldn't be surprised if, after the winning team debuts, at least some of the members of the loosing team will do individual promotions (which may eventually lead to a full team debut at some point).

  5. "I honestly think YG wants to debut both groups, and he figured that the WIN show would be the best and most efficient way to promote both groups simultaneously (especially at a time when the idol marked is so over-saturated)."

    Exactly. That's what I'm thinking. Better promotion for an easy cost. People will pity the group that doesn't win and they group that doesn't win is gaining fans at this moment.

    As so for me, A is definitely going to win while B is later.

  6. "For me, I could see ONE group debuting, with the most popular members of teams A and B. The 2nd group? Who knows? Maybe, maybe not."

    I wouldn't say that but it's your thoughts xD. What I think to myself: Why concentrate all the popular members into one group? Not to mention, YG himself said that both teams have a different light so the more popular members mixed together will be like mixing together oil and water--it doesn't go. They probably won't match that well or something :|
    Just in my views (:


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