2023 has been a year of significant transitions in the K-Pop industry, particularly for SM Entertainment. Many idols from popular groups have reached the end of their contracts with the company.
While some have chosen not to renew, opting to establish their own entertainment ventures, they have agreed to continue group promotions under SM. This decision has spared fans the heartache of complete disbandment, but it marks a new era for these idols’ individual careers nevertheless.
1. EXO’s D.O.
The news of D.O.’s departure from SM Entertainment came as a surprise to many. On October 18, SM confirmed that D.O.’s exclusive contract would end in early November. Following discussions, it was agreed that D.O. would continue his involvement with EXO through SM, while his acting and solo pursuits would be managed by his new company, formed in collaboration with a former manager from SM.
2. Girls’ Generation’s Sunny
On August 7, Sunny took to Instagram to share her decision with fans. Reflecting on her 16-year journey with Girls’ Generation, she expressed her gratitude to SM Entertainment for nurturing her career. Sunny highlighted her readiness to explore new horizons and assured fans of her unwavering commitment to her “Energizer” persona, promising to continue sharing positive energy in her future endeavors.
3. Super Junior’s Kyuhyun
SM Entertainment announced that while Super Junior as a group renewed their contract with the company, Kyuhyun, alongside Eunhyuk and Donghae, opted not to renew their individual contracts. Kyuhyun joined Antenna, citing his desire to challenge himself musically while maintaining his role in Super Junior through a separate contract. He reassured fans on a variety show that this transition would not significantly impact his group activities.
4. Super Junior’s Dongahe & Eunhyuk
Donghae and Eunhyuk embarked on a new journey by establishing ODE Entertainment. They announced the formation of their company on August 31, with both taking up the mantle of co-CEOs. Joining them is Won Yong Sun, a former SM manager who worked closely with Super Junior. This move marks a significant step for the duo, showcasing their readiness to handle both the creative and business aspects of their careers.