Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

On June 26th, 2020, the world watched 23 trainees step onto the stage of the new K-pop survival show “I-LAND” to become the next big group. The final episode will result in the top contestants debuting together in a group under BELIFT (full name BELIFT LAB Incorporations), a joint venture from Big Hit Entertainment and CJ ENM.

Watching these contestants grow for past few months, fans shared different emotions such as heartache, happiness, and hope. Sadly, not every contestant was able to make it to the next part, and viewers had to bid farewell. While the “I-LAND” dream may be over for them now, we know their ambition will continue to push them forward. Determined, these 11 trainee’s promised to test themselves and work harder towards their new dreams.  

In the end, six I-Landers were voted to the ground, half by the producer analysts and half by the trainees. These eliminations left six guaranteed I-Landers for part two of the show: Heesung, Sunghoon, Jungwon, Jay, K, and Jake. As for the Grounders, they were able to join “I-LAND” part two depending on fan votes only. Open votes came into play while 171 countries voted for their favorite contestant to make it to part two. The contestants who received the most global votes during part one, round one and two were: 1. Sunoo with 2,648,265 votes, 2. Daniel with 2,532,915 votes, 3. NI-KI with 2,090,201 votes, 4. Geonu with 1,916,736 votes, 5. TA-KI with 1,703,579 votes, 6. Hanbin with 1,094,601 votes.  

While 12 contestants still remain, only seven are set to make the debut group. Each week of part two, the contestants will be given a ranking depending on their performances. As viewers dive into this new setting, let’s take time to get to know the current top ten contestants and what lead them to where they are now!


1. Kim Sunoo

Cr. Mnet Sunoo

Sunoo ranked first with 1,087,503 votes during round one of global voting. His entrance test performance was “Crown” by TOMORROW X TOGETHER, along with the current eighth-ranked contestant Jake and eliminated contestant Youngbin. They were the last group to present their stage, but due to their cute performance, the three made it into “I-LAND.” One problem remained: the 12 spots were already filled. This led to a second voting that, as a result, sent Sunoo to the ground in the next episode. Due to his good performance skills, he was sent back to “I-LAND” on episode three. Sunoo is one of the newest trainees, so he often expressed not feeling skilled enough to be an I-Lander. After his first and only “I-LAND” performance, he ranked as one of the top 3 performers. The I-Landers still decided to send Sunoo back to the ground where he remained for the rest of part one.


Sunoo listens to dance music when he is in a good mood, and he dreams to collaborate with IU. Applicants were asked to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to analyze their personalities. Sunoo received the ENFP type, meaning extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and prospect. People with this personality type are known to have a creative and active imagination. Being charming and charismatic is most likely why he’s so popular in school, being both class president and part of the student council. Sunoo was also known to receive many love letters due to his charming personality, resulting in the nickname “3rd Semester Class 4 Handsome Oppa” by fellow classmates.

I will work hard today, tomorrow, and forever until the end. Fighting!”


2. Daniel

Cr. Mnet Daniel

Daniel ranked second with 1,021,269 votes during round one of global voting. Along with Daniel being the youngest contestant, born on March 26th, 2006, he is also one of the only American I-Landers. For his entrance to “I-LAND,” he, along with eliminated contestant EJ, performed “Any Song” from his role model, Zico. Daniel passed into “I-LAND” and made it to their first stage of “I&credible” a song written and produced for the contestants of the show. While Daniel had one of the highest performance scores during this stage, he was still voted to the ground by the other contestants where he remained for the rest of part one.


He is 6’0″ tall, despite being only 14, making him one of the tallest contestants in “I-LAND.” Daniel dreams to perform at Wembley Stadium and to get Billboard #1. He is most confident performing “Love” by Dean. Before Daniel joined BELIFT over a year ago, he was a former YG Entertainment trainee. He was recruited by Born Star Training Center and passed his YG audition. Daniel also stated that a TMI about himself would be that he always needs to hug a pillow when he sleeps.

Lastly, his MBTI personality is INFJ, meaning introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging. People with this trait are very gentle, caring, and highly creative. Also, they feel highly sensitive towards others, so they tend to help others out before themselves. These traits lead to an idealistic outlook as they set high achievable goals for their futures.

I want to be known by everyone, and I want to be the person other people need.”


3. Lee Heesung

Cr. Mnet Heesung

Heesung has grown in popularity on “I-LAND” for being a born leader. He ranked third with 1,006,965 votes during round one of global voting. Heesung has been one of the longest training contestants, training under Big Hit for three years. When he arrived, he trained with the next boy group set to debut, TOMORROW X TOGETHER.

When I got to Big Hit, the group TXT had been confirmed as the next debut. We trained for a long time together, so when they debuted, I should have been happy for them and congratulated them, but I was having a hard time. My goal here is to definitely debut. I’ll put my everything into it.


Heesung was known as the ace out of the trainees. Many held high expectations for his entrance to “I-LAND.” His performance was a solo stage of NCT U’s “BOSS,” and he received much praise as he made it into “I-LAND” where he remained for the rest of part one. Many think he will make it into the debut team as a producer and rapper or even the leader.


He choreographed the dances in his school’s dance club, and he was often referred to as “the trainee” by peers because he was highly respected as a Big Hit trainee. Also, he wishes to explore the city pop genre and said a TMI would be that if he gave himself a nickname it would be “Spicy Pepper.”

Lastly, His MBTI is INFJ, meaning introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging. His personality trait leads to a more idealistic outlook on life. While they reach for their dreams, perfection is still their number one goal. These people are very caring towards others and wish to help peers thrive at what they feel to be lacking. In return, they don’t expect anything, but enjoy the happiness they get from helping others.

I am thankful to myself, who was able to end the day without any issues.”


4. Park Sunghoon

Cr. Mnet Sunghoon

Sunghoon ranked fourth with 960,658 votes during round one of global voting. He debuted as a junior competitive figure skater in 2016-2017. As a novice skater, he won several medals, including the 2015 Asian Open Trophy and a Lombardia Trophy. In his time of being a competitive skater, he was a two-time national junior medalist. While he loved to skate, he had it in his heart to be an idol. He trained for two years before his entrance to “I-LAND.” Sunghoon performed “7th Sense” by NCT U with sixth-ranked contestant Jay. He was accepted into “I-LAND” after their performance and remained for the rest of part one.


According to the Applicant Tastebook, when Sunghoon is in a good mood, he listens to hip-hop and wishes to explore the city pop genre. Sunghoon stated a TMI about himself would be his love for coffee-flavored ice cream.

Lastly, Sunghoon’s MBTI is ISTJ, meaning introverted, sensing, thinking, and judgement. People with this personality are quiet followers. They are highly practical and reserved with organized schedules, projects, school work, and life matters. These personality types are big on loyalty and traditions with themselves and the ones around them. 

You are special, so you can do anything you set your mind to. Let’s debut!”


5. K

Cr. Mnet K

K ranked fifth with 845,204 votes during round one global voting. K is the oldest contestant on the show being born on October 21st, 1997. He has been training for over two years and his entrance to “I-LAND” was a solo stage performance of “Danger” from Taemin. K’s talent shined through as he ranked first on their challenge performance with “Fire” from BTS. Due to K’s ranking, he was given an elimination exemption card which he could use on himself or another contestant. This opportunity came with a price, however! Whoever K decided to save would stay on “I-LAND,” but the next person to be voted off would switch in their place. 


K is one of the three Japanese members, along with ninth-ranked NI-KI and tenth-ranked TA-KI. K has set many hearts swooning with his continuous affection towards TA-KI. Before he became a trainee, he was a marathon runner back in Japan. According to the Applicant Tastebook, K respects Bruno Mars as an artist, enjoys rap music, and loves to eat tteokbokki.

Lastly, K’s MBTI personality is ENFP, meaning extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceptive. Their charismatic and sociable personalities are known to make them exciting to be around. People often associate this personality as being directionless, but that’s not always the case. ENFP personalities are expressive people who often need others to help keep them grounded and focused.

Don’t forget the hearts and feelings of those people who have supported us. With many songs until now, fighting!”


6. Jay

Cr. Mnet Jay

Jay ranked sixth with 841,599 votes during round one of global voting. Along with Daniel, Jay is the only other contestant from America. Before he trained with BELIFT, he was a former SM Entertainment trainee. He trained for almost three years before his entrance into “I-LAND.” Jay performed “The 7th Sense” with fourth-ranked contestant Sunghoon and made it into “I-LAND.” On episode three, Jay was voted to the ground, but within the next episode, he was sent back to “I-LAND” where he remained for the rest of part one.


Some facts about Jay are that his dad is the CEO of Sinar Tours, a travel agency based in Korea. Jay is fluent in English, Korean, and Japanese. Also, according to the Applicant Tastebook, Jay wishes to try performing ballads, believes curry is his soul food, and respects Rain, who participated as a producer in part one. Jay also stated that his most prized possession is a watch gifted to him by his father.

Lastly, Jay’s MBTI personality is ENTP, meaning extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceptive. People with this personality are usually good in nature while being both an upbeat, but laid-back figure. They thrive off of others and gain more enjoyment being around friends and family. ENTP personalities are known to be delightful company since they can thoughtfully share ideas and theories that interest them. 

Burn it up without regret!”


7. Jungwon

Cr. Mnet Jungwon

Jungwon ranked seventh with 814,041votes during round one of global voting. Before Jungwon joined Big Hit, he was a former SM trainee. He was training for over a year before he entered “I-LAND”. Jungwon performed “All I Wanna Do” by Jay Park with former contestants Yoonwon and Taeyong. He stayed in “I-LAND” until episode four when he was voted to ground. K decided to use his exemption card to save Jungwon from elimination. While this played well in Jungwon’s favor, TA-KI was the next contestant to be sent to the ground. K was devastated to see he was the cause of TA-KI’s elimination. Despite his near ground experience, Jungwon is known as the hidden ace on “I-LAND”, ranking first on two out of four tests.


Some facts about Jungwon are that his role model is Jungkook from BTS, his most precious item to him is a backpack he has been using since fifth grade, and he really enjoys R&B and hip-hop. According to the Applicant Tastebook, Jungwon wishes to collaborate with LAUV, and he said a TMI about himself would be his dream is to become Aladdin.

Lastly, Jungwon’s MBTI personality is ESTJ meaning extroverted, sensing, thinking, and judging. People with this personality are committed to their family. Loyalty is a very important factor in their everyday lives because they appreciate the relationships they build with the peers around them. ESTJ people love to follow traditions and take pleasure in the simplicity of life, but they don’t like to be taken advantage of or controlled. 

You’ve worked really hard so far, so lets keep working just as hard to debut! Fighting!”


8. Jake

Cr. Mnet Jake

Jake ranked eighth with 812,561 votes during round one of global voting. Jake is one of seven international members on the show and is from Australia. He was born on November 15th, 2002, and he has only trained for nine months— making him one of the newest trainees on “I-LAND.” Jake performed “Crown” by TOMORROW X TOGETHER, with first-ranked contestant Sunoo and eliminated Youngbin. Jake passed through “I-LAND” in episode one, but he was eliminated in episode three. He wasn’t in the ground for long though before he was sent back to “I-LAND” by the producers in the next episode, where he remained for the rest of part one.


Jake was big into playing soccer back in Australia. His dream artist to collaborate with would be Drake. According to the Applicant Tastebook, Lil Tjay’s song “Ruthless” is a perfect representation of himself. He loves the ice cream flavor “My Mom is An Alien,” and he respects BTS as artists. He stated a TMI about himself would be how he’d like to try teleportation.

Lastly, Jake’s MBTI personality is ISTJ, meaning introverted, sensing, thinking, and judging. People with this personality type are typically more reserved with a practical way of thinking. They are more quiet out of the group, but they heavily respect the loyalty they have with their friends and family. ISTJ people love an organized life no matter what the situation may be, and they will always be a friend you can rely on. 

I hope you don’t forget how you felt when you started singing and dancing. I hope you can make a debut and have fun on stage.”


9. NI-KI

Cr. Mnet NI-KI

NI-KI ranked ninth with 778,757 votes during round one of global voting. He is the second youngest contestant next to Daniel, being born on December 9th, 2005. He is also part of the trio from Japan, with K, TA-KI, and himself. Also, he is one of the newest trainees, only training nine months prior to “I-LAND.” For his entrance to I-LAND, NI-KI performed “Jopping” from SuperM as part of an international group consisting of twelfth-ranked contestant Hanbin and eliminated Nicholas.. NI-KI was sent to “I-LAND” in episode one, but he was eliminated to the ground, where he remained for the rest of part one.


Some facts about NI-KI are that he is close friends with TA-KI since they are around the same age, started training around the same time, and are both from Japan. NI-KI also performed as a backup dancer for SHINee’s concerts in 2016 and 2017. According to his Applicant Tastebook, NI-KI wishes to stand on the Billboard Stage within the next ten years, he respects Michael Jackson, he wants to try R&B, and he loves to play soccer. Also, his most precious item to him would be a pair of shoes.

Lastly, NI-KI’s MBTI personality is ENFJ, meaning extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and judgement. People with this personality are known to be a social butterfly— like all the other extroverted personalities! They are very caring towards the ones around them and tend to put themselves behind others. While these people love to help others, they are idealistic and tend to keep a positive outlook on the events surrounding them. ENFJ people strive to help others in order to improve or help solve the issues they’re facing. 

There are times when it’s really physically challenging, but these are challenges I must face if I ever want to debut, so let’s work a little harder!”


10. TA-KI

Cr. Mnet TA-KI

TA-KI ranked tenth with 656,135 during round one of global voting. He is the third youngest member currently, being born on May 4th, 2005. He has only been training for ten months. He and NI-KI are close and both love to dance, so they would often practice and teach each other new moves during their trainee days before “I-LAND.” TA-KI’s entrance to “I-LAND” was a solo performance of “Monster” by EXO. While the other trainees didn’t know how to feel about his performance, he decided to show off his locking skills, a style of hip-hop dancing. TA-KI made it into “I-LAND” on episode one, but was voted to the ground soon afterwards on episode two.


Some facts about TA-KI, apart from his friendship with NI-KI, would be his respect for K. He goes towards K like a magnet and continuously praises him and tells K how much he adores him. Also, according to the Applicant Tastebook, a song that represents him would be “Fake Love” by BTS. He respects BTS’s Suga, and if he could listen to any song for the rest of his life, it would be “Blood Sweat & Tears” by BTS.

Lastly, TA-KI’s MBTI personality is ESFP meaning extroverted, sensing, feeling, and perceptive. People with this personality are often known to be enthusiastic in everything they do. They have a happy outlook on their life and future and tend to let their creativity take the wheel. These people take pleasure in their surroundings, such as nature, other peers, animals, or anything that catches their eye. Also, they are known to be warm towards others and always keep up a happy conversation, leading to them loving to be in the center of everyone’s attention. 

There are a lot of lessons and it can be difficult, but have strength. You are doing well.”


Were you able to learn much about the current top ten contestants on “I-LAND”? Is this a show you have been watching? If not, now is the time to start! Since you’ve been able to catch up on the contestants, as well as their entrance and a portion of their history on the show, start by watching the upcoming episode of this exciting, emotional show where these talented, young trainees give it their all in an effort to become the next big stars in K-pop!

You can stream “I-LAND” weekly on the YouTube channels of Mnet K-POP or Big Hit Labels on Fridays at 11 p.m. KST, or you can watch the episodes the next day on Rakuten Viki!

Which contestant has stolen your heart so far? Who are you rooting for to become the final top trainees on the show? Let us know your thoughts by tweeting to us @whatthekpop1!

Hberri is a new writer for What The Kpop whose goal is to share fun news stories with fellow K-pop and K-drama enthusiasts such as herself. Hberri started off as a journalism major writing for her school paper, but she wanted to branch out to write about what she loved. Hberri started listening to K-pop in August of 2018, where she fell in love with groups such as BTS, VAV, The Rose, Up10tion, and many more. Her favorite group is TOMMORROW X TOGETHER, and she loves helping create theories for different groups. Besides K-pop, Hberri has been watching Korean dramas ever since she found Lee Minho on “Boys Over Flowers” back in 2015. Hberri is very excited to start writing more stories in the future!

Media: Mnet 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10