How Mnet's second 'I-LAND' audition show will select its 12-member girl group

The 24 contestants on Mnet's upcoming girl group audition program "I-LAND2: N/a" pose for the camera alongside the producers of the program. From fourth from left are music producers 24 and VVN, main producer Taeyang and performance directors Monika and Leejung. [CJ ENM]

Mnet’s latest audition show, “I-LAND2: N/a,” aims to form a new, unique and colorful girl group. Its producers and coaches, however, have not explained how they will achieve such goals — because crafting such an identity, ultimately, will be up to the program's contestants.

“Instead of us painting a blueprint first to decide on how we would choose the contestants and have them fit into the picture, we wanted to discover their strength and advantages as they live, survive and grow as they go through ‘I-LAND,'” music producer 24 from The Black Label — whose real name is Seo Jung-hoon — said in a press event Friday in Seongsu District, eastern Seoul, a week before the first episode of “I-LAND2: N/a” airs on April 18.

“And as we look for those contestants, we will also think of the balance and harmony between them,” 24 added.

The show's shooting, and the selection of the group that will emerge, is currently in progress.

“I-LAND2: N/a” is the second installment of Mnet’s “I-LAND” audition program. The first season, which aired in 2020, was produced in collaboration with HYBE subsidiary Belift Lab and formed the boy band Enhypen. This time, Mnet has teamed up with The Black Label, the K-pop agency led by music producer Teddy — the mastermind behind countless hit tracks from bands like BigBang, 2NE1 and Blackpink — to form a 12-member girl group.

Twenty-four contestants of Mnet's girl group audition program "I-LAND2: N/a" pose for the camera during a press conference held Friday in Seongsu District, eastern Seoul. [CJ ENM]

“Our role as producers is to help each contestant find their identity that lies inside them. That, I think, is the only way they can differentiate themselves from the many idol groups already in the field,” said BigBang’s Taeyang, who is signed to The Black Label and is the show's main producer.

The final girl group, Taeyang said, “won't just be active for short amount of time, but will have to go through a long journey.” The singer added that “we, too, are quite excited about what kinds of colors we will get to see when different contestants come together as one.”

The terms 'producer’ and ‘director’ are used to describe those who coach and mentor contestants on the show. The lineup, in addition to Taeyang, includes Teddy as lead producer alongside music producers VVN and 24 and performance directors Monika and Leejung.

The various producers have had different qualities in mind as they begin coaching the 24 trainees.

Twenty-four contestants of Mnet's girl group audition program "I-LAND2: N/a" pose for the camera during a press conference held Friday in Seongsu District, eastern Seoul. [CJ ENM]

“There are a lot of things other than your techniques that matter a lot on stage,” Monika said. “Things like stage presence, that the audience can easily catch, are the result of practice; it happens without you thinking about it.” The dancer and choreographer aims to “help them pull out such skills.”

“They are artists, after all. We can’t have contestants have no musicality in them,” producer VVN said when asked whether she'd consider idols who lack vocal ability but have other attractive qualities.

“Musicality is a must-have, and the star qualities come after that.”

Producer 24 added that he is looking for contestants “with one killer strength” rather than all-rounders.

But Chief producer Kim Sin-young, who led “I-LAND,” "Girls Planet 999” (2021) and “Boys Planet” (2023), emphasized that a safe and fair environment, more so than competitive qualities, will be important in forming the group.

“Our top priority is to help and provide an environment for our contestants where they can solely focus on their dream of making their debut as the show continues,” Kim said.

The producer noted that the program is providing ample security systems and “canteens with professional nutrients,” as well as managing the air quality and conducting routine fire hazard inspections on set. Trainees will be able to consult a psychiatrist and anonymously communicate any issues to staff.

“We have prepared to have a safe and structured environment so they can be the iconic K-pop girl group they desire to be,” Kim said.

From left, chief producer Kim Sin-young; performance directors Monika and Leejung; main director Taeyang; music directors VVN and 24; producer Lee Chang-kyu poses for the camera during a press conference for Mnet's girl group audition program "I-LAND2: N/a" set to air on Thursday. [CJ ENM]

Above all, the producers were very much excited for the contestants.

“I think each contestant really has unlimited potential in them, so I think it will be fun to watch until the very last episode,” said Leejung, who coached the 24 members for their opening song “Final Love Song." The track, produced by Teddy, VVN and 24 and performed by Blackpink's Rosé and the show's 24 contestants, samples the 80s hit "The Final Countdown" (1986) from rock band Europe.

“I hope the final group performs globally, including performing in KCON concerts,” Kim added.

"I hope I can advise the trainees well from the experiences and feelings I went through [in my 17 year career], including things like having skills, personality and your own identity as an artist," said Taeyang.

“It really reminds me of my debut. I really hope they achieve their amazing dream of being an artist.”

To find out more about "I-LAND2," visit Celeb Confirmed!