So, after months of speculation, the moment Pink Pandas have long feared finally happened – Naeun has officially bid farewell to her group for more than 10 years, Apink. After deciding to not renew her contract with Play M Entertainment (now IST) in April last year and signing to YG Entertainment as an actress, many opined that it wouldn’t be long before the group’s visual center would also leave her group.  Naeun silenced the naysayers, saying she would still be promoting with her groupmates in Apink even if she started focusing more on her career as an actress. However, the schedules clashed, and Apink had to, unfortunately, take a pause in their 10th-anniversary activities following the involvement of the group’s leader, Chorong, in a bullying scandal. 

When the air was finally cleared and the group was about to promote their much-delayed special anniversary album, Horn, Naeun had to sit it out. She was allegedly busy with a new drama program, although she was part of recording the album and the music video. When this sequence of events unfolded, the Pandas braced themselves as they felt Naeun’s departure was inevitable. On April 8, eleven days before the group’s 11th anniversary, Naeun and IST made her departure official.   

But this departure is not actually the first time the group experienced losing a member. In 2013, two years after their debut and before releasing what was to be their breakout success, Apink lost Yookyung, who wanted to pursue a university education. Yookyung’s departure was quite amicable and was not considered a major loss. This was due to the fact the group had then yet to score mainstream success and the lineup was still not fixed in the public consciousness. 

On the other hand, Naeun’s departure became controversial because of the surrounding circumstances that may have contributed to her decision, including the delayed comeback, her change of management agency, and her personality in general. Naeun, with her more reserved personality, may not have been a perfect match with the outgoing and extroverted personalities of the group. Be that as it may, they did work on their relationship throughout their decade, and while it was obvious that there are times that Naeun can suddenly go quiet on their backstage behind-the-scene videos and their reality shows, Pandas and even casual viewers never saw the girls ostracizing or “bullying” Naeun. 

Could this be the same for other groups, though? Here’s a list of some idols who departed from their groups with a lot of noise and intrigue. 

Left or Kicked Out? Jessica from SNSD

September 30, 2014, is a day that will live in infamy, at least in the world of SONEs and pretty much the entire Korean pop music community. It was on this day that Jessica, on her Weibo account, told the world that she had been “forced out” of her group, Girls’ Generation. According to insiders, what happened was,  after the release of Catch Me If You Can and their Tokyo Dome concert, Jessica was supposed to put her singing career on hiatus so that she can focus on her other endeavors, particularly as the owner of her fashion company, Blanc Group. With Catch Me If You Can and its music video recorded and the send-off for Sica already planned and ready for execution, the Ice Princess allegedly changed her mind and told the group and SM that she wants to continue to be an SNSD member while running her business. It was reported that the company asked the eight girls to take a vote on whether Jessica will stay or not, and in the end, the NOs won.

Whether this is true or not still remains to be seen, as both parties have been skirting around the issue even after eight years. It is also important to note that as of today, Seohyun, Tiffany, and  Sooyoung have also left SM, but are still pretty much chummy with the members who opted to stay with the company. When the entire group was interviewed last year on Yoo Quiz on the Block, all eight are still very much open to a reunion project, which shows that there seems to be no bad blood among them and the company. While it has been reported that some members still keep in touch with Sica, it is quite a foregone conclusion that there will never be an SNSD reunion project that will include her. Well, never say never, eh?     

Bullying and Continuous Harassment: Jimin from AOA

Here is a story of a group that turned very ugly. To set the records straight, before the Jimin-Mina issue exploded, AOA already lost two members – Youkyung of the subunit AOA Black in October 2016 and their main vocalist ChoA in June 2017. There was not a lot of talk about Youkyung’s departure as she wasn’t really considered a member of the core group that has hits such as Like a Cat, Miniskirt, Short Hair, and Heart Attack, but ChoA’s departure due to “health issues” became the subject of much speculation. But then, since ChoA didn’t allude to any bad feelings towards her group, people didn’t really consider her departure as a red flag. 

Then, Mina decided not to renew her contract with FNC Entertainment in May 2019 to focus on her acting career. This left the group with five members – Jimin, Seolhyun, Yuna, Hyejeong, and Chanmi. But the group’s career got a second wind after Queendom, as it renewed public interest for the group as they proved that they have hidden aces even as they already lost their main vocalist ChoA. You can say that thanks to Queendom, the public fell in love with the group again, despite their depleted line-up and other incidents that have put them in an unfavorable light (e.g., Seolhyun and Jimin getting a lot of flak after failing to identify a famous Korean historical figure in one of the episodes of their reality show). To be fair to the girls, they killed most of their performances on Queendom, and their EP and song they released after the show, New Moon and Come See Me, respectively, still managed to chart.  

The COVID-19 came and Mina for some reason had a very public meltdown on Instagram. We cannot really chronicle the number of times Mina has opened, closed, deactivated, and reactivated her Instagram account, because that sequence of events merits its own article. But what is related to AOA were her first “revelations” where she pointed out that even since their days as a trainee, Jimin (who eventually went on to be the leader of AOA) already bullied her by picking on her and other trainees and eventually members. She went on to enumerate the incidents when Jimin bullied her, including the time when she was not allowed to mourn the death of her father (who later she revealed to be abusive towards her and her mom), and the various times she was verbally and physically abused (punching and slapping) by their leader. She also involved the group’s center Seolhyun, claiming that she was Jimin’s henchwoman and in most instances would just sit back and witness the abuse instead of stopping Jimin. 

Eventually, Mina posted a picture of her bloodied wrist that has a slash wound and captioned it with a revelation that she attempted suicide during her time with AOA because of the bullying she got from Jimin and Seolhyun. But then, days later it was revealed that she was embroiled in a cheating scandal, and his ex’s affairs, while they were still a couple, were what pushed her to end her life. She also stated that Jimin and she actually reconciled when it was the rapper’s dad who died and it was her turn to comfort her. But as soon as the first Instagram posts were released, Jimin was quick to act, resigning from her position in the group and retiring from the entertainment industry altogether while issuing an apology to Mina. 

But as mentioned earlier, this did not stop Mina from conducting various dramatic revelations on Instagram, after which she decides to announce that she will be quitting SNS, but only to return a few weeks later. She has revealed everything from the first time she was sexually abused to posting a picture of her smoking in a non-smoking hotel room having everybody seriously advising her to stay away from social media altogether and seek help for her unstable mental condition. Also, much of the online chatroom conversations among AOA members have been revealed, with Jimin apologizing as early as 2019, before the pandemic which Mina took as an opportunity for her various expose. Even after Jimin already left the group and thus, the chatroom, it was revealed that Mina continually harassed her and her family. It has also been revealed that Mina uses FNC’s resources for her personal errands, such as setting up appointments for her mom.    

On the other hand, it seems that Jimin couldn’t stay away from the limelight that long because as of January 2022, she released a new song with a music video on her birthday. While she has also returned to Instagram, still has not returned to AOA yet. 

High-Profile Mass Exodus: Yeonwoo, Taeha, and Daisy from Momoland

When it comes to groups losing so many members at one time, this may be a common occurrence when it is time to the members to renew their contracts with the companies that created the groups. Such was the case with After School, where all except one, Nana, has opted to stay with the company, while eleven (yes, 11) have opted to not continue their careers under Pledis Entertainment. The agency claimed this is actually in sync with the group’s original “graduation” concept, where the members would have to leave the group after some time. That same is true with Lovelyz, where only leader Baby Soul decided to renew her contract with Woolim while the other seven chose to join other companies; although there was no word on whether the group has permanently disbanded. 

However, things are a bit different with the group Momoland, which only debuted in 2016 and experienced massive success with their 2018 release Bboom Bboom. The follow-up singles Baam and I’m So Hot were still successful, but unfortunately did not rise to the level of Bboom Bbom’s popularity. But then, trouble erupted when in November 2019, MLD Entertainment (then Duble Kick Company but was renamed after the group’s phenomenal success) announced the departure of Yeonwoo and Taeha from the group, and stated that they were in discussions with Daisy about her future in the group. Thus, when 2019 ended with the group’s release Thumbs Up, they were officially three members down, although it is important to note that Daisy and Taeha were already not part of the previous MMLD comeback I’m So Hot in March 2019. 

In January 2020, Daisy stated that the show Finding Momoland was fraudulent and had deceived viewers by manipulating the votes. She claimed that after her elimination, she was contacted by the agency with an offer to join the group. MLD Entertainment denied the claims, and stated they would be taking legal action against Daisy. But it wasn’t until May 13, 2020 when it was announced that Daisy had left the group.

So, what caused these fallouts with the company years before their contract renewal and pretty much only recently after their success?

First, let’s start with Yeonwoo. When she quit, MLD Entertainment released a statement on Momoland’s fancafe saying, “While Yeonwoo has had deep affection for her Momoland activities, she has decided that continuing together with her actress activities would be too much strain for both her team and herself so to leave the team and concentrate on her career as our actress [under MLD Entertainment].“

Then, months later, Yeon-woo in her SNS posts, “Everyone. How many people are brave enough to give up their youth for a new start? I don’t have that kind of boldness. I don’t even have the will to do that.” “I endured it, I endured it, I endured it, but there was no use. I didn’t betray you because I wanted to do something else.”

So, does that sound like the company heavily suggested (aka eased her out) for her to leave Momoland? I guess what happened after was indicative of what Yeonwoo really wanted for her career, because on January 19, it was confirmed that Yeonwoo signed an exclusive contract with 9ato Entertainment, which also happens to be the agency of star of the moment Han Sohee.

Taeha left the group together with Yeonwoo in 2019. However, it wasn’t until October 2020 when Taeha posted a video on her YouTube channel, revealing her reasons for leaving Momoland: So that she could express herself in her own voice. She also shared that she doesn’t keep in touch with the Momoland members as much as she would like to, as their busy schedules make it difficult. However, she did reveal that she hangs out with Daisy from time to time.

Finally, we have Daisy who already had a lot of beef with her company even before she official parted ways with them in 2020. As mentioned earlier, she spilled a lot of tea even when she was still technically with the company, claiming that the reality competition that created Momoland is rigged. Since then, lawsuits from both parties have been filed, which Daisy actually won, though the company has filed an appeal. Daisy has continued her university education and keeps in touch ith fans through her SNS and YouTube videos. 

Now, if you think the case of female idols getting kicked out of or leaving their groups is common, wait until we refresh your memory of male idols and their groups! Stay tuned for this list.   

Featured Image: Apink Official Twitter