20141003_seoulbeats_snsd_jessica_1stlookSo much has happened in such a short period of time that it’s hard to make sense of our emotions. As the story unfolded, these were our reactions from the time Jessica released her first official statement disclosing her side of the story. What was your initial reaction to reports of Jessica being booted from SNSD? What were your feelings like as more facts were revealed? What’s to become of the Nation’s Girl Group?

Gaya: I actually understand SM‘s decision to drop Jessica: accommodating her promoting just one more album may have been possible, but I get it if SM wasn’t interested in keeping her around for that long. But if that was the case, then why have her renew her contract, and then dump her weeks later? That just doesn’t sit right with me.

After reading Jessica’s official statement, it sounds like SM was on board with Jessica’s plans and that it was the other members who were pushing to remove her. If that is the case, then I can’t see why SM wouldn’t just release her from her contract altogether, unless they stood to gain something from keeping Jessica under their watchful eye? There are conflicting reports about whether or not SM is getting a cut from Jessica’s business activities, so that adds another layer of confusion to this whole ordeal.

Jessica says that she was clear with her plan for the future, and she may well have been; but somewhere along the line there’s been a lack of open communication which has led to this situation. If all parties involved had perhaps sat down and had a serious discussion and come to a decision together, there would have been a better outcome. It’s likely that SM and SNSD did not think things through before giving their approval, or that SNSD did not fully know about Jessica’s plans. Considering SM’s own official statement, it’s clear that they knew.

Willis: I initially dismissed the reports of Jessica being removed from the group, since many news sites added the caveat that a hacker may have been involved. As the story developed further, I was appalled by the confirmation of her removal. In retrospect, I suppose I shouldn’t have been so blindsided, because this is SM Entertainment.

20130107_seoulbeats_snsd_jessica2It is sad that we, the fans/audience, will never get the true full story. We can only speculate based off SM’s statements and from what Jessica has decided to tell. From Jessica’s statement, it seemed like she was given an ultimatum, which is never a nice thing to do to anyone. In addition, Jessica’s statement paints her as having been honest and open about her ambitions with the company, so there seems to be some force (whether it is the members or SM’s management team) that pushed for the group to move forward with 8 members sooner.

In my opinion, that is the worst part of the matter. The fact that they decided to go on ahead and just remove her from the group without sitting everyone down and discussing it first, as Gaya mentioned. If the group had continued on as 9 members for another album and split amicably with Jessica, wouldn’t that have been a more favorable outcome?

I don’t understand the urgency to pull the trigger on cutting Jessica from the group — where she as the first trainee spent so many years of her youth preparing for debut. All of this has left a tainted image of the solidarity and sisterhood of the group. Instead of a friendly parting of ways in the future, this incident has left a bad reverberating effect on the group’s legacy.

Nabeela: This is all I have to say.

Leslie: I feel bad about the way things went down for Jessica, but I can’t make a judgment call since so many things are unclear. At first, I was like Gaya and didn’t even believe it — what with the contract renewal and all — but the cynical K-pop fan in me believed it from the start. In fact, I didn’t think I could get more jaded as a fan, but this year is doing that for me. This has been a bad year for K-pop as a whole, but especially for SM, so I can’t say I’m surprised.

So, yeah, I’m going to second Nabeela on this. I’ve been waiting for this to happen to them. We like to think of K-pop as being just two generations: H.O.T, Fin.K.L and other veterans, and then everyone else. But the fact of the matter is that we’re in the midst of a third generation of idols while groups like SNSD, the actual second generation of idols, are on their way out. And it’s not at all a bad thing. They’ve had a good run and leave ridiculously huge shoes to fill as the Nation’s Girl Group.

Andy: Like others, I thought the initial Weibo post was a hack job. But, when confirmation came out, I couldn’t believe it. This is SNSD: the Nation’s Girl Group, a SME money-maker, the group with a strong bond. As reports keep coming out, honestly, I find my irritation growing. SME is basically throwing the entire group, particularly Jessica, under the bus.

They make Jessica out to be a selfish person, who only cared about securing her future and not the group. Then, they make the rest of SNSD seem to be unilaterally non-understanding and unsympathetic.To do this after they all renewed their contract is just ridiculous, and seems like a major vindictive power play. If Jessica had indeed worked things out with SME regarding her fashion line, and talked to the group about it, then something clearly went wrong in the line of communication. I’m still not buying the marriage story, though.

20140930_seoulbeats_snsd_yoona_sooyoung_spaoI don’t fault Jessica for trying to do what she needs to do for herself, and neither should the rest of the group. She can’t be an idol forever. The others should be doing the same, and to be honest, some are. Yoona and Sooyoung are deep into their acting, which is another career. So, why can’t everyone else do the same? As long as they aren’t missing group events and actually halfway doing their job on stage, then it shouldn’t matter.

As for the future, SNSD will still sell as long as they are releasing music. I just think their stock/fanbase is going to drop drastically, since going from 9 to 8 is a big blow, and Jessica was extremely popular. Perhaps Jessica got the boot at a good time — going out while they are still at the top.

Mark: Nabeela, are you patting yourself on the back for predicting the inevitable?

But seriously, I think speculations on the immediate downfall of SNSD are a bit far-fetched. They still have 8/9 of the group intact, that’s 88%! Even if Jessica is supposedly a “popular” member, she couldn’t have held more than 15% of the fan base by herself. And we’re talking about a huge fan base. Even if you discount Jessica, they probably still have more fans than Sistar, Girl’s Day, and A Pink… combined.

I agree with Andy’s point that as long as SNS8 continues to release music, they’ll remain highly relevant because they’re the only girl group that can sell albums, not to mention their digital domination. Losing Jessica is not going to change that. SNSD will be just fine.

Joyce: Initially, I thought it was a case of SNSD and Jessica both being blind-sided by SM. But considering that things literally unfolded within a day, it’s evident this issue is has been discussed at length between the girls and management. In fact, it seems as though Jessica already was planning her exit for SNSD, but compromised to stay on for one more album. However, she didn’t fulfil her end of the agreement and thus was ejected from the group, with a certain extent of support from the other members, which was the part that surprised me.

No matter what the exact order of events was, the truth is, the girls were no longer united as one. As fans, we only see the put-on image they sell and it’s easy to fall for their honeyed word that they will be sisters forever even if they have to promote as Ajumma Generation. However, I think this reminds us of all the ugliness and unhappiness that goes on behind the scenes that we as fans are not privy to. And it just so happens that it’s the biggest K-pop girl group that decides to air their dirty laundry. In the worst way possible. And frankly, SM did a shit job of handling this issue. Is it really that hard to delay the eviction letter to Jessica for a more amiable departure?

20141003_seoulbeats_snsd_jessica_fx_krystal_harpersbazaarAs a fan, it’s quite upsetting to see the sisterhood image of the nine of them shattered, since hostilities seemed to have been involved. But I mean, if Homin managed to bounce back (even though to a different extent), I guarantee SNSD will still do fine, as everyone has said. They might lose a few endorsements here and there, but no big deal really. It’s just…. How many groups must SM ruin before they learn??

Gaya: You can say that again, Joyce. We now also have news of a Jessica and Krystal project in the works before all this happened. I don’t know why anyone wants me (and other fans) to suffer more by telling me about this project group when it’s likely not going to happen for a good while, if at all. Other than binge-listening to “Rolling In The Deep” some more, what am I meant to do with this information? Blame Jessica? Blame SNSD? Blame SM?

Actually, I’ll start by blaming SM. Not that I believe the other two parties to be blameless; but, even if this is more of an issue between the girls, as Jessica’s statement indicates, SM still bears responsibility in not handling the matter as well as it should have. SM created this group and they’ve made money off it; so it should follow that they do more in instances like this. Why they weren’t doing any kind of mediating, or holding discussions to ensure the best outcome for the company, the group and the members, I don’t know.

Again, a lack of communication has lead to this situation becoming worse than it needed to be.

Kelsey: I’ll second Gaya on SM’s responsibility in this. For things to get to this point within the group, tensions may have been brewing for a while and management should have stepped in to help mediate. What’s the point of managers following groups around and body-checking fans if they won’t also step in on personal issues between members? I don’t believe it would have 100% fixed this issue but it could have helped. It was just in poor taste all around to release her this way. When Jessica’s Weibo post first went out I was unsure of whether it was legitimate, but once SM took longer and longer to respond it was clear there was no hacker.

At the same time, even before this drama unfolded, it’s been pretty clear to me that SNSD is not long for the industry. It does seem like they maybe have a few years left before they decide to pursue different things in their professional and personal lives. I was actually surprised that they all signed on for three more years (the individually negotiated contracts were not as shocking). I’m sure that OT8 will still be successful in the time they have left together but a serious trust has been broken for many fans.

Regardless of whether the girls are super close these days or not, there’s at least a bare expectation that a group won’t turn against one member, and even if that’s not the whole truth of what happened, that’s what Jessica implied and that’s what fans are speculating. Compared to other SM group drama, this scandal will impact SNSD a bit more because of the unique circumstances. There’s no way they can sweep this under the rug when Jessica’s being so vocal.

20120710_seoulbeats_snsdLo: I’d like to say that I, like everyone else, was shocked/stunned/disbelieving etc, but that would be a lie. This whole year has been such a clusterfuck that when I saw the headline, I just went “Jessica’s out of SNSD. Huh. Oh good, my toast is done”. Between Exo, f(x), ZE:A, Ladies’ Code and Kim Hyun-joong, I’ve just gone numb. Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked if a group revealed that they were all aliens in a polygamous relationship who were trying to rule the earth via musical propaganda and for fun, they juggle geese. I am just out of fucks to give at this point.

This split has likely been in the works for years. 2012 saw a dramatic reduction in Jessica’s lines. It might be her disinterest lead to that, or her apparent role reduction caused her to start planning for her post-SNSD life and create Blanc. Either way, I feel that this moment is the true beginning of the end. In forty years, when books are written detailing SNSD, this will be the moment picked out as when the nations girl group finally began to fall. I think OT8 will have success, but on a lesser scale. Their high sales are no longer guaranteed. Neither are awards. They will limp on for one more album, maybe two, before crumbling into eight pieces.

Taeyeon will go solo. Yoona and Sooyoung will act. Hyoyeon will choreograph. Sunny will become known as a comedienne. Seohyun will also go solo, but in a more indie, heartfelt direction. Tiffany will try to go solo and fail, and Yuri will model. And in ten years, they will host a reunion tour, with Jessica returning to the glee of fans everywhere.

(Images via: W Korea, 1st Look, SM Entertainment, Spao, Harper’s Bazaar)