20111125_seoulbeats_B2ST_HyunSeungThe month of April saw another shock exit as Cube announced the departure of Hyunseung from Beast. Or was it a shock? Hyunseung had been the subject of much furore the last few months, culminating in his leave. While the dust may have settled, we are all still left with a number of questions, like: How will Hyunseung’s absence change Beast? What do you think Hyunseung will do? And what do you think of the controversy surrounding Hyunseung, and how it was handled by Cube?

Laverne: As a Hyunseung fan, it pains me to say that without Hyunseung, Beast will be just fine. The only thing that will be hurt is Hyunseung’s career if he decided to pursue a solo career; without the backing of Beast’s name and the controversy that has followed him, I don’t think he stands a chance as a soloist.

I think it is much more appropriate to place the burden of the blame on Cube rather than Hyunseung. Cube obviously approved of Hyunseung missing of certain schedules otherwise he would have been kicked from the group a long time ago. But rather than shield him and mitigate some of the blow back, they hung him out to dry.

My personal theory is that Hyunseung needed, for whatever reasons, a break from the celebrity life. Cube tried to accommodate but didn’t do a good enough job of shielding him. The growing backlash against Hyunseung made things worse and either he decided to leave or Cube kicked him. Either way, Cube could have handled the situation a lot better and this is just another instance of their poor management.

20140910_seoulbeats_b2st_hyunseungSydney: I completely agree with Laverne. I think Beast will probably be fine without Hyunseung as well. That’s not to say that Hyunseung didn’t add anything to the group itself, but they still have everything they need to continue as a successful group without him (i.e. a solid rapper, solid vocalists, dancers, performers, etc.).

I also agree that the controversy will loom over him wherever he goes in the entertainment industry after this, and management is to blame for the controversies surrounding Hyunseung prior to his departure. But at the same time, I’m not sure what they could have done that would not have garnered criticism. If they gave him a mental health break, I’m not sure I could say with certainty that the public wouldn’t find ways to roast Hyunseung over that either.

This just reminds me how much of a stress-case the public can be. We all have off days and even on normal days, it’s hard to be energetic and happy every day. Especially as public figures whose every move is scrutinized, it’s not surprising that they should feel stifled.

Qing: I don’t know if we can completely shift the blame away from Hyunseung onto Cube and the public who has been criticising Hyunseung’s attitude, though. A quick scan through some related Pann threads reveals mixed reactions: some commenters defend Hyunseung, but a good number of B2uties have also revealed that they noticed a change in Hyunseung that they couldn’t quite defend even as fans, just that they’ve chosen to keep quiet about it (and hope he’ll go back to how he was) until reports started surfacing. I haven’t seen clips of the events cited, but if even fans are noticing multiple anomalies in his behaviour, and if his actions are indeed putting his other members in a spot, I don’t think he is completely free from fault. He must be having a very hard time, and I can empathise with that, but I wonder if his way of expressing his discontent is appropriate. Of course, if he did request for a break from activities and a satisfactory course of action was not arrived at, I can see why he would resort to such a channel to express his frustration.

20150722_seoulbeats_beast_yeyI also feel like this whole situation could have been influenced by Cube’s management of Beast as a whole. I’ve been a fan since debut, and witnessed the momentum they built up over their career. They had a stronghold on the K-pop industry especially from 2011 through 2014. “YeY” wasn’t as phenomenal as songs like “Fiction” or “Good Luck“, but it wasn’t that bad either.

Still, Beast somehow dropped away from the scene after that. I wonder if it could be related to Cube’s shift in focus onto BtoB. Sungjae‘s solo activities, whether on variety shows like Hitmaker or We Got Married, or in dramas like Plus Nine Boys and Who Are You: School 2015, have definitely brought BtoB into the spotlight. Judging from the frequent comebacks they had in 2014 and 2015, Cube was very aware of this and capitalised on it. Although Cube is a sizeable company, as a non-Big 3 company it probably still has a limit to its resources. Perhaps like how Pledis Entertainment has deprived After School of a comeback in favour of promoting Orange Caramel and Seventeen, maybe the Cube management put a hold on Beast’s promotions as part of its HR and financial strategy. It is true that in the past Beast’s fanbase was strong enough to maintain their popularity even when they promoted just once a year in Korea (as they did from 2011 to 2013). At present, however, competition is stronger than ever with powerful rookie/ younger groups, and Beast’s popularity probably took a hit with the wane in their activities. If this coincided with Hyunseung’s personal issues, then perhaps it’s less of a surprise how events culminated in his departure.

Gaya: Hyunseung was the only Beast member I actually liked, so I am sad to see him go. He is not going to be returning to the scene for a while — if ever. Considering the less-than-full effort Cube has been putting into him, there will be no solo activities, and there may not even be a contract renewal.

20120711_seoulbeats_beast_hyunseung2I don’t doubt Cube helped Hyunseung out; but I feel like they would have done more if they had seen him as someone of value and worth keeping around. Whether they wanted this to happen or not (or planned for it), there is no denying that Cube comes out of this pretty well. Not only do they have one less member to worry about come contract negotiation time, there is now also a reinvigorated fandom ready to give Beast’s comeback their full support. It won’t matter if the actual music is good, enough fans will go hard with sales, fanchants, hashtags and more to make a statement.

I hate to bring f(x) into another member departure mess, but I see similarities here between Sulli and Hyunseung’s hiatuses and departures. Neither were quite happy with where they were, and the inevitable clash with management led to them departing under clouds of disapproval. But Sulli seems to be happy now, and I hope Hyunseung achieves the same.

Madi: I think Beast will be fine without him. As Sydney said, they have all the elements to keep them going strong.

I agree with everyone in a way. Hyunseung’s career is going to suffer one way or another because of lack of interest or energy when it came promotions with Beast. Unfortunately, while going solo may be a good move for him and his ex-members, what he did and didn’t do is going to follow him. People are going remember his disinterest on stage or how he skipped out on fan meetings. It’s going to be difficult for him to regain that trust with the K-pop public. People don’t forget… the internet never forgets.

Cube could have handled the situation better, definitely. When the speculations came up of him leaving (and they were probably confirmed in-house already), they just went loljk he’s not leaving to whoops we lied he departed from the group. Not to mention, Hyunseung’s so called attitude problem had been going on for months… and nothing was done until the rumors got out of hand. Something should have been done that could have prevented damaging Hyunseung’s image or just announce the departure/solo venture sooner… But on the flip side, there’s a lot we don’t know and just going by Cube’s message.

I’m curious of the musical dischord. Which way did Hyunseung and the members wanted to go with their idea in music that caused them to bump heads? So much so that you could not not notice the disharmony between all of them. You didn’t even have to watch their performances. Following them on social media told it all since Hyunseung didn’t upload pictures with him and the members and other members took pictures without him.

20140921_seoulbeats_troublemaker_cecidec13Lo: Not gonna lie, there is only one question I have about Hyunseung’s departure: what about Trouble Maker? Beast is gonna do just fine without him, but the limbo that my favorite sub-unit has been tossed into concerns me. Is he just going to languish in the Cube dungeon, or will this bee seen as an opportunity for another Trouble Maker comeback. Hyuna and Hyunseung kill together, they’re perfectly balanced. He can’t just be swapped out for another Beast member.

As for the controversy, I feel like this is one of those times no one will ever learn the truth. Between Hyunseung’s sketchy actions and Cube’s lies, it’s doubtful that anything resembling reality will make it to the public. Even if it did, we won’t be able to hear the truth over the rumors.

Gaya: I am with you on the Trouble Maker worry train, Lo; I need my co-ed units! Honestly, though, Trouble Maker is dead. I’m of the opinion that the unit was set up more for Hyuna’s benefit, and that Hyunseung was chosen because he would not overshadow her. What’s more “Roll Deep” was pretty Trouble Maker-ish with Il-hoon‘s presence; and because he was only a feature, Cube could use the song to bring in other male artists and promote them. So, Cube and Hyuna don’t really need TM anymore; the only way I can see them bringing it back is to promote a Pentagon member — but they already getting their own survival show…

And I know we’ve been talking about Cube a lot, but fandom also has to shoulder some responsibility in how things turned out. Dawn pointed out the use of photos and videos as alleged proof of Hyunseung’s ‘bad attitude,’ but there’s also taking photos of him without his knowledge/permission and spamming his social media with demands to explain his behaviour. This is all very similar to what T-ara experienced back in 2012, and you can see the effect all that speculation had.

Like Qing said, there may have been legitimately good reasons why Beast’s activities were less frequent over last couple of years, but the fandom was upset nonetheless. And fans have every right to feel that way; but, it seems a lot like the collective frustration found an outlet by taking it out on Hyunseung.

20160501_seoulbeats_beast_troublemaker_hyunseung_cubeVya: I remember thinking when the issues with Hyunseung missing fan meets, etc first got widespread attention that their fans better watch out or they will have another Sulli situation on their hands. In hindsight, it seems that was their goal all along. Which is weird because Hyunseung always struck me as kind of disengaged and checked out – I was surprised by how zoned out he was on BEAST’s Showtime series for example, and even his fan service bits came across as sarcastic. I just figured that their fans were into his space cadet schtick, but I guess not.

It definitely seems like Hyunseung hasn’t enjoyed being an idol for some time now, whether as Laverne said he just needed a personal break or he didn’t think it was fun anymore, clearly he was having issues and it’s sad that the only way out was to leave BEAST. Not to entirely blame their fans but it makes me wonder if fandoms shouldn’t maybe adjust their expectations of idols, especially (relatively) senior acts like BEAST? There ought to be some acceptance of change over the years, or less intense expectations/scrutiny (think Shinhwa and Shinhwa Changjo, but in less than 18 years). Then again, as Qing mentioned, there are plenty of strong groups that debut every year who are eager to meet even the most insane fan demands.

I’m not sure what to expect from Hyunseung after this, but it will definitely follow him his entire career. Sulli may be happier now, but she’s still getting hounded by “fans” for “flaunting” her happiness. I’m guessing that Hyunseung also won’t be free of scrutiny that quickly either.

(Images via Cube Entertainment, Elle Girl, CeCi)