While each of the three trainee groups on Girls Planet 999 (K-Group, J-Group, and C-Group) all have their own separate contestant rankings, many of the show’s viewers have accused the show’s judges and trainers of having different standards for the Korean contestants. Now, in a new interview, the Vocal and Dance Masters have admitted to evaluating the trainees differently based on where they’re from—and here’s why.
Alongside K-Pop Master mentors Sunmi and Girls’ Generation‘s Tiffany Young, Girls Planet 999 has four trainer-judges who evaluate the show’s contestants and give them advice on how to grow. SM Entertainment performance director Baek Koo Young and choreographer Jang Joo Hee serve as the show’s Dance Masters.
Veteran vocal trainers Lim Han Byul and Jo Ah Young, meanwhile, are the Vocal Masters.
While the contestant’s rankings are currently determined by viewer votes, both sets of Masters are responsible for judging the trainees during their performances. They also initially scored the contestants into separate K, J, and C-Group rankings before the show even began.
When it comes to how the Masters judge and evaluate trainees, many viewers have complained that there seem to be higher standards for the K-Group contestants. But while some expected them to deny the accusations, the Masters admitted in a new interview with Star News that they actually do hold each group to a different standard. That said, there is a good reason behind that decision according to Vocal Master Jo Ah Young.
“The K-Group members have all trained for longer periods of time,” Jo Ah Young explained, adding, “Some of them came debut-ready.” This should come as little surprise to fans familiar with the Korean idol training system. Known for its rigor, the K-Pop system pushes trainees to develop high levels of skill in singing, dancing, rapping, or a combination of all three long before they debut. As such, many of the Girls Planet 999 K-Group contestants are already very talented at what they do.
Conversely, Jo Ah Young says, “The C-Group and J-Group members are working with shorter training periods.” In J-Pop, many famous idol groups actually don’t train at all before making their debut on stage. AKB48, for example, selects members primarily based on personality interviews, and kenkyuusei (trainees) begin performing before officially debuting with the group.
Similarly, some C-Pop idol groups like SNH48 actually send members to South Korean companies for training because of the more intensive standards. Plus, many C-Group contestants on Girls Planet 999 have spent time focusing on their education rather than training. Recently departed trainee Xu Ziyin, for example, studied a degree at the Beijing Film Academy until 2018.
As such, all three groups of contestants started the show at different skill levels. “We don’t really have a choice but to consider the differences in their previous experiences,” says Jo Ah Young. Vocal Master Lim Han Byul shared a similar sentiment, explaining “K-Group members came ready.” Since they were already at such a high skill level, Lim says that ranking and choosing Korean contestants was “extremely hard.”
But that’s not the only way that the K, J, and C-Group contestants differ. Dance Master Jang Joo Hee revealed that each group has unique personality traits too.