We all want our favorite K-Pop idol groups to stick together through thick and thin as long as possible, but the truth is, nothing is forever. Over the years, we’ve seen members leave groups for countless reasons, here are some of their stories:
1. EXO — Kris, Luhan, Tao
EXO started off as a 12 member group. In May of 2014, Kris filed a lawsuit against SM Entertainment to terminate his contract. Then, in October, Luhan filed a lawsuit to terminate his contract. In August of 2015, Tao also filed to terminate his contract. All three members claimed there were health, financial/legal, and personal issues involved.
After Kris, Luhan, and Tao left the group, EXO continued as a 9-member group. Fans have remained supportive of the remaining members and watched the group overcome and grow stronger together.
2. Girls’ Generation — Jessica
Jessica’s public announcement that she was leaving Girls’ Generation shocked a lot of fans in 2014. SM Entertainment and Jessica agreed (for the lack of a better word) that it was impossible for her to continue being a member of Girls’ Generation while pursuing everything she wished, like starting a business or getting married. Though it was quite a controversy, the remaining 8 members got through it. They expressed shock, but understood it was the inevitable.
Then, in October of 2017, Sooyoung, Tiffany, and Seohyun decided not to renew their contracts with S.M. Entertainment, making the future of the group unclear. Tiffany wanted to study abroad while Sooyoung and Seohyun wanted to focus on their acting careers. It was made clear, however, that Girls’ Generation will not be disbanding. The official statement is that the remaining five members will continue as Girls’ Generation.
3. WINNER — Nam Tae Hyun
In November of 2016, YG Entertainment announced that Nam Tae Hyun would be leaving WINNER and that WINNER would continue as a four-member group. Before this official announcement, YG had hinted that Nam Tae Hyun had a mental health issue and that he would not be performing with the group until he’s better.
When YG Entertainment revealed that Nam Tae Hyun’s contract had been terminated because “it was simply not working out”, WINNER fans agreed. Nevertheless, the members and the fans remain supportive of Nam Tae Hyun.
In 2017, Nam Tae Hyun formed a band called South Club. Via an interview, he explained that WINNER and he had creative differences and separate paths to walk.
4. TEEN TOP — L.Joe
TEEN TOP’s L.Joe filed a lawsuit against TOP Media in order to terminate his contract in February of 2017. Though his contract remained active until January of 2018, L.Joe dropped all involvement with TEEN TOP as a group and pursued his own career as a musical actor. TOP Media sued L.Joe for violating the terms of the contract.
With L.Joe’s departure, the remaining five members of TEEN TOP were shocked and disappointed. Meanwhile, L.Joe is going by his real name Byung Hun, starring in musicals and dramas.
5. Crayon Pop — Soyul
There has been a lot of talk about Soyul, but her official withdrawal from Crayon Pop was announced in May of 2017.
Soyul had halted performing with Crayon Pop a lot earlier, because of a panic disorder she had developed while preparing for the album. It soon came out, however, that she was dating and would be getting married to H.O.T’s Moon Hee Joon. At the time she denied being pregnant.
In May, along with news that she had given birth to a child, Soyul shared that she would not be joining Crayon Pop again.
The remaining four members continued on as Crayon Pop, while pursuing other careers such as acting on shows and singing in musicals.
6. AOA — Choa and Mina
AOA’s Choa surprised a lot of her fans when she announced she would be leaving the group in June of 2017. She explained that she suffered from insomnia and depression and that for two years she had been trying to take things easy.
The remaining members of AOA have said they understand Choa’s decision. In a recent interview, AOA’s Mina mentioned that she keeps in touch with Choa from time to time. After Choa’s departure, AOA continued as a six-member girl group. The group then lost Mina in May 2019, after she decided she did not want to renew her contract.
7. INFINITE — Hoya
INFINITE’s Hoya decided not to renew his contract with Woollim Entertainment at the end of the term in August of 2017. This naturally led to him leaving the group.
The remaining 6 members renewed their contracts and have continued performing as INFINITE.
Hoya now goes by his legal name Lee Ho Won and is focused on building his acting and musical career. He mentioned in a recent interview that he did not renew his contract as an idol because, as a member of a boy group, he “felt pressured to do only what he was told to do”.
8. Oh My Girl — JinE
JinE, formerly of Oh My Girl, began getting treated for her anorexia in August of 2016. She stopped appearing with the rest of the group to focus on recovering her health.
In October of 2017, however, Jin E wrote a letter on the group’s official website explaining her decision to leave Oh My Girl permanently. In the letter, she said being in a girl group had long been a dream of hers, but unfortunately, her physical and mental health would not allow her to continue pursuing it.
She expressed her gratitude and sent apologies to her fellow group members. Oh My Girl continued as a 7-member group without JinE.
9. LABOUM — Yulhee
In November of 2017, girl group LABOUM’s management agency, Global H Media, announced Yulhee’s decision to leave. Yulhee is said to have expressed her intent to leave the group and the industry for a while before it became official.
Yulhee also explained in a letter to her fans that she had had a hard time deciding whether she wanted to continue being an idol. LABOUM has since continued as a 5-member group.
10. TAHITI — Jisoo
TAHITI’s Jisoo leaving the group was a bit more controversial. In December of 2017, Jisoo posted on her Instagram that she could no longer be a part of TAHITI because she had “gone through so much and changed a lot”. Jisoo had been diagnosed with panic disorder and depression. Jisoo thanked her fans for supporting her for the past six years and promised to focus on recovering and staying healthy.
TAHITI’s Miso, however, accused Jisoo of lying about her reason to leave the group. The truth remains unclear, but it doesn’t look like Jisoo and the group left things on a positive note. Nevertheless, the remaining 4 members decided to continue as TAHITI.