Over the past few years, past contestants from Mnet survival shows have revealed some of the shocking decisions made by their production teams—including serious disregard for the trainees’ wellbeing. Now, ahead of the Girls Planet 999 premiere, producer Kim Shin Young has revealed how the show will tackle mental and physical health concerns this time around.
Back in 2019, former Idol School contestant Lee Haein (who was recently confirmed to have been in first place before her unfair elimination) shocked viewers when she exposed the dire circumstances trainees lived in. According to Haein, the contestants were forbidden from leaving the shooting location for a staggering five months. During that time, they weren’t allowed to eat outside of set times and were subject to body searches so staff could check for smuggled food.
On top of this, the contestants had to film as late as 4 a.m. each night, and their accommodation contained toxins that lead to skin rashes. Haein says girls as young as 12 years old were left crying due to hunger, and some contestants even tried to break a window to escape. Naturally, scrutiny towards survival shows became even harsher after Haein’s exposé.
Now, it seems Mnet is seeking to turn its reputation and care for contestants around. At Girls Planet 999‘s recent press conference, PD Kim Shin Young (who also produced I-LAND, which formed ENHYPEN) stated, “The physical and mental health of the participants are being prioritized.”
First up, Kim says the Girls Planet 999 team has ensured that all contestants will have a comfortable living situation by avoiding overcrowding. “We prepared accommodations for the fewest number of people possible in each of the dormitories,” says the producer.
As for diet, Girls Planet 999 has employed the services of a nutritionist, who will make sure the contestants are served healthy meals. The show will also be doing its best to protect the mental health of the trainees. Many viewers have expressed discontent over the years with young contestants being subject to long working hours and harsh comments from the public. Now, Girls Planet 999 will be mitigating mental health concerns by providing child and adolescent psychiatrists so all contestants can book consultations if they need to.
Kim Shin Young went on to say that the production team has hired a professional security team to keep all participants safe and protected, and they’re going to extra mile for the show’s foreign contestants too. Girls Planet 999 will see 66 contestants from the Japanese and Chinese groups join 33 Korean contestants, and not all of the foreign trainees are fluent in Korean. As such, the producer revealed that interpreters will be on hand to communicate with contestants at their dormitories 24 hours a day.
While many still have their concerns over Mnet launching a new survival show following the controversies around the Produce series, viewers are happy to hear that the trainees (who range from 14 to 25 years old) will have their wellbeing taken into account. Girls Planet 999 will premiere on August 6 at 8:20 p.m. Korean Standard Time.