Mnet's audition program 'I-LAND2: N/a' under fire ahead of first episode

Actor Song Kang, left, the host of Mnet's upcoming audition program ″I-LAND2: N/a″ set to air its first episode on April 18 [NAMOO ACTORS, MNET]

CJ ENM is off to a rocky start to debuting its second official girl group after fromis_9 through its soon-do-air audition program "I-LAND2: N/a."

The second season of "I-LAND," which aired in 2020 and created HYBE's boy band Enhypen, will air its first episode on April 18 on Mnet at 8:50 p.m. A global audition tour was held last year until October, receiving more than 20,000 applicants, according to Mnet.

The resulting girl group from "I-LAND2:N/a" will be trained and managed by WakeOne, a K-pop agency wholly owned by CJ ENM. The agency currently manages girl group Kep1er and boy band ZeroBaseOne, which have been formed through Mnet's audition program and will disband once the members' two-and-a-half-year contracts with CJ ENM end.

It will be the first group from WakeOne and the second from CJ ENM to debut without a set expiry date. The resulting group will sign the industry standard of a seven-year contract with the agency.

However, the program got off on the wrong foot.

An Instagram user claiming to be an on-site staff member of "I-LAND2: N/a" accused the program's producer of mistreating both the K-pop trainees and the staff members of the show.

The producer, who has not been named by Mnet, delayed the shooting schedule by nine hours and berated the trainees for "not seeming tense enough" when they seemed tired during the process, the post said.

Teaser image for Mnet's upcoming idol audition program, ″I-LAND2″ [MNET]

The set was not properly heated or cleaned, nor were the trainees given warm clothes, the user added. The post went viral over the weekend and Mnet issued an official statement on Sunday, refuting all claims.

"'I-LAND2' is doing everything it can to film in a safe and righteous environment and produce a program that will be loved by the public," the channel said.

"We are fully abiding by regulations on treating minors as spelled out in the Popular Culture and Arts Industry Development Act and prioritizing the health and safety of the participants."

"We are also providing all participants with the necessary break time they need in between and are taking our utmost care in treating the trainees with the right actions and words," added the statement.

The first season of "I-LAND" was held in partnership with K-pop powerhouse HYBE and led to the formation of boy band Enhypen. The second season was initially planned to begin in August 2022 but was postponed "to better the quality of the show."

"I-LAND2: N/a" will be hosted by actor Song Kang. The "N/a" means that the unimaginable "N" gets to meet the infinite possibility of "a" (alpha) to create a new story, according to Mnet.

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