Now, nearly a year after the band disbanded, a shocking scandal has erupted. Various news outlets reported that the voting system in the show, which was the core of the show’s format, was rigged. Aside from that, they also reported that there has been manipulation behind the choice of the final trainees in Wanna One. Names like Samuel Kim, as well as NU’EST’s Kim Jong-hyun and Kang Dong-ho, have been brought up as the rumored original members of Wana One. Are you curious to find out more about this issue? Scroll down this article below!

Vote Manipulation in Produce 101

On Tuesday (12/09/2019), The Korean Herald reported that police have booked 10 people, including the producers of a K-pop audition TV show and officials from CJ ENM, in connection with allegations they had rigged the results of audience voting. Police are looking into whether high-ranking officials from music labels were involved, whether there was any vote-rigging on former seasons of the Mnet audition shows, and whether bribes were given in return for allegedly manipulating the votes. “I think an investigation into alleged vote-rigging should be conducted thoroughly to achieve a fair society,” Lee Yong-pyo, the commissioner of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, said at a press briefing. The 10 people who were booked include Kim Yong-bum and Ahn Joon-young, respectively chief producer and director of Mnet’s “Produce X 101.” The “Produce 101” series is a recurring fan-voting K-pop competition through which popular bands such as Wanna One have debuted. The two were arrested last week on allegations of conspiring with music labels to manipulate mobile text message-based votes to get certain contestants to rank higher in the competition, and, ultimately, be selected to debut. They are set to be sent to prosecutors on Thursday, November 14, 2019. The investigation began after some fans questioned the results, as several promising contenders were not on the winners’ list, while some unexpected names were. Viewers took issue with dubious numerical patterns in the final vote count, noting that the top 20 contestants had vote numbers that were multiples of a specific number. The vote-rigging scandal has dealt a blow to the K-pop acts that debuted through the popular program. The 12-member Korean and Japanese girl-group IZONE, which debuted after the third season of the “Produce 101” series, postponed a comeback showcase and an album release that was slated for Monday. According to updated reports on November 14th, 2019, Ahn Joon-young, PD of Mnet’s ‘Produce’ series has now partially admitted to vote-rigging allegations in the first and second season of Produce 101. Earlier during his investigation, Ahn Joon-young PD only admitted to vote manipulations in Produce 48 and Produce X 101, denying any manipulation during Produce 101 season 1 or season 2. However, after being forwarded to prosecution on his current charges of fraud, manipulative broadcasting, etc., Ahn Joon-young PD has given a new statement, partially admitting to the likelihood of ranking manipulations in the first and second Produce 101 seasons. On top of that, a recent report also revealed that the final members of X1 and IZONE, as well as one member of Wanna One, were reportedly set before viewers even cast their votes on Produce x 101, Produce 48, and Produce 101 season 2, respectively. According to reports from December 5th, 2019, assemblyman Ha Tae-kyung of the Bareunmirae Party received an official written arraignment to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office that detailed ‘Produce’ producers Ahn Joon-young and Kim Yong-bum had decided on the final members of project groups even before viewers made their votes for the competitors of their choice in the ‘Produce’ series. The written arraignment states that producers Ahn, Kim, and one undisclosed person held a meeting at the CJ ENM headquarters on July 17th, 2018, and came up with the top 11 trainees who would debut as X1 after Produce x 101. They’re accused of manipulating online votes for the show this past May, and replacing viewer-voted trainees with trainees on their pre-fabricated list. The IZ*ONE members were also decided upon before the Produce 48 viewers voted. Ahn, Kim, and one other person are reported to have decided on the 12 members in August of 2018, before the live votes from viewers came in. Just as with Produce x 101, the Produce 48 ranking of the top 12 was decided before the final episode. As for the one Wanna One members who debuted, producer Ahn Joon-young is said to have switched the rankings of 2 trainees before the final episode of Produce 101 season 2 in June of 2017. This means one trainee who should have debuted with Wanna One did not make the top 11. The producer had reportedly switched member rankings for the top 60 preliminary round in May of the same year. The first season of Produce 101, which debuted the project girl-group IOI, suffered manipulation as well. Producer Ahn Joon-young reportedly dropped two trainees who deserved to move on, and replaced them with two others for the first round of voting in February of 2016. Police investigations further uncovered that producer Ahn Joon-young had worked with 4 entertainment labels to edit favorably for certain trainees on Produce 48 and Produce x 101. He also received over 46 million Won ($38,653.35 USD) in services from adult entertainment businesses paid for by labels. Reports say CJ ENM made 124,465,000 Won ($104,588 USD) in profits from text message votes for Produce 48 and Produce x 101. The suspicion of vote-rigging first surfaced July 19, after the final stages of Produce X 101 aired live. The viewers were suspicious when some unexpected trainees made it through the finals to become part of the group. Another suspicion was that the votes were too evenly differentiated. Angry viewers formed a “fact-finding committee” and demanded to be shown the original voting data, calling on police to strictly investigate staff and authorities from Mnet and the management agency involved in the show. Police requested the prosecution to seek arrest warrants for four staff members of the management agency and Produce 101 team Oct. 30, and booked them on Nov. 5. During the investigation, officers also found that Ahn was entertained by management agencies on over 40 occasions, at a cost amounting to several millions of won. Meanwhile, police plan on continuing their investigations into the vote manipulation suspicions behind Produce 101 season 1 and season 2, as well as similar suspicions on Mnet’s Idol School.  

Speculation Regarding Wanna One’s Original Line-Up

After the scandal of the Produce 101 vote manipulation, an old poster from Produce 101 is resurfacing and evoking talks amongst the fans on social media. The poster reveals the final ranking of the remaining contestants. It features Kang Dongho (NU’EST‘s Baekho), Kim Samuel, and Kim Jonghyun (NU’EST’s JR) in the final lineup. Mnet then deleted the poster and re-uploaded the final ranking. Fans noticed that Wanna One members Yoon Ji-sung, Kim Jae-hwan, and Ha Sung-woon were not in the original poster. In a recent report after prosecution revealed that one of the Wanna One members was falsely added into the final debuting lineup, many netizens have been demanding to know who was unjustly kicked out of the true lineup. According to reports released by the prosecution, Kim Yong-bum CP manipulated the final votes for “Trainee A”. Trainee A made it into the top 11 finalists who would be debuting as Wanna One, but Kim Yong-bum cut down his votes and kicked him out of the final lineup. Instead, he took Trainee B, who didn’t make it to the lineup, and manipulated the votes to have him debut with the group. Trainee B debuted with Wanna One and promoted with the group for 1.5 years. News reports speculate that NU’EST‘s JR (Kim Jong-hyun) was Trainee A. Netizens claim there are several things that prove that something was fishy in JR’s disqualification. First, they claimed that it was impossible for JR, who ranked #1 prior to the final episode, to be pushed down by more than 10 spots. Netizen argued that, before the live broadcast, Kim Jonghyun ranked #1 at the ranking announcement. It’s unexplainable even now how he ended up in 14th place. They also pointed out how JR was included in the “mistaken” final lineup image that was posted onto Mnet’s official account. The initial post had Kim Samuel, NUEST’s JR, and Baekho’s images listed on the site. Mnet soon deleted the post and apologized for their mistake. Moreover, netizens said that when the debut members were announced, their official Facebook page uploaded a photo with JR included in the final lineup. Fans are demanding that Mnet compensate JR for his loss and damages. ” Someone interfered with Kim Jonghyun’s opportunity to fulfill his dream. Mnet announced that they’re preparing to take responsibility for their actions, so they need to compensate the victims too. JR deserves to be compensated.” — Netizen

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