Debut or Die Ch.469

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“Is this them?”

“Yes.”

After finishing his personal schedule, Keun Sejin checked the link on his smartphone. For reference, the guy who had been contemplating various personal gigs from performance contests to exploration variety shows had made a quite unexpected choice.

[Hope Game – Choices and Reversals]

It was a death game survival reality show. This program, produced by a WeTube channel under a terrestrial broadcaster, wasn’t very popular, but it had a solid fan base and good internet buzz.

“They subtly use dice as a symbol here too~ Since our album is ‘Roll the Dice,’ it seems like a good promotion opportunity.”
“I thought if I perform well, they might use our game footage in the edited videos.”

And true to his talent for managing his image and being quick-witted, he’s been appearing charmingly in key moments, boosting his image. It seems his character image is becoming clearer through this than in more conventional and popular variety shows. They film two episodes at a time, and he’s still surviving up to the sixth episode currently being shot.

After all, he has survival experience. He surely never forgets that the camera’s always rolling.

Anyway, the fact that he was sharp enough to check the situation immediately upon joining, despite the significant mental strain, was impressive.

“T-HOLIC’s junior… hmm, Wonder Hall Entertainment.”

The group’s name is ĭter. Their teaser video had been released.

I turned my attention back to the smartphone playing the video.

“…”

A background with a nostalgic color tone. A slight sepia tone filter and film camera-like emotion. A view with soft saturation and highlights, featuring a grassy field and smiles.

And the boys. They run, leaping across numerous spaces. An old school rooftop, a bus stop, a junkyard, a bridge shining at night, a grassy sports field…

Props from the passing scenery appear or are placed as if floating, creating a dreamy atmosphere. And although it seems desolate with no people, a delicate filter makes even the empty crossroad look nostalgic.

After a few sensually edited dance cuts in sync with the dreamy and fresh music, only the sound of singing echoes in the silence.

[Jump over the line of time
To the one you haven’t
seen yet]

One boy standing on the traffic light pole leaps toward the still dawn-lit sky. A fair hand points to the sky, with sunlight sparkling.

[Show the way
– ĭter]

White subtitles appear silently on the screen, ending the video.

“…”

Keun Sejin checked the entire video silently. Then he checked the view count. It was already millions.

“Hmm.” He smiled, furrowing his eyebrows. “Shall we hear the expert’s opinion first?”

“So, what’s our Raebin’s impression?”

“There are some interesting parts in the code and instruments…”

Soon after, the ‘expert’ among the gathered TeSTAR members started commenting on the teaser.

Kim Raebin. He is currently appearing alone on a program that gives songs to unknown singers who are being rediscovered. Of course, the composer’s identity is not revealed initially. The singers who pass the audition listen to the given songs for only 30 seconds before choosing and evaluating them. Then… once the song becomes theirs, they see the composer’s identity and can listen to the whole song.

-MC: The identity of the White Rabbit composer who created the 5th song, ‘Melody,’ is… none other than TeSTAR’s Kim Raebin!

-Kim Raebin: Please take good care of me….

-Participant: Uaaaaaah!! Aah!!

-Participant: Thank you!

-Kim Raebin: …??

Although it was a position to fully enjoy TeSTAR’s reputation, he didn’t seem to enjoy it at all. Only the viewers were enjoying it.

Anyway, after watching the teaser, he made this evaluation.

“It seems their standards in melody development and auxiliary instrument selection are similar to mine! I’d like to ask how they came to choose this method.”

“…!”

Bae Sejin, who had been holding back quietly, couldn’t take it anymore and shouted. “They copied us!”

“What?!”

That’s right.

I stroked my chin. “They analyzed your song and used it as a reference.”

“…!”

“To me, it sounds like they referred to ‘Magical Boy’ or ‘Wheel (Day).’”

The guy in question probably had many more similar songs popping up in his mind.

Seon Ahyeon blinked in confusion. “Hmm, now that you mention it, this teaser image…”

“Yeah. It feels somewhat similar to our debut teaser.”

But it’s not entirely based on the ‘Magical Boy’ teaser alone. For example, the length of this teaser, as well as the editing and composition, are more similar to ‘Present.’ The color tone is like ‘Airplane,’ and the props are like ‘Picnic.’ They seem to have taken various elements from TeSTAR’s past activities and reassembled them nicely with other good-looking elements.

It’s like a puzzle.

“…! Did they create a world view too?”

“Of course, they must have.”

These days, it’s harder to find a boy idol group without a worldview.

I quickly searched and summarized the information.

-Boys with supernatural powers travel between the past and future in virtual reality. Dreaming guides of eternity. Wandering through their youth, seeking light. Show the way – ĭter

Oh.

Time travel, magic, even dreams.

Bae Sejin trembled with frustration. “…This is too similar to our previous concept…!”

“Strictly speaking, it’s just similar keywords.” I examined it coldly. “Not all keywords are exactly the same either.”

Time travel is twisted into virtual reality, and magic is twisted into supernatural powers. It’s a bit more modern and technological. That would be easier to use on current platforms.

“And they’ve firmly established their identity too.”

“Where!?”

“Here.”

I pointed out the group name.

-ĭter

“It means ‘road’ in Latin. They’ve set their group concept as ‘guides,’ giving them a unique image.”

“…”

From the moment they named the group ‘ĭter,’ we might have expected something conceptual like this.

Anyway, Bae Sejin muttered somewhat dejectedly. “So… they didn’t copy us?”

“They did copy, but it’s benchmarking.”

Strictly speaking, it’s not plagiarism.

“They investigated the best-selling product in the market and made their version.”

“…”

Bae Sejin sat down with a troubled look.

I understand him. Because I didn’t feel great either.

Looking at it, they had spliced various references together and mixed in their own unique points, so it wasn’t outright plagiarism. But… it’s also true that without TeSTAR, this group wouldn’t exist.

Hmm.

And it seemed everyone felt that way.

Bae Sejin eventually mumbled with a slightly bitter face. “Only we used to do this kind of concept… but now… anyone can…”

“…”

Keun Sejin paused a bit but then spoke with a reluctant smile. “Well~ actually, there were many groups like this before too?”

“Uh, huh??”

Bae Sejin was startled. But it was a fact.

It’s common for latecomers to put out what’s currently popular in the market.

How many groups have tried to benchmark TeSTAR’s conceptual feel in the past few years? However, there was a crucial difference.

“But they just didn’t react as strongly~ That’s why you didn’t notice.”

“…”

“This kind of concept is actually hard to make look cool.”

Right.

Planning ability and capital. Copying such a conceptual image in a short period with a limited budget and manpower usually results in not even recovering the initial investment.

“So these guys…” I replied. “20 billion won over three years.”

“…!!”

“They also set up a new project planning team for this. So, they must have invested a lot of manpower.”

It’s information I got from a hint. So… planning, capital, and manpower. They had prepared all three elements for three years.

“…”

A moment of silence passed.

Ryu Chungwoo, who had been listening quietly, spoke up. “Then… they’ve prepared properly.”

And shortly after, their title song was released.

* * *
[Ready and shut, go!]

With intense moombahton music, laser lights sliced through the screen. A CG screen bursting with dazzling effects, coding screens flashing by, and a boss raid of supernatural boys in goggles! And a fierce dance break part, like devouring, depicting a huge beast.

“Wow.” Cha Eugene chewed on popcorn with a nonchalant face.

“What do you think?”

“The typical nerdy things. [Seriously, is there a school for K-pop?]”

Saying that video game nerds would go wild, Cha Eugene coolly lounged on the sofa. He seemed to forget that he had made a game for our last album.

“You did it too.”

“I’m cool. I’m good at everything. But they didn’t do it. [Immersion]?”

Hmm. I replayed the music video.

Their visual stats look good. And the camera work was flashy, with close-ups and dynamic angles alternating appropriately, like an action game cutscene.

I wasn’t sure about Cha Eugene’s words, but at least it didn’t look awkward. Thanks to that, die-hard KPOP fans were already commenting.

-The silver-haired boy has perfect skin.

-They are really the perfect five stars! I’m looking forward to their music show stage 😀

-I think ĭter will become one of the biggest K-pop groups.

However, after monitoring the video on TV, TeSTAR evaluated it coldly.

“It reminds me of ‘Better me’ or ‘Drill’.”

“Yes. The dance break style is similar to what we did in ‘Present’.”

Well, it’s similar in some parts just by looking. The motorbike props and costumes remind me of ‘Drill,’ and the combat scenes and the implemented closed facility atmosphere remind me of ‘Better Me.’ Of course, the basic concept is different, so it probably won’t be immediately obvious to the general public.

But at this level, people who know will know. Even if we, as the creators of the albums, feel it more, there’s no way only we feel this.

“Do the fans mention this?”

“…”

“Park Moondae, just say it.”

I glanced briefly at my smartphone. “They do mention it.”

“…!”

It’s already visible in the best English comments.

-Am I the only one who thinks it just looks like another TeSTAR copycat? 🙁

“…As expected!”

“But it’s hard to see it as a good thing.”

“Hmm.”

Bae Sejin seemed about to shout ‘why,’ but he held back, trusting in years of experience.

And Seon Ahyeon cautiously muttered. “…Oh, right, because it’s not plagiarism?”

“Exactly.”

On the contrary, it could become a subject of ridicule, just like these.

-Does TeSTAR own the ethereal concept?

-They’re just jealous because the quality is good. They want only TeSTAR to do this!

-Ah, Magical Boy was years ago. Why are you picking up a fight even with ĭter? They didn’t even wear uniforms, lol.

-If you cut all the music videos like TeSTAR, all idols are plagiarizing, stupid viewers.

The discourse clashes. It becomes something like fighting in the street.

It’s not good.

Even if we made the public opinion ‘they copied us,’ it could be overturned anytime.

If the opponent gains popularity!

I immediately accessed the entertainment gossip board and skimmed the popular posts.

[Is this the visual member of ĭter?]

[Wonder Hall’s rookie seems more like TeSTAR]

[Have you heard ĭter’s debut song?]

[Wonder Hall’s boy group rookie looks like a group coming from a small agency]

There are intense criticisms of the rookie, praises for their appearance, and evaluations or sarcastic comments about their song.

“…”

F*ck, we got played.

“Hyung, your face looks bad.”

“…”

Ryu Chungwoo spoke kindly, trying to comfort me. “Is it because of what they call the ‘backlash’?”

“…It’s not even that.” I massaged my shoulders. “They’re becoming a hot topic. This group.”

“…!”

“Such controversies can always be pushed aside if they gain popularity. If the song and choreography are good, it’s advantageous to get one more click.”

“So, they are doing it.”

Right.

This is just… their buzz volume has increased significantly.

Viral marketing.

F*ck.
At the same time, I realized. “They must have aimed for this timing.”

“Timing?”

“…”

I looked up. Keun Sejin, who met my eyes, smiled wryly and spoke. “When we have the worst relationship with T1… right?”

“…”

“People in the industry would have known about the rumors when we were making a fuss to become independent. If they heard it, then… it’s almost certain?”

Correct.

“…Right.”

“…!”

Understanding my words, the members’ expressions changed.

“Then, they… planned to debut when we… have a bad relationship with T1….”

“Yeah.”

It’s the time when TeSTAR is weakest.

When the previously strong connections with broadcasters harshly cut us off, making it easy to create distance from the public and reducing exposure frequency.

When it’s hard to respond to a rising star.

“Right now, we can’t do any T1-related schedules. Neither on TV nor WeTube.”

But, a new group from the big agency Wonder Hall, which has already nurtured T-HOLIC, a favorite in all broadcasts, can.

“But they can appear anywhere.”

The unfair game had started.

these chs are commissioned if you would like your series to be translated you can contact us on discord
https://discord.gg/NjqvcWRvbD

Please Read At manhwa-freak.org First So We Can Continue To Update More Chapters….

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Chapter 469