All K-Pop groups are meant to be temporary, but with IZ*ONE, it felt like they’re always racing against time.
I found myself crying for two days after watching the group’s One, The Story concert last weekend. I know they’ll disband in April 2021, but seeing the members heartbroken about their separation makes it more difficult to let them go.
I’ve been a K-Pop fan for 12 years. But IZ*ONE is one of the few groups that made me a passionate fangirl. I’ve completed their albums, memorized their songs and dances, spent tons of money on their merchandise, and never missed out on their content.
What made me fall madly in love with IZ*ONE is their dedication and ability to find joy in every moment. It’s like seeing a younger version of me.
It started with a rose
IZ*ONE is a South Korean-Japanese girl group formed through the reality show PRODUCE 48. It’s made up of 12 members, namely Kwon Eunbi, Miyawaki Sakura, Kang Hyewon, Choi Yena, Lee Chaeyeon, Kim Chaewon, Kim Minju, Yabuki Nako, Honda Hitomi, Jo Yuri, An Yujin, and Jang Wonyoung.
I was in a difficult spot in my life when I discovered IZ*ONE in 2018. Initially, I wasn’t happy with the lineup but I was curious about how they’ll fare as a group.
IZ*ONE debuted in October 2018 with the title track La Vie En Rose. In the music video, the members wore outfits in red and pastel colors. The song was soft and elegant, but not too powerful. Their concept was feminine without being on the nose.
From their debut, I had a clear idea of their identity. I was blown away.
At that time, I was a fresh college graduate struggling to find my place. I was also going through difficult moments in my life. But after watching IZ*ONE’s debut, I felt like I was entering into a fairy tale.
It wasn’t until Violeta, however, when I became a full-fledged WIZ*ONE.
Watching them bloom in adversity
K-Pop fans are introduced to different groups, soloists, and songs, but there will be a certain group or soloist that will fit you perfectly. For me, my perfect match is IZ*ONE.
Since IZ*ONE was formed through PRODUCE 48, it was meant to be a project group where they’ll only promote for two years and six months. Like senior groups I.O.I and Wanna One, their time was limited.
What made me love the group more is how every performance feels like it's the last. Each member gives her 100% every time.
IZ*ONE’s dedication became more apparent after the three-month blackout in 2019. The group faced a hiatus during the Mnet vote manipulation investigation where Mnet channel competition shows got involved in vote-rigging and electoral fraud.
As a result, the group faced public scrutiny. They were used as shields even if various entertainment companies were at fault.
IZ*ONE returned in February 2020 and they were more determined to prove that they had indeed earned their spots. It was an emotional moment for me.
Writing the last chapters of their story
I was unaware of how much time had passed when they released successful tracks like Secret Story of the Swan and Panorama. They have earned record-breaking achievements, gained more fans, and grew closer.
Due to the pandemic, the group performed in online concerts and shows without an audience. They relied on social media and apps such as Universe and Private Mail. The majority of their fan meetings were also held online.
One, The Story was beautiful. But it was torture to watch. Unlike fairy tales, the two-day concert was a harsh reminder that all K-Pop groups are temporary.
In January 2021, there were talks of the group extending their contract. But all hope was lost when the disbandment was announced in April, a few days before the concert.
I thought I was ready to move on, but seeing the members heartbroken made me realize that I wasn’t. What made it more painful was seeing their reactions to the surprise video of fans singing Slow Journey.
Now, I’m unsure what the group’s future holds. They played a big role for my mental health, and it’s difficult to let them go.
The past two years and six months with IZ*ONE is a fairytale that arrived at the right time. I was in a dark place and they taught me to find joy by rediscovering my inner child. Stanning them was uplifting, comforting, and encouraging. They helped me heal.
Like their song WITH*ONE, IZ*ONE has made me better.