K-pop exodus: Yay or nay?

K-pop exodus: Yay or nay?
Wonder Girls are fervently picking up different languages, from left, Park Ye-Eun, Ahn So Hee, Kim Yoobin, Min Sun-Ye and Woo Hye-Lim.
PHOTO: ALPHA ENTERTAINMENT

EXO

He made his debut as a solo artist in China last week.

On the same day, though, Tao, an inactive member of popular K-pop boyband EXO, also saw the music video to his title track T.A.O getting blocked on YouTube by South Korean talent agency S.M.Entertainment based on a copyright claim.

The 22-year-old Chinese idol has been part of EXO under S.M.Entertainment since 2012, but reportedly left South Korea in end-April to pursue his solo career without reaching an agreement with his company.

Over the weekend, Tao teared up while appearing on a talk show in China, as he recalled the hard times he faced in South Korea.

He said: "I was alone for four years and there was no one to help me. I had to do everything by myself."

Tao is the third Chinese member to leave EXO. The group is now down to nine members - eight South Korean and one Chinese.

Last May, Kris, 24, filed a lawsuit against S.M.Entertainment to nullify his contract.

Luhan, 25, left in October.

Kris' acting career in China is now soaring. He starred in top-grossing Chinese movie Somewhere Only We Know and was cast in upcoming Chinese action comedy Mr. Six, which also stars famed filmmaker Feng Xiaogang.

He is also the first celebrity born after 1990 to have his own wax figure unveiled at Madame Tussauds in Shanghai last week.

He has also appeared on the covers of Harper's Bazaar China, Esquire China and Vogue China.

Luhan is not doing too shabbily, either. He bagged two awards in China, including the Asia Popular Idol title at the iQiyi awards ceremony last December.

He also appeared in Chinese movie 20 Once Again, which was released in January.

Despite the departures, EXO continue to dominate music charts.

They bagged the highly-coveted Best Male Group, Album of the Year and Artist of the Year trophies at last year's Mnet Asian Music Awards.

Their latest album, Exodus, released in March, and a repackaged album Love Me Right, released in June, sold over a million copies in total.

FOR BETTER OR WORSE?

It has been a win-win situation so far. Kris and Luhan made the right decisions, given how unhappy they were then, and they are better off without EXO.

Their careers in China are taking off at lightning speed, with no signs of slowing down.

Tao seems likely to follow in their footsteps once the dust has settled with S.M.Entertainment.

GIRLS' GENERATION

Jessica Jung's exit from A-list girl group Girls' Generation sent shockwaves across the industry.

Last September, the 26-year-old announced via her Weibo account that she was forced to leave the group, and her agency S.M.Entertainment confirmed this shortly after.

As she is still contracted with the agency, she continues her solo endeavours with them while Girls' Generation proceeds as an octet.

Since then, Jung has been pouring her heart into her fashion line Blanc & Eclare, having just released a denim collection last month.

She said in the June issue of Marie Claire Korea: "There are a lot of things that (have) changed... First, I have freedom. It was good when I was with other members too, but now that I'm promoting alone, I have the freedom to use my time however I want."

Girls' Generation are still going strong with their summer hit Party, which topped the Korean Gaon Digital Chart the week it was released.

They are currently preparing to unleash two more new songs next month.

FOR BETTER OR WORSE?:

No one wanted to see one of the most popular members of the most successful girl group in K-pop go.

Jung's presence might be missed during Girls' Generation's recent performances on music shows, but her venture into the fashion world still kind of keeps her in the limelight, although we are not sure how long that will last.

On the other hand, Girls' Generation continues to flourish without Jung and thus they have the edge over her, proving once and for all that nobody is indispensable.

WONDER GIRLS

The girl group is finally making a comeback after a three-year hiatus.

They released a 30-second teaser video for their new song I Feel You on Wednesday, which featured the members playing musical instruments.

Earlier this month, Wonder Girls' agency JYP Entertainment announced that leader Sunye had officially withdrawn. The 25-year-old got married in January 2013 and gave birth in October that year. In December 2013, popular member Sohee, 23, left to join another talent agency and focus on her acting career.

Wonder Girls will return as a quartet next month, comprising the remaining three members Yubin, 26, Yeeun, 26, and Hyelim, 22, as well as former member Sunmi, 23.

They've adopted an 80s-inspired style and brandished musical instruments in the teaser video.

FOR BETTER OR WORSE?:

Let's face it. Wonder Girls is way past their expiry date - either as a collective or individuals. They hit their peak in 2008 with the success of infectious tune Nobody which sparked a retro dance craze worldwide, but their lengthy absence dented their popularity in the fast-paced, ultra-competitive industry. Losing strong vocalist Sunye and cutie-pie Sohee will prove an uphill battle to nail an impactful revival even with Sunmi's return.

Sunye has gone dormant since she became a mother, while Sohee is barely sizzling, with only one TV drama under her belt so far.


This article was first published on July 31, 2015.
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