Numerous groups debut each year in the world of K-Pop, but only a couple make their way to mainstream recognition. A majority of groups are left in the dust or are simply neglected by their companies while the members drown from debt. Oftentimes, even popular groups are subject to mistreatment and unfair contracts that subdue their ability to break through the rut that their companies put them in. This often leads to members having to leave their groups or find jobs elsewhere to support themselves, ultimately causing the group to disband or undergo line-up changes, only for the cycle to repeat all over again. As such, it is no shock that a lot of groups that still hold a special place in fans’ hearts faded away too soon when they rightfully deserved much more recognition.
MADTOWN was formed in 2014 by J. Tune Camp. Members Moos, Daewon, Lee Geon, Jota, Heo Jun, Buffy, and H.O. debuted with their first album ‘Mad Town’ on October 6, 2014. The group almost immediately received attention for their unique style, which saw an upward trajectory until 2016, when J.Tune Camp announced they would be shutting down. MADTOWN was consequently sold to GNI Entertainment for 300 Million Won. The CEO of GNI Group was then arrested for fraud in February of 2017, following which MADTOWN’s agency’s CEO also got arrested for fraud. The company shut down and all the staff, including MADTOWN’s manager, quit. MADTOWN then continued their activities, supporting themselves out of their own pockets even after they got evicted from their dorm. Soon, all 7 members filed an injunction in the Seoul Central District Court to terminate their contracts and confirm its nonexistence. The court ruled in their favor and towards the end of 2017, MADTOWN’s legal representative revealed that the group was preparing to disband. While all the members have gone their own ways now with their solo careers, their synergy as a group was extraordinary and missed by fans.
f(x) was undeniably revolutionary when it came to girl groups and their sound was definitely one of a king. Every single member had a charm of their own and the group as a whole was immensely loved by fans, both in Korea and overseas. However, SM Entertainment neglected their growth and development as they were passed over for comebacks numerous times while SM focused on fresher girl groups that were up for debut. Due to the notorious Chinese ban on Korean content, it was hard to navigate promotions with a Chinese member. On top of this, the tragic loss of Sulli was something that could not be overcome. It was only a matter of time before SM announced their disbandment and that was exactly what happened.
SS501 debuted way back in 2005 and one of those groups responsible for the proliferation of the Hallyu wave. They were met with incredible success and love from fans both in Korea as well as worldwide. However, only five years after their debut, in 2010, DSP Media, their agency, announced that the group would be terminating promotional activities as the members' contracts would be expiring soon. The members stated that they would not be officially disbanding, but because no company was willing to take on the group as a whole, they had no choice but to focus on their solo careers instead. Ever since, there have been quite a few times where news about a possible reunion has caused waves in the K-Pop industry. However, such a thing never actually came to fruition.
T-ara was extremely close to taking the next National Girl Group spot when a terrible “bullying” controversy struck the group down with one blow. T-ara had new members added to their lineup and one such member, Hwayoung, had fallen into conflict with the rest of the group, which created an impression that the other members were bullying her. Netizens dug deeper into this issue and figured that there was no real bullying and that, in all possibility, Hwayoung was simply playing the victim. When the controversy got out of hand, their company Core Contents Media announced the abrupt departure of Hwayoung from the group due to an internal conflict of interest, which was harming their overall teamwork. The group suspended activities after this, which caused them to basically fall off the radar for quite a while. Eventually, all the remaining members except for Qri, Jiyeon, Hyomin, and Eunjung, decided not to renew their contracts. T-ara was ultimately overshadowed by more up and coming group; their success remained a legend of the past. On October 2, 2020, the four final members of the group appeared for a special performance on Chuseok for the SBS show ‘Hidden Golden Tracks Concert.’ They received an incredible response, which only speaks of how much fans have missed the group.
B.A.P saw an amazing run during their promotional peak, where they had back-to-back chart-topping hits, numerous world tours and even held the reins in popularising K-Pop in the West. However, owing to unresolved conflicts, unexplained hiatuses, and lawsuits, B.A.P could not sustain the environment for growth. B.A.P’s debut was undeniably one of the best debuts in K-Pop, and the Warriors EP even peaked at number 10 on the Billboard World Albums Chart. Every single comeback was even more iconic than the one before. ‘One Shot’ broke records, ranking number 1 on the Billboard World Albums Chart. Towards the end of 2014, reports started coming up that all B.A.P members had filed a lawsuit against their label TS Entertainment for violating the Fair Trade Commission’s policy on slave contracts. From unfair working conditions to shady profit distribution, B.A.P was battling all sorts of corporate evils in their creative journey. While they were said to have made over $9 Million in 3 years, the members only received $18 thousand each for the same period of time. While their company blatantly denied the accusations, B.A.P took to filing another lawsuit for defamation of character. Finally, the two parties came to an agreement, but the group took a hiatus until their next comeback almost a year later. Despite having lost their momentum, B.A.P still made super-hit comebacks one after another even though Yongguk had to sit out from the activities due to being diagnosed with panic disorder and anxiety. By 2016, B.A.P had taken the title for being the K-Pop act with most number 1s on the World Albums Chart. After a busy year in 2017, Yongguk and Zelo left the company with the expiration of their contracts. In 2019, the rest of the members left the company as well, leaving the fate of B.A.P up in the air. After everything they went through, it is not an exaggeration to say that TS Entertainment wasted the potential of what could have been one of the best K-Pop acts in the history of world music and that B.A.P was way ahead of their time.
Another group that fell victim to a nonsense controversy leading to their ultimate disbandment was 2NE1. Media did what it does best and sensationalized a report involving Park Bom, who was merely receiving prescription anti-depressants from the US, creating a drug abuse scandal out of it. Not only was Bom battling difficult mental health issues, but she also had to tackle the ruthless media, which finally led her to take an indefinite hiatus. The group halted all activities during this period, even though 2NE1 was at the peak of its success. The members took this time to focus on their individual careers before reuniting again for a special and much-awaited performance in the Mnet Music Awards of 2015 and once again, going on a hiatus as a group. Soon it was revealed that Minzy had left the company YG announced a little later that the group would be disbanding. Having fallen right from the peak of glory, 2NE1 missed out on becoming one of the biggest girl groups in the history of K-Pop because of their company’s poor management and unfortunate media uproar. To this day, fans still hope that the girls will reunite and show the world how it’s done once more.