Short of an announcement proper, Busker Busker of Superstar K3 fame appears to be on the brink of disbandment. In a turn of events that is, really, not as surprising as it might be at first glance, founding member Jang Bum-joon has struck out on his own, setting up his own one-man agency and has begun sourcing for investments from various record companies, including the entertainment conglomerate CJ E&M (Jang had previously been signed to first CJ E&M and then Chungchun Music, but as of 2013, both contracts had ended).
Given these circumstances, it appears that a disbandment is on the books for the trio. While Busker Busker’s three released albums (including Busker Busker 1st Wrap Up Album) were all successes on the charts, with Love, At First in particular picking up numerous wins on music shows, the group has never been on close personal terms, which has led to a lack of releases (only two full albums since 2011).
And understandably so — Busker Busker started out as a loose formation, with the bulk of its members mainly from the Cheonan campus of Sangmyung University. The three members (Jang, Kim Hyung-tae and Brad Moore) who appeared on Superstar K3 were basically signed up because they were the only three available to commit to the show. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that while probably not on hostile terms, the relationship the members shared was founded on transactional understandings — just business.
Furthermore, the group has never appeared to be particularly stable membership-wise, with difficulties in communication and practising leading to a lack of musical output. Kim is known to have taken up a day job at a company, also known as committing himself to climb the corporate ladder (who’s got time for music in the rat race?).
Moore, on the other hand, has always had a rather transient manner about him — flying back to the States for the Christmas holidays when the band was supposed to be on the Superstar K3 Top 11 Concert Tour, saying that he had intended to go back to teaching after the whole reality show business ended. Heck, the guy doesn’t even speak Korean that well, which reeks of detachment not just from the other two native band members (even if they CAN speak decent English), but from the culture and country as a whole. Evidently, Moore was never in this for the long term.
In light of the manner in which Busker Busker as we know it came to be and has operated thus far, the K-Netizen accusations of Jang committing “betrayal” and having “a problem with his character” appear to be, really, a little far-fetched. The guy has distinguished himself with his talent (he composed most of the group’s hits) and was clearly the musical centre of Busker Busker, even when it was a scattered network of occasional musicians.
Now that he has capitalised sufficiently on Superstar K3 fame and distinguished himself with his skills in composition and singing, it seems to be an ideal time to strike out on his own. Jang, at this point, hardly needs the other members. While it would still be a stretch to say they were mere accessories to his talent (Brad’s “international feel” was crucial to even getting them on the talent show in the first place), with the other two members not demonstrating the same commitment to music, his decision is actually quite reasonable.
As far as we know, Jang is not violating any contracts or agreements. He is going about setting up a position for himself in the industry where he can continue to write and live on good songs. Given his musical chops, heading out on his own appears a sustainable and viable choice, especially if the people he first struck big with aren’t as keen as he is on maintaining their place and progressing in the industry.
Personally, I say: you go do you, sir. It’s just business after all.