Winner (Hangul: 위너), stylized as WINNER, is a South Korean boy band formed in 2013 by YG Entertainment and debuted in 2014. It currently consists of four members, Jinwoo, Seunghoon, Mino and Seungyoon. A fifth original member, Taehyun, departed from the group in November 2016.
The group was formed through the 2013 reality survival program WIN: Who is Next, where they competed as “Team A” against other trainees from YG Entertainment for the chance to debut as the first YG boy group in eight years, since the debut of Big Bang. At the conclusion of the program, the name “Winner” was given to Team A after they won all three rounds of public voting.
After several delays, the group made their Korean debut at the YG Family Concert on August 15, 2014. Their broadcast debut was on Inkigayo on August 17. On September 10, the group debuted in Japan. They won a number of awards for Best New Artist in 2014, including at the Mnet Asian Music Awards, the Melon Music Awards, and the Golden Disc Awards.
In 2010, the group’s leader Kang Seung-yoon was a contestant on the singing contest Superstar K2, reaching the final four. The following year, he signed with YG Entertainment and made his acting debut in the sitcom High Kick: Revenge of the Short Legged. In 2013, he debuted as a solo artist and released multiple tracks, including “It Rains”.
Lee Seung-hoon was also a former reality-show singing contestant, competing in K-Pop Star 1 in 2012. He came in fourth place and was recruited by Yang Hyun-suk. It was announced that Seung-hoon had signed under YG Entertainment on May 16.
Song Min-ho began his musical career as an underground rapper under the name “Mino”, collaborating with other underground rappers-turned-idols such as Block B’s Zico, Kyung, and P.O and SPEED’s Taewoon. Mino was initially meant to debut with Block B, but left the group before their debut for personal reasons. In 2011, he debuted under Y2Y Contents Company as part of the group BoM, which disbanded two years later. In 2013, he joined YG Entertainment through an audition, after being spotted from his acting appearance in the 2012 series The Strongest K-POP Survival broadcast on Channel A.
Kim Jin-woo attended the Joy Dance Plug In Music Academy prior to joining YG, where he was seen by Big Bang’s Seungri and brought to the agency. He became a trainee in 2010.
Nam Tae-hyun was recruited to the agency in 2011 through an audition. He and Jinwoo performed as backup dancers at the 2011 YG Family Concert.
The five trainees competed as “Team A” on the reality television program WIN: Who Is Next, broadcast on Mnet, in order to debut as a group. During the finale episode on October 25, 2013, it was announced that they had won the competition and would be debuting as “Winner”, and would perform as the opening act for Big Bang’s Japanese dome tour beginning on November 15. From December 13, Winner appeared in their own reality program, Winner TV, which had ten episodes aired on Mnet.
In 2014, Seungyoon and Mino featured on a track for Yoon Jong-shin’s March project.
On March 1 and 2, Winner appeared as guest in 2NE1 ‘All or Nothing’ concert in Seoul Bangidong’s Olympic Park SK Olympic Handball Arena. On March 17, YG Entertainment reported that Winner will also be appearing as guest in other stops of 2NE1’s second world tour. Winner performed in Hong Kong on March 22, April 11 in China, and April 26 and 27 in Taiwan, May 17 in Philippines and May 24 in Malaysia. Between June and August of that year, the group members were re-introduced to the public in anticipation for their debut, through a series of teaser images and videos.
Winner’s official debut showcase was held on August 6, with their album 2014 S/S digitally released on August 12 and physically on August 14. Their first music show appearance was on Inkigayo on August 17, and they became the fastest male group to win on a music show by taking first place on M! Countdown during their debut stage. The album charted at number one on Billboard World Albums Chart while their lead single “Empty” achieved an “all-kill” in South Korea, becoming the group’s first number one hit on the Gaon Chart.
On September 10, the group released the Japanese version of their debut album, 2014 S/S: Japan Collection which peaked at No.2 on the Oricon Daily Album Chart. They embarked on their first Japanese solo concert on September 11. The group successfully concluded the tour in Tokyo on October 11, drawing 50,000 fans in total. On December 9, 2014 Fuse announced their 13 Top Breakout Artists of 2014, with Winner coming in at #11 and being the only South Korean artists on the list. On December 17 Dazed Digital published their top 20 K-pop tracks of 2014 with Winner placing tenth with “Color Ring”.
In 2015, the group went on hiatus while the members pursued solo endeavors. Taehyun appeared in several acting roles, including in MBC’s web drama Midnight’s Girl, SBS’s Late Night Restaurant, and the joint Chinese-Korean production Under the Black Moonlight. Seungyoon also returned to acting with the successful CJ E&M web drama We Broke Up, which garnered over 16 million views. Jinwoo appeared in the Chinese-Korean drama Magic Cellphone, while Mino competed on the fourth season of Mnet’s rap contest Show Me the Money and finished as runner-up. A number of his digital releases from the program were commercially successful, including “Fear” featuring Taeyang, which became the show’s most downloaded single with over one million digital sales. In September, the group embarked on their second Japan tour which wrapped up in October with over 36,000 attendees. In December, it was announced that the group would be returning from hiatus in 2016, with a comeback spread over five ‘project releases’.
The group’s first release in 2016 was a “warm-up” duet featuring Mino and Taehyun, titled “Pricked”. Although the single was not promoted, it charted at #2 on MelOn and #1 on iTunes in nine countries. In the lead-up to the group’s official comeback, a number of musical covers of their title tracks were released as promotional teasers, featuring artists including Lee Hi, Zion.T, Epik High, Taeyang and G-Dragon. The mini-album EXIT:E was released on February 1, and served as Winner’s return after an 18-month break since their debut. Exit:E debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s World Albums Chart and at No. 3 on the Heatseekers Album chart. Lead singles “Baby Baby” and “Sentimental” topped eight music charts in Korea and received a real-time all-kill. Winner held their first concert, “WINNER Exit Tour in Seoul” on March 12 and 13 at Olympic Gymnasiums Arena in Seoul with additional stops in Gwangju, Daegu and Busan in April.
In April, Winner appeared on the JTBC variety show Half-Moon Friends. The show was popular in China, garnering 75 million views via the Chinese platform Miaopai. They were also named as celebrity ambassadors for 2016 Korea Brand & Entertainment EXPO by KOTRA. In June, the group then commenced on their third Japanese tour which drew 36,000 fans in total.
In June, Mino was confirmed to be teaming up with IKon member Bobby to release an unit album. Their unit group was called MOBB and released 2 songs, “Hit me” and “Full House’ on September 9.
On August 31, it was revealed that Seunghoon will be joining tvN’s new cooking and travel show “Eat Sleep Eat”. The show was filmed in Krabi, Thailand and aired starting November 30.
On October 12, YG Entertainment announced that Taehyun would be taking a hiatus from the group, and that the rest of the Exit Movement series would be delayed indefinitely. On November 25, Taehyun’s departure from the group was announced. It was decided that Winner would continue as a four-member group, without any addition of new members.
In November, Jinwoo was announced as the lead in the production of The Little Prince by the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company. He is the first K-pop idol to be part of contemporary dance production. Also, it was announced that Seungyoon and Jinwoo will be starring in the web drama Love for a Thousand More. The web drama is a joint production of CJ E&M, YG Entertainment and YGKPlus. In the same month, Seungyoon was confirmed to be joining SBS Flower Crew after the withdrawal of Sechs Kies members Eun Jiwon and Lee Jai-jin from the show. Mino also joined the cast of New Journey to the West in filming for the third season of show. Filming started in November in China and the show aired starting on 8 January and ended on 12 March 2017.
In December, Mino also participated on Infinite Challenge history hip hop project called ‘Great Inheritance’. He performed the song ‘Shoot’ about the famous general Lee Soon Shin with Infinite Challenge member Haha.
Throughout January the members started hinting at an upcoming comeback, later it was confirmed by their agency YG Entertainment that the group would be releasing new music on April 4, with the single album Fate Number For. In late-March, several promotional teasers were released, ultimately unveiling the double title tracks, “Really Really” and “Fool”. “Really Really” debuted at No. 3 on Billboard World Digital Song Sales, marking the group’s best position to date; while “Fool” debuted at No. 4. “Really Really” was also chosen as one of the songs on Apple Music’s “Best of the Week” list. As part of their promotions, Winner held a three-day “concept showroom” showcase, from April 2 to 4, at Club NB in Seoul’s Mapo District, owned by YG founder/CEO Yang Hyun-suk.
In May, Winner released their debut Japanese single, which contains Japanese renditions of “Really Really” and “Fool”. Also in May, Mino left with the cast of New Journey to the West to film the show’s fourth season in Vietnam. The filming took place from May 8 to May 15 and aired from June 13. On May 10, Seungyoon recorded as special MC for MBC Radio Star. He was filling in for Super Junior’s Kyuhyun, who was filming for New Journey to the West 4.
On June, it was confirmed that Jinwoo will be a part of MBC’s variety program Wizard of Nowhere. He took part on the filming in Georgia for about 1 week and the show started airing on July 30.
On July 25, it was confirmed that Seungyoon was officially casted in Prison Playbook, TvN drama written by the creator of the “Reply” series, Shin Won Ho. The drama held its first script reading on July 17. Seungyoon took the role of Lee Joo-hyung aka “Jang Bal-jang”. The drama aired from November 22, 2017 to January 18, 2018.
On August 4, Winner made a comeback with the single album Our Twenty For. Two singles, “Love Me Love Me” and “Island” were released. “Love Me Love Me” was chosen by Dazed Digital as one of the 20 best K-Pop songs of 2017.
On August 30, Mino recorded as Special MC for MBC Radio Star, filling in for Super Junior’s Kyuhyun.
On October 11, a source from tvN confirmed that Winner has started filming for their version of Youth Over Flowers. The show is a special supplementary show to “New Journey to the West 4”, which ended back in August, granting the wish of Mino to appear on “Youth Over Flowers” with his fellow Winner members. The filming took place in West Australia and airing started on November 7. On November, Mino also joins the filming for Kang’s Kitchen, another supplementary show to ‘New Journey to the West 4″ and a parody to Youn’s Kitchen. The show was filmed in Jeju Island and aired starting December 5.
On November 30, Seungyoon and Mino released “The Door,” OST for tvN’s drama, Prison Playbook. The lyrics were written by Zico and Song Mino and were composed and arranged by Zico and Pop Time.
As of December 2017, “Really Really” surpassed the 100 million views mark, making Winner the first ever male idol group in history to surpass 100 million streams, while keeping their ‘Chart-In’ status.
In February 2018, Winner released their second Japanese single, “Our Twenty Four”, which contained two new original Japanese songs, “Raining” and “Have a Good Day”. They also embarked on their fourth Japan Concert Tour.
On April 4, the group’s second studio album EVERYD4Y was released along with the title track “Everyday”. The album contains 12 tracks including a Korean version of “Raining” and “Have a Good Day”. The title track ‘Everyday’ placed no. 1 on all 8 Korean music charts and the new album was ranked at no. 1 on iTunes Charts in 18 different countries.
On June 11, Seunghoon was confirmed in the final line-up of dance coaches on KBS2’s teen dance battle program “Dancing High”. He became the coach of the dance team “Big Dipper”. The show aired its first episode on September 7.
On June 17, Winner successfully held its private stage, WWIC 2018, 3 years since their last event back in 2015. It was held two times at Olympic Hall, Seoul at 1 PM and 6 PM (KST) A total of 6,000 tickets were sold.
On July 4, Winner announced their first concert tour, EVERYWHERE. The tour kicked off in Seoul, South Korea at the Olympics Gymnastics Arena on August 19 at 6pm (KST) and will made stops in 7 Asian countries such as Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, Jakarta and Hong Kong. Since the announcement, there have been releases of teasers to promote their world tour.
On July 20, WHERE R U FROM, the sub-title track from Big Bang Seungri’s solo album ‘THE GREAT SEUNGRI’ was released, which Mino featured and co-written. The music video for the song was later released on July 27.
On August 4, Mino was spotted with the cast of New Journey to the West for the filming of its new season. The filming took place in Hongkong and Hokkaido, Japan. The fifth and sixth season started airing on September 30 and ended on December 2.
On November 14, it was announced by YG Entertainment that Winner will bring their Everywhere tour in North America in Early 2019. Winner will make six stops in United States starting with Seattle on January 15 and one stop in Toronto, Canada on Jan. 27. Other stops in United States includes San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, New York.
On November 26, Winner member Mino (rapper) released his first solo album ‘XX’ with Fiance as its title song. Fiance dominated the Korean music charts by topping 6 music charts and it also topped iTunes Album Charts in 16 different countries. In the same month, YG Entertainment confirmed that Winner will hold an encore concert in KSPO DOME (Olympic Gymnastics Arena) located in Songpa-gu, Seoul on January 5, 6 PM.
In December 2018, it was confirmed that Winner will make a comeback approximately 8 months since ‘EVERYD4Y’ was released. WINNER’s upcoming new song will be a pre-release single from Winner’s 3rd official album. It was later revealed that Winner’s new single is titled ‘Millions’ and was written by Seungyoon, Mino and Seunghoon, while the song was composed by Seungyoon, Kang Ukjin, and Diggy. The digital single, ‘Millions’ and its music video was officially released in December 19 at 6 PM while physical copies was released on December 24. ‘Millions’ topped the music chart of 7 major Korean music platforms and of iTunes Song Charts in 19 different regions. Winner performed their comeback stage for ‘Millions’ on December 22 in Show! Music Core.
Along with Winner’s concert tour and various tv show appearances, Winner has been performing in various university and festival events. For 2018, the group was invited to perform in 17 university festivals.
Opening act/ Guest performer
Prior to their debut in 2014, Winner was selected as the endorser of trendy casual clothing brand, ‘NII’. Winner became ‘NII”s endorser from 2014 to 2016. Also in 2014, Winner was chosen CF model for Coca-Cola brand ‘Fanta’, Pizza Etang, Elite Uniform and Adidas.
On August 2017, Winner became exclusive model for the Italian sport brand, ‘Ellesse’. With Winner as its endorser, ‘Ellesse’ sold 14B won in 2017 and the year end sales have increased by 160% compared to the previous year. In 2017, Winner also joined clothing brand, ‘8Seconds’ on its Good Luck Padding Campaign.
On April 18, 2018, the Korean Culture & Information Service (KOCIS), part of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced Winner as its official campaign model for the global ‘Talk Talk Korea 2018’ contest. Winner filmed few video clips to promote the contest, as well as pose in pictures at the contest’s official website. The global ‘Talk Talk Korea’ contest this 2018 gathered the most participants ever since its launch in 2014.
On May 12, 2018, it was announced that Winner will join Kiehl’’s on its third campaign held to protect nature inside cities with the #MYLITTLEGARDEN project. Winner will send out the message to the people to recycle empty cosmetics bottles as flower pots to create their own garden and get together with nature in their daily lives, which will help develop the nature inside cities. Winner also participated in label designing with the theme of nature and the city.
On July 26, 2018, ‘Cafe Droptop’ announced Winner has become the new face of the cafe franchise. According to a representative, ‘Cafe Droptop’ chose Winner as their new models as the members suit well with the young image the brand desires. Winner will be actively promoting ‘Cafe Droptop’ through social media, ads, fan sign events, and more.
In October 2018, Winner was revealed as the new endorser for snack brand ‘Oreo’ in Korea. The full 30-second CF featuring WINNER was released on October 24.