Once upon a time, I used to do recaps of survival shows on this blog. I had so much fun covering Season 2 of Produce 101, and I enjoyed doing like one episode of The Unit and Mix Nine before I went on my
first unexpected hiatus. Since I want to transition into making more original content, I decided that recaps would be a good start. So, I started watching Road to Kingdom a little while ago. Of course, I chose this particular show because I thought that Kingdom was going to air this year… so its delay kind of ruined my plans. (Thanks, MNET.) However, I decided to press ahead because I want to bring attention to the groups involved – in my opinion, most of them are still pretty underrated even with the show having aired. There’s a lot to take in if you’re not familiar with any of the show’s cast, so I decided to start with an introduction post before recapping the episodes in earnest. Fair warning: the following is super long!
I’ll be fully honest: I don’t actually know most of the Road to Kingdom groups very well, aside from Pentagon and (kind of) Golden Child. I’ve always been proudly multifandom, but the truth is that there are limits to how many groups I can regularly follow. Before I started watching Road to Kingdom, my knowledge of the participating groups was limited to very basic things – mostly like what agency they were from and around when they debuted. Maybe I could name a song or two. I really wanted to get to know the groups through the show – much like I did with NU’EST when they went on Produce 101 – so I chose not learn their names or watch/rewatch any of their music videos beforehand.
As a result, this post is kind of split into two different standpoints. There’s the basic profile aspect, where I did some basic research and added in important information for those who might be interested. And then there’s the more personal aspect, where I wrote a brief summary of how much I actually knew about these groups before starting the show. I’ll be recapping from that perspective, so I feel like that context is important to know. Also, shoutout to my friend Jess – aka the champion of underrated boy groups – for double checking that I correctly identified all of the idols in these pictures (XD).
NOTE: I know a lot of groups have made comebacks after being on this show, but I haven’t listed them here for continuity’s sake. So when I’m talking about a group’s “latest single,” I’m referring to the last one they released before appearing on Road to Kingdom.
Members (from L-R): Shinwon, Hongseok, Kino, Hui, Jinho, Yeo One, Yuto, Wooseok
Agency: Cube Entertainment
Debut Date: October 10, 2016
Debut Single: “Gorilla”
Latest Single: “Dr. Bebe” (February 2020)
Other Singles: “Can You Feel It” (2016) / “Critical Beauty” (2017) / “Like This” (2017) / “Runaway” (2017) / “Shine” (2018) / “Naughty Boy” (2018) / “Sha La La” (2019) / “Humph!” (2019)
Fandom Name: Universe
Some Other Information:
- Cube Entertainment is also home to BTOB, CLC, and (G)I-DLE (who appeared on Queendom last year).
- Pentagon originally had ten members. In 2018, E’Dawn was forced to leave Cube because of fallout from his “dating scandal” with HyunA. (Well, I guess Cube said it was because of “loss of trust” since the couple confirmed they were dating after the agency denied it … but I think we can all read between the lines.) The ninth member, Yanan, is currently on hiatus and didn’t appear on this show.
- “Shine” is Pentagon’s most famous song, and was very popular in South Korea in 2018. Unfortunately, the “dating scandal” with E’Dawn happened right in the middle of that rise in popularity and halted the momentum.
- Hui (the leader) is fairly well known outside of his group because he is a successful producer. He helped write and produce several songs for a couple seasons of Produce 101, and he also helped make Wanna One’s hit single “Energetic.”
How well do I know Pentagon? Extremely well – like “can identify all members with 100% certainty” and “can name all of their major songs” well. (Might seem like a low threshold… but the further you read this, the more you’ll discover it’s not.) I wouldn’t say I’m a die-hard fan, but I always check up on on their comebacks. And some of their singles, like “Critical Beauty” and “Shine,” have ended up on my end of year favorites lists. Although Pentagon isn’t always high on my bias list, I have a pretty strong attachment to them because of what they’ve been through over the past couple of years. I saw Pentagon perform at KCON LA right before the “dating scandal,” and let me tell you, it was a very emotional night. I’ll never forget it. Most international fans, myself included, believe that there’s nothing wrong with idols dating. But the sad reality is that Korean fans are usually much more bothered by this kind of thing, and a group’s success can really suffer because of that. In Pentagon’s case, the situation clearly dealt them a huge blow – not only commercially, but also creatively and emotionally. So when I started watching Road to Kingdom, I was really rooting for them. I think most K-pop groups deserve a lot more recognition than they have, but I feel especially strongly about this with Pentagon.
Members (from L-R): MK, U, E-Tion, Hyojin, J-Us, Wyatt
“ONF” is pronounced as “on and off” in both Korean and English.
Agency: WM Entertainment
Debut Date: August 3, 2017
Debut Single: “ON/OFF”
Latest Single: “Why” (October 2019)
Other Singles: “Complete” (2018) / “We Must Love” (2019)
Fandom Name: Fuse
Some Other Information:
- WM Entertainment is also home to B1A4 and Oh My Girl (who appeared on Queendom last year).
- ONF originally had seven members. Laun left in 2019 for personal reasons.
- ONF is sometimes divided into two teams: the “ON” team that focuses on vocals (Hyojin, MK, E-Tion), and the “OFF” team that focuses on performance (J-Us, U, and Wyatt). Hyojin is the leader of the “ON” team, and J-Us is the leader of the “OFF” team; both are considered co-leaders of the group.
How well do I know ONF? Not as much as I should, to be honest. I actually wrote a review of their debut single way back in 2017, where I basically said I thought they had a lot of talent and potential but felt like they got lost in the shuffle of all the debuts and comebacks. Unfortunately, it seems like that’s been the case with them for a while. Aside from being familiar with “ON/OFF” and “We Must Love” (which I can’t believe was completely overlooked), I do remember seeing them on Mix Nine. I recall that Hyojin was especially popular, which is why he’s one of two members whom I can recognize. The other is MK, whom I saw on No Mercy when he was a Starship trainee. And I saw them at last year’s Busan One Asia Festival, where I really enjoyed their performance and resolved to pay more attention to them the next time they had a comeback. I know they’re super underrated, so I was really looking forward to learning more about them – perhaps the most out of all the groups who appeared on Road to Kingdom.
Golden Child (골든 차일드)
Members (from L-R): Daeyeol, Joochan, Donghyun, Bomin, Jaehyun, Jibeom, Seungmin, Y, Tag, Jangjun
Golden Child is also sometimes referred to as “GolCha” for short.
Agency: Woollim Entertainment
Debut Date: August 28, 2017
Debut Single: “DamDaDi”
Latest Single: “Without You” (January 2020)
Other Singles: “It’s U” (2018) / “Let Me” (2018) / “Genie” (2018) / “Wannabe” (2019)
Fandom Name: Goldenness
Some Other Information:
- Woollim Entertainment is also home to INFINITE, Lovelyz (who appeared on Queendom last year), and Rocket Punch.
- Golden Child originally had eleven members. Jaeseok left in 2018 because of health issues.
- Golden Child won their first music show trophy in 2019. It was on M! Countdown for “Wannabe.”
How well do I know Golden Child? Fairly well, actually. I’ve seen them three times: KCON NY and LA in 2018, and then the Busan One Asia Festival in 2019. I can’t necessarily identify all of the members off the top of my head; I think I know about half of them on a good day. But, I really like their music. I really enjoyed their fun and fresh songs, and “DamDaDi” and “Let Me” were on my end of year favorites lists. Whenever I talk about underrated groups, I ALWAYS mention Golden Child. There are groups that lots of multifans will say are underrated (and they’re right), and then there are groups that are so underrated you rarely hear anyone talk about them. In my experience, Golden Child is one of the latter. They’re so talented, but I NEVER hear or see anyone talking about them. So, I was extremely pleased to see them participating on Road to Kingdom.
The Boyz (더보이즈)
Members (from L-R): Eric, Kevin, Sangyeon, Sunwoo, Hyunjae, Younghoon, Juyeon, Ju Haknyeon, Q, Jacob, New
Agency: Cre.ker Entertainment
Debut Date: December 6, 2017
Debut Single: “Boy”
Latest Single: “Reveal” (February 2020)
Other Singles: “Giddy Up” (2018) / “Right Here” (2018) / “No Air” (2018) / “Bloom Bloom” (2019) / “D.D.D”(2019)
Fandom Name: The B (also referred to as “deobi,” which is the romanization of the Hangul)
Some Other Information:
- The Boyz originally had twelve members. Hwall left in 2019 for health reasons.
- The Boyz won their first music show trophy in 2019. It was on The Show for “Bloom Bloom.”
How well do I know The Boyz? Not well at all, which I feel is surprising considering they’re probably the most popular group to appear on Road to Kingdom. I know a lot of their names, but I can only recognize two members for sure: Ju Haknyeon because of Produce 101, and Q because I’ve seen some of his dance videos. It’s not like I’m completely clueless about them; I’ve heard most of their songs at least once, and I’ve even seen them at SBS Super Concert in Gwangju and Busan One Asia Festival. But for some reason, I’ve never done a deep dive into their stuff. That being said, whenever I listened to one of their songs, I thought it was good – just not necessarily my style. All my friends who watched Road to Kingdom mentioned The Boyz quite frequently, so I was looking forward to seeing what the hype was.
Members (from L-R): Yongseung, Kangmin, Hoyoung, Dongheon, Yeonho, Minchan, Gyehyeon
Agency: Jellyfish Entertainment
Debut Date: January 9, 2019
Debut Single: “Ring Ring Ring”
Latest Single: “Lay Back” (January 2020)
Other Singles: “From Now” (2019) / “Tag Tag Tag” (2019)
Fandom Name: VERRER (pronounced like “better”)
Some Other Information:
- Jellyfish Entertainment is best known for being the agency that created VIXX. They also have the girl group gugudan (which has former I.O.I members Sejeong and Mina), but most of us fear that they’ve disbanded since they haven’t had a comeback in almost two years.
How well do I know VERIVERY? Not well. I definitely don’t know the names of any of the members, and I only know one of their songs (“Ring Ring Ring”) – but I thought it was really cute. I think their appearance on Road to Kingdom was a good idea, because a lot of the boy groups who debuted in 2019 got overshadowed by “super rookies” like TXT and X1 (before the voting scandals). So, it was a great chance to get their name out there.
Members (from L-R): Xion, Ravn, Seoho, Hwanwoong, Keonhee, Leedo
ONEUS is pronounced as “one us.”
Not like “oh news,” which is what I always think because I was too dumb to read the Hangul first.
Agency: RBW Entertainment
Debut Date: January 19, 2019
Debut Single: “Valkyrie”
Latest Single: “Lit” (October 2019)
Other Singles: “Twilight” (2019)
Fandom Name: TO MOON
Some Other Information:
- RBW Entertainment is also home to MAMAMOO (who appeared on Queendom last year), Vromance, and ONEWE.
How well do I know ONEUS? Slightly better than VERIVERY. I know Hwanwoong and Keonhee from Produce 101, and I was so excited that they debuted because I really liked them back then. (I’m aware one of the other ONEUS members was also on Produce 101, but I don’t know which one because he changed his stage name T_T). And I liked their first single “Valkyrie,” which I thought was a solid start for a rookie group. Unfortunately, I don’t really remember their other comebacks – I probably listened to them once and then decided they weren’t for me. But like VERIVERY, I think Road to Kingdom is good exposure for them.
Members (from L-R): Jisu, Jaeyun, Jerome, Chihoon, Donggeon, Chan, Minsu, J.You, Kyungho, Woongi
“TOO” is short for “Ten Oriented Orchestra.” It’s pronounced by saying the letters separately, not as the word “too.”
Agency: n.CH Entertainment
Debut Date: April 1, 2020
Debut Single: “Magnolia”
Fandom Name: TOOGETHER
How well do I know TOO? I hate to say it, but not at all. The only thing I know about them is that they were formed through MNET’s survival show World Klass, which I did not watch. So, I guess Road to Kingdom is my chance to learn more about them.
I only watched two episodes of Queendom back in 2019, but I remember thinking it was kind of unfair because all of the girl groups involved had different levels of popularity and success. Two of them had a decent amount of success but could stand to gain more, one was a trending rookie group, one was a formerly popular group looking to make a big comeback, and the last one was (and still is) of the biggest girl groups in South Korea. It was fairly clear from the beginning who would come out on top, at least to me.
Even though Road to Kingdom is meant to be the “prequel” to Kingdom, I think there’s a much more level playing field this time around. While all these groups came in with different debut dates and levels of experience, I think they all stood to gain something from this show: recognition as idols and as artists. I know this show wasn’t that popular in South Korea because Koreans aren’t about that multifandom life – most of the general public isn’t even about that K-pop life. But I am, I’m very excited to start recapping this show. I’ll come back soon with my thoughts on Episode 1!
NOTE: All of these images are originally promotional pictures for Road to Kingdom and belong to MNET.
I had a basic knowledge of most of these groups when I wrote this posts, but I used various resources to fact check: Wikipedia, Soompi, YouTube, fact checking with my friends who were fans, etc.
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