When K-pop idols leave their groups

What happens to these idols and the groups that they left?

What happens to these idols and the groups that they left?
What happens to these idols and the groups that they left?
20 Apr 2016

What happens to these idols and the groups that they left?

Woollim Entertainment dropped a bomb on fans on August 30, when they announced that INFINITE member Hoya did not extend his contract with them and would be leaving the group. 

Sad to say, INFINITE is not the first to have experienced such shake ups and are unlikely to be the last - with others such as Hyunseung leaving BEAST (now known as Highlight), Sulli leaving f(x) and Jessica leaving Girl's Generation among the many stars who have chosen to walk a different path.

Click or scroll through to check out some of the most high profile breakups in K-Pop.

Photos: Cube Entertainment, TPG/CLICKPHOTOS

Hoya
Hoya
30 Aug 2017

Hoya

Former group: INFINITE

What happened?

Contact renewals are always a dicey situation. Earlier in June, Woollim Entertainment shared that six out of seven members had renewed their contracts, while the last was still in discussions with the company. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out and on the morning of August 30, Woollim announced that Hoya decided not to renew after his contract expired on June 9, and that he would be taking on a different path from the others to pursue his dreams.

What’s next?

Woollim shared that INFINITE will continue on as six, and that they are working on reorganising themselves as a sextet. On the other hand, there has been no word at press time on which agency Hoya will be signed with (if any), and which road he will be taking in future.

Regardless, the company has asked for fans to continue supporting INFINITE as six, along with Hoya as he embarks on a new chapter of his life

INFINITE as six
INFINITE as six
30 Aug 2017

INFINITE as six

It might take some time for INFINITE to release new material, but now that contract renewals are out of the way, it’s a green light for the group to return to promoting soon.

L has also been actively pursuing his acting career, and will be embarking on his first ever solo fan meeting tour this year – and yes, Singapore is included as one of the stops.

2017 Kim Myung Soo Fan Meeting In Singapore takes place September 23 (Saturday), 7.30pm at Resorts World Theatre, Resorts World Sentosa. Tickets are priced at S$238, S$188 and S$138 (excluding booking fees) and are now available on SISTIC.

Jang Hyunseung
Jang Hyunseung
20 Apr 2016

Jang Hyunseung

Former group: BEAST

What happened?

Some have called Hyunseung’s departure from the group an eventuality after he was plagued with reports of him seeming uninterested during group activities and missing out on schedules that the six-membered group were scheduled to attend together.

Cube eventually announced that he would be leaving the group and promoting on his own on April 19, drawing mixed reactions from fans and the public.

What’s next?

With BEAST and Hyunseung’s contracts due to expire this October, some have questioned if he will stay on with the company or leave it entirely. In response to these speculations, Cube Entertainment has called for everyone to keep an open mind, stressing that there have been no concrete plans made yet.

Photo: Cube Entertainment

BEAST - now known as Highlight - as five
BEAST - now known as Highlight - as five
20 Apr 2016

BEAST - now known as Highlight - as five

After Hyunseung's withdrawal, BEAST has since left Cube Entertainment and have established their own agency, Around US ENTERTAINMENT. They are also now known as Highlight, and released a mini album in March 2017.

Photo: Cube Entertainment

Sulli
Sulli
20 Apr 2016

Sulli

Former group: f(x)

What happened?

In 2014, label S.M. Entertainment announced that Sulli would be “taking an indefinite break” from her showbiz activities due to “physical and mental exhaustion” from the widespread malicious rumours about the then-21-year-old. This happened in the midst of f(x)’s promotions for Red Light, and activities for their album were halted prematurely soon after the announcement was made.

In August 2015, S.M. officially announced that Sulli would be leaving the group and focus on acting instead of singing.

What’s next?

Sulli has been continuously in the spotlight after her relationship with fellow entertainer Choiza was confirmed, with some calling her out for attention-seeking behaviour. While this might not be the sort of publicity that S.M. would have wanted for their artistes, she has been consistently picking up photoshoots and other projects on her own, proving naysayers wrong about her career.

Photos: TPG/CLICKPHOTOS

f(x) as four
f(x) as four
20 Apr 2016

f(x) as four

f(x) released studio album 4 Walls in October 2015 and received good reviews for their efforts. Following which, they embarked on their first-ever concert tour earlier this year and finally received a fandom name, MeU. The members have also been embarking on individual activities, with leader Victoria notably gaining popularity in her native China after picking up a slew of films and dramas.

Photo: S.M. Entertainment

Jessica Jung
Jessica Jung
23 Jul 2015

Jessica Jung

Photo: BLANC & ECLARE

Former group: Girls’ Generation

What happened?
Girls’ Generation’s Jessica shockingly ceased all group activities as of September 30, 2014. She updated her microblog in the wee hours of the morning, declaring that she was “shockingly informed by my company and 8 others that of today, I’m no longer a member.”

Hours later, S.M. Entertainment confirmed her departure from the group and stated that Girls’ Generation will continue as an eight-member group with immediate effect.

What’s next?
Her departure from one of Hallyu’s biggest names came as a surprise for most and Jessica has yet to comment further on the situation. Her label has pledged to support her in her solo pursuits, and she has been consistently working hard to promote her label, BLANC & ELCARE.

Korean news agency Dispatch released an article prior to S.M.’s announcement, listing possible reasons behind her departure. Among the reasons, they stated that she has concentrated her efforts on her fashion brand, BLANC, as part of her portfolio for entry into design schools in the USA.

Dispatch also claims that Jessica returned together with rumoured beau, Tyler Kwon, on the same flight on September 29, and adds that the two are in a serious relationship with marriage possibly on the cards.

Girls' Generation as eight
Girls' Generation as eight
23 Jul 2015

Girls' Generation as eight

Photo: S.M. Entertainment

The group made their successful comeback as eight this year with title track 'Party' and have thus far proven naysayers wrong with their winning streak on music shows and solid sales reports.

In interviews, the girls have also stated that they have now grown closer after the entire episode.

Han Geng
Han Geng
23 Jul 2015

Han Geng

Photo: Han Geng's Weibo (@hangeng)

Former group: Super Junior

What happened?
In December 2009, Han Geng (known as Hankyung in Korea) filed a lawsuit against SM Entertainment to terminate his contract, citing the 13-year contract as “unlawful, overly restrictive and unfair”.

As the 30-year-old held a Chinese passport, his promotional and appearances were limited by law to only three broadcasting stations in Korea. While performing ‘Twins’ with Super Junior, Han Geng had to wear a mask and hat to hide his face, causing some fans to mistake him as a background dancer.

In an interview after leaving the company, Han Geng revealed that he was forced to do things against his wishes and that despite his dream to be an actor, he was denied of such opportunities. The inability to get sick leave also led to kidney illnesses.

Career as a solo artiste

After leaving Korea, Han Geng withdrew from the limelight and quietly worked on his solo debut. The singer released his first album Geng Xin in 2010 and with its chart-topping success, he picked up several major endorsements, something which he was forbidden from while he was in SM.

The aspiring thespian realised his dream when he landed his first major role as the male lead in Sino-Hollywood action film My Kingdom in 2011, where he played alongside Bruneian heartthrob Wu Chun.

Han Geng returned to the Mandopop scene in 2012, dropping his sophomore album Hope in the Darkness as well as kicking off his first concert tour. In the same year, he was nominated for MTV European Music Awards’ Best Asia Act, pitting him against his former group.

Gaining recognition as a singer and an actor, Han Geng was also involved in Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Super Junior after Han Geng’s departure
Super Junior after Han Geng’s departure
23 Jul 2015

Super Junior after Han Geng’s departure

Photo: S.M. Entertainment

Establishing themselves as the “centre of Hallyu”, Super Junior went on to release new albums (Bonamana, Mr. Simple,Sexy, Free & Single) and embarked on Super Show concert tours around the world. Despite the members taking turns to enlist into the military, the group remains as one of the biggest names and one of the most respected seniors in K-pop.

One thing to note, however, was Heechul’s reaction to his BFF’s decision. The emotional chap was so depressed that he lived behind locked doors for three months. “I was in big chaos. I had lived with Hankyung and we were really close. It was difficult for me to laugh on TV and dance on stage,” he said.

Special Mention: Kim Ki Bum
Special Mention: Kim Ki Bum
23 Jul 2015

Special Mention: Kim Ki Bum

Photo: Toggle

Although Ki Bum’s departure was never officially announced, he no longer participates in Super Junior activities and has been pursuing a career in acting. In what is seen as a silent nod to all these rumours, the 26-year-old was chatty about everything but the group, when he was in town for his solo fan meet in 2013.

In a recent interview done in line with their special anniversary album promotions, the Super Junior members shared that he is still in the midst of an extended leave from the group but stressed that he is still a member. Explaining that he wants to be an actor more than a singer, they confessed that they would definitely welcome him back if he changes his mind and wants to pick up his microphone once again.

JYJ (Junsu, Yoo Chun, Jaejoong)
JYJ (Junsu, Yoo Chun, Jaejoong)
23 Jul 2015

JYJ (Junsu, Yoo Chun, Jaejoong)

Photo: C-JeS Entertainment

Former group: TXVQ!

What happened?
In mid-2009, Junsu, Yoo Chun, Jaejoong (then-members of TVXQ!, now known as JYJ) filed a lawsuit against SM Entertainment, arguing that the 13-year contracts as well as the terms of profit distribution were unilaterally disadvantageous towards the artists and should be invalidated.

The Seoul Central District Court ruled in their favor, affirming their right to independently engage in entertainment activities and granted them injunction suspending the SM contracts in October 2009.

Career as JYJ
JYJ continued their work in Japan for more than six months until their Japanese agency, Avex, suspended their activities in 2010 and gave its support to the remaining two members of the original group.

Despite being banned on South Korea's three main terrestrial broadcasters, JYJ, currently managed by C-JeS Entertainment, remains well-loved by die-hard Cassies and enjoys impressive album sales, sell-out concerts and good drama ratings.

Impact on TVXQ!
Impact on TVXQ!
23 Jul 2015

Impact on TVXQ!

Photo: S.M. Entertainment

Following the split, Yunho and Changmin carried out promotional activities and performed at SMTOWN concerts under the name of TVXQ!. While their popularity may not match up to that of their heyday in the early 2000s, the duo still holds an esteemed position in the industry.

Although it has been many years since the split, many Cassies are still keeping faith that the five guys would one day reunite. Changmin teamed up with Super Junior's Kyuhyun and EXO's Chen to sing their iconic ballad 'Bolero' at the recent SMTOWN in Japan, causing many fans to reminisce about the good old days.

Jay Park
Jay Park
23 Jul 2015

Jay Park

Photo: AOMG

Former group: 2PM

What happened?
A year after 2PM debuted, netizens got hold of Jay Park’s old Myspace account where he openly dissed Korean culture, causing outrage among the online community.

Realising the severity of the situation, Jay released an official apology statement to explain his actions. Despite so, Korean netizens continued leaving vicious comments telling him to “go back to America”. Some even created petitions for him to get out of 2PM and Korea. The singer was then left with no choice but to announce his withdrawal from the group and return home to Seattle. 

Career as a solo artiste
Leaving the controversy behind, Jay uploaded a cover of B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You” to YouTube in March 2010. The video garnered over 2 million views in less than 24 hours, leading to the release of his first EP, Count on Me.

Jay returned to Korea in June 2010 and inked a contract with SidusHQ, marking his comeback. Not only was the talented lad the first solo singer to win the highly coveted “Record of the Year” at 2011 Golden Disk Awards, he has since competed on Immortal Song 2 and became a permanent cast member of Saturday Night Live Korea, a sign of his regained popularity.

Growing up as a dancer, Jay is also a member of Seattle-based b-boy crew, Art of Movement (AOM). 

2PM after Jay Park’s departure
2PM after Jay Park’s departure
23 Jul 2015

2PM after Jay Park’s departure

Photo: JYP Entertainment

In the initial years after Jay left the group, 2PM continued topping charts and winning awards, before the members started venturing into solo activities. As a result, group appearances became significantly lesser and the wait for 2PM’s return grew longer each time.

While more rookie bands are craving for a slice of the Hallyu pie, 2PM has announced the postponement of their comeback this year (for labelmate GOT7’s new album release) – a decision which hints at the members’ wish to concentrate on their solo endeavours.

Xander, Kibum, Dongho
Xander, Kibum, Dongho
23 Jul 2015

Xander, Kibum, Dongho

Photos: NH Media

Former group: U-KISS

What happened?
Other than their hit song ‘Man Man Ha Ni’, U-KISS failed to leave a lasting impression in the industry years after their debut, which led to NH Media’s decision to remove the “vocally weak” members.

While preparing for their fifth mini album in 2011, U-KISS announced that two members, Xander (Alexander Lee Eusebio) and Kim Kibum, would be replaced by Kim Jae Seop (AJ) and Yeo Hoon Min (Hoon).

Last October, maknae Dongho officially left the group citing health and personal reasons.

Career as solo artistes

Following the fall-out with the agency, Kibum concentrated on his “Piro Piro” business with his older brother Kim Hyung Jun (SS501). He later packed his bags for Japan where he embarked on solo activities under a new stage name, Allen Kibum. The 23-year-old was reportedly so affected by his removal from U-KISS that he had suicidal thoughts. Last April, he made his comeback in Korea with his first solo album Longing.

The multi-lingual Xander released his debut solo single “I Just”, after joining his new agency M Plus Entertainment. Apart from holding fan meets in various Asian cities, the 25-year-old also appeared on Arirang TV’s variety show Pops in Seoul and acted in Channel A’s Korean drama Immortal Masterpiece.

In 2013, Xander starred in his first movie 3 Peas in a Pod, which was produced and directed by local actress-turned-filmmaker Michelle Chong. Currently signed under Michelle’s artiste management company Left Profile for his activities in Singapore and Malaysia, the former U-KISS member is also the face of American apparel brand dENiZEN. 

U-KISS after Xander, Kibum and Dongho’s departure
U-KISS after Xander, Kibum and Dongho’s departure
23 Jul 2015

U-KISS after Xander, Kibum and Dongho’s departure

Photo: NH Media

Many KISS MEs were disappointed that their protests were ignored by the company and that the remaining members had kept silent about the entire incident. Despite the shake-up that was supposed to benefit the group, both U-KISS’ subsequent projects continued falling short of expectations.

As AJ is currently on hiatus, NH Media announced in May 2014 that a new member Jun will be added to the team. With the rise of a new generation of idol groups, U-KISS would need a lot more than changing the members’ line-up to stand out among the crowd.

Sunghee, Nicole, Jiyoung
Sunghee, Nicole, Jiyoung
23 Jul 2015

Sunghee, Nicole, Jiyoung

Photos: DSP Media

Former group: Kara

What happened?
A year after Kara debuted in 2007, Sunghee withdrew from the group due to parental pressure and new members Hara and Jiyoung were added to the line-up.

Nicole decided not to renew her contract with DSP Media when it expired in January this year, even though she expressed her wish to continue promoting with Kara under a different agency. Similarly, Jiyoung also chose to leave the company when her contract ended in mid-April to pursue other dreams.

Career as solo artistes
In preparation for her solo debut, Nicole is currently in the United States for dance and vocal lessons. The 22-year-old has been updating her fans with Instagram posts showing her training with reknowned choreographers such as Jermaine Browne.

As for Jiyoung, she is reportedly planning to follow in the footsteps of her ex-groupmate by flying to America for acting and English lessons.

Kara after Sunghee, Nicole and Jiyoung’s departure
Kara after Sunghee, Nicole and Jiyoung’s departure
23 Jul 2015

Kara after Sunghee, Nicole and Jiyoung’s departure

Photo: DSP Media

At “2014 Kamilia Day Fan Meeting” on May 24, which was also Kara’s first official group activity in five months, Gyuri, Seungyeon and Hara shared their frustrations and concern about their future.

A day later, Kamilias hung banners near the DSP Media building to proclaim their wish for Kara to continue as a trio. The fans were especially frustrated after the agency introduced a recruitment project to find new Kara members.

Their worries proved to be unfounded with new addition Youngji fitting right in with the other members. The budding star has even proven herself as quite the variety show gem with programmes such as Roommate.

Hwayoung, Ahreum
Hwayoung, Ahreum
23 Jul 2015

Hwayoung, Ahreum

Photos: MBK Entertainment

Former group: T-ara

What happened?
In July 2012, Core Content Media's CEO Kim Kwang-soo claimed that Hwayoung's contract was terminated due to numerous complaints about the T-ara member. Although Kwang-soo emphasised that Hwayoung’s departure “had nothing to do with bullying”, the controversy exploded as more people came forward to spill stories on the group.

A year after joining T-ara, Ahreum was announced to have left the group via a video released by the company in July 2013. It was said that the singer planned to pursue a solo career after her departure.

Career as solo artistes
Both Hwayoung and Ahreum have been staying under the radar, with no clear indication of their return. 

T-ara after Hwayoung and Ahreum’s departure
T-ara after Hwayoung and Ahreum’s departure
23 Jul 2015

T-ara after Hwayoung and Ahreum’s departure

Photo: MBK Entertainment

T-ara was badly hit by Hwayoung’s infamous exodus, as over 6000 fans dropped out of the official fan club shortly after the announcement, while many called for ticket refunds to the group’s first solo concert which was previously sold out.

A fansite even gathered “evidence” of the T-ara members bullying Hwayoung – such as their harsh tweets which were directed at Hwayoung, who was treated like an outcast even on TV programs – which fuelled a petition for the disbanding of the group.

To appease the fans, group activities were temporarily suspended and the members continued with their individual projects. T-ara's recent announcement that they will be making a group comeback was met with mixed responses - but only time will tell if they will be able to make a real splash with their return.

Wu Yifan (Kris), Luhan, Z.TAO (Tao)
Wu Yifan (Kris), Luhan, Z.TAO (Tao)
23 Jul 2015

Wu Yifan (Kris), Luhan, Z.TAO (Tao)

Photos: S.M. Entertainment

Former group: EXO

What happened?

Kris was the first to pack his bags and return to China, followed closely by Luhan. Tao also decided on the same after an emotional open letter from his father was published on Weibo. The trio’s names have since been deleted from EXO-M’s official Facebook profile although label S.M. Entertainment has never publicly announced any departures from the group.

Flying solo

Both Wu Yifan and Luhan have since been working on various acting projects, with the former also lending his voice to popular franchise Tiny Times for an alternate version of its theme song. Luhan has also returned to the recording studio, releasing tunes such as a collaboration with David Tao, ‘Please Come to The Great Wall to Ski’.

Tao – who now goes by the stage name Z.TAO – has gone down a different route, choosing to release a mini album instead. His dramatic teaser video for his release gave us a glimpse of how much effort was put into his solo work, but only time will tell if he will do well on his own.

EXO after their departures
EXO after their departures
23 Jul 2015

EXO after their departures

Photo: S.M. Entertainment

The last remaining Chinese member of the group, Lay, has been the source of heavy debate between those who think it’s only a matter of time before he leaves and those who feel that he should be given the chance to prove his dedication to the group.

It’s otherwise business as usual for the group, which put out their highly successful second studio album, EXODUS, earlier this year and is currently in the midst of their second concert tour, EXO From EXOPLANET #2 - The EXO'luXion.

Sunye, Sohee
Sunye, Sohee
23 Jul 2015

Sunye, Sohee

Photos: JYP Entertainment

Former group: Wonder Girls

What happened?

In one of the most peaceful departures on our list, Sunye and Sohee bade their farewells to the Wonder Girls ahead of the group’s long-awaited comeback. The group, which was regarded as one of the nation’s best at the peak of their popularity, put out numerous hit songs including ‘Nobody’, ‘Tell Me’ and ‘Be My Baby’.

This, however, is not the first time there has been a member switcharoo in the group. HyunA (currently in 4Minute) was with the group with the debut but left shortly due to health concerns. Sunmi was also inactive from 2010 onwards as she announced that she wanted to focus on her academics – but has now returned to the group for their upcoming comeback.

 What’s next for Sunye & Sohee?

As expressed in their farewell letters, Sunye will withdraw from the limelight and instead dedicate her life to her family. She is currently in the midst of a five-year missionary stint in Haiti.

Sohee also shared that instead of a singer; she will be focusing instead on her acting career and will instead cheer for the Wonder Girls from the sidelines. 

What’s next for the Wonder Girls?
What’s next for the Wonder Girls?
23 Jul 2015

What’s next for the Wonder Girls?

Photos: JYP Entertainment

Much hype has surrounded the Wonder Girls ahead of their impending comeback and they have not disappointed with the teasers of them rocking out to various instruments. A band concept, while not fresh, has rarely been seen in K-Pop girl groups, many of whom have been mocked for stripping down and performing overly suggestive dance routines as a quick road to fame.

Special Mention: TASTY
Special Mention: TASTY
23 Jul 2015

Special Mention: TASTY

Photos: DLXL's Weibo (@TASTYTWINS)

Technically, TASTY – now known as DLXL – didn’t leave their group. However, they’ve earned a spot in our gallery after the very public spat between them and their label, Woollim Entertainment after they left Korea and announced the end of all Korean activities.

They announced that they will be putting out a new single on July 26 – news that was met with an official statement by Woollim. Sharing that they unilaterally called the label’s head to inform them of the news on June 3, they continued that the twins were uncontactable until they announced their departure from Korea.

Continuing that they are still legally under contracts with the label, they stressed that their Chinese activities are violations of the bond and that they are blatantly ignoring the terms of their contracts.

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