20160426_seoulbeats_beast_hyunseungSo it has finally happened. After months of confusion, mixed signals, and denials, Hyunseung is officially leaving Beast. Just over a week ago, Cube Entertainment announced that while Hyunseung will remain under Cube, he will promote as a solo artiste instead, parting ways with his members after six years.

This move is hardly surprising, though, given the controversy that has surrounded Hyunseung and Beast since late 2015. The first sign of alarm had been Hyunseung’s absence from the Seoul Grand Fan Meeting in September 2015. While it is not uncommon for members to be absent from events due to conflicting schedules, this particular absence of Hyunseung’s had been particularly controversial for two main reasons.

Firstly, there had been no prior notice given by Cube that Hyunseung would be unable to attend the event, especially when many fans had travelled from Japan just to meet the group. Secondly, while the official reasons stated for his absence had been ‘personal reasons’, Hyunseung was later found to be on an alleged date in a cafe in Cheongdamdong, at the same time of the fan-meeting. Many fans were quick to defend the singer, however, noting that it had been a week prior to Hyunseung’s father’s death anniversary, and he might have been meeting his sister. The truth behind Hyunseung’s absence was never clarified, and Cube maintained that Hyunseung was officially excused from the meeting due to personal reasons. Cube also denied all rumours of Hyunseung leaving Beast.

As a one-off event, all was well in the weeks following this ‘café scandal’. However, more evidence of what netizens claimed to be an “attitude problem” by Hyunseung started cropping up soon after. A month after the café scandal, Beast had taken to Naver’s live broadcasting platform, V-App to celebrate their sixth anniversary through a live show that included fan interaction via the V-app live-feed comment section. It was during this broadcast when Hyunseung’s alleged attitude problem reared its ugly head.

Q (to Hyunseung): What was your most memorable moment with Beast in the past six years?

A: Getting my picture taken in a café. I have a private life too.

20160426_seoulbeats_beast[2]It is puzzling as to why Hyunseung would choose to mention this event at all if not in an apology, let alone choose it as his most memorable moment in the past six years. Even if he had had genuine reasons to be absent, it was an official event from which he was missing and there should have been an apology, at least, even if just a cursory one. But no, of course not – he goes, instead, and makes it out to be no fault on his part.

From then on, it all started to go downhill. In January 2016, netizens observed that Hyunseung had liked nude photos on Instagram. Given the public nature of Instagram and the fact that the singer has under-aged followers, this was, indeed, un-exemplary and inappropriate behaviour. Close on the heels of this new controversy, Hyunseung came under fire, again, in February, for having allegedly fallen asleep during an interview. Again, fans were quick to defend him, arguing that it was understandable that Hyunseung was exhausted given the unforgiving schedules that idols have.

But for the most part, it was clear that it was becoming increasingly difficult for fans to come up with plausible excuses for Hyunseung’s behaviour. The chain of events leading up to this point had already seen Hyunseung’s rapidly depleting popularity as fans increasingly expressed dissatisfaction, even compiling “evidence” of Hyunseung’s poor attitude over the years.

By the end of February, Cube Entertainment and, maybe, Hyunseung himself began to sense that the problems were not going to simply bury themselves. Really though, the possibility of the problem going away over time had disappeared in October 2015, in the moment when Hyunseung decided that his café photo was his most memorable moment in six years. Nevertheless, both Hyunseung and Cube Entertainment issued official apologies at the end of February, with Hyunseung admitting that everything had been “undeniably his fault”, and that he would strive to “express himself more sincerely”. He was also sorry for “making fans worry”, and would “sincerely work hard to better himself as an artist in the future to avoid similar controversy from happening”.

20150510_seoulbeats_hyunseungBut even with apologies all round, controversy continued to plague Hyunseung as he continued to be absent from various other events. Rumours regarding his departure from the group began brewing for a second time and again, Cube was quick quell them. But by this time, everything was starting to become tiresome.

Nothing was making sense, and nothing seemed to be changing despite the apologies and promises. Hyunseung was still absent from events; he was still seen completely separate from the rest of Beast in public despite sharing the same schedule; and most of all, there didn’t seem to be any real effort at all in presenting a united front to the public and to their fans.

Which leads us to the conclusion that perhaps, Beast couldn’t present a united front because there was never going to be one.

In hindsight, this lack of cohesion within Beast had perhaps been bubbling for a long time. In 2014 when Beast had been filming MBC every1‘s second season of Showtime, the interactions amongst the members had seemed pretty genuine, natural and warm, with the exception of Hyunseung who constantly seemed bored, or just a tad out of place. Back then, many had chalked it up to his conservative on-screen personality; but in light of how things have played out, perhaps not? Unofficially, too, the other members of the group have all been pretty consistent with posting photos on Instagram together — together without Hyunseung, that is. A quick survey of Hyunseung’s Instagram account also reveals a grand total of zero group photos in the past year.

So when Cube announced Hyunseung’s departure from Beast, citing concerns regarding differences in music tastes and personality between him and the rest of the members, hardly anyone batted an eyelid. Reactions from netizens ranged from spiteful glee to anger and sorrow; but surprise was clearly not in the mix. The whole episode had been so long-drawn, that it would probably have been more surprising had Hyunseung continued to stay on in Beast.

seoulbeats_20131106_troublemakerNow that the dust has settled, however, it is unclear as to what kind of future lies ahead for Hyunseung. Beast is unlikely to face any major drawbacks, having built up a solid fan-base in their past six years and with the remaining five members each pulling almost equal weight within the group. In fact, with Hyunseung’s departure, fans might even be sympathetic during their upcoming comeback and render even greater support to the group than before, allowing for Beast to gain a second wind.

Hyunseung, on the other hand, has had hordes of fans turn their backs on him in light of the series of controversies since late last year. At the same time, he had had a less-than-stellar solo debut in 2015, and his sub-unit promotions as Trouble Maker with 4Minute’s Hyuna hasn’t had any activities since 2013. So even as Hyunseung is slated to promote as a solo artiste with Cube, the reality remains that contract renewals are up for negotiation this October and the possibility of military enlistment also looms ominously as Hyunseung draws towards the age of thirty. Indeed, it seems like Hyunseung’s path ahead might be one riddled with obstacles.

What do you think the future looks like for Hyunseung and for Beast?

(StarNews, Osen, Insight, News1Twitter, Instagram [1][2][3][4][5][6], YouTube. Images via Cube Entertainment)