Despite Mnet‘s promises that Girls Planet 999 would ensure good conditions for its contestants, eliminated trainee Liang Qiao said she experienced quite the opposite in a recent live broadcast. Here’s what she said the survival show’s filming and living conditions were like for her.
Shortly before Mnet began airing its newest survival show, Girls Planet 999, chief producer Kim Shin Young assured viewers that the show would take special measures to protect the mental and physical health of every contestant. Back in 2019, Idol School contestant Lee Haein (who was unfairly eliminated from the show despite ranking in first place) exposed the shocking conditions trainees were kept in. From withholding food from contestants outside of set times to housing them in dorms that contained rash-causing toxins, the horrifying way Mnet treated Idol School‘s trainees led to increased scrutiny against survival shows.
As such, in a press conference for Girls Planet 999, PD Kim Shin Young insisted, “The physical and mental health of the participants are being prioritized.” The producer went on to list the measures they’d be taking: allocating as few contestants to each dorm as possible, employing nutritionists, providing child and adolescent psychiatrists, hiring security, and providing interpreters on-hand 24/7 for the Japanese and Chinese contestants.
However, that may not be the experience every contestant got if Liang Qiao’s words are anything to go by. In a recent live broadcast, she shared what happened to her behind the scenes while she was on the show.
A member of the C-Pop group GNZ48, Liang Qiao joined Girls Planet 999 with her identical twin sister, Liang Jiao. She was eliminated in the first round, while Liang Jiao was later eliminated in the second round.
In a live Pocket48 broadcast after she was eliminated, Liang Qiao started by explaining that when she was in South Korea filming the show, she couldn’t understand or read a single word of Korean. Understandably, she shared that the experience felt “really, really scary.” But while Mnet originally claimed they would be providing round-the-clock translators, even in the contestants’ dormitories, that wasn’t the case at all.
Liang Qiao went on to reveal that when she lived together with her “cell” mates from the show—Korean trainee Joung Min and Japanese trainee Hayashi Fuko—she wasn’t able to communicate with them at all. Shortly after they moved into their dorm room, Liang Qiao ran outside to find the filming crew to ask for help.
She and her sister had been sharing a Mandarin Chinese-to-Korean dictionary, but Liang Jiao had it with her at the time. As such, Liang Qiao asked the crew, “Please, may I have a translator or a dictionary?” However, Liang Qiao says the shooting crew told her, “No way! We want to see how you communicate with each other without any help.”
I felt really sad since I could only communicate through body language.
— Liang Qiao
But that wasn’t all. Alongside denying Liang Qiao a way to communicate with her fellow contestants, Mnet also subjected her to rather grueling filming hours.
In the same live broadcast, Liang Qiao discussed the Girls Planet 999 “Planet Demo” stage—the pre-evaluation in which all 99 contestants split into 32 teams to show off their performance skills for the first time. In a duo with her sister, Liang Qiao performed WJSN – Chocome‘s “Hmph!”
The filming for the Planet Demo stages was really something.
— Liang Qiao
Since there were so many teams that needed to perform (along with judge and audience reactions to film), many viewers assumed the shooting schedule was spread across multiple days. However, Liang Qiao shockingly divulged that the Planet Demo filming actually lasted “40 hours straight,” and the contestants didn’t even get to sleep during that time.
This was the first time in my life that I went without sleep so many consecutive hours.
— Liang Qiao
Liang Qiao continued on, explaining that the Planet Demo filming even wasn’t even the “peak” of it all. The even greater difficulty came when the Girls Planet 999 contestants recorded the performances for the show’s theme song, “O.O.O.” After shooting Planet Demo stages for around a day and a half, Liang Qiao says, “The shoot for our theme song lasted for three days“—and they only got to sleep for one hour each day.
I really slept for just one hour per day. So frightening!
— Liang Qiao
For reference, around one-quarter of the Girls Planet 999 contestants were under 18 years of age at the time, including Liang Qiao herself. Among the minor trainees were three Korean 15-year-olds and one Japanese 14-year-old. Before Liang Qiao and her sister traveled to Korea, a fellow GNZ48 member who competed in Produce Camp warned them that shooting hours can be long, but nothing could have prepared the twins for their experience.
I thought, ‘It won’t be that bad. They’ll let us rest.’ I never imagined it would really be that bad.
— Liang Qiao
While Liang Qiao did discuss a lot about the dire conditions the contestants faced, she held back some information for the sake of her sister, who was still on the show at the time. Now, with Liang Jiao also eliminated, it’s possible the twins could reveal even more behind-the-scenes information from the Mnet show.