Someone once told me that what makes T-ara so great is that they somehow manage to be both the best and the absolute worst girl group all at once. I agree, and I love T-ara just as much when they’re topping the charts as I do when they’re embroiled in some kind of trashy tabloid scandal. So, when their newest member, Areum, announced last night that she was leaving T-ara after just one year to pursue a solo career in hip-hop or some shit, I wasn’t too worried.
Areum’s departure is both disappointing and hilarious, and the kind of thing that could only happen to T-ara. I found her to be an asset to the group and a perfect replacement for Hwayoung, but I’m not as attached to her as I am to the other members, so I can deal with her jumping ship at such an inconvenient time and allowing T-ara to keep their title as Asia’s most gloriously messy girl group.
If we’re to believe the reasons Areum gave us for her leaving as the truth, there’s nobody to really blame in this situation. CCM’s Kim Kwang Soo, as awful as he is, righted the wrongs he made with Hwayoung’s awkward entry into T-ara with Areum. He utilized her right off the bat, giving her a fair amount of lines in “Don’t Leave” and “Day By Day,” then giving her a special ballad single, “Day and Night,” during the “Sexy Love” promotions. He even stuck her in T-ara N4 alongside the most popular members of the group, so you can’t say that KKS did bad by her like he did with Hwayoung.
However, it’s not hard to see why Areum still wanted to split. When she joined T-ara, their popularity was at an all-time high. They had just come off the biggest K-pop single of 2011 with “Roly Poly,” and were about to repeat the feat with “Lovey-Dovey.” Multiple members had successfully crossed over into acting, they were all raking in money with CFs and endorsements, they’d made chart history in Japan, and were right on the brink of replacing 2NE1 as Korea’s second biggest girl group (after SNSD, obviously).
Then the Hwayoung scandal happened.
It took just a couple of days for T-ara to go from K-pop royalty to the most unfairly hated celebrities in South Korea, so of course Areum wanted out. Anyone would. It’s not what she signed up for when she joined T-ara, and she didn’t deserve to be dragged into something so big and nasty and out of her control.
Now T-ara’s returning to its original six-member lineup, which was last active back in early 2010 when Absolute First Album was re-released as Breaking Heart. Even better is that the group’s underage trainee member, Dani, is now replacing Areum in the T-ara N4 unit, but probably won’t join the main T-ara, which I’m sure we can all agree is the best decision for everybody involved.
Although my favorite T-ara lineup was 7-ara with Hwayoung, I’m excited to see the group go back to its original formation. Ever since Areum and Dani were announced as new members, there’s been a black cloud of confusion awkwardly hanging over T-ara, but now that things have finally been sorted out, both T-ara and the fans can have some peace of mind and look forward to a fresh start. And let’s just say, hypothetically, that T-ara finally burns-out by next year and decides to split for good (god forbid!), I know I’d feel better as a fan seeing the group go out just as they started, as the original six.
Now bring on Absolute Second Album!