Why Are So Many K-Pop Groups Calling It Quits Now?

With so many K-pop bands splitting up and calling it quits over the past year, could K-pop as we know it be a dying breed of music? Or is it just transitioning into something else? There have now been seven South Korean pop groups which have decided to part ways over the past 12 months, and this is calling into question the future of K-pop bands. In fact, two groups alone have split since the start of 2017. But what is behind this phenomenon?

On Friday, the K-pop group Wonder Girls put out their final single. The Wonder Girls have been in existence for a decade and were the very first K-pop group that made it onto the US Billboard Hot 100 in 2009 with their huge hit song “Nobody.”

CNN reports that industry figures out for the year 2017 are showing that this is proving to be a very interesting year for K-pop, with many fans curious about the fate of South Korean pop music. Fans on Twitter, in particular, are extremely concerned about this “era ending.”

B1A4 at the PyeongChang 2018 One Year to Go Ceremony in South Korea on February 9, 2017. [Image by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images]

Paul Han, who runs a popular website called allkpop which features K-pop news and gossip about groups, has said that he finds it disheartening to see so many bands splitting up.

“It’s pretty sad to see these groups disband. You could see that their popularity has waned from their peak and naturally they receive less promotions and eventually disband.”

Other K-pop groups who have split up include Big Bang, who are called by the media the “Kings of K-pop.” Big Bang played their last concert in January. Like the Wonder Girls, they have been around for ten years. The girl groups Rainbow, I.O.I., 2NE1, 4Minute, and Kara have also split up, despite these groups having sold millions of albums while filling up stadiums everywhere.

South Korean pop music has been in existence for a long time now, having started life in the early 1990s. Different labels such as DSP, YG, and JYP have helped to create the K-pop phenomenon by essentially creating a system where stars could be trained for different forms of art like movies, music and soap operas.

It was 2009 when K-pop became a worldwide phenomenon, due in large part to the Wonder Girls, who were show openers for the Jonas Brothers when they toured. After the Wonder Girls, the song “Alive” was released by the group Big Bang. “Alive” was the very first song on a K-pop record which was sung in the Korean language and which also made it onto the Billboard 200.

However, some claim that it was really PSY in the year 2012 who really made South Korean pop music a worldwide hit when the song “Gangnam Style” was released. This song shot to the number two position on the Billboard 200 and was a massive success for PSY.

Tamar Herman, who is responsible for covering K-pop on Billboard, has said, “K-pop really garnered an external following outside of Asia,” and suggested that the groups disbanding has occurred for a variety of reasons.

One of the reasons for this large number of groups splitting up, Herman says, is because K-pop contracts normally last for seven years. Since so many of the bands began in 2009 and 2010, the fact that their contracts are ending is why many are deciding to go their separate ways now.

South Korean fans show a picture of a K-pop band in Suwon, South Korea on June 18, 2016. [Image by Jean Chung/Getty Images]

The Fuse TV Senior Editor Jeff Benjamin has also suggested that many of the groups who have split up have been female, which is not surprising to him as he feels that the K-pop boy bands are what he terms “better investments.”

“In the end, it feels like there is ultimately a shorter investment window with girl groups, who do tend to sell more singles than boy bands, but that doesn’t help the bottom line as much as album sales and tours would, and it seems like those factors would make a group quicker to throw in the towel.”

If you are a big fan of K-pop, what is your point of view on this subject and why do you think that so many groups are disbanding all of a sudden?

[Featured Image by Sara Kauss/Getty Images]

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