All existing units are formed by individual pieces that come together to create a cohesive whole. From the particles in an atom to the atoms in a mass, everything consists of smaller fragments that are necessary in order to form a larger whole. Each part is imperative because without any specific portion, the whole is no longer the same.
But does the same apply to KPOP?
From Big Bang to B1A4, Korean Pop is filled with groups. While each individual member of a group is marketed with their own set of skills, charms, and appeals, this individual member and all of their specialties, serve and fit the mold of a larger group that is marketed with its own talent, concept, and novelty. Although there are exceptions, while the individual is important, the group is more important.
But there are occasions in which groups fall apart. Regardless of the reason, groups fall apart and on such occasions, a group is required to carry on without certain member(s). While this can be manageable, how can a group survive without a member?
Imagine your favorite group. Of course there are members that you like more than others, members that possess a greater role than others, and members who are more appealing than others. But imagine a member gone. In theory, this should make a huge difference.
Take Dong Bang Shin Ki. While each member is individually talented, charismatic, and everything is between, without all five members, they are not the same. It may be better, it may be worse, but at the very least, they are not the same. They are not the same Dong Bang Shin Ki. Each member vitally composed the entire picture and without the individual portraits arranged together, their music, their concept, their image is so cemented in the ultimate formation of five members that anything else, is so far removed, so different.
However, take Super Junior. Super Junior has faced roster losses and changes but has persevered through their ever-changing ranks, mounting onwards toward success and achievement. There are even groups like Wonder Girls, Kara, and After School that have experienced member line up changes for the better, changes that catapulted them to a new level of success.
So Nyeo Shi Dae has managed to evade line up changes all together. But what if they did? Imagine them without Taeyeon, Jessica, Seohyun, Hyoyeon, and Yoona. Who would sing those amazing lines and verses? Give Hyoyeon all the crap you want, but who would dance during those dance breaks? And Yoona, I will never be your biggest fan but it would be a completely different group without you front and center. The group, their music, their dances, and their image would be so different. Now imagine them without Tiffany, Sunny, Yuri, and Sooyoung. Yes, they are talented and yes it would be sad. But anything these guys can do, their intra-group counterparts can do as well—perhaps even better. If Girls’ Generation had never debuted without these members, you would not know what you are missing (with the exception of, perhaps, a pretty face and a funny youtube video). While the girls in the latter division are very talented, very pretty, and very charismatic, their group is not defined in any significant aspect by these ladies.
Though these groups, their members, and their issues range far and wide, there is a constant: these groups are saturated with members that they do not need. Regardless of whether a group has thirteen members, or nine members, or even four members, there are groups in KPOP that just do not need the extra individual(s). They would probably do much better elsewhere anyways. As sad as it was to see Hyuna leave the Wonder Girls and to see Bekah leave After School, they are living much more enriching fulfilling lives now–much more enriching than fading into the oblivion of importance.
But if that is the case, then how important is that member?
Not very important at all. In fact, not only does it say something about the individual, but it also says something group. Life happens and line up changes happen but if a member, whether they be old or new, cannot possess a vitality to the group, then their existence in that larger frame is subject to fickle, capriciousness. And before you defend [insert group and group member here], take a minute to think about it. What are you really missing without that member?
If a member possesses an imperativeness to the group, then the group could not be able to survive without them, even though the group is much larger than the individual. After all, a group is made of individual pieces and without a certain piece, it just isn’t the same. But if it is the same, even greater than the same, then what is the purpose of that member?