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Is NewJeans headed for a long 'break'?

Abruptly changing NewJeans' unique style could be death knell for popular K-pop group

By Kim Jae-heun

Published : May 16, 2024 - 16:57

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Hybe CEO Park Ji-won (Hybe) Hybe CEO Park Ji-won (Hybe)

If NewJeans, the popular K-pop girl band under the music label Ador, were "given" a year and a half "break" after their Tokyo Dome concerts in Japan next month as Hybe CEO Park Ji-won promised the parents of NewJeans members, the still-new band could be critically impacted, music critics said Thursday.

Three parents of NewJeans members met with Park on April 25 -- the day Ador CEO Min Hee-jin held a press conference to refute an alleged attempt to usurp the management rights of the band from Hybe, Ador's parent company, the local media reported Monday.

Park told the NewJeans members' parents that Hybe plans to give a long break to the group after the June 26 and 27 Tokyo Dome concerts, without disclosing the duration of the break, according to the report. Park mentioned he will also bring on a Grammy-winning music producer to work with NewJeans, which could take up to one year and six months just for casting.

Music critics say it is a preposterous plan that could be detrimental to the members at this stage in their careers.

“The current trend in the local entertainment scene is K-pop groups taking fewer and fewer breaks to the point where making a comeback is almost meaningless. K-pop groups release a new single every month, and when they are not pursuing musical activities, they produce their own content as well as communicate with fans online regularly. Even a month-and-a-half break can be seen as critical to a K-pop group,” music critic Lim Hee-yun said, Thursday.

Since debuting in July 2022, NewJeans has released two extended plays, one single album, 10 singles and five promotional singles.

NewJeans (Ador) NewJeans (Ador)

Another music critic, Lee Do-heon, believes it would be naive to take Park’s words at face value.

“It is normal for K-pop groups to take a short break between new album promotions. But when the CEO says he wants to give a long break, it can make musicians or their parents worry,” Lee said on Thursday.

“There is a rumor that Hybe will erase Min’s influence from NewJeans' future concepts and music style (after the CEO is dismissed). This goes against Hybe’s corporate philosophy of protecting creative freedom.”

But Hybe said Park's remarks did not mean a halt in NewJeans’ musical activities but rather were meant to support the girl group and take good care of them.

“From what we've heard, Park would not have mentioned a (Grammy-winning) producer to work with NewJeans if he intended to put them on a hiatus,” Hybe said Friday.

Lim also has doubts concerning the girl group collaborating with a Grammy-winning producer as it could obscure its distinctive musical style.

"NewJeans has been working with local indie musicians such as 250 and FRNK of Beats And Natives Alike, better known as BANA, Danish singer-songwriter Erika de Casier and Swedish artist Ylva Dimberg. They have given NewJeans a unique music style that is much beloved by its fans. It would be an act of suicide to change all that abruptly by hiring a new music producer who is more familiar with American music," Lim said.