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Why BTS may avoid disbandment

BTS Bangtan Avoid Disbandment Disband Kim Seokjin Jin Kim Namjoon RM V Taehyung Jeon Jungkook JK Park Jimin Jung Hoseok J-Hope Min Yoongi Suga full group forever seven members acceptance speech MAMA 2016

I've been into Kpop for over eleven years, and during that time I've seen groups come and go, groups disband, member changes, members leaving, being kicked out, and scandals that would shake your soul.

Disbandment is the natural end of a group's era. All bands reach that stage at some point...

Almost all groups!

There are a few exceptions, really just a few, but I wholeheartedly believe that, given the right conditions, BTS can become such an exception.

gif 2016 Win first MAMA BTS Bangtan Avoid Disbandment Disband Kim Seokjin Jin Kim Namjoon RM V Taehyung Jeon Jungkook JK Park Jimin Jung Hoseok J-Hope Min Yoongi Suga full group forever seven members

When trying to predict the future, we look to the past. Events tend to repeat themselves and by looking at past trends it is possible to predict future ones (to all of you in school, this is why history is an important subject as it helps to predict the future).

So, trying to predict BTS's future, I'm going to look at some examples of past and current groups and compare them to BTS's situation.

I've grouped the blog into 8 topics that are crucial to consider when talking about why groups disband.

gif BTS Bangtan Avoid Disbandment Disband Kim Seokjin Jin Kim Namjoon RM V Taehyung Jeon Jungkook JK Park Jimin Jung Hoseok J-Hope Min Yoongi Suga full group forever seven members  photoshoot



That time all Kpop fans fear: when their idols are in talks about contract renewals!

Nowadays it usually happens at the 7 year mark after a group's debut and that year is known as the jinx year for Kpop groups as many disband at this point in their careers.

Contract renewals is the biggest reason for Kpop group disbandments!

It's also a time at which member replacements often happen, because companies refuse to give contracts to a specific member, or because a member decides to leave the company, unable to come to an agreement.

Members leaving at the time of their contract renewals happens to a lot of groups; Minzy from 2NE1, Jia from Miss A, Seulong and Jinwoon from 2AM, Lee Joon and Thunder from MBLAQ, and Nicole and Jiyong from Kara, to mention a few.

The idol group Shinhwa is interesting to talk about here. Shinhwa is the longest promoting kpop group ever. They have been together for almost 19 years, and still promote together as an idol group.

BTS Bangtan Avoid Disbandment Disband Kim Seokjin Jin Kim Namjoon RM V Taehyung Jeon Jungkook JK Park Jimin Jung Hoseok J-Hope Min Yoongi Suga full group forever seven members  Shinhwa Minwoo Celebrity Bromance How to stay together

Jungkook filmed Celebrity Bromance with Shinhwa member Minwoo and together they talked about what it takes for a group to survive for so long and avoid disbandment. We'll talk more about this later, but first let's look at what happened to Shinhwa when their contracts were up for renewal.

Shinhwa originally debuted with SM Entertainment and when their contracts expired SM offered them new contracts. Just one little catch: SM didn't offer a new contract to member Dongwan.

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This didn't sit well with the other members, especially leader, Eric, who strongly protested. Still, SM didn't want Dongwan, so Shinhwa took a stand. The other members refused their contracts with SM and they all signed with a different company so they could continue to be together.

They even went to court against SM in order to gain the rights to call themselves Shinhwa (SM saw the brand name as their own property) and won the case.

If that isn't a badass success story of a group standing together, I don't know what is.

At the original writing of this blog BTS were on their forth year since debut. Since then, BTS have renewed their contracts once. Another contract renewal will be coming up around 2021-2022. 

Contract lengths vary from company to company but the industry standard is seven or five years after debut, so that leaves a few years before BTS have to re-consider their contracts and future plans.




The best way for a company to ensure that their idols stay with them, is to ensure that the idols are satisfied.

Keeping their idols happy is something SM Entertainment has consequently failed at doing. DBSK, Super Junior, EXO, SNSD, and f(x) have all lost members. Some of the idols were pushed out by the company, while others left because of a need to focus on other things, or because of disagreements with the company and to escape the harsh terms of their contracts. All things I would definitely consider a failure to keep their idols happy.

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Minzy from 2NE1 is another example of an idol who was side lined and consequently left her group. Due to 2NE1's inactivity after member Park Bom's scandal, Minzy was left completely on her own while the others had solo careers. Without being able to promote with the group and with her company not supporting and encouraging her to pursue a solo career, Minzy was essentially put on standby and couldn't do anything, trapped because of her contract. It doesn't come as much a surprise that this prompted her to switch companies when her contract with YG entertainment expired.

More dramatic was U-KISS's popular member, Dongho's, decision to leave not just his group, but the entire celebrity life. His main reason was his declining health due to harsh schedules.

Looking at BTS, I actually worried a lot about the issue of member satisfaction when Suga had his mint hair. During the Run days they were all especially overworked and sleep deprived.

Suga Min Yoongi green hair unhappy tired company complaint complaining hair loss sleep deprived

Suga often talked about being dissatisfied. While we all took it as a joke, and while he might partly have been joking, Suga is also the sort of straight forward person who wouldn't say something like that unless he actually had issues with the company.

The way he talks about his debut, almost as if he was scammed into becoming an idol instead of a hip hop group, also makes me feel that he has had a lot of dissatisfactions with BigHit.

On the upside the fact that he was given black hair for the entire WINGS comeback, as he had requested himself, suggests to me that BigHit does take their idols seriously and does want to listen and keep them happy and satisfied. Suga seems a lot happier these days.

Jin and J-Hope are not as outspoken about their issues but they strike me as people who have certain expectations that aren't met because they both tend to keep quiet and give more importance to everyone else in the group.

I do worry a little about the possibility of Jin deciding to quit the group some day, because he wants to become an actor or wants to leave the celebrity industry entirely. What makes me put those worries to rest is the fact that he truly seems to love his members, and I believe that he would want to stay a part of the team because of that love, and because of what they all have together.

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Jin getting the ost for Hwarang with V was a huge deal for me exactly for this reason! I felt like it was BigHit trying to get him something that he wanted, in the same way that J-Hope's solo trailer (with its awesome choreography) seemed to be a way to keep J-Hope stimulated and happy. I feel like these are a efforts on BigHit's part and I hope to see more of it in the coming year.

BigHit also backed up and fully supported both Rap Monster and Suga's mixtapes. Again this, to me, suggests a willingness from BigHit to keep BTS satisfied. They even filmed MVs, despite not being able to make money off the mixtapes. I think that truly says a lot about BigHit!

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Which gets us to the next point...




Support from the company is something that ought to be a given and yet something that so many idol groups don't have.

Look at the way SM have famously ousted idols from their groups, like Jessica from SNSD. JYP has done the same, with Jay Park who used to be the leader of 2PM before some of his old social media posts were dug up and caused a stir. Instead of standing by Jay Park, JYP Entertainment decided to oust him. As it turns out, Jay Park is on the winning side now, with a successful company and solo career, but it was tough for a long while.

Talking about the Big Three, YG entertainment also provided little to no help when their idols were caught up in scandals (on numerous occasions) and they instead grounded their idols for years, waiting endlessly for the heat to pass.

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The few times BTS have been swept up in issues and controversies BigHit has acted. They have released statements and acknowledged the issue, but they haven't pulled members from promotions or otherwise lacked to support BTS during those circumstances.

Company support isn't only necessary when idols are caught up in scandals or issues, though. Company support is necessary on a daily basis for a group to continue to promote.

A prime example of why, is Sechskies.

classic kpop Sechskies DSP Media 1997

Sechskies were some of the pioneers of Kpop! They had their debut in 1997 with Daesung Entertainment (now known as DSP Media). Sechskies quickly became the company breadwinners and were worked hard. But a year later, the company debuted a girl group, Fin.K.L, and in order to strengthen the new group, they put all of their resources into the girl group. Suddenly Sechskies were left with no attention.

Fin.K.L members were given all the schedules and promotions, and Sechskies survived mainly thanks to their strong fanbase. They kept being side tracked by their company who did not give them support.

In 1999 everyone thought that Sechskies would get the Daesang, but the winners were announced to be Fin.K.L. A fan managed to snap a photo of the trophy which read: "SECHSKIES". That confirmed suspicions that their company was the reason Sechskies didn't get the Daesang. The company preferred to further promote their new girl group rather than reward Sechskies. Imagine how angry and cheated we would all feel if this had happened to BTS.

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In 2000 there were rumours about Sechskies moving to a different company, but their old company forced them to disband instead. Officially the reason for their disbandment was that they wanted to stop at the height of their fame (and they truly did) but there were many other factors and lack of support from their company was a big one!

It is not uncommon for a group to be cast aside for a new one to emerge. It has happened many times with many other companies and groups, and especially with companies that started small who didn't have the resources to fully support two groups. FT Island, for example, were also pushed aside when CNBlue debuted, just to mention a more recent episode.

How does this all relate to BTS? Well, right now BTS are their company's breadwinners.

For a long time they were the only group that BigHit put out (2AM and Homme both transferred to the company but weren't made by BigHit). Even with TXT, BTS are still the main focus. What happens when BigHit focuses on a new group?

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Big Bang 2ne1 debut Lollipop YG

If BigHit are earnest and smart (which they have been in managing TXT so far), they'll have BTS and the new band do a few promotions together (commercials and photo shoots for example) but not focus all of their energy on the new kids.

YG successfully did this in 2009 with Big Bang and 2NE1. Before their debut, 2NE1 were introduced with a track made for a commercial that they did together with company seniors Big Bang. It was a huge success and introduced 2NE1 to the limelight, insured that they had an income straight away, and all of it without hurting Big Bang's fame and promotions. It was great marketing and a great use of YG Entertainment's resources.

So far BigHit has been both innovative and very smart about their marketing for BTS and they're breaking quite a few norms along the way (like idols having phones and access to social media even during rookie days). I feel confident that they'll continue to work in this direction and won't cast aside BTS when they shift their focus to promote newer groups like TXT.




Over-working is a huge issue in the Kpop industry (as it is generally in Korea too). Many groups have disbanded as a result of their company over-working them, or right out mistreating them.

Some of you might know Kim Jungkook from Running Man. Well he used to be in an idol group called Turbo who debuted in 1995. Turbo were hugely overworked and they had as much as 17 schedules in a single day!

Thankfully conditions have improved since the days when Turbo were first active, but it is still a big issue. Another older example is the famous band Sechskies (again).