K-pop girl group Lovelyz the latest 'third generation' act to split in 2021

K-pop girl band Lovelyz have left their management company after seven years.
PHOTO: Instagram/@official_lvlz8_

K-pop girl group Lovelyz announced their disbandment on Monday (Nov 1).

The eight-member group have been active since 2014, and over the years have gained popularity for their sweet vocals and girlish charms, with hits like 2015’s Ahh-Choo and 2016’s Destiny.

The act released their seventh EP, Unforgettable, in September 2020.

All but one member, Baby Soul (Lee Soo-jung), will part ways with their management company, Woollim Entertainment.

Lovelyz have split from their management company Woollim, seven years after their first album, Girls’ Invasion. PHOTO: South China Morning Post 

The band’s contract expires on Nov 16, the day before the seventh anniversary of the band’s first album, Girls’ Invasion, released in 2014.

The eight women sent a handwritten letter to fans on social media, sharing their thoughts and hinting what’s to come, though only Baby Soul’s direction is currently known.

The news of the disbandment came after an incident in October in which a member of Lovelyz publicly expressed frustration with Woollim during a live-stream, saying that they had been asking the company to release new content to no avail.

Lovelyz were the first girl group produced by Woollim, which also currently houses the groups Golden Child and Rocket Punch.

The company grew its reputation in the mid-2000s and 2010s with the likes of boy band Infinite, hip-hop trio Epik High and indie rock band Nell under its management, before pivoting predominantly to idol pop groups.

Got7 also split from their label after seven years. PHOTO: Reuters file

Under South Korean law, an entertainment artist’s initial employment contract can run for a maximum of seven years. This has resulted in many K-pop groups facing change when their seventh anniversary is upon them.

Lovelyz are the latest high-profile K-pop group in 2021 to go on a new path after reaching their seventh anniversary: Got7’s members parted ways with their former label JYP and are reportedly planning to continue together as a group, while GFriend’s members all left Source Music and are doing their own thing, with three re-forming as the group Viviz.

Mamamoo, though not disbanded, saw member Wheein leave their label RBW in June, also around their seventh anniversary.

All these groups have been considered main players in the “third generation” of K-pop, which many consider to have started around 2012.

Their disbandment and reorganising emphasise that the “fourth generation” of K-pop artists, whose careers began around 2017, are firmly entrenched, with more acts making waves in the competitive world of K-pop.

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This article was first published in South China Morning Post.