10+ Girl Groups That Couldn’t Escape The “7-Year Curse”
Most groups’ 7th year brings along with it something that fans dread: contract negotiations. Idol contracts are usually set for 7 years, and after that the idols are free to renew or cancel their contracts with their companies. The “7-Year Curse” is when, for whatever reason, a group can’t successfully get through contract negotiations.
Here are some of the most iconic girl groups who couldn’t make it past their 7th year without something going horribly wrong, including those that have officially disbanded as well as those who have seen a significant drop in the number of group activities.
1. MOMOLAND (2016-2023)
MOMOLAND debuted as a 7-member group through Mnet‘s survival program Finding Momoland back in 2016. Shortly after, Daisy and Taeha joined the group, increasing the member count to 9. However, the group’s line-up changes did not stop there.
After fans raised concerns as to the whereabouts of some of the members, MLD Entertainment announced the departure of Yeonwoo and Taeha from the group in November 2019. Later on, Daisy also departed from the group and made accusations that Finding Momoland was rigged. Eventually, on January 17, 2023, the remaining 6 members of MOMOLAND announced a stop to group activities after 7 years, following their departure from MLD Entertainment.
2. CLC (2015-2022)
CLC, having debuted in March 2015, officially disbanded in 2022, months after members Seungyeon and Yeeun left Cube Entertainment after the expiration of their contracts, following Elkie and Sorn who departed in February 2021 and November 2021, respectively.
Sorn later shared that their reason for leaving and, eventually, disbanding was that their label wanted to start promoting them more as individuals than as a group, and that they saw no reason to stay with Cube Entertainment if that was going to be the case. There were also talks of abuse and mistreatment by the agency towards the group.
3. 2NE1 (2009-2016)
Despite being the highest selling girl group internationally at the time, 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 and final single as a trio, “Goodbye,” on January 21, 2017 as a gift to their fans.
4. 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 news with DAWN in 2018 led to the cancellation of her contract.
5. Brave Girls (2011-2023)
Brave Girls as a group went through a whole lot of ups and downs. Although the group debuted back in 2011, the Brave Girls that most K-Pop fans know them as did not start to take form until 2016, after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus. This was when the most well-known line-up of Minyoung, Yoojung, Eunji, and Yuna joined the group, and thus the departure of the four girls from Brave Entertainment in 2023 is considered to be the work of the 7-Year Curse.
6. 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.
7. miss A (2010-2017)
In 2010, miss A became the fastest girl group to win #1 on a music show at the time, 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, 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 Entertainment.
8. Lovelyz (2014-2021)
While Lovelyz never officially announced a disbandment, 7 of the 8 members departed from their original agency, Woollim Entertainment, in 2021. Much of the blame for this development was directed towards the agency for its lack of promotions for the group and the members. To the fans’ delight, the group gathered to celebrate their 8th anniversary in 2022, leaving hope that there would eventually be official group promotions again.
9. 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. They got back together as a 5-member group in 2022, receiving a positive response from fans and the general public.
10. GFRIEND (2015-2021)
GFRIEND’s disbandment came as a surprise for many people, as the group was seen as one with a very high chance of beating the 7-Year Curse. Unfortunately, all members decided to leave Source Music in May 2021. Since then, Eunha, SinB, and Umji have been achieving success as a trio called Viviz, while the other members have been focusing on solo activities.
11. 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.
12. 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 major rift in the fandom.
Fortunately, unlike a lot of other groups, 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 released “FOREVER 1” in August 2022.