Changing members pose risks for K-pop groups

October 9, 2013

Nicole of Kara signals exit from K-pop group

Nicole, second from left, of Kara, has said that she will not renew her contract that expires in January with the group’s agency DSP Media, suggesting changes for the popular K-pop girl group. The agency said Kara will continue even with the exit of one member. The group is currently touring Japan. / Yonhap

Nicole, second from left, of Kara, has said that she will not renew her contract that expires in January with the group’s agency DSP Media, suggesting changes for the popular K-pop girl group. The agency said Kara will continue even with the exit of one member. The group is currently touring Japan. / Yonhap

By Kim Ji-soo

After surmounting previous breakup rumors, the popular girl group Kara is seeing fault lines as Nicole has told her agency that she will not renew her contract.

The group’s management agency said that with the Kara girls contract up for renewal in January, Nicole did not resign while other members — Park Gyu-ri, Han Seung-yeon and Goo Hara —signed up for two more years, DSP Media announced Friday.

Another member Kang Ji-young, whose contract is up for expiration in April, is reportedly thinking of going for studies abroad.

Would that mean a breakup of the group? The DSP says no, that the name Kara will continue on.

It’s not the first time that Kara has seen a member change. The group’s first main vocalist Kim Seong-hee exited in 2008, one year after debut, a void that the current members Goo and Kang filled. The group’s popularity accelerated since then when such songs as “Mister,” “Jumping” and “Pandora” took off both in Korea and Japan. The Kara members in 2011 faced a real possibility of breaking up when three —Nicole, Kang and Han —faced their agency over contract matters. The crisis patched up and the group followed up with an active presence mainly in the Japanese music market.

In fact, the DSP Media’s firm stance that the group Kara will continue on marks a different tactic when K-pop groups have undergone member changes. Generally, K-pop groups have not fared well when there were member changes, because the group to this day rely heavily on marketing images that the agency has created for them. Once a certain group’s image is set and its popularity rides on the promoted image, any diversion that would bring about a change to that image means high risk. It’s for this reason that industry insiders are forecasting that DSP Media is not likely to recruit new members.

There have been precedents in K-pop groups where member changes have meant a slow-down in group activities. The Wonder Girls, who also debuted in 2007, is temporarily on a break since its member Sunye tied the knot. The other members — Yubin, Yeeun, Sohee and Hyelim — are engaged in individual activities currently.

There is no further word on when the Girls will come together as a group. The K-pop girl group After School that debuted in 2009 operates a “graduation” system where each member would leave the group after certain time. The group consists of eight members of Jungah, Jooyeon, Uee, Raina, Nana, Lizzy, E-Young and Kaeun, after graduating three members including Kahi. While After School momentarily captured music charts and fans with their song “First Love” and pole dancing in June this year, there may well be more buzz around Kahi’s second mini-album due out today.

One of the longest-living name in K-pop groups is Shinwha, whose six members went separate ways when the contract with SM Entertainment ended in 2003. Then all six men, after completing military services, found a joint company named Shinwa Company in 2011 and released studio albums in 2012 and 2013.

Following the news, Nicole wrote that she wants to continue on as Kara member, which the agency said that she has never discussed it with them.The group is currently performing in Japan.

3 Comments

  1. DI Cheon

    October 9, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    IS it matter? They all look same anyway..

  2. www.dillards.cc

    October 19, 2013 at 7:04 AM

    This is a good article. It’s not only interesting it’s compelling and you have written your views well. You have really done something good with this informative article. Thank you..

  3. Ashamef11

    November 2, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    What a surprise – this

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