20141003_seoulbeats_snsdIf you never thought you’d see the day that SNSD stood proud as nine members strong, I’m afraid to say that the curtain has been called on that fluffy pink and candy coated dream. This week has been one of the most tumultuous and emotional weeks for K-pop fans around the globe, as both Jessica of SNSD and SM Entertainment have come forward to announce her departure from the ever-beloved SNSD. To bring everything full circle, let’s recap on the events that have unfolded in the last few days. 

On Sunday (US), Dispatch released breaking coverage of Jessica and her long time boyfriend Tyler Kwon leaving New York for Incheon around 4AM. The next day, rumors began circulating on the internet after a shocking post appeared on Jessica’s Weibo. Many defaulted to pointing the finger at a hacker, and tabled the post as a routine scare most likely produced by a fifteen year old anti with too much internet access and not enough homework to do.

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But the smoke was yet to clear. In the coming hours, both SME and Jessica spoke to the validity and, unfortunately, the truth of the matter.

An official statement from SME came on September 30th.

SM Entertainment has released its official statement on Jessica from Girls’ Generation.

SM Entertainment stated, “This spring, Jessica has notified the company that due to personal matters she would like to stop her team activities after one more album,” and that “while Jessica’s announcement was a surprise, the company and the members have put in their continuous effort and thought into deciding what is the best for Girls’ Generation.”

However in a recent situation where there has been a conflict of interest on whether or not GG activities should be a priority and Jessica has started her fashion business, we have come to an impasse despite the continuous discussion on maintaining the group.

In response the company has decided to advance the plan on promoting 8-member Girls’ Generation, and in the midst of discussing when to make such announcement, Jessica has written her post from her own point of view.

Henceforth the company plans to provide continuous support and management for both the 8-member Girls’ Generation and Jessica’s solo activities.

And thus, the wildfire began.

So, the conflict of interest, you may be wondering? For those of you that don’t know, Jessica has been extremely busy building her own fashion line with fellow investor and boyfriend Tyler Kwon called BLANC. The brand launched in early August and is stocked with fashion, accessories, and fragrance for the F/W 2015 fashion cycle. Upon site launch, www.blancgroup.com crashed almost immediately due to high traffic.

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Apparently SME and Jessica were in agreement that this would be Jessica’s little side project while SNSD remained her priority, particularly during SNSD’s upcoming new promo cycle. Jessica had supposedly agreed to one final album before formally departing, but her growing expansion, success, and motives for BLANC have kept her more preoccupied than previously anticipated.

Thus after tensions peaked, Jessica was cut by her label of fifteen years due to unmanageable time conflicts between Jessica’s private projects and her responsibilities to SNSD. SME reports that Jessica was informed, while Jessica clearly and adamantly states that she was ousted.

She quickly went on to release her own formal statement to the press.

Hello. This is Jessica.

On Sept. 29th, I had been given a notice to leave Girls’ Generation and could not hide the shock and disappointment from the news.

As a member of Girls’ Generation I have always put GG activities as my first and foremore priority over my personal life or business. But despite my effort and dedication to the team, the company has informed me that I am to leave the group.

From the preparation stage and until very recently I had discussed and asked for support from the SM Entertainment and the members about my business that I had a personal interest in.

This early August I have received the permission from SM to carry out my business along with my entertainment activities, and have begun my business with the blessings from the members.

But in less than a month from launching the brand, the members have changed their stance and called for a meeting, and demanded that I either take my hands off the business or leave Girls’ Generation, without any explanation or reasoning. I have explained to them that I have received the permission from the company, have never strayed from my role in GG, and that I could not halt my business activities due to a contract for BLANC established with related business partners. In conclusion, I persuaded that it was an unfair demand to choose between the two, because being a member of Girls’ Generation had been the best thing that happened to my life, and I had never thought of quitting the group.

In distraught, I met a represenatative of the company on Sept. 16th to discuss my stance, and have again received the permission to carry out my business.

However on Sept. 29th I have received an unilateral demand from the company to leave Girls’ Generation. Because of the event, I was not able to attend the fan meeting scheduled in China on Sept. 30th, and have been excluded from participitating in all GG activites.

I cannot hide my sadness and have been deeply hurt by the demand to leave Girls’ Generation, made by the company and my fellow members I have been with for the past 15 years.

I would also like to apologize to the fans that I have worried against my will. I hope you understand that this situation is not what I wanted, that I have, and will always cherish Girls’ Generation. Thank you so much for your continuous love and support.

As Jessica points out, she was barred from attending the fanmeets she rushed home from NYC for, and only eight glittering members of SNSD took the stage in China that day, seeming equally out of sync and at times, even somewhat distraught.

Following this drama, many news outlets were quick to report that Jessica and Tyler Kwon were engaged to marry next year, but Tyler squashed the rumors almost immediately via a post to his Weibo account.

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Most recently, Taeyeon spoke out at the TTS fansign on October first, only to break out in tears.

Right from the start, I’ve only wanted  to protect Girls’ Generation. That’s all I am thinking about. I’m sorry for making you all go through this. From now on, we will try harder to make sure only good things to happen.

Dispatch also released an interesting article called Q&D: Question and Dispatch on the matter, featuring input from some of Jessica’s “close acquaintances.” However, while it is juicy and jammed packed full of answers, I would still recommend you read it with caution. None of the testimony is official, nor cited, nor is it from either Jessica, Tyler, SME, or any of the SNSD members. For a translated version, click here.

And that’s that folks. The end of an era, the closing of a book, the last of WonSoKa to finally dissolve out of the spotlight and become…real people?
While it has been an overwhelming week for us all, and probably only more salt in the wound having all the evidence summed up and thrown back at you in one article, I think it might be worth straddling the fence here with some rationality.

20141002_seoulbeats_snsd_jessicaBecause I for one think this is a genius move on Jessica’s part. I’ve never been a huge SONE, not a particular lover of all things Jessica, but this actually seems like an intelligent and mature career move. What makes this even more exciting for Jessica is the fact that idols are usually only the faces of a brand — they don’t generally launch their own. It takes a huge amount of time, energy, and investment to go forward in a branding process alone, much less create stuff out of it, and it is a huge undertaking that will certainly turn Jessica from candy-toting pop princess into business woman extraordinaire.

And why not fashion? She is already a huge style icon–okay, and yes, she’s disgustingly beautiful, fine I said it–well versed in the industry, earnest about formal schooling in design (hence the NY trips), and toeing a line that basically could equate to a cult following of rabid fangirls and boys who would just eat this kind of thing up.

And with SM already in negotiation to release Jessica from a contract that has soaked up much of her life, all in all everything sums up quite nicely. Jessica is clearly on her way to growing up and pursuing bigger and better things. I’m actually impressed she could be so business savvy in her downtime, rather than relying on a few radio and variety stints here and there to pay the bills. Get your money, girl.

For many fans, the departure is a hard pill to swallow, and I can understand why many are up in arms. But perhaps more devastating to me is the way SME and Dispatch are spinning the press to vilify the ice queen into witch. Take it from a girl who has almost never taken SNSD’s side; What SME and Dispatch are releasing (and most likely because SME is handing Dispatch the fodder with which they can feed the flames) is utterly out of taste.

So Jessica cops out of one studio album to pursue a foundation for the rest of her adult life out of the spotlight? She gave fifteen years of her young life to live under the scrutiny of the K-pop machine and under the rule of one the biggest entertainment companies in Korea, to live as an idol constantly under a microscope to serve her fans and her community. And now she packs her things and heads off to more promising ventures at a time when we all must agree SNSD has run its course, and many of us have pointed the finger and called her ‘selfish’ and ‘ungrateful.’

Unfortunately, SME and Dispatch have partnered to play the blame game, effectively leaving Jessica backhandedly labeled as unloyal to her company, her members, and her fans. This undoubtedly is why many fans have a bitter taste in their mouths, and feel the need to lash out against Jessica for leaving. It makes me a little sick to see such a prestigious entertainment agency turn their back on one of their highest grossing stars, all because if she walks, so does one of their revenue making tools. SME’s treatment of Jessica in this situation ultimately boils down to just that–SME viewing Jessica as a liability and nothing more. While they may insist they had her dreams and future in mind, actions still speak louder than words.

20141003_seoulbeats_snsd_jessica3This a unique situation in which Jessica can evolve, and not just retire and fade into obscuity. Jessica no longer figures as just an idol star, she now figures as a young adult woman with plans to grow and expand outside of SNSD. But instead of rolling over on her wealth, disappearing off the radar, or even switching entertainment fields to keep paychecks coming, Jessica is pushing her own narrative forward by parting ways with her longtime affiliation with SNSD and SME and trying to claim stakes of her own. It is an incredibly brave and commendable plan for a young woman to launch and market an entire brand, and it is an utter shame that SME and Dispatch have set out to frame it all in scandal.

This is the first time I’ve seen a mainstream idol part ways with music world and do something equally as adventurous with their post-idol life. And all of Jessica’s popularity promises the success of her brand and her success as a business woman. It is a huge opportunity for her to become a new kind of role model, and an even more exciting opportunity for us as fans to cheer her on as she sets out to conquer new territory.

With all that said, and despite all our pain, I urge you all to wish Jessica well and to stand on her side. While idols growing up and growing out of the biz is no one’s favorite hot topic, it is important to put our love for our idols in the right place at the right time.

In the wake of the changing dynamic of SNSD, don’t look to Jessica with blame. SME is only out to make us all bitter because they’re bitter, and bitter because one of their most lucrative and devoted artists is channeling her own talent and work-ethic into projects of her own. But whether or not Jessica was ready to be cut from the line-up, she’s still ready to take on the world of fashion, and that demands its own respect. So put down your pitchforks all, because though the princess has been thrown down and out of SM-dom, she rises as a new queen in her own right.

(Jessica’s Weibo [1][2], Tyler Kwon’s WeiboNaver, Sports DongA, Seoul Daily, Youtube[1], Dispatch, Livejournal. Images via: 1st Look Korea, SM Entertainment, Blanc)