Out of all the celebrities who have left their idol groups and set out independently, only a handful have succeeded. From the left, Eun Jiwon who is doing extremely well in a entertainment program, Lee Hyori who has succeeded as an actress as well as a singer, and Ok Juhyun who now performs in musicals.
Top idol group TVXQ’s exclusive contract dispute with their agency SM Entertainment has triggered voices that call for a change of how young idol stars are treated and trained. Although there have been dance groups who received the passionate support of teens in the past, the ‘Idol system’ in which agencies train and raise their stars is quite recent as it started in the 1990s.
Where are the first generation idols now?
Many of singers who were in the first generation idol groups, such as H.O.T. SechsKies, Fin.K.L. and S.E.S., have left their original agencies and are currently participating in solo activities. However, they have not been able to achieve the success they achieved when they were still part of idol groups. Lee Hyori, who was labeled a ‘Sexy Icon’ in 2000, has been testing the waters of acting, singing and shooting commercials and has been greatly successful in all three areas. Eun Jiwon stands out as he has gained much love from all age groups for his appearance in a popular TV entertainment program. In the case of Ok Juhyun and Bada, they have been using their amazing vocal abilities to succeed in musicals and the K-pop industry.
In the case of popular group GOD, who came after the first generation idol groups, the members have all gone solo with acting and singing but they have not been able to make as big an impact as they did when they were together.
In the case of long-running group Shinhwa, their activities have halted due to the enlistment of various members to complete their military service, but the others are busy with their solo activities.
After breaking off, they must train their abilities to be self-sustainable
The life of an idol group is very short and many say the longest an idol group will probably go is five years. This dispute TVXQ has with SM Entertainment may turn out like H.O.T.’s dispute with the agency, with the group naturally disbanding when the contract expires. However, it is not easy for a star to succeed on his own after he leaves his agency.
These days, many agencies teach each idol group member many talents to make them ‘multi-entertainers.’ However, this is not enough to be self-sustainable later on. A representative of A Agency said, “Compared to the first generation idols, idols these days are better at everything from composing and writing lyrics to playing instruments, to acting. However, there is a limit to all of these things,” and “Agencies should try to nurture the singer’s creativity level.”
Singer B, former member of an idol group, said, “When you become a trainee at an agency, they only teach you what they want you to know. So when you leave the agency and try to go solo, you don’t have all the abilities to do so because they didn’t teach you enough,” and “Idol group members can only survive afterwards if they’ve properly prepared their own unique talents.”
Music Critic Lim Jinmo said, “What is embarrassing about the current TVXQ dispute is that people are focusing only on the money aspect with no thought of any issues dealing with their music,” and “Agencies shouldn’t just focus on the income, they should be actively interested about the education that builds character and the development of individual talents if they want to maintain good relations with their celebrities.”
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