iKON is a South Korean boy band which debuted in 2015 under YG Entertainment. The group first appeared in the reality survival program WIN: Who is Next as “Team B”. It was followed by another stint in Mix & Match in 2014 where the group’s final lineup was selected. iKON consists of seven members – B.I, Jinhwan, Yunhyeong, Bobby, Donghyuk, Ju-ne, and Chanwoo.
2013 to 2014: Pre-debut
Prior to iKON’s formation and official debut, group leader B.I was already active in the Korean music industry and has featured in MC Mong’s song “Indian Boy” in 2009, with whom he has also performed at the SBS Dream Concert. B.I has also performed on Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook.
Ju-ne, one of iKON’s vocalists, also made a pre-debut appearance when he was 13 on the SBS variety show Star King. He was also a contestant on SBS’ K-pop Star in 2011.
B.I and Jinhwan officially trainees at YG Entertainment on January 3, 2011, followed by Bobby a week later. The three of them trained together for a year and were the original members of “Team B”. Ju-ne and Yunhyeong joined the group on April 18, 2012, followed by Donghyuk as the final member on November 5, 2012.
All six members competed as “Team B” on Mnet’s reality survival show WIN: Who is Next in 2013 for a chance to debut as a group. They underwent three rounds of performances and public voting on the program, eventually losing to “Team A”, whose members went on to debut as WINNER. In the duration of the program, Team B released two singles: “Just Another Boy” and “Climax”.
Also in 2014, the members of Team B appeared in the music video of Taeyang’s “Ringa Linga” as backup dancers.
Following their stint on WIN: Who is Next, Team B appeared in another reality survival program, Mix & Match, with the goal of determining the final lineup of the group, now set to debut as iKON.
According to Yang Hyun Suk, CEO of YG Entertainment, iKON was named as such because they are pegged to become an “icon for Korea”, hence the use of the letter ‘K’. B.I, Bobby, and Jinhwan are the first members to be confirmed for the group., while the rest of Team B competed against three new trainees – Jung Jin Hyeong, Yang Hong Seok, and Jung Chan Woo.
iKON’s debut garnered much anticipation from the public, with more than 150,000 fans reportedly applying to attend the group’s final performance on Mix & Match. YG Entertainment’s blog server also crashed prior to the announcement of iKON’s official lineup. In the end, Ju-ne, Yunhyeong, and Donghyuk joined their original group members, while Chanwoo became the final addition to iKON.
Following the success of Mix & Match and iKON, the group held fan meetings in Korea, Japan, and China. In September 2014, an estimated 40,000 Japanese fans applied for 2,000 tickets at a fan meeting in Osaka Tojima River Forum, while over 50,000 Chinese fans applied for the group’s fan meeting in Beijing.
On December 15, 2014, iKON performed as the opening act at BIGBANG’s Japan Dome Tour 2014-2015 X. On December 29, 2014, Mix & Match aired on Japan’s CS Channel.
In January 2015, iKON was listed on Billboard’s list of “Top 5 K-pop Artists to Watch in 2015”, the only group on the list who hasn’t yet debuted.
2015: Official Debut
After numerous postponements, iKON’s official debut was finally announced in YG Entertainment’s website for September 15, 2015. It has also been revealed that the group would be releasing their debut album, Welcome Back, in two parts, with 6 of the 12 songs being promoted as title tracks.
The first half of the album, Debut Half Album, was set for release on October 1, 2015, while the second half, Debut Full Album, was scheduled for November 2. The track listing for Debut Half Album was revealed on September 24.
iKON’s leader B.I was credited as the producer and co-composer for all the tracks in the album. B.I and Bobby also contributed to the lyrics for all tracks, while Ju-ne participated in the composition of title track “Rhythm Ta”.
iKON debuted with the ‘pre-single’ “My Type”, which was released with a music video on September 15, 2015. Within the first 24 hours of its release, the music video surpassed 1.7 million views on YouTube. It also charted number 1 on the music video chart of Chinese music streaming sites QQ Music and Youku on September 18. The group became trending topic on Weibo, reportedly searched 1.3 billion times on the microblogging site.
On September 24, the single achieved ‘triple crown’ on the Gaon chart after becoming number one on the digital, download, and streaming charts simultaneously for Week 39 of 2015. And on September 26, just 11 days after their debut, the group took their first music show win with “My Type” on MBC’s Music Core, despite not yet having an official live appearance.
iKON digitally released Debut Half Album on October 1 and held their first concert, SHOWTIME, on October 3 at the Seoul Olympic Gymnastics Arena. The show sold a total of 13,000 tickets and was considered an unprecedented feat for a new K-pop group for being held at the largest concert hall in Korea. SHOWTIME was broadcast live through Naver’s V App and was streamed by more than 500,000 viewers.
A day after their debut concert on October 4, the group made their music show debut on SBS’ Inkigayo with “Rhythm Ta” and “Airplane”, where they also received their third music show win for “My Type”.
On October 8, they won on Mnet’s M! Countdown with “Rhythm Ta”. They also topped the weekly album sales charts with the first half of Welcome Back for the week of October 4 to 10, according to Gaon Music Charts.
For the rest of October 2015, iKON on a series of fan meetings in Japan, titled “iKontact”. The fan meetings were held in Tokyo, Aichi, Fukuoka, and Osaka, and attended by 26,600 fans. By the end of October, iKON received a MelOn All-Kill Popularity award and had sold 82,208 copies of Debut Half Album – Welcome Back. On October 28, however, it was announced that the release of the second half of the album would be postponed to December 15 instead of November 2 as originally scheduled, this time with two additional digital singles for release on November 16.
As scheduled, the group released two digital singles on November 16 – “Apology” and “Anthem”. “Apology” immediately took the number 1 spot on Gaon’s digital chart for Week 48 of 2015.
On December 24, iKon released three more singles – “Dumb & Dumber”, “What’s Wrong?”, and “I Miss You So Bad”.
The group received year-end accolades by winning Best New Artist, Best New Male Artist, and Best Group awards at MelOn Music Awards, Mnet Asian Music Awards, and Netease Attitude Awards, respectively.
2016: Japanese debut and Asian arena tours
On January 13, 2016, iKon officially made their Japanese debut with the release of a Japanese version of their album Welcome Back. The new version sold 61,508 copies within the first week of its release and charted third on the Oricon Weekly chart, giving iKon their New Artist Award and Best New Artist Award at the 58th Japan Record Award. By the end of 2016, both editions of Welcome Back sold more than 100,000 copies in Japan alone.
On March 17, 2016, YG Entertainment announced that the group will be holding their first Asia Tour dubbed iKoncert 2016: Showtime Tour. The concert series was scheduled to have stops in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Their Asian Tour was immediately followed by a Japanese arena tour entitled iKon Japan Tour 2016. The tour was initially set to have 14 concerts across five cities in front of 150,000 fans. However, YG entertainment later announced two additional shows in Tokyo due to high demand in tickets, increasing the number of attendees to 176,000 people from a total of six cities. Upon the completion of iKon Japan Tour 2016, the group’s total concert attendance within their debut year was listed at 322,000.
In November 2014, due to the extreme success of the arena tour, YGEX announced a second leg now called iKon Japan Tour in 2017. This time, iKon is also set to perform at the Yokohama Arena for the first time. The second leg was attended by 120,000 fans from three cities, totaling to 296,000 from 25 shows.
On May 30, 2016, iKon released the digital single “#WYD” (short for “What You Doing”), which debuted at number 3 on the Gaon Digital Chart.
On August 10, the group announced the release of their first original Japanese single, Dumb & Dumber, set for release on September 28 with a CD+DVD version and a CD version. The single debuted at number 1 on Oricon Single Album Chart and Oricon Weekly Single Album Chart.
Mid-2016, iKon took part in the Chinese dance survival program Heroes of Remix alongside their labelmate Psy, who worked as their mentor. The group emerged as the winningest artist on the show after winning three weeks and getting good reviews for their performances. However, due to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) issue between China and South Korea, the group was edited out of the last episodes of the show.
After their appearance on the show and a concert tour in China, iKon won the Asian Most Popular Korean Group award at the China Music Awards, and Best New Force Group and Album of the Year (for Welcome Back) at the QQ Music Awards.
In South Korea, they bagged the New Artist of the Year award at the Gaon Chart Music Awards, New Artist Award at the Golden Disk Awards and Seoul Music Awards, QQ Asia Artist Award at the MelOn Music Awards, and Best Rookie Group at Pops in Seoul.
The group also established themselves in Japan after winning New Artist Award and Best New Artist Award in the same year.
2017: Japan Dome Tour and New Kids
On February 11, 2017, YG Entertainment announced that iKon will be embarking on their first Japan dome tour, including two shows to be held in Kyocera Dome and Seibu Prince Dome that are expected to attract some 90,000 fans in attendance. This makes iKon the fastest group to hold a dome tour in Japan since debut.
On March 2, their label also confirmed that the group is scheduled to begin shooting two new music videos for their upcoming album set for release in April. During the filming of the music video, however, youngest member Chanwoo injured his ankle, causing the delay on the music video shoot. It was eventually confirmed that iKon will be releasing a new series of albums called New Kids, which is planned for continuous release for the rest of 2017 beginning May 22 with New Kids: Begin.
On June 18, an additional 22 concerts in 8 cities were announced by YGEX with 233,000 fans expected to come, making it the longest and largest arena tour held by the group in Japan.
At the Japan Gold Disc Award, iKon won New Artist of the Year and The Best 3 New Artists in Asia in 2017.
2018: Return and Korean promotions
On January 25, 2018, iKon made their long-awaited Korean comeback with the release of their second studio album, Return. The album features the title track “Love Scenario”, which the group actively promoted on music shows, along with 11 other songs that were co-written and produced by members B.I and Bobby. Other labelmates Psy, Taeyang of BIGBANG, and Tablo of Epik High also had a hand in writing some of the group’s songs in the album, while Choice37, Teddy Park, Bekuh BOOM, Yoo Gun Hyung, and Millennium also contributed in songwriting and producing the tracks.
“Love Scenario” immediately took the 1st spot in various charts worldwide upon its release. On February 5, the song also reached number 1 on several digital platforms in Korea such as iChart, Melon, Genie, Bugs, Mnet, Naver, and Soribada. It also became number on Instiz’s real-time and weekly charts, making iKon only the second male idol group to achieve number one on more than seven music charts since BIGBANG.
The success of “Love Scenario” and Return paved the way for iKon’s resurgence in South Korea after actively promoting in Japan for most of 2017. Return debuted at number 2 on the Gaon Album Chart and at number 4 on Oricon’s weekly digital chart with only two days in sales recorded for the week of its release.
“Love Scenario” also enjoyed great domestic and international commercial success. Upon its release, the song topped China’s QQ Music’s real-time chart and entered the top 10 on QQ Music’s weekly chart. In South Korea, the song debuted at number 12 on the Gaon Weekly Chart. As of March 11, 2018, iKon bagged a total of 11 music show wins with the song.
On March 5, the group digitally released the song “Rubber Band”, which they started promoting alongside “Love Scenario”. The group performed the song live for the first time on SBS’ Inkigayo on March 11. On the same day, iKon announced in a fan meeting that they will be starring in their own variety show with the unofficial title “iKON TV”.
Kpopgun is dedicated to the incredible fashions coming out of Kpop.