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Pinoy pride! Three aspiring idols of Filipino descent are confirmed to make their debut in the K-pop global girl group UNIS, which was formed through the SBS talent survival show Universe Ticket.
On the show’s finale episode on Wednesday, January 17, the eight members who will form the official lineup were unveiled. Among those confirmed to be part of the group are 14-year-old Filipino Elisia Parmisano, 16-year-old Filipino Gehlee Dangca, and 22-year-old Filipino-Korean Jin Hyeon-ju, who also goes by Belle.
What is ‘Universe Ticket?’
Universe Ticket, which premiered in November 2023, featured 82 female K-pop trainees from all over the world – South Korea, Japan, China, Australia, Philippines, Italy, Canada, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Mongolia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
This pool of aspiring idols had to undergo several challenges to fight for one of the eight spots in the girl group. In these missions, the contestants were categorized into five levels depending on their performance and fan votes: P, R, I, S, and M – with P considered the highest level on the show.
The candidates were ranked based on the judges and fan votes. The judges – also called Unicorns – included Girls’ Generation member Hyoyeon, actress-singer Kim Se-jeong, Rian of LaChica, singer-songwriter Younha, and record producer Adora. Meanwhile, ITZY members Yeji and Chaeryeong served as celebrity mentors.
More about Elisia, Gehlee, and Belle
Although there are no other details yet about their official debut, UNIS has already caught the attention of many Filipino K-pop fans as it will be the first group to include several Filipino idols in the lineup.
Elisia, who was the first trainee to secure a spot in the group, garnered a total of 553,483.4 points from fan votes.
In her introduction video, the teen idol shared that singing comes naturally to her, even when she was a child, but it was during the pandemic that she gained an interest in K-pop.
“Whenever I perform K-pop songs, I feel even more complete and I feel like I make other people happier too with my performance, since I feel happier myself,” she said.
Prior to setting her sights on the Korean entertainment industry, Elisia started as a child actress in the Philippines. When she was 10 years old, she had a guest role on the 2019 ABS-CBN series Nang Ngumiti ang Langit, which was headlined by Sophia Reola, Shaina Magdayao, Cristine Reyes, and RK Bagatsing.
Between 2019 and 2020, she also ran the YouTube channel KidStylista, where she shared snippets of her daily life.
Being talented also appears to run in her family, as Elisia is related to Marcus Cabais of the Filipino global group HORI7ON. In an Instagram post, she called him her “pogiest (most handsome) twin cousin.”
Gehlee was the fourth member to be part of the group after receiving a score of 2,464,526 fan votes. Similar to Elisia, she was also able to advance to the P-level of the show.
Prior to Universe Ticket, Gehlee had forayed into pageantry. In her introduction video, the teen beauty queen admitted that it was a “little intimidating” to enter the world of K-pop, but she was keen to showcase her Filipino roots.
“I’m really really proud to be representing the Philippines,” she said. “For a while, I [wanted] to be Miss Universe. But today, I’m striving to be Miss Universe Ticket.”
In the competition, Gehlee quickly drew attention for her visuals. And while she received several critiques about her dancing abilities, she was shown doing her best to improve on these skills – with the judges taking notice of her improvement in the latter missions.
“I got a lot of courage in me,” she said.
Also part of UNIS is Jin Hyeon-ju, who was born and raised in South Korea by a Korean father and Filipina mother. Prior to Universe Ticket, she had already participated in another survival show and even debuted in two groups.
In 2017, Hyeon-ju made her debut as a K-pop idol under C9 Entertainment’s girl group GOOD DAY under the stage name Lucky. In this group, she was the maknae (youngest member) and lead vocalist.
In the same year, she participated in the KBS survival show The Unit, where she finished in 24th place.
In 2020, she re-debuted as the lead vocalist of the girl group cignature under her current stage name Belle. Notably, cignature was made up of five members of GOOD DAY and was managed by J9 Entertainment, a subsidiary of C9 Entertainment. Cignature released their fourth EP Us in the Sun in August 2023; however, Belle wasn’t involved in the comeback because of her ongoing participation in Universe Ticket.
In Universe Ticket, she earned 496,979 points in the finale episode.
Joining Elisia, Gehlee, and Belle in UNIS are Korean members Bang Yunha, Lim Seowon, and Oh Yoona, and Japanese members Nana and Kotoko. The project girl group will be managed by F&F Entertainment for two years and six months with the possibility of extension. – Rappler.com