KELCEY LORENZO WRITES – In this episode of I Hate To See You Go (K-Pop Edition), Han Sunhwa will be departing from big-name girl group SECRET.

On September 26, TS Entertainment, SECRET’s management agency, confirmed that the singer/actress would be leaving the quartet after her contract expires in October. Following TS’ official statement, Sunhwa also posted a message to her Instagram, thanking her fans, fellow band members, and agency for supporting her during her seven-year run in the group.

항상 감사한 시크릿타임 팬 여러분들과 응원해주고 격려해주신 많은분들께.. 안녕하세요 한선화입니다 여느 때와 다른, 조심스런 마음으로 여러분들께 인사드립니다. 먼저 7년이란 시간동안 시크릿의 한 멤버로서 말로 다 표현할 수 없는 큰 사랑과 관심을 받으며 여러분들과 함께 울고 웃을 수 있어 많이 행복하고 감사했습니다. 지난날들을 다시 돌아보면 아무것도 모를 때에 혼자서는 할 수 없었던 대단한 일들을 함께 해내며 생각지도 못할 만큼의 사랑과 관심을 받았던 것 같아요. 어려운 선택을 한 만큼 아쉽기도 하고 서운하기도하지만.. 그동안의 추억을 소중하게 간직하고 지금까지 쏟아온 열정을 이젠 앞으로의 날들을 위해 쏟아보려고 합니다 새로운 시작을 앞두고 부족함과 미숙함도 많이 보이겠지만 언제 어디서든 여러분들 응원에 보답하며 묵묵히 열심히 하는 한사람이 되겠습니다. 그동안 함께 해주신 ts가족분들 멤버들 팬여러분 진심으로 감사합니다.

A photo posted by 한선화 (@shh_daily) on

While member departures were once viewed as a huge shocker that rattled the entire K-Pop fandom, especially those from well-known veteran groups, they have been a common occurrence over the past couple of years.

Dubbed as the “seven year curse,” there is a myth in K-Pop that claims that idol groups cannot go an average of seven years after debut without disbandment or member departures.

SECRET is just another addition to the long list of many established second/third generation idol groups to fall victim to this urban legend.

Girls’ Generation (Jessica, 2014), 2NE1 (Minzy, 2016), and B2ST (Hyunseung, 2016), all household names in K-Pop, experienced member departures during their seventh year as a group. MBLAQ lost two members, Lee Joon and Thunder, five years after releasing their 2009 debut song. DBSK (Yoochun, Jaejoong, Junsu, 2009) and f(x) (Sulli, 2015) both lost members six years post-debut. 4MINUTE (debuted in 2009) and KARA (debuted in 2008) disbanded in 2016.

While it does appear strange that these idols would leave their groups after years of clawing their way to the top, member departures and group disbandment can occur for many different reasons: lack of promotions, management disputes, tensions between members, pursuit of a different career, health complications, to name a few. Even something as simple as an idol’s contract expiring and he or she declining to renew it can result in an idol leaving the ‘life in the spotlight’ behind.

The future for the veteran group may seem bleak, but there are a number second and third gen groups, such as Big Bang, SHINee, Infinite, Sistar, and Rainbow, who are still going strong and have not experienced any member departures/changes. But the fact of the matter is that these groups, many of whom reached the peak of their popularity in the late-2000s/early-2010s, are no longer the “hot topic” of K-Pop.

With K-Pop rapidly gaining more international attention and popularity, many newer K-Pop fans discover the genre through the industry’s current “trend groups,” such as TWICE and BTS, rather than the veterans who came before them. Just like anything in pop culture, trends come and go, and K-Pop is no different.

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