Nicole-KARA divorce official

January 14, 2014
Nicole is planning on coming back to the United States.

Nicole is planning on coming back to the United States.

By Park Si-soo

Popular K-pop girl group KARA is facing a critical juncture as a popular member is calling it quits.

KARA, which burst onto the K-pop scene in 2007, has enjoyed high popularity in Korea and Japan, regularly topping major music charts in the two countries.

“Our contract with Nicole will expire Thursday,” the band’s management, DSP Media, said in a statement Tuesday. “Regrettably, Nicole will terminate her activities as a member of KARA, but we ask that you continue to support her as she moves forward.”

Nicole is expected to return to the United States next month to study.

DSP said the four other members of the group will focus on their individual acting careers during the first half of the year, as they prepare a new album to be released in the second half.

Nicole’s departure had been largely expected, and the contract of another member, Kang Ji-young, comes up for renewal in April. She has not yet said whether she will renew or leave the group.

“Please continue to show your love and support as KARA comes back with a fresh look,” DSP said.

Nicole is the second member to leave KARA. Kim Sung-hee left the group in 2007. The following year, Goo Hara and Kang joined it.

In October, the agency extended contracts with three members — Park Gyu-ri, Goo Hara and Han Seung-yeon — for two years.

With Nicole’s departure, KARA is expected to continue as a four-member group for the time being. The agency noted that it has “no immediate plans to add a new member.”

Nicole’s departure was reported by several news outlets in Japan and China, including Japan’s Nikkansports and China’s Sina, reflecting the band’s popularity there.

KARA’s earnings from overseas markets reportedly account for 60 percent of their total income.