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The 7-year jinx: K-pop bands with contracts expiring soon

No K-pop idol group stands exceptional to the concerns of the “seven-year jinx,” when they decide whether they will continue as a group. The phrase was coined as groups often disband or lose a member after seven years, the maximum period in which artists and agencies can sign a contract.

Whether the members will get past the notorious seven-year mark is almost impossible to predict, even for the members themselves, as the decision influences the interests and situations of many people working on and off the stage.

Some idols disband or put an indefinite hold to their group career even at their best heyday, whereas others make an early decision of renewal to put worried fans at ease.

An influx of rookies debuted into the K-pop scene in 2015. Among them, Seventeen and N. Flying have already announced renewal of contracts. Here is a look into some of the groups who have their expiration dates ahead. 

1. Twice

Twice (JYP Entertainment)
Twice (JYP Entertainment)
JYP Entertainment‘s nine-piece girl group Twice debuted on Oct. 20, 2015, through the survival show “Sixteen” and has been continuing a successful career until now.

Just last November, the group dropped their third studio album, “Formula of Love: O+T=<3,” which exceeded sales of 700,000 units with just the pre-orders, the number upped by over 200,000 from their previous album “Taste of Love.” The third LP landed at No. 3 on Billboard 200, the highest rank tallied on the album chart in the group’s career and also by any K-pop girl group‘s album.

They also dropped their first English song “The Feels” in October, officially foraying into the western music market. With the song, the group made their Billboard Hot 100 debut at No. 83, entering the chart as the only K-pop girl group in 2021.

Setting new milestones just last year, the future seems bright for Twice. Member Jeongyeon has been off the group schedules lately due to health issues, but the agency and the members have stood strong as a nine-piece.

2. Monsta X 
Monsta X (Starship Entertainment)
Monsta X (Starship Entertainment)
Monsta X was also formed through a survival program, “No Mercy,” and officially debuted under Starship Entertainment on May 14, 2015.

The group has enjoyed stardom both in and out of the country, setting a new career-high with every return.

Last year was especially big, as the group dropped their milestone 10th EP, “No Limit,” in November and went onto release their second US album, “The Dreaming.” Monsta X was also invited to iHeart Radio’s Jingle Ball tour last year, as the only Korean band to take part in the annual US concert other than BTS.

The group‘s leader Shownu is currently serving his mandatory military duty and the other members are set to enlist in the coming few years, but many popular boy bands have stayed together through the military hiatus, focusing on their individual careers in the meanwhile.

3. iKon
iKon (YG Entertainment)
iKon (YG Entertainment)
YG Entertainment’s boy band iKon also came together through a debut survival show, “Mix & Match,” and debuted as a septet on Sept. 15, 2015.

Backed by K-pop powerhouse YG Entertainment, the group made a splash into the K-pop scene and reaped a massive success with “Love Scenario” in 2018.

iKon seemed like it was on its way to a global stardom before the band‘s leader B.I was embroiled in a drug scandal in 2019 and eventually left the group in June that year.

It seemed like the act was gearing up for a new start last year, dropping a new single in over a year, “Why Why Why,” and also taking part in the Mnet’s boy band survival, “Kingdom.” However, the group has not dropped a new release since.

On top, member Bobby in August made a surprise announcement of his marriage and the his fiance‘s pregnancy, making it unlikely for the group to make a complete comeback in the near future.

4. Oh My Girl
Oh My Girl (WM Entertainment)
Oh My Girl (WM Entertainment)
The seven members of Oh My Girl debuted under WM Entertainment on April 21, 2015.

Not a splash from the start, Oh My Girl made its way up to the top steadily, getting its first TV show wins with “Bungee” in 2020, and going onto peak on the charts with smash hits “Nonstop” and “Dolphin” the same year and “Dun Dun Dance” in 2021.

Reports showed that five of the members -- Seunghee, Arin, YooA, Yubin (previously, Binnie), and Hyojung -- had renewed their contract with WM until April 20, 2025, while Jiho and Mimi have not decided yet.

5. Day 6
Day 6 (JYP Entertainment)
Day 6 (JYP Entertainment)
Debuting on Sept. 7, 2015, Day 6 is the first of JYP’s K-pop group that made a global success with band music.

Boasting a unique sound possible thanks to the all-rounded members who took part in most of the songs they have released, the group has multiple hits, including “You Were Beautiful,” “Time of Our Life” and “Zombie.”

After making a complete comeback as a five-piece in April 2021 with the members have been mostly focusing on individual and unit works. The act‘s three main producers, Young K, Dowoon and Wonpil, dropped a new EP “Right Through Me” in July, while Dowoon and Young K each made solo debuts later on.

Day 6’s renewal of contract remains uncertain, especially with member Jae‘s abrupt departure on Dec. 31, 2021. Three of the members, Sungjin, Young K and Dowoon, are enlisted in the military.

6. April 
April (DSP Media)
April (DSP Media)
The six-member group April debuted with DSP Media on Aug. 24, 2015, and also has there expiration upcoming.

After their comeback in July 2020 with “Hello Summer,” April has been astray from music production following several scandals surrounding bullying issues among the members and also related to member Lee Na-eun’s past school bullying.

Member Lee Hyun-joo on April 2021 claimed she had been bullied by some of the members and that the company had overlooked the situation. Soon after, an anonymous accuser wrote on the online community that a girl group member, presumably Na-eun, had assaulted her in elementary school.

Denying all accusations, DSP stated it will take legal measures against Hyun-joo and the online accuser. And on Jan. 7, the firm announced the school bullying accusations made against Na-eun were proved false, and that Na-eun was dropping her charges against the accuser.

7. CLC
CLC (Cube Entertainment)
CLC (Cube Entertainment)
Five-member girl group CLC debuted on March 19, 2015, under Cube Entertainment.

It‘s latest album was single “Helicopter” in September 2020. It seems possible CLC might discontinue as a group with the expiration date so near. In addition, member Choi Yu-jin recently re-debuted as a member of Kep1er, a project group formed from Mnet’s survival show “Girls‘ Planet 999.“

By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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