Winner (Hangul: 위너), often stylized as WINNER, is a South Korean boy group formed in 2013 by YG Entertainment and debuted in 2014. It currently consists of four members, Jinwoo, Seunghoon, Mino and Seungyoon, the fifth member Taehyun having left the group on November 25, 2016 due to health issues. The group has released two studio albums and one extended play.
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 Disk 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", releasing two singles on October 28 and performing as the opening act for Big Bang's Japanese dome tour beginning on November 15. On November 9, the members of Winner appeared as backup dancers in Taeyang's music video for "Ringa Linga". 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. 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. On the day of Winner's debut the stock price of YG Entertainment rose by 6.57%, a sign of investor belief in the debut. 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 group's official fan club name was announced to be 'Inner Circle'. Following the album's release, two music videos for their title tracks "Color Ring" and "Empty" (which was co-composed by B.I from Team B) were released on YouTube, and the album charted at number one on the Billboard World Albums Chart. On August 30, a music video for Mino's solo track "I'm Him" was released, with cameo appearances from the members.
On September 10, the group commenced their Japanese promotions for their 2014 S/S: Japan Collection album and embarked on their first Japanese solo concert on September 11. The group successfully concluded the tour in Tokyo on October 11, drawing 25,000 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 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 including Singapore, Thailand, and Brunei. 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. The group promoted the title tracks "Baby Baby" and "Sentimental" from the EP, the first of the proposed "Exit Movement" series. In April, Winner appeared on the JTBC variety show Half-Moon Friends, and in September, Mino debuted as part of the hip-hop duo MOBB alongside iKON's Bobby.
On October 12, YG Entertainment announced that Taehyun would be taking a hiatus from the group due to mental health issues, and that the rest of the Exit Movement series would be delayed indefinitely. On November 25, Taehyun's departure from the group was announced, due to mental health issues and believing he was the reason for the delay in Winner's promotions. 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.
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" is an upbeat, energetic song, with lyrics by members Seungyoon (production alias YOON), Mino, and Seunghoon (production alias HOONY), and composition by members Seungyoon and Mino, with YG producer UK Jin Kang participating. "Fool" is a mellow, melody-focused song, with lyrics by member Seungyoon and composition by Seungyoon and YG produce AiRPLAY. As part of their promotions, Winner will be holding a three-day "concept showroom" showcase, on April 2nd to 4th, at Club NB in Seoul's Mapo District, owned by YG founder/CEO Yang Hyun-suk.
Korean albums2014 S/S (2014)
Japanese albums2014 S/S: Japan Collection (2014)
HeadliningWinner 2014 Zepp Tour in Japan (2014)
Worldwide Inner Circle Conference: WWIC (2015)
Winner Japan Tour 2015 (2015)
Winner 2016 EXIT Tour (2016)
Winner EXIT Tour in Japan 2016 (2016)
Joint toursYG Family – YG Family 2014 World Tour: Power (2014)
Supporting actBig Bang Japan Dome Tour (2013) - (Opening Act)
2NE1 AON: All or Nothing World Tour (2014) - (Guest)
Epik High EPIK HIGH 'Parade 2014' Concert Tour (2014) - (Guest)
Epik High EPIK HIGH 'Now Playing' Concert (2015) - (Guest)
iKON’s Japanese concert tour (2016) - (Guest: Mino for MOBB)
Winner won their first major award, a Bonsang award, for earning a place in the "Top 10 Artists" and "Best New Artist" categories at the 2014 MelOn Music Awards. They also won the "Best New Artist" awards at 2014 Mnet Asian Music Awards, SBS Awards Festival, Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards and Golden Disk Awards.
On March 15, 2016, the group won a Style Icon Asia Awesome Kstyle award.