Korean girl-group T-ara loses one more

Troubled K-pop girl group T-ara announced the departure of member Hwa Young (extreme left) last year following talks that she was bullied repeatedly by the other girls. Last week, newest member Areum Lee (extreme right) announced her decision to leave the group to pursue a solo career.

SINGAPORE - K-pop girl group T-ara hogged headlines last year when one of its members Ryu Hwa Young, 20, was kicked out of the group following an internal bullying scandal.

It was deja vu last week, when newest member Areum Lee announced her decision to leave and pursue a solo career.

It shouldn't come as a surprise though - I would quit the troubled outfit as well if I were her.

Lee, 19, joined T-ara in June last year, when the group was at the peak of its popularity having topped charts with its 2011 infectious hit Roly Poly and catchy electropop tune Lovey Dovey which hogged the top spot on Korean charts and bagged coveted awards.

T-ara's agency Core Contents Media also gave Lee exposure by giving her substantial lines in new singles Don't Leave and Day By Day.

She became a major talking point overnight after her entry into T-ara as she could rap and had more singing parts than some of the existing members such as Qri (Lee Ji Hyun) and Jeon Boram.

Then the scandal happened in late July, as talk of Hwa Young being bullied repeatedly by the other girls spread online.

Several days later, the agency announced that Hwa Young would be leaving the group, claiming she had displayed a bad and unprofessional attitude.

T-ara, one of the top girl groups in Korea last year, saw its popularity nosedive right after, with groups opposed to it being set up immediately, some gaining more than 160,000 members within a few days.

Lee had the most to lose. Barely a month after her debut, she had to deal with the backlash, though she was not involved in the bullying.

The talented rookie was dragged into something beyond her control and saw her being associated with one of the most-hated girl groups in K-pop.

That's certainly not a good way for a newcomer to join the already complicated K-pop industry.

Even though there's speculation that Lee might also have been forced to leave T-ara due to internal conflicts just like Hwa Young, her departure is likely to do her more good than harm in the long run.

With her strong vocals, sleek dance moves and amazing rapping skills, it won't be difficult for her to establish her solo career and hold her own on stage.

And with T-ara now returning to the line-up of six that we saw in July 2009 with its debut, let's hope it can start on a clean slate, rise above the petty infighting and focus on what it does best and what fans love about its members - sexy dance choreography and catchy songs, minus the unnecessary drama.

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