29th September of 2014 witnessed one of KPop‘s most shocking announcements— main vocalist Jessica‘s completely unexpected and sudden departure from Girls’ Generation, widely known as Korea’s most famous girl group. Also known by the names of “So-nyuh Shi-dae” (Korean: 소녀시대) from the Sino-Korean roots meaning “Generation of Girls”, or SoShi (Korean: 소시) or SNSD, both of which are abbreviated forms of the group’s Korean-language name; the group officially debuted on August 5, 2007 under SM Entertainment, and are recognized as the most iconic girl group of the Hallyu wave.
29th September, 2014
Jessica updated her Weibo account, writing, “I was excited about our upcoming fan events only to shockingly be informed by my company and 8 others that as of today, I’m no longer a member. I’m devastated – my priority and love is to serve as a member of GG, but for no justifiable reason, I am being forced out.”
It was initially speculated that a hacker might have gotten into her account, and it was a chaotic morning for fans as they eagerly awaited for some sort of explanation. As Girls’ Generation had a fan meeting in China later that day, reporters gathered to see whether Jessica was present or not, and another wave of shock spread through fans as she was the only member reported to be missing.
The post below also popped up in the comments section in reply to her earlier Weibo post, generating much concern.
SM Entertainment chose to remain silent about the matter at the moment, but the chaos was reflected onto their stocks as they suffered a 3.44% drop on the morning of 29th September compared to the day before. Various news outlets reached out to the agency about the situation, promising fans to stay tuned for any possible updates.
Their source allegedly stated, “Jessica herself went to see attorney Lim Sanghyuk of the lawfirm Sejong in Myeongdong… In most cases, celebrities usually call to consult about their matters first, so Jessica showing up in person is out of the ordinary. It seems likely that she had consulted a specialized lawyer.”
However, when the lawyer was contacted, he denied of his involvement, stating, “I learned of the news through articles. However, I’m not taking her case. I did not meet with her.”
During the chaos, SM Entertainment released a vague statement, “We cannot disclose what is going on yet, but we are reaching out to the proper people to find out the truth of the matter.” However, inside sources had a different story to tell, “We heard that Jessica was dropped from the group, due to conflicting issues with management related to marriage.”
As SM Entertainment refused to further clarify the situation, rumors suggesting possible reasons that may have caused an alleged dispute between Jessica and the agency or perhaps within Girls’ Generation itself, spread like wildfire, and the main reasons that were brought up by insiders included two issues.
The first issue was about Jessica‘s potential marriage with boyfriend Tyler Kwon, and the other pertained to the launch of her own fashion line Blanc. New reports indicated that the two issues could be inter-connected as Tyler Kwon was one of the major investors in the business.
News outlet Dispatch reported of spotting Jessica and Tyler Kwon arriving at the airport from New York at 4 AM on the 29th KST, with Jessica coming out from the gates followed by Tyler Kwon‘s arrival about five minutes later, further fueling rumors about their possible marriage that had surfaced earlier, which were never addressed by SM Entertainment. A source stated, “[Jessica] is preparing for her business, and looking into schools… She is thinking of marriage, but that’s not being thought out in detail yet.”
However, the biggest reason for Jessica‘s alleged conflict with the agency and possibly the group was stated to be due to the launching of her fashion line. The other eight members and their parents supposedly had issues with the new venture as it seemed that Jessica wanted to devote her career and time to becoming a designer, which would mean less or no time for Girls’ Generation.
Jessica had worked out the issue of royalties from her line with SM, but the members asked her to choose between the business and Girls’ Generation. Insiders claimed that the parents of the members also voiced their discontent, lodging an official complaint to the agency. Although they did not have a problem with Jessica living as a Girls’ Generation member while designing, however, they were heavily concerned about her living as a designer but using Girls’ Generation‘s brand name.
Insiders also mentioned that SM had pleaded with Jessica to hold out until the Tokyo Dome concert, and was originally going to tell the press and fans that she was absent at the China fan meeting because of health reasons. However, Jessica had taken to Weibo that morning and revealed the true nature of her departure.
30th September, 2014
At the 2014 Girls’ Generation First Fan Party, in Shenzhen, China on September 30, all members were seen at the verge of tears. Especially members Seohyun and Yoona were pictured crying during their last song, “Complete“. The members were also filmed leaving Jessica‘s part in “The Boys” unsung.
Fans showed their support for Jessica by holding up J shaped light sticks, and posters promising their support for the complete nine member lineup of the group.
After hours of silence, SM Entertainment finally published their official statement regarding the situation, revealing that Girls’ Generation would continue as an eight member group as Jessica had chosen to halt her team activities.
“Hello. This is SM Entertainment.
We are offering our position on the words posted on Jessica‘s Weibo today.
This coming spring, due to her personal situation, she notified us she will halt her team promotions with the release of one [more] album.
Despite Jessica‘s sudden notice, the agency and the Girls’ Generation members tried our best and tried to figure out a way that Girls’ Generation‘s activities can continue in the best possible direction.
However, in the midst of insufficient negotiations regarding conflicts of differences in priorities and interest, Jessica started her fashion business. Due to this, despite ongoing talks, it has come to a point where the team could not be maintained.
Thus, the agency had no choice but to pull up Girls’ Generation‘s activities as 8 members earlier than planned, and in the midst of while working out when to announce this, Jessica had posted her words early this morning.
From here on, our agency will continue to support and manage the 8-member Girls’ Generation and Jessica‘s individual activities.”
This statement relayed that while Jessica would continue with her solo activities under the agency, she would not be active as a member of Girls’ Generation in the future.
More confusion spread with news outlet Sports DongA claiming that Jessica would be marrying Tyler Kwon in May 2015 and going to New York to study fashion design. Sources stated, “Preparations are already finished regarding the main wedding details. The wedding ceremony will take place in Hong Kong and she will live while traveling back and forth between New York, USA and Hong Kong.”
Meanwhile, Korean netizens conjectured that Girls’ Generation‘s leader Taeyeon hinted at Jessica‘s departure because of an Instagram post on September 28th, just two days before the official news broke out and one day before the latter’s Weibo post. She uploaded seven Kakaotalk emoticon characters (including the little alligator) which were speculated to be Girls’ Generation members excluding Jessica and Taeyeon. She also wrote and hashtagged, “Family picturest, #Support, #Strength, #Friend, #Emoticon, #Kakaotalk, #sone,” further fueling speculation.
Netizens also theorized that the situation was foreshadowed in “Jessica & Krystal“, a reality show starring Jessica and her younger sister Krystal. The topic of marriage had come up at one point, which had caused Krystal to cry and ask Jessica to never get married and leave her. Jessica had also expressed her desire to get into the fashion industry.
However Kim Jiwook, the producer of the show, denied having any clue about what was going on behind the scenes, stating, “I was very surprised when I saw the reports. At the time of filming for “Jessica & Krystal,“ I never caught onto any strange vibes. I have yet to have any official communication with SM Entertainment, so I am cautious [about saying anything].”
In response to an online community’s claim that Tyler Kwon had accompanied Jessica to New York for a filming of the show, the producer stated, “I don’t know what happened during her time off after filming, but when she was with us, I got no wind of anything like that.”
Jessica‘s boyfriend Tyler Kwon finally responded to the rumours, denying marriage plans. While SM had not addressed the rumors the last time they were brought up, the entrepreneur took to Weibo to deny the matter. He once again spoke up to firmly say he had no plans for marriage.
He intrigued onlookers through his posts, and people speculated that something else was brewing under the surface.
Following Tyler Kwon‘s words about the “truth about what really happened’ becoming known, Jessica broke her silence by releasing an official statement through her fashion company Blanc,
“HELLO. THIS IS JESSICA.
I WAS GIVEN A NOTICE OF DEPARTURE FROM GIRLS’ GENERATION BY THE AGENCY ON SEPTEMBER 29, AND I CANNOT HIDE MY SHOCKED AND UPSET HEART ABOUT THIS, SO I’M HERE TO REVEAL MY POSITION.
I HAVE ALWAYS PUT GIRLS’ GENERATION‘S ACTIVITIES BEFORE MY BUSINESS OR PERSONAL LIFE AS A MEMBER OF GIRLS’ GENERATION. HOWEVER, DESPITE MY EFFORTS FOR THE TEAM, I HAVE BEEN ASKED TO LEAVE THE TEAM BY THE AGENCY.
WHILE I WAS PLANNING MY BUSINESS THAT I’VE HAD A LOT OF INTEREST IN SINCE BEFORE, I HAD SUFFICIENTLY CONSULTED SM AS WELL AS THE MEMBERS ABOUT MY PREPARATION MANY TIMES AND ASKED FOR THEIR UNDERSTANDING.
UP UNTIL THE BEGINNING OF AUGUST WHEN I WAS LAUNCHING ‘BLANC‘, I HAD RECEIVED AGREEMENT AND PERMISSION FROM SM, AND CONGRATULATIONS FROM THE MEMBERS AS WELL.
HOWEVER, IN EARLY SEPTEMBER, AFTER ONLY A MONTH SINCE THE LAUNCHING, THE MEMBERS SUDDENLY CHANGED THEIR POSITION AND HELD A MEETING, AND TOLD ME TO EITHER QUIT MY BUSINESS OR LEAVE GIRLS’ GENERATION WITHOUT ANY JUSTIFIABLE REASON.
I EXPLAINED THAT I HAD ALREADY RECEIVED PERMISSION FROM THE AGENCY, THAT I HAD NEVER NEGLECTED GIRLS’ GENERATION‘S ACTIVITIES, AND THAT I COULD NOT SUDDENLY HALT MY BUSINESS DUE TO MY CONTRACT WITH MY BUSINESS PARTNER AFTER A MONTH.
ULTIMATELY, I PLEADED THAT IT WAS UNJUST FOR ME TO HAVE TO MAKE A CHOICE. BECOMING A GIRLS’ GENERATION MEMBER WAS THE BEST THING IN MY LIFE, AND I HAD NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT QUITTING.
SHOCKED ABOUT THIS, I HAD MET WITH THE AGENCY CEO ON SEPTEMBER 16 TO CONVEY MY POSITION, AND ONCE AGAIN CONFIRMED THEIR PERMISSION FOR CARRYING OUT MY BUSINESS.
HOWEVER, ON SEPTEMBER 29, I WAS GIVEN A ONE-SIDED NOTICE ASKING ME TO LEAVE GIRLS’ GENERATION. DUE TO THIS, I WAS ALSO UNABLE TO ATTEND THE FAN MEETING IN CHINA ON SEPTEMBER 30, AND I HAVE ALSO BEEN EXCLUDED FROM FOLLOWING GIRLS’ GENERATION ACTIVITIES.
I HAVE RECEIVED GREAT PAIN AND CANNOT HIDE MY SADNESS THAT I WAS ASKED BY THE AGENCY AND FELLOW MEMBERS, WHOM I’VE SPENT 15 YEARS WITH PUTTING IN ALL MY PASSION AND EFFORT, TO LEAVE GIRLS’ GENERATION JUST BECAUSE OF THE REASON THAT I’M STARTING A BUSINESS.
I ALSO WANT TO APOLOGIZE FOR CAUSING CONCERN TO ALL THE FANS. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THIS SITUATION IS NOT AT ALL WHAT I HAD WANTED, AND THAT I’VE ALWAYS TREASURED GIRLS’ GENERATION, AND THAT I WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO. THANK YOU FOR ALWAYS SUPPORTING AND LOVING ME.
This statement was in complete contradiction of the statement released by SM Entertainment.
1st October, 2014
Media outlet Dispatch shed some light on the situation, interviewing three insider sources. Regarding whether Jessica was told to leave, or whether she informed them she was leaving, the insiders said it was both. Jessica apparently repeated frequently that she wanted to leave back in January and July, stating, “I want to get married…I don’t think I can do this anymore. Although it’s regretful, I think I have to find my own life.” She showed a lack of interest in Girls’ Generation activities, and spoke about going to study abroad, looking for schools, starting her fashion business, and becoming a designer. The members and SM were surprised by asked her to focus on the last album before she leaves the group.
Although Jessica tried her best to focus on Girls’ Generation, she worked gruelling hours for her business label, working extensively with TylerKwon, and going back and forth between China, Hong Kong, and New York to launch Blanc in August.
Allegedly, the ring on Jessica‘s hand symbolized her engagement with Tyler Kwon. Jessica had told the members about holding a wedding in October in Hong Kong. Tyler also accompanied her throughout China, Hong Kong, and New York for her schedules, and remained by her side during the time she was filming for “Jessica & Krystal.”
Regarding whether anyone opposed Jessica launching her own business with “Blanc“, the sources responded that although nobody opposed it, they were all under the impression that she was going to start it after getting married, so they were shocked with its surprise launching in August. The members warned Jessica of not prioritizing her business before the group. SM was also distressed at the thought of Jessica misusing Girls’ Generation‘s popularity to sell goods to fans. However, they were powerless to stop the launch as there was no clause in her contract forbidding her to start her own business.
Jessica had reportedly prepared for her life after Girls’ Generation by planning to study abroad in New York, get married, and expand her business. She worked single-mindedly with Tyler Kwon to push the launching of Blanc to an earlier date and quickly put together her portfolio as a designer. The rest of Girls’ Generation felt slighted because of her attitude and asked her to make a decision.
Regarding whether Jessica’s position suddenly changed since she apparently said she wanted to leave the group on her own before, after Jessica and Tyler‘s visit to the law firm Sejong (as previously reported then denied), Jessica had changed her mind, telling the members, “If it’s okay with you guys, then I want to continue Girls’ Generation even after marriage…”
Although the members initially agreed, they felt that their activities would not be able to proceed in a proper manner, so they asked Jessica to choose between her business and the group in September. After meeting about two to three times, Jessica left for New York. This left the members and Jessica unable to continue conversing, and ultimately, the decision was made that they could not continue activities this way.
Jessica did return right before the day of the fan meeting, and she believed that she did everything she was supposed to do. However, the other members felt that Jessica had already made Girls’ Generation her second job rather than her main focus.
Regarding whether the rest of Girls’ Generation had issues with Jessica making money outside of the group, the insiders stated that the members didn’t care about money. However, there were financial risks for the members if Jessica‘s marriage story was to become known, so they would have to stop doing new advertisements as a whole group if the advertisers were to raise an issue about Jessica and her marriage.
Insiders revealed that there was a 10% chance of Jessica rejoining the group if she were to change her priorities. However, the situation was too far gone due to her extensive involvement with Tyler and Blanc. There remained the possibility of her going solo or starting acting, however, it wasn’t likely to happen
Meanwhile, a program representative involved with the making of “Jessica & Krystal” claimed that the two siblings had been planning to release a single album together, “Jessica and Krystal even finished recording their album. There were even plans for a second season to ‘Jessica & Krystal‘ after shooting their MV, but a problem has arisen in this schedule after Jessica’s departure from her group.”
At this point, there was widespread distress within both the KPop world as well as within the group, member Sunny appeared depressed on the October 1st broadcast of Sunny’s FM Date, promoting fans to speculate that she was sad because of Jessica‘s departure.
Fans also took over Twitter, trending “#StayStrongSNSD“. On an average, international KPop fans showed anger towards Girls’ Generation for “betraying” their sister, while Korean KPop fans accused Jessica for being selfish about her business ventures. Fans also expressed disappointment towards SM Entertainment, believing that the agency was to blame for the conflict due to their history of poorly managing their other groups, as displayed by the lawsuits of former TVXQ members Junsu, Yoochun, and Jaejoong of JYJ, Super Junior‘s Hangeng, and EXO‘s Kris, and the absence of f(x)‘s Sulli.
SM‘s stocks dropped by 4.10%. Ever since Jessica‘s Weibo post, the stocks showed a sharp decline. From September 29 to October 1, the shares fell 3,350 won from 40,750 won to 37,400 won, which was the market closing price on October 1. With SM’s total number of shares amounting to roughly 20.6 million, the dip resulted in a loss of 69.1 billion won (approx. 65 million USD) for the label, a drop from a total worth of 841.4 billion won to 772.2 billion won. While the agency was recovering following the EXO-Kris controversy earlier in May 2014, their stocks hit yet another decline.
Girls’Generation‘s subunit TaeTiSeo (Taeyeon, Tiffany, and Seohyun) held a fan meeting at Lotte Department Store near Sky Park in Cheongnyangni, Seoul on October 1 right after returning from their fan meeting in China on the same day, where leader Taeyeon apologized, “We had no other thoughts than to protect Girls’ Generation from the beginning. We’re sorry… Please trust us once more,” and started crying. Tiffany and Seohyun were also pictured tearing up.
2nd October, 2014
Jessica was announced to be absent for SMTOWN Live World Tour IV in Tokyo which was to take place on October 4 and 5 at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Japan.
Meanwhile, media outlet Sports World voiced their suspicions about Tyler Kwon, and questioned Jessica‘s capability to succeed as an entrepreneur, stating, “The one to be most concerned about is Jessica. The Girls’ Generation Jessica we loved, her current situation is precarious.”
They revealed Blanc‘s business plan to be lacking as other than emphasizing Jessica‘s role in the line and her potential as a designer, there wasn’t any special aspect to it. They also wondered if Tyler Kwon, CEO of Coridel Group, was trustworthy, as he was notorious in Hong Kong as a “scandal maker” for entering into a relationship with singer and actress Gillian Chung to gain a threshold in the Hong Kong business world.
Supposedly, Jessica and Tyler‘s meeting was like a scene out of a movie. Jessica was shopping in Hong Kong, but fell into a dilemma as she had maxed out her credit card, this was when Tyler Kwon came to the rescue and paid for her. Sports World said Jessica fell for him, but Tyler was not very considerate as he would post various pictures on his SNS accounts despite their relationship being a secret. The media’s sources commented, “Usually, investors don’t like drawing public attention, but [he] is very aggressive about marketing himself. He will even sometimes purposely go hang out at places where he knows there are reporters.”
3rd October, 2014
Widespread debates were held in which the situation was discussed, while some fans said that the controversy had left too big of scar for the group to ever reunite with Jessica again, some fans reasoned that her return would be in SM and the group’s best interest.
4th October, 2014-onwards
Jessica‘s company Blanc was rebranded to Blanc & Eclare to support her personal rebirth, and to renew and reinforce their “commitment to presenting fresh, modern classic designs to the fashion industry.”
Jessica’s departure affected the music industry as well as the advertising world. Advertising enterprises using Girls’ Generation as models were hit hard, and particularly, a brand named Hair Couture was forced to leave advertisements begging people to buy the product, using phrases like, “This was prepared because it was Girls’ Generation‘s shampoo, but how could you leave?” and “Girls’ Generation Jessica‘s shampoo prepared before her departure was revealed. The timing is iffy but the product is good, so sales gogo!”
Girls’ Generation member Sooyoung and Super Junior‘s Kyuhyun were forced to comment on the situation, while the former apologized, the latter made a vague statement. Ssul Jeon also discussed the departure, and questioned whether this year would be the worst ever for SM Entertainment.
Girls’ Generation made an eventful return to music with their new album “Lion Heart“, promoted by the title track “Catch Me If You Can“. Jessica had to be edited out of the original video, but screenshots of the version including Jessica were quickly published online.
Fans cannot forget Jessica as a part of Girls’ Generation, and several mishaps have occurred throughout the promotion of Girls’ Generation without Jessica. In an episode of Weekly Idol, member Seohyun was mistakenly edited out instead of Jessica, and various goods featuring Jessica‘s image had to be replaced by other member’s pictures.
Jessica officially left SM Entertainment on 6th August, 2015 and joined her boyfriend Tyler Kwon‘s label Coridel Entertainment. She has hence moved forward in her career as an entrepreneur and made her first public appearance as a designer for the anniversary event of “Lane Crawford” in Shanghai to kick-start the expansion of Blanc & Eclare in China. She has also collaborated with charity organization Help For Children by launching a design competition for her label.
Jessica promised fans of a solo return in music, and denied marriage rumors, stating that she had no plans to get married at the moment. She has since gone on to expand Blanc & Eclare globally into a successful franchise and to make a hugely successful debut as a solo artist with her mini album, “With Love, J“, released in both Korean and English versions. It was promoted by the title track, “Fly“, featuring American rapper Fabolous.
Although both Jessica and Girls’ Generation are doing well individually, fans still secretly dream about a reunion. Would you like to see Jessica reunite with Girls’ Generation in the future?