Most K-Pop groups march into their 7th year together with something that fans dread: contract negotiations. Idol contracts are usually set for 7 years — and after that the idols are free to renew or terminate their contracts with their companies. The “7 Year Curse” is when, for whatever reason, a group can’t successfully get through contract negotiations. This “7 Year Curse” tend to affect girl groups more and, sadly, usually ends in disbandment. Here are 7 of the most iconic girl groups who fell victims to this curse and couldn’t make it past their 7th year.
1. 2NE1 (2009-2016)
Despite being the highest selling girl group internationally, 2NE1 could not survive the 7 Year Curse. In 2014, Park Bom’s drug scandal forced the group into a hiatus. In 2016, after nearly 2 years of inactivity, Minzy decided not to renew her contract with YG Entertainment. 2NE1 then prepared to return with the remaining 3 members, but due to unknown circumstances the comeback was scrapped. 2NE1 officially disbanded in November 2016 and the group released their first & final single as a trio, “Goodbye,” on January 21, 2017 as a gift to their fans.
2. 4Minute (2009-2016)
Despite being from a relatively small company, 4Minute had incredible success. The group’s 2015 single “Crazy” became the 6th K-Pop girl group song to ever hit 100 million views on YouTube, and the first from a small company to do so. After successful promotions for 2016’s “Hate,” the group faced unsuccessful contract renewal negotiations which led to their disbandment. HyunA continued as a soloist at Cube Entertainment until her dating scandal with PENTAGON’s E’Dawn in 2018 led to the cancellation of her contract.
3. SISTAR (2010-2017)
Another small company girl group that grew to amazing success was none other than the Queens of Summer, SISTAR. The group earned the #1 spot on the very first Billboard Korea K-Pop Hot 100 chart with “So Cool” and garnered 10 #1s on the Gaon chart. SISTAR ultimately disbanded in 2016 after Hyolyn desired to prioritize her solo career. After announcing their disbandment, SISTAR released and promoted their final song, “Lonely” as well as a medley of their summer hits – so far the only group to have done this.
4. miss A (2010-2017)
In 2010, miss A became the fastest girl group to win #1 on a music show in just 21 days. With 15 music show wins, and 21 awards won across the span of their career, miss A’s success was nothing to scoff at. However, as with every group preceding them on this list, after 7 years their time as a group had come to an end. miss A was confirmed to be disbanded in 2017 after Jia and Min refused to renew their contracts with JYP.
The following girl groups made it past their 7th year, however they were victims of the 7 Year Curse nonetheless.
5. KARA (2007-2016)
In their 7th year, legendary girl group KARA faced some problems when members Nicole and Jiyoung did not renew their contracts with DSP Media. A 4th member, Youngji, was recruited through a survival show called Kara Project. The group promoted successfully with 4 members for nearly two more years before disbanding in 2016 after the 3 original members, Hara, Gyuri and Seungyeon, decided not to renew their contracts.
6. Wonder Girls (2007-2017)
Wonder Girls promoted simultaneously in America and Korea from 2009 to 2012, accumulating awards, accolades, and “firsts” all across the US. Their American domination came to a screeching halt in 2014 – their 7th year – when members Sunye and Sohee didn’t renew their contracts with JYP. Afterwards, Wonder Girls reformatted and promoted successfully in Korea with a retro band concept until their eventual disbandment in 2017.
7. Girls’ Generation (2007-Present)
Known as “The Nation’s Girl Group” in Korea due to their immeasurable success, Girls’ Generation will go down in history as the most successful 2nd Generation girl group of all time. However, they too were not immune to the 7 Year Curse as, in their 7th year, member Jessica’s departure from the group caused a scandal and a major rift in the fandom. However, they made it out of their 7th year stronger than before. Although 3 members are no longer under contract with SM Entertainment “The Nation’s Girl Group” have continued as an 8 member group and just celebrated their 10-Year Anniversary in 2017.
EXID made their huge breakthrough in the K-Pop industry following the viral fancam of Hani’s “Up & Down” performance. Since then they have become household names, becoming one of Korea’s top girl groups. In May 2019, it was announced Hani and Jeonghwa would not renew their contracts with Banana Culture. In 2020, the remaining members, Solji, Hyelin, and LE, also all left Banana Culture.