Say Goodbye to the Wonder Years

20130210_theoneshots_goodbye01Let them go. You need to let them go. Who? All of them. Big Bang, Wonder Girls, Epik High, 2PM, U-KISS, Girls’ Generation, all of them. Famous and unknown, good and bad, it’s time to say “Goodbye” to the Wonder Girls and to the hallyu wave in general. It’s over. The tremor at the bottom of the sea in the Korean music industry that triggered a massive tidal wave of popularity and style is gone. It was just that: a wave, singular. It’s time for fans to let go and for idols to step down from their pedestals and become people once more.

You’re bewildered. I can tell. I was too when this most morbid notion occurred to me. It was brought on by the engagement of Sunye, leader of the Wonder Girls, and I don’t know why but I find her act very brave. I guess it’s because she was declaring to the world that she was no one’s “girl” any longer. In a world where the hottest scandals revolve around idols who date–let alone have sex–a celebrity validating her status as a grown, mature female in a dignified way is astonishing to me, and it sounds rather like a denouement to her career.

Now, JYP can’t stress enough how this won’t be the end of the Wonder Girls, but it should be. Let it JYP. And the same goes for all Wonderfuls, including myself. If ever there was a sign of someone hanging up the towel and calling it a day, it’s the leader of a group calling quits to the crazy whirlwind of drama and mess that is an idol’s life by anchoring herself to something stable and concrete, doing something non-idols do, which is settle down. And that got me thinking.


This is the end. JYP and fans can say how they’re just going to do solo promotions and come back. Just like AJ from U-KISS, who went to college for one semester and then came back. Just like Kangin of Super Junior, who went to the army and came back. Just like the entire idol group Shinhwa, who left the scene altogether and came back as a whole. But the fact is that they shouldn’t and, hopefully, they won’t for their own sakes, at the very least. If they truly wish to remain celebrities and to produce music as a career, they must adapt and grow, and K-Pop cannot let them do that.

So when CAN we let them all move on finally? I mean, will 40-year-old SONEs still be cheering on the next comeback of the 50-year-old GIRL group SNSD? No. At some point, the signs start showing that you just can’t squeeze any more Rain out of these idols. The group, the songs and the popularity all start to unravel simultaneously. But how does one tell? How do we initiate that emotional heartbreak?


Answering that are the groups of old, the stuff of legends, who have become just that in the K-ingdom: legends. Factors upon factors contribute to the breaking up of music groups, the biggest of which being age, money and time. Kangta of H.O.T. says that the group disbanded over what turned out to be a small misunderstanding, but because they were all so young and naturally immature, it was blown way out of proportion. Yunho remarks again how crucial of a difference age makes when it comes to deciding financial matters when he reflects on the history of DBSK. He specifically comments that their split into DBSK and JYJ did involve the trio trying to break out of SM Entertainment‘s contract for, among other reasons, money. Meanwhile, the girl group S.E.S. ended their time in the spotlight on their own terms, stating that when their contract expired after five years, they realized it was time to move on, so they did and left the stage, their fans and their careers on a high note. Same thing happened with the boy group Sechskies, whose lead singer Eun Ji Won was the first one to suggest a parting of ways. He said that during their last performance, it was too much to take in and that they were all tearfully regretting the decision, but looking back, he realizes that it was the right one to make.

In light of that statement, I want groups like Big Bang and Girls’ Generation to break up.


I’m writing this article from the afterlife now because I have most certainly been stoned to death and hung in effigy by VIPs and SONEs, but I stand by my statement. As the wise Eun Ji Won once said, it is the best time in their career for them to bow out and exit stage right. Big Bang leaving on a high note would definitely be a swan song to remember, given how tumultuous their careers were before “Alive” and how they were on the verge of breaking up with a bad reputation. Thankfully, they’ve won back the fascination of the world and their good name, so naturally, the best and hardest thing to do would be to disband. But I’m not delusional. I know they won’t, but I feel like everyone should consider Seo Taiji and Boys, who did exactly what I suggested. (Besides, would G-Dragon go on to be the next YG? Hmm, possibilities.)

As far as Girls’ Generation is concerned, they’ve failed and will continue to fail at recreating the success of “Gee” and “Genie.” Ever since “The Boys,” they’ve done nothing but release and promote music that has plainly marred their record of records, and has, at the very least, “confused” even the most faithful of SONEs with what they’re trying to do. Also, can one consider the logic of trying to develop the image of a mature woman when your group is called GIRLS’ Generation?

For good measure, let’s also add Super Junior to the mix, who face the same problem as their female counterparts, but add the fact that their replacements have already been established and show no signs of going anywhere any time soon. I’m talking about EXO, the new Super Junior, and how they can’t get the time, attention or material they need because Super Junior refuses to admit that they’re old news. Just like the Wonder Girls, their leader Leeteuk has left, once again reshaping their drastically withering group dynamic. And with the other members’ enlistment dates approaching and their increasing amounts of individual activities, it’s only a matter of time before they just fizzle out. The question is, will they leave on their own terms or be forced to step down?

And for all the people I’ve hurt with my opinion, please think about how precarious the word “goodbye” is in the music industry. Of course, a break up can sometimes mean something more final. Justin Timberlake isn’t planning on doing anything with his ex-members any time soon, and lord knows if the DB5K rumors will ever amount to anything more than rumors. But we can still hope. Recently though, to the delightful surprise of all Americans, Beyoncé reunited Destiny’s Child for the Super Bowl halftime show. The Spice Girls and Take That reunited last year to perform at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, both relishing in the joy of all their old fans who had grown up while they were gone but had never forgotten the place they had in their hearts. But who knows? Maybe these K-Pop groups will never break up and they’ll carry on decades from now, like Maroon 5 or U2?


In a place as fantastical as the K-ingdom there’s something karmic and hopeful to be said about a culture that’s marketed the word “comeback.” Imagine yourself years from now. Imagine where you’ll be in your life. Imagine your daily routine, interactions with your spouse, a typical good and bad day. And then imagine that you suddenly hear that your favorites are coming back just one more time – just One. More. Time. – allowing you to revel and reminisce on all the CDs and merchandise you bought and went broke over, all the live performances and music show wins you watched at outrageous times depending on where you lived, all the quizzes you partook in, all the fan wars, all the fanfiction you read/wrote, all the scandals, all the song lyrics and fan chants – oh the fan chants – that you memorized faster and harder than your social security number and homework assignments. All of that will come flooding back to you and you’ll cherish them all the more. But first…they have to leave. First, they have to go.

And you must let them go.

(Hot Spicy Kimchi, jekiforever, TV Report, JYPE)

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    • fishie

      I seriously bring up a very interesting point. When Sunye announced her marriage it definitely turned heads and really, her decision is a really brave one and I admire her all the more for it, but it doesn’t feel like she will continue on with the Wonder Girls. It’s true though, many of the 1st generation idols have started a new chapter in their lives whether it be as a soloist, an actor, a normal person, someone BTS of KPOP, or in Shinhwa’s case still holding the name, but as individuals. Despite how they “left”, they all carry the name of legends. Taking one if the groups you’ve mention, Super Junior: no matter how many EXO fans deny it, EXO is their likely replacement (from the K & M grouping right from the get go, to the whole 12 members thing); SM needs some source of money flow to make up for the time SJ will be in the army and EXO is it, and as must as I love SJ dearly from the bottom of my heart (they were the ones to bring me into KPOP even if DBSK’s Hug was the first song I heard), I don’t want to start to just slowly fade into the background and rather leave a lasting impression in KPOP history. We keep talking about 1st and 2nd generation, but when can we really start calling all these rookies 3rd and 4th generation? As for letting the singular “wave” go, I think that’s too hard for now :p

      • fishie

        **You (wow…typo, the first world should be you OTL)

        • SamiSwanSion

          I understood, no worries my friend. I couldn’t fit the 3rd and 4th gen idols on this one post, as I’ve already broken too many hearts. You understand.

    • XiaoLuNoona

      Uh. I know EVERYTHING will fizzle out in its own time :( It’s always sad to realize that. Well, anyway, I believe it’s all up to the fans, whether they’d still support their fave groups or not. Their careers as band members might come to an end but their lives as the artists whom we love most will never cease to exist in our hearts.

      Also, I always hate the fact that EXO is being called the NEXT Super Junior. I mean, okay they’re 12…okay, they’re also aiming for the Chinese market. But they can’t always be called as the next whatever. SJ & EXO are my top bias groups. SJ will never have a next SJ because they’re the one and only SJ to walk this Earth! I know, they paved way for EXO, too but that doesn’t mean that we will always say that they will replace SJ. #rant XD

      The two groups’ team dynamics are different and EXO has a long way to go. While some might say SJ is struggling now without a core, we can’t say that they should just disband. I know they’re getting older, I know, after some time, they might want to settle down, too. But they love their job so much that they can still see themselves performing onstage years later this Hallyu Wave (well, minus the outrageous stage outfits, maybe XD). #rantparttwo

      It’s hard to let go of something you have loved. I think I can say, after a few years or so, that I have loved these people during my most naive years and that they have somewhat brought me maturity. It’s a nice memory to keep and it’s worthwhile to cherish.

      For now, let’s just enjoy the music, ride the crazy wave, and continue to love these amazing people who has definitely changed our lives. :)

    • yuki kokoro

      “And you must let them go.”

      Please tell me how I can do that when the only thing I think about is the first time I will see them in concert? Seriously, even how much I think you are right, it will broke my heart if they disband before I can see them live. I know it’s selfish but it’s how I feel now because I know that they don’t want to disband. If that changes and they want to make something else with their life, I will totally support them while thinking about your sage words that maybe, someday in 10 years or so, I will have my only chance.

      • Anonymous

        None of us would want to let them go, but I think whatever the end result may be if they do go, we should at least accept it and still support them as people who brought us joy and entertainment 😀 Many of the 1st generation idols still have very loyal fans even though they are no longer introducing themselves as I’m xx of xx group. I think in the end it’s more of accepting their leave (when they do) more so than letting them go.

    • dewaanifordrama

      While this is neither here nor there…and I don’t really agree or disagree, I would say that if these idols have something else they want to pursue once they disband, sure, why not let them. Sunye has something meaningful in her life she wants to pursue rather than being an idol, AJ went back to college for a bit, etc. Disbanding though just because we think perhaps they are beginning to reach their K-pop expiration point, well…what if they just don’t want to? Maybe that’s a choice they want to make whether or not they want to live as idols forever or not. It’s as much their choice to stay (or go) as us letting them go when they feel like they want to go.

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    • Waffles

      I didn’t really understand this article. At first you were saying WE needed to let these people go and then you were saying that these bands should break up? I’m not sure who you were addressing here. Are you saying that everyone should stop liking k-pop because it’s not “cool” anymore? This whole article was really confusing and seemed kind of condescending to be honest. If you could clarify any of this, I would appreciate it.

      • SamiSwanSion

        Yes WE need to let them go and they’ll have to break up either before or after but they need to. I mean I can only regurgitate what I wrote. And I’m sorry you feel slighted but I’m not condescending and neither was this piece.

        • Waffles

          I still don’t understand. It’s like you’re acting like Korean pop music didn’t exist before the hallyu wave? Are you addressing everyone who listens to Korean pop music? Or the obsessive fans? I think that’s what I’m most confused about. Thank you for replying in a polite manner by the way!

    • Dinda

      why not let them develop? You can’t really compare them to groups like spice girls and stuff because the culture that shaped them is completely different. These groups were trained to be exactly that, groups, meanwhile the spice girIs never really got the concept of “teamwork”.Personally, I think that the kpop groups, the “2nd generation” are trying a lot of new stuff, I have especially high hopes for Gdragon of Bigbang to reshape the genre with his innovation. So seriously, why not let these groups just develop and make the genre of Kpop more than it already is? I think your a bit too quick on the trigger here with “letting them go”. I understand what you’re saying about the western groups like Spice Girls and N’Sync and so on but… these aren’t western groups they are Korean.

    • Rodney Salazar

      Wow… I cannot believe that a lot of thought, attempted profundity and seeming eloquence has been inserted in this most extraordinary piece of buffoonery ever put in words.

    • Min jae

      i hate what you are trying to say..saying that we should let them step them from their stardom, sure..but let them go?? in what way?? as if u r trying to say let them go by means of not supporting them anymore, which is the only way a kpop fan will let go of its idols..let those kpop groups go by their own, not convincing fans to “let them go”..that is just plain messed up thinking..we, the fans, let them rise to fame and fortune, they are even thankful for it, and then we just let them go?? if that happens, you are a very, very bad person..*just my own opinion about your a-not-so-pleasant-to-read-for-some-people article :))

    • eriestarr

      I really liked this site because I thought the articles weren’t imposing their beliefs and when I read the first paragraph I totally understood what you felt with WGs Sunye’s marriage– I’ve been into Koop for 7 years and I still like it now. Without reading your article, I’ve been asking myself if I should still like Koop… I realized this because I moved from beng just a Big Bang Fan to also being a BAP fan, however, I don’t think it’s right to say that they should break up while they’re in the height of their popularity or at the pinnacle of their careers. They do it for the music, at least I know bg bang does. They want to pursue music together, as a group. They love what they’re doing and as GD stated in one interview, he doesn’t plan to keep being an idol (BBs technically an idol but isn’t being treated like one anyway anymore) and plans to move to being like papa YG when the time comes, but no one has the right to dictate how the future of these groups and their fans should look like, even if you were merely suggesting it or even stating it. With such realizations (mine is also similar to yours, promise), I thought that the best way for me to handle this is to simply enjoy the now. Their music. Their presence. The entertainment they give us. I would still be a bigbang fan 30 years from now because I love their music, not because they are idols who looked good n camera but because they mean something to me. If they end up breaking up like dbsk, I would still be a fan, just like the many longing Cassies. I’m sure it’s the same for ABBA fans and Westlife fans, Just my two centavos.

    • NyNy

      Despite your opinion, the Wonder Girls are on hiatus. Of course we don’t know what is yet to happen in the near future since there has never been a girl group that has had a member get married and have a child and (perhaps) come back into the industry. Hopefully in ’15/’16 we’ll know what will happen soon.