Monsta X's music label Starship Entertainment has revealed, after months of rumours, future plans for the K-pop boy band.
Monsta X were formed as a seven-member group through a televised competition show in 2014. They will continue to make music in their current six-member line-up – one member left in 2019 .
The label announced this week on the group's official website: "Starship Entertainment recently renewed contracts with five of our agency artist Monsta X's members Shownu, Minhyuk, Kihyun, Hyungwon and Jooheon.
"As all six members still have unchanging affection for Monsta X and [their fans] Monbebe, we have come to a mutual agreement for I.M to continue [with other members] for future group activities.
"We have had sincere discussions with I.M, but our exclusive contract with him will unfortunately come to an end," the statement from Starship continues.
"We express deep gratitude for I.M's hard work, efforts, and devotion over the years. We will cheer on and support I.M's future activities and his new path."
There had previously been reports that some members of Monsta X, including rapper I.M, were in talks with Starship about new contracts, while others had already agreed to renew with the entertainment company.
Later in the day, I.M, whose legal name is Im Chang-kyun, posted on the band's forum to reveal his thoughts to Monbebe – the official fandom name for the Korean pop group.
"Seven years have gone by since I made my first start as a singer with Starship," he wrote, according to entertainment news website Soompi.
"As we've been together for a long time, I've grown fond [of Starship], but I thought I needed a new challenge with different meaning, so after a lot of thinking, I came to this decision."
"I will prioritise Monsta X's promotions and Monsta X will be with Monbebe as six, like always. I love you Monbebe. I will become an Im Chang-kyun and I.M who shows you an image of continuing growth."
I.M released his first solo album, Duality, in 2021.
The announcement followed the band's seventh anniversary in May. South Korean entertainment contracts are usually seven years long, and must be renewed after that. Thus the seventh year of many K-pop groups often becomes a time of change.
According to Starship, Monsta X had a month-long break before the announcement, and will soon begin work on new music.
Monsta X's most recent album was April's EP Shape of Love, their 11th Korean-language mini-album since their debut in 2015. They have also released several albums in Japanese and English over the years.