As if 2017 couldn’t get any more tumultuous, it seems K-pop is determined to keep fans on edge, anticipating—as has become the catch phrase of the last few years—who’s next. On Feb. 6, we got that answer, and all of K-pop fandom let out a collective cry of heartbreak. CJ E&M announced vocal powerhouse SPICA will be taking their final bow.
SPICA have been together for five years, and in that half-decade they’ve managed to shake up the K-pop industry with their larger-than-life vocals and affinity for concepts a bit left-of-center. It’s certainly a shame to see groups with so much nuance and vocal depth say good-bye.
When the news first broke out on various news media, it had not yet been decided if the ladies would be disbanding completely or if they would find a way to continue on as a quintet at a different agency. But on Feb. 8, CJ E&M officially announced the girls will be going their separate ways:
After much consideration and discussion with the members, the decision has been made to focus on their individual activities. Moving forward, we hope that everyone will continue to support SPICA (Kim Boa, Park Sihyun, Yang Jiwon, Narae, Kim Bohyung), who will be working hard on their own from now on
-A CJ E&M spokesperson
According to a translated edaily news article, their contract was officially meant to end two years from now, but there were conflicting ideas concerning future activities (1). A spokesperson with the agency stated the women of SPICA were still in talks with the company’s stakeholders about the group’s future when the news broke that they were ending their contract earlier than expected.
Members Kim Bohyung and Park Sihyun posted a handwritten letter from the group to their fans to their Instagram accounts. In the letter, the members first apologized to their fans, then explained in order give them a bit of closure, they worked hard to “sort[ed] everything out…” In the midst of the letter, however, the group gave everyone of the Mercury fandom a ray of hope, stating,
Looking at the current situation, although we can’t say for sure how much longer we can stay together as ‘SPICA’.. But we have to say this to everyone! This is definitely not the end. Please support us as individuals who will meet everyone with good images!
The news comes shortly after the announcement of Wonder Girls’ disbandment at the culmination of their contract with JYP Entertainment. Though the wording suggests SPICA will try to reconnect in the future, the nature of the business, especially for women, does not bode well. While forever optimistic, the inevitability of dissolution is a heavy shadow hovering over every fandom.
SPICA’s is just one in a string of disbandments announced within the last couple months. The sudden surge in group endings has a disheartening common thread: every single group was all-female. Fans saw the likes of KARA, 4Minute, Rainbow, 4L, and for many, the most jarring (though arguably the least surprising) 2NE1 officially say their good-byes in the latter half of 2016.
The seemingly rapid-fire dissolution of so many female K-pop groups is disconcerting at best, downright deplorable at worst. It’s the product of an upsetting pattern in the Korean pop industry—lack of proper promotion, merchandising, and attention ultimately resulting in the break up of many groups who were either in their prime or had the potential to see a bit of longevity. While many cite the end of group contracts as the main reason for so many girl groups falling apart, many all-male groups share the same renewal year for their contracts as their female peers. Why, then, is it so common for female groups to dissolve? It’s a question worth exploring and most certainly a pattern warranting further investigation.
It’s certainly a shame to see groups with so much nuance and vocal depth leave us. In an industry where flash and rabid fandom culture keep a group alive, it’s rare to see a unit that really raises the bar in terms of technique and vocal excellence. We saw it with Big Mama in the early 2000s, and with SPICA we’ve lost another vocal giant who had the talent, vision, and poise to go further than they ultimately did.
As with all of their comebacks, there’s always the possibility of SPICA reinventing themselves, moving on to greener pastures to bring their fans a transformed and reinvigorated group sometime much further down the line.
The letter closes with SPICA thanking their dedicated Mercury fandom, expressing their undying gratitude and love for the fans who kept their spirits up. As the sun sets on this vocal tour de force, all fans and K-music admirers alike can do is thank them for the five years of unique music, style, and exceptional class.
[B2M Entertainment Facebook; Officially KMUSIC; OSEN; BNT News (translation by omonatheydidnt); edaily news (translated by @Spica_tweets); Kim Bohyung Instagram; Park Sihyun Instagram (letter translated by @rightclick5ave).]