Okay, so that title may have been exaggerated, and after all, there have been groups that have managed to keep their name with just half their members still there (witness 2BSK). Still, the impending departure of key members are bound to change group dynamics, and the sudden nature of the news is bound to cause some discussion among fans about the group’s future.
The news, which first broke on Japanese media, spoke of the latest round of contract renegotiations between KARA and DSP Media. What was supposed to have been a simple business formality took an interesting turn when DSP Media suddenly announced that while three of the five members Gyuri, Seungyeon and Goo Hara decided to renew their contracts for the next three years, both Nicole and Jiyoung have decided to just let their contracts run out and then leave the group.
In the case of Nicole, who played an instrumental role in international fan relations (given her command of English) as well as the obligatory klutz in the early days of KARA and their attempts at reality due to her weak Korean, she would be leaving next January. Details of her future endeavours are still uncertain, but whether it would be marriage, furthering her studies, acting or just going off to leave quietly ever after, I would still thank her for the entertainment she provided on TV, and wish her all the best.
On the other hand, the youngest member Jiyoung, whose contract runs out next April makes for a less clearer proposition. While the official press release mentioned that she was exploring future options in studying or a solo career, it was also clear that all her plans were still in consideration, and things might still change as of going to print.
Some might have suspected that DSP could have seen this coming given the contract disputes in early 2011, which might have lead to future misgivings about contract renewals.
If there is one thing certain from the press release, it is that with three members, KARA would still continue to promote as a group and continue with performing both in Japan and Korea.
The only thing that remains is which direction would the group take after members leave. Would they be like the Japanese pop groups with whom they perform in tandem (lots of tears shed at departures, but life goes on with change), or like 2BSK (not too many tears shed, business as usual) or like After School (still reeling from the loss of Kahi)?