HYBE and Geffen have revealed the 20 contestants from around the world who will compete to be members of the companies’ jointly created global girl group. The announcement was made with much fanfare at an L.A. event by HYBE Chairman Bang Si-Hyuk and Interscope Geffen A&M ruler John Janick.

The elite finalists (see graphic below), who were selected from 120k+ submissions, range from 15-21 years of age.

A Netflix docuseries chronicling the odyssey of this embryonic pop phenomenon, jointly produced by HYBE, Interscope Films and Boardwalk Pictures and directed by Emmy-nominated filmmaker Nadia Hallgren, is slated for 2024. The group will also be integrated into HYBE’s Weverse fandom platform to maximize users' access to every facet of the story and enable fans to vote for their favorites.

As you may have intuited after scanning your memory banks, this venture is the first of its kind jointly undertaken by a U.S. label and a K-pop entertainment giant (under the JV moniker HxG). We are advised that the contestants are being developed in L.A. under “the world-renowned K-pop training and development system.” We’d tell you what that is, but then we’d have to kill you. Ha-ha! We kid.

“I have wanted to form an international group based on K-pop methodology for a while,” reads a statement issued by Bang. “To do this I believed we needed a capable partner. When I met John [Janick], from the first moment, we both felt instantly that we had a connection, musically and creatively. I am very proud of the rich history we have made and the tremendous talent we have found, and I am proud of the opportunities we have created within the K-pop universe.”

“Since we began our partnership two years ago,” reads Janick’s quote, "Bang and I have often spoken about our shared beliefs in artist development, music and creativity. To develop a global group with Bang, with the best of K-pop methodology and our Geffen team, is truly special and will bring to life a first-of-its kind experience in music. Each candidate is incredibly talented, dedicated and driven, making this an exciting moment for music fans around the world.”

"Watching these incredible candidates work so hard to fulfill their potential creatively has been hugely inspiring to me and everyone at Geffen," noted Geffen topper Tom March. "People are going to be blown away when they see what each of these candidates has been able to achieve so far."

"What’s incredibly exciting about this new group is the multinational nature of the artists," proclaimed HxG President Mitra Darab. "We live in a world that is so interconnected these days and music is what breaks down the barriers across languages and culture."

A panel of experts instrumental to the project participated in a Q&A as part of the launch event. These included March and Darab as well as HxG Executive Creator Sungdeuk Son, Creative Director Humberto Leon and Head of Creative Production Jay Ihn. A film introducing the contestants concluded the gathering. You can find that here.

The Debut: Dream Academy audition-program content will be viewable starting Friday, 9/1, at 8am PT on YouTube and Japan’s ABEMA. It will span the 12 weeks leading up to the live finale on 11/17. Yes, the anticipation is overwhelming. You’ll just have to find a way to occupy yourself until then.

Photos: HYBE and Geffen