With less than three weeks left until the year concludes, K-pop fans look forward to 2016 coming to an end. The biggest reason why is because 2016 was mostly a second “Kpopcalypse,” something we did not expect just two years after the first “Kpopcalypse.”It seemed as if every other month, an established K-pop group suffered either a member leaving or disbandment. Examples of the former include Jia leaving Miss A, Hyuna leaving (technically graduating) from Nine Muses, Sunhwa leaving Secret, and the last three original members of Rania — Di, T-ae, and Xia — leaving and forming a new girl group. As for examples of the latter, Kara disbanded back in February followed by 4minute about four months later.
However, the one K-pop group to suffer the most this year was 2NE1. Earlier this year during contract negotiations, it was revealed that Minzy, the maknae of the group, did not re-sign with YG Entertainment. Yang Hyun Suk promised 2NE1 would continue forward as a three-member girl group with CL, Dara, and Bom. Unfortunately, such a promise would not be kept as 2NE1 officially disbanded last month.
In summary, K-pop fans want 2016 to be over as they look forward to 2017. Yet, there is a possibility the debilitating state this year has brought might extend into the next starting with Wonder Girls. Reports now show that the veteran K-pop girl band might disband in January of 2017. At this moment, they are negotiating new contracts with JYP Entertainment.
News of Wonder Girls’ contracts expiring this coming month was first revealed by K-pop industry insiders, as reported by AllKpop. According to them, their contracts will expire in January, but a period of negotiation, which will either result in continued contractual partnership between Wonder Girls and JYP Entertainment or disbandment, will extend up to halfway through the upcoming month. In another report by Soompi, a representative of JYP Entertainment provided a statement confirming said contract negotiations.
“The contract for Wonder Girls ends in the middle of January 2017. The members are currently in discussion for a contract renewal.”
For newer K-pop fans who may not know who Wonder Girls are, they are a veteran K-pop girl group who became one of the biggest influences in Hallyu. Formed during the second generation of Hallyu alongside other popular K-pop acts like Super Junior, Big Bang, Kara, and Girls’ Generation, Wonder Girls was formed of five girls: Sunye, Sohee, Sunmi, Yeeun, and Hyuna. The latter had to leave before the girl group debuted due to health issues in which she would later make a name for herself in 4minute and as a soloist, and was replaced with Yubin. Officially, Wonder Girls made their debut in 2007. When Sunmi left in 2010, she was replaced with Hyerim. Eventually, Sohee would leave in 2014 followed by Sunye in mid-2015. It was also after Sunye’s departure Sunmi would return forming the current lineup of four members as a girl band.
The four-member girl band version of Wonder Girls consisting of Sunmi, Yeeun, Yubin, and Hyerim would need to make an impact since their last album prior to their lineup was an extended play (EP) or mini-album back in mid-2012. They did it with Reboot, an album that featured 80s music and prominent use of each member’s instrumental expertise. The album along with its title track song “I Feel You” was highly praised and was considered a signal to the K-pop community that Wonder Girls was back.
They would continue to make an impact in 2016 with a non-album single titled “Why So Lonely” (music video above). The song and music video were both highly praised for its innovation. Like how Reboot attempted 80s music, “Why So Lonely” attempted reggae with success. Overall, the song was a commercial success topping digital download charts and single album charts. Not only that, it won four first place trophies on The Show, M! Countdown, Inkigayo, and Music Bank.
On top of their success with “Why So Lonely,” Wonder Girls also made a cameo appearance in a cross-promotion music video with J.Y. Park, Conan O’Brien of the show Conan, and Steven Yeun of The Walking Dead fame. The song was titled “Fire” and it received a lot of attention from K-pop fans, Koreans, and U.S. audiences.
Let’s hope that Wonder Girls and JYP Entertainment can come to an agreement in continuing their contracts. However, if Wonder Girls does disband, it is understandable given the fact they went through almost ten years giving their all to K-pop fans, especially those who are Wonderful (official fan club of Wonder Girls).
[Featured Image by JYP Entertainment]