When Minzy left K-pop girl group 2NE1 to go solo, fans supported her decision. After all, with the group put on hiatus, she didn't get the opportunities she needed to grow as an artiste-she was only 22 when she left the group.
Now, at 24, she finally spoke up about the difficult times she experienced in the group, part of it stemming from YG Entertainment's CEO, Yang Hyunsuk, describing the members as "really ugly".
She told Billboard, "We pretended it was not a big deal and tried to forget about it, but you can't forget about it, it's tough. I was trying to keep up with the other girls in the group in terms of maturity, but when you're up against these girl groups who look like models and you're doing something different, you deal in a different way."
More surprisingly, she admitted being depressed and reaching a low when she was 16 and 17-at the peak of 2NE1's career.
"I would go on stage and everyone was so supportive, they'd love me. Then when the stage was done, I would be in the hotel feeling so empty. Life felt like just a stage. I didn't know what was my life about; I wasn't sure if life was better as a performer or if life would be better just alone. It was such a contrast, but I never had the time to figure out how to balance both being on stage and being alone."
She added, "I was struggling most intensely at 16, 17, and no one knew about it. There was a point where I would just avoid people. People didn't even really know I was struggling. I was just alone."
She said she found guidance in YG's producer Teddy and her faith in God. She said, "The people with the same faith and that same encouragement came into my life and were able to speak very boldly into my life. It wasn't like, 'Oh, you just have to get better.'
It was 'We understand that it's a struggle. It's OK to struggle and it's OK to feel bad, but let's think about it, deal with it and have faith.' I held onto that."
In 2016, she decided she needed a break to deal with her depression-she chose to leave 2NE1 so she could figure out if performing was something she really wanted to do.
"Leaving 2NE1, it's not about leaving [or] breaking up the group. It's that I fought for myself, my own future and what I wanted. I finally chose something for myself. I did feel pressure and [a] burden [when going solo], but it was a good burden."
This article was first published on CLEO Singapore