Recently, K-Pop idol groups have continued to promote together despite being separated under different agencies. With this, attention is focused on whether the “separate yet together” strategy will become a trend in the K-Pop industry.
In terms of first-generation idol groups such as g.o.d, which is about to celebrate its 25th debut anniversary next year, it is considered one of the prime examples of the so-called “longevity idols.” They once again proved their status as a national group by selling out last year’s concert.
g.o.d debuted in 1999, and even after member Yoon Kye Sang left in 2004, the group continued to pursue individual activities without declaring disbandment and returned as a complete group in 2014, holding a 15th debut anniversary concert.
Except for members Danny Ahn and Kim Tae Woo, all members work with different agencies but consistently perform as a complete group.
Group Koyote is another example of a representative group that has stayed together long-term. Celebrating the 25th debut anniversary this year, they released a new song, created an exclusive concert brand, and are scheduled to perform next month.
TVXQ, which has continuously been a hot topic since its debut, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Although they experienced ups and downs in 2009, with three members leaving the group, the remaining two members continued their activities. They plan to release the ninth full-length album in December and hold concerts to celebrate their anniversary.
Girls’ Generation, the longest-running female idol group, confirmed its popularity by releasing an album celebrating its 15th debut anniversary last year. After debuting in 2007, Jessica left the group, and half of the members left SM Entertainment, but the group continues to promote together.
In addition, SHINee held a fan meeting to celebrate its 15th debut anniversary this year, broadcast live in 102 regions around the world. Idol group 2PM also celebrated their 15th debut anniversary last month.
If you look at idol members who have enjoyed popularity for a long time, most focus on individual rather than group activities. In particular, most members are scattered in different agencies, and only the original agency manages the group activities.
In SM, Super Junior and Girls’ Generation are following this type of activity, and most recently, EXO has also found itself in a similar situation with member D.O.’s transfer to a new agency. SM also allows EXO members to engage in individual activities through companies established by the members themselves under exclusive contracts with the company.
In addition, groups such as KARA, MAMAMOO, and GOT7 continue their activities with members split into various agencies.
One factor that makes this “separate yet together” method possible is that, unlike in the past, more agencies guarantee flexible activities. As idol members’ activities become longer, their desire for individual activities increases, and they seek an agency to support them sufficiently.
In the past, when a member left the agency for this reason, group activities generally ended as well, but recently, the industry has changed. From the agency’s perspective, this method is a strategy that only saves the cost of supporting each member’s solo activities, but also protects the IP (intellectual property) of the group. It is a win-win for both parties as members can engage in more active individual activities while preserving the group’s fandom.
Kim Young Dae, a popular music critic, said, “As the millennial generation shows solid purchasing power as consumers, a market is emerging.” Kim Yun Ha, a popular music critic, also predicted, “New idols entering the market will look to senior idols who have been active for a long time as an example. I think the number of long-serving idols will gradually increase.”