by Raizel Liebler
The sudden departure of Jessica Jung from nine member group Girls’ Generation (AKA SNSD and So Nyeo Shi Dae) has caused shockwaves through the k-pop fandom community, considering that up to this point, the group has had all of its original members as of their start in 2007. Of course, there have been other departures and group breakups, but both the suddenness and the … weird way this was made public make this situation highly noteworthy. The message below is how the news broke, by Jessica posting this message in both Korean and English to her Weibo account (Weibo is a Chinese social media platform) at five in the morning. Until confirmation by SM Entertainment, her label/management company, fans thought that her account was hacked.
What exactly caused her departure isn’t clear — and likely won’t be made public — unless a lawsuit is filed. Oh, Girls’ Generation is the top (based on income) group in Korea, according to Forbes. These are some of the consequences of her departure:
The importance of “completeness” for fans
One of the most important element for fans of idol groups is the idealized view that they are all friends — and they all need to be together as a group. This is true even for non-k-pop groups: when Ginger Spice left the Spice Girls, fans felt betrayed — and that she had broken up the “family”. When they had a reunion tour, it was essential that all of them be present — including Posh Spice who has approximately two lines a song.
Even if fans didn’t like Jessica for whatever reason (and pushed for her to “change”), the group is now not “Girls’ Generation” in the same way. For fans, the Girls’ Generation that exists from this point on is incomplete.
The influence on the music and performances of SNSD
In terms of the music of Girls’ Generation, Jessica’s primary role is to be one of the major singers. While all them, sing in all of the songs and dance, Jessica tends to sing many of the focused parts in the songs.
Additionally, many of the dance moves used within their videos and live performances work in terms of threes — three dancers, three singers, and moving at the same time. For example, the dance moves for Gee work in three teams of three throughout — and without Jessica, these moves will not look as good. (For those new to k-pop, Jessica is in the blue pants in the above dance version of Gee).
Jessica’s departure may mean a heightened role for the first subgroup for Girls’ Generation — TaeSiTeo (TTS), like TLC, standing in for the names of the three members. The sound for this group, especially during its first iteration, was much more R&B than GG.
The fan love of the group as a whole will lead to anger against whomever is perceived to be responsible — SM Entertainment, Jessica, or both.
Was Jessica kicked out? Especially if details are revealed that show the dark side of the 360 degree way the k-pop industry controls its stars, SM Entertainment may be in for more fan backlash, after another partial or complete group implosion.
SM has weathered lawsuits — and scandals (but nothing like Scandal-brand scandals!), so unless seriously damaging information is released, the company should be fine. However, the way Jessica’s departure was handled — without putting out a joint press release immediately, will likely stir up fan concern and possible backlash.
The consequences to Jessica could be bad or good, depending on what she does and what information is revealed. Best case scenario — she has a successful solo career with fan support. But if it turns out she wasn’t “loyal” to Girls’ Generation, the fans will destroy any possibility of career success.
Jessica has a fashion line and that may be her focus. But she is American — and may focus her efforts on the English-speaking market, if she is interested in singing. Jessica’s sister, Krystal, is also an SM artist, but her group, f(x), also has had recent membership turmoil.
If Jessica and Krystal were able to work together as a duo, perhaps they would be able to break into the U.S. music industry in a way that larger groups — and non-Americans have had issues doing so.