A Japanese boy band born from an audition show modeled on a South Korean forerunner is hoping to make its mark on the global stage using the hugely successful and popular K-pop model.

All 11 members of the boy band JO1 are Japanese, and sing their songs in Japanese, but their performances have a K-pop aesthetic, with the production of songs and highly choreographed, dance-heavy music videos primarily overseen by South Korean advisers.

Managed by Lapone Entertainment, a joint venture between Japan's Yoshimoto Kogyo Holdings Co. and South Korea's CJ ENM, JO1 was formed in 2019 through "Produce 101 Japan," a spin-off of a famous South Korean audition show of the same name.

Supplied photo shows JO1 pose for a group photo in New Taipei City. (Copyright Lapone Entertainment)(Kyodo)

The group has created a following at home and abroad thanks to the show's audience-driven selection process that involved online voting to determine the top 11 out of the 101 candidates. Having audiences participate in the process was a novelty for an audition program in Japan.

Being able to follow along with the audition process and witness the growth of the performers, some of whom had no singing or dancing experience, got increased buy-in from fans.

A 21-year-old Taiwanese fan, Peggy, who listened to K-pop during high school, found herself hooked on JO1 after watching the show.

"The members of JO1 entered the auditions with a 'blank slate,'" Peggy said, adding that she "feels like a mother raising a child," watching the growth of the group, and is "moved by their growing fame."

Their debut single in March 2020 was a commercial success, selling over 300,000 copies in its first week and topping the Japanese Billboard charts -- rare for a male group from a new entertainment company.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed their activities, JO1 turned to YouTube and social media, where their fans have helped spread the word.

In 2022, their song "SuperCali" topped Spotify's "Most Shared Songs on social media" in Japan. JO1 participated in major K-pop events in Thailand and the United States, and then embarked on its first Asia tour in November, traveling to Jakarta, Bangkok, Taipei, and Shanghai.

Photo taken on Nov. 11, 2023, shows people holding fans with the faces of JO1 members on them in New Taipei City. (Kyodo)

JO1 has also promoted Japanese culture through tie-ups with firms and local governments, showcasing landmarks such as Himeji Castle in their music videos.

What the group aims to establish is a music genre called "JK-pop," by bringing the best of K-pop sounds and performance and blending it with the culture of J-pop, an official of Lapone said.

With their fan base spreading beyond Japan, Ruki Shiroiwa, a member of JO1, recalled his joy when he saw a fan-arranged promotional truck displaying a birthday message for him at their Taiwan concert.

"I feel (the fans' support) on my birthday every year. That also goes for fans overseas," he said. "It is my motivation."

Related coverage:

FEATURE: Protests, pandemic, pop: Hong Kong finds solace in boy band Mirror

FEATURE:Korea boom in Japan sparked by drama 20 yrs ago kept going by young

FEATURE: Female DJs beating the odds in Japan's boys' club EDM scene