With IZ*ONE set to officially disband on April 29 (or April 30, according to a new report from Top Star News), many fans are desperately wondering where the 12 members will go next. After sharing a photo of her new driver’s license on IZ*ONE’s official Twitter, Hitomi has sparked speculation about her future.
Now IZ*ONE’s lead dancer, sub vocalist, and sub rapper, Hitomi made it into the group after ranking 9th in the finale of Mnet‘s Produce 48. However, unlike most of the show’s Korean contestants, this isn’t her first brush with fame. Before joining IZ*ONE, the young Tochigi-born star was a member of AKB48—one of the most popular idol supergroups in Japan.
Hitomi joined AKB48 at the age of just 12, only taking a hiatus to join IZ*ONE. Despite not promoting with them since her time on Produce 48, she is still a member of the Japanese group. As such, most IZ*ONE fans were expecting Hitomi to return to her idol life in Japan upon IZ*ONE’s disbandment.
However, a new photo uploaded to IZ*ONE’s social media account has everyone wondering if something different might be on the horizon for Hitomi. This week, Hitomi uploaded a photo of her new driver’s license. While she’s not the first member to get her license, fans noticed something unusual: she decided to do her driving test in South Korea.
— official_IZONE (@official_izone) April 28, 2021
I did well~
— Hitomi, IZ*ONE official Twitter
Unsurprisingly, fans are abuzz with speculation over the new revelation. A South Korean license is valid in Japan, but drivers need to have an international driving permit alongside it, with each permit only lasting one year. As such, it seems highly unlikely that Hitomi would have applied for her license in Seoul if she didn’t intend to continue promoting in South Korea rather than Japan.
On top of that, many WIZ*ONEs have heard rumors that WM Entertainment may be signing both Hitomi and fellow IZ*ONE member Nako (who was originally a member of AKB48’s sister group, HKT48). While nothing is confirmed as of yet, a contract with WM Entertainment would see Hitomi and Nako debuting alongside Chaeyeon in the company’s upcoming girl group, currently known as Dream Tree.
Even if the rumors aren’t true, the driver’s license could indicate that Hitomi will be signing with another Korean entertainment agency to debut as a soloist or in a new group. If Hitomi does continue her career in the country, it’s unclear whether she’ll remain a member of AKB48 at the same time. Either way, fans are excited to see what comes next for the budding star.