History of WAKEONE: One of K-Pop’s Worst Companies

Fans are disappointed because in December 2023, WAKEONE announced that K-Pop group TO1 have mutually agreed to terminate their contracts with the company and that the group would disband by late December. There was a lot of in-depth discussion and consideration. Fans are advised to continue supporting the TO1 members in their future ventures.

Who is TO1?
The K-pop group, TO1, was formed through the survival reality TV show To Be World Klass, which was created by CJ ENM and n.CH Entertainment. They were originally called TOO and debuted with the EP, “Reason for Being: Benevolence” in April 2020. “Reason for Being: Benevolence” ranked highly on the Gaon Music Chart. Early on in the group’s career, they were managed by Stone Music Entertainment, a music company under CJ ENM at the time, and n.CH Entertainment. It was agreed that n.CH Entertainment would manage and promote the group while Stone Music Entertainment produced TO1’s albums and took care of marketing.

However, in 2021, it was revealed that n.CH Entertainment would stop managing the boy band. The ultimate decision was made because of CJ ENM’s internal restructuring. This was shocking because Stone Music Entertainment and n.CH Entertainment were supposed to work with the group for seven years! According to n.CH Entertainment, “When we first started working together, we planned to work together for the next seven years, so we’re very shocked that they suddenly changed their mind.”

Image Credit: Rappler

What is WAKEONE?
WAKEONE is a music company under CJ ENM. The company is managing ZEROBASEONE, Kep1er, Jo Yuri, and other artists as well. WAKEONE was originally called MMO Entertainment before rebranding in 2021.

After Kim Hyun-soo was appointed as head of the music content division for CJ ENM, it was announced that some of their music companies would be merging together. According to one source, “Previously in-house production and management labels, Stone Music Entertainment, One Effect Entertainment, Studio Blue, and Off the Record, will be merged into WAKEONE.”

Before TO1

Obviously, TO1 is not the only K-pop group from WAKEONE. As mentioned before, the company also manages the groups, Kep1er and ZEROBASEONE. But what about before TO1 transferred to the company?

Just a year before TO1 joined WAKEONE, a group called IN2IT left the same company. IN2IT was formed through 2016 survival reality TV show “Boys24.” One member, Kim Sunghyun, left and had actually shared details about his experience with WAKEONE (MMO Entertainment at the time). He explained that the company didn’t promote him, had no plans for him, never paid him, and banned him from posting on social media. He left because of his family’s poor financial state, deciding that he would get a different job so he could support them. He also had to pay a large sum of money in order to penalize his contract with WAKEONE.


In May 2022, it was announced that TO1 would be taking a break from group activities. This happened due to Chihoon, the main rapper, abruptly leaving the boy band. According to WAKEONE, Chihoon left because of “an issue that rendered it necessary to terminate his exclusive contract.”

On June 17, 2022, WAKEONE officially announced that three members, Min Su, Jerome, and Woong Gi would be leaving TO1. Afterward, three new members joined TO1. The three new members consisted of Daigo, Renta, and Yeo Jeong. Daigo and Renta had previously participated as contestants in Produce 101 Japan Season 2. In September 2023, Renta left TO1. According to him, this was not a lightly made decision.

In Honor of TO1

Now, all of TO1 members’ exclusive contracts have ended. They originally debuted as ten but then four left, three joined, and one left again. Just before they disbanded, the group released mini-albums ‘Why Not??’ and ‘UP2U.’ Of course, we should keep in mind that change and growth are prevalent in the entertainment industry, but also how often creatives can be mismanaged.

Feature Image Credit: https://wake-one.com/