Sometimes when I’m walking around listening to K-pop through my headphones, I’ll think about which group I’d be most upset to see disband. Even though Brown Eyed Girls and T-ara are my two favourite girl groups, the break-up of KARA is always the one I imagine would bring me the most heartache. There’s something so pure and unspoiled about KARA, as if they were hand-crafted by angels in heaven and brought down to earth to spread sunshine and happiness. Like IU, they’re the epitome of wholesome beauty and femininity, like an old-fashioned, idealistic version of the perfect girlfriend or little sister (a trait that the brilliant Sweetune knows how to bring out through their flawless music). It doesn’t matter that they can’t really sing or that they may be nothing like the image that they present to the public; as long as they come out smiling and play the part, it’s all good.
There isn’t a K-pop song that brings me more unadulterated joy than “Honey” and “Rock U,” there isn’t one more fun than the Japanese version of “Mister,” and “It’s mine! This is mine!” remains one of K-pop’s greatest lyrics.
Basically, a world without KARA isn’t a world I wanna live in, so I’m practically suicidal right now (not really, but yeah) following the shocking news of Nicole’s official departure, effective January, and the possible departure of Jiyoung.
Leaving KARA is a stupid career move on Nicole’s part, but probably a great personal decision. Being a K-pop idol is seriously hard work, and Nicole’s been doing it since she was 15-years-old. With the amount of schedules KARA has between Korea and Japan, they probably work 24/7 with little to no holidays, which means that Nicole’s probably never really had a personal life or done any “normal” things that young people do. Now 21-years-old and with some money in the bank, Nicole –who was born in L.A. and grew up in California– is probably eager to have some experiences outside of being a perfect little pop star.
There’s also the matter of KARA’s recent overblown Radio Star scandal, which saw the girls become the victims of Korean netizens’ typically evil vitriol for the simple crime of an awkward variety show appearance. I suspect that this is a large part of the the reason why Jiyoung is considering pulling a Sunmi and becoming a student, as she really got the brunt of the abuse next to Hara. It might even factor into Nicole’s decision, too, as just DAYS before the scandal broke, DSP Media stated that contract negotiations were going well and that KARA would likely continue on as normal.
The light at the end of the tunnel is that Hara, Seungyeon, and Gyuri will keep on as KARA, so we’ll either get them as a trio or a foursome next year. KARA’s record sales have declined over the past year and it’s no secret that they’re kind of considered old news among K-pop and J-pop fans. A drastic line-up change –such as relaunching as a trio– could be the key to revitalizing KARA. TVXQ’s sales in Japan actually increased after JYJ left, although Max and Yunho came out with a totally different sound and style than they’d done before. KARA will probably have to do something similar if Jiyoung leaves, or else it”ll just be like the old KARA, only not as good.
Anyway, I’m thinking positive, but I’m also still on the verge of ending my own life. How can I live without the complete KARA? Mother, if you’re reading this, please play “Lupin” at my funeral.