I feel like we as K-pop fans have had to say goodbye a cruel number of times this year. With Kris, Jessica, Luhan, Lee Joon, and Thunder leaving the K-pop scene, B.A.P suing their company, and of course EunB and RiSe tragically leaving this world (leaving the rest of Ladies’ Code at least for a while out of the industry), it is as though K-pop imploded on itself this year.
Kris came as a totally shock. I mean, I wasn’t surprised that someone was suing SM, because frankly they deserve it, but the fact that it was one of the leaders of quite possibly THE most popular group in Korea, not even having a full three years in the industry under his belt is what came as a shock. My first thought was that something must be seriously wrong for him to call it quits after such a short period of time. I wasn’t a huge fan of Kris, so I was not that emotionally sad about him leaving, but my heart ached for the remaining Chinese members who stayed. They are probably facing similar unfair treatment by the staff, and it is totally understandable that they would feel betrayed by Kris for leaving without telling them.
Because of this, I was not surprised at all about Luhan leaving. What was shocking for me was that someone in Luhan’s position in EXO was leaving the group. SM uses him quite a bit as a lead vocalist and dancer. Him leaving would actually shake things up, with the other members needing to fill in his parts and SM needing to rearrange how the background vocals in the future songs are going to be done without one of their prominent voices. I’m not saying that Luhan was any more important to EXO or EXO-Ls than Kris, but in terms of the actual damage and disruption one would cause the company by leaving, I think Luhan’s departure had more of an effect. Kris had significantly less parts in their songs, all of which could easily be covered by Tao or Xiumin, but Luhan is one of the two lead vocalists, and a lead dancer. Together, he and Chen sing practically half of each of EXO-M’s songs.
Inititally, I still wasn’t emotionally sad though. I really like Luhan, but not enough to be emotionally distraught.
The feelings for both of them finally hit me one day, maybe a month after the Luhan news came out, when EXO-M’s Don’t Go came on my iPod. It was the first EXO song I had heard since the news. Hearing Luhan’s voice made me realize just how much EXO would be missing without him. It’s one thing to think of Luhan and Kris leaving and being on their own, but there is a whole other set of feelings imagining the rest of EXO going on without them. I thought of all of those Kris moments on “EXO Showtime” that we would never see again. All of the HunHan and LuLay moments that are now in the past. Hearing Luhan’s voice in that song, I couldn’t even imagine an EXO-M song without it.
However, while SMTOWN is my family and EXO is one of my favorite groups, nothing hit me harder among these stories than Lee Joon and Thunder leaving MBLAQ.
MBLAQ has been there almost since the beginning for me. After my Super Junior craze died down and I started exploring other K-pop groups, MBLAQ was among the first I found. Mona Lisa was one of the first K-pop songs I added to my iPod. MBLAQ was never in my top ten groups, but they were always one of my favorites (like they could have been #11 if I counted that far).
Ever since laying eyes on that Mona Lisa music video, Lee Joon was always my favorite. Initially, it was because of his dancing, and then eventually also his looks and voice, but once I got to know his personality…oh my God. He is hilarious. I know everyone goes crazy for his looks and body, but his personality is really a huge part of why I like him and why he is one of my ultimate biases.
Call me selfish, but the real reason why MBLAQ’s news affects me the most is because it is the first time my actual bias is leaving a group. I’m really going to miss seeing him in MBLAQ’s music videos. Since he’s going to be focused on acting, we probably won’t be seeing him on variety shows anymore, and that really makes me sad because he is literally made for variety shows. I can’t listen to MBLAQ songs anymore without feeling sad. They were so perfect as five.
In MBLAQ’s case, I am happy that Joon and Thunder at least left on good terms. They left at an appropriate time, when their contracts expired. It was cordial, and I am sure all five members can still be friends even if they aren’t coworkers anymore.
(For the record, I think G.O, Seungho, and Mir should still continue as a trio. Of course it won’t be the same, but they could create something really new and good with just the three of them.)
As far as Jessica goes, my only real reaction was shock at the way she left. She did not choose to leave; she was kicked out. Obviously none of us know the real situation, but I am just shocked that after all these years, whatever disagreement that happened couldn’t have been resolved and it came down to forcing her to leave against her will. I knew other girl groups had internal problems (look at what happened with T-ara), but my naïve mind always figured Girls’ Generation wouldn’t have problems like that.
The reason why I say that all of this is bittersweet is because I think all of these people will be better off now. After being part of such a controlling system, they will hopefully finally be able to have some control over their careers. I wish all of them the best and I hope B.A.P are able to get out and then move to a company where they can make music while being treated the way they deserve.
(Amidst all of this, I know we all have been holding our favorite groups close, hoping that they don’t break up or lose a member. I think Super Junior and VIXX are both groups with strong enough relationships that they wouldn’t have to experience a bad breakup, but you never know. I hope I’m right though. I couldn’t watch anyone in either of my two favorite groups walk away like this.)
Question of the Day:
What did you think of all of these people leaving their groups? Was there anyone in particular that affected you the most?
#NowPlaying: 12 Months by MBLAQ. One of my favorite songs by them. Even if it was a mini album, their Broken album is one of the best albums to come out this year in my opinion. Even though it hasn’t been nominated for an awards, it wins Album of the Year for me.