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141004 Roundtable: Sicapocalypse Now

Written By Kim Regina on Monday, October 6, 2014 | 1:13 PM

So much has happened in such a short period of time that it’s hard to make sense of our emotions. As the story unfolded, these were our reactions from the timeJessica released her first official statement disclosing her side of the story. What was your initial reaction to reports of Jessica being booted from SNSD? What were your feelings like as more facts were revealed? What’s to become of the Nation’s Girl Group?

Gaya: I actually understand SM‘s decision to drop Jessica: accommodating her promoting just one more album may have been possible, but I get it if SM wasn’t interested in keeping her around for that long. But if that was the case, why have her renew her contract and then dump her weeks later? That just doesn’t sit right with me.

After reading Jessica’s official statement, it sounds like SM was on board with Jessica’s plans, and that it was the other members who were pushing to remove her. If that’s the case, then I can’t see why SM wouldn’t just release her from her contract altogether, unless they stood to gain something from keeping Jessica under their watchful eye? There are conflicting reports about whether or not SM is getting a cut from Jessica’s business activities, so that adds another layer of confusion to this whole ordeal.

Jessica says that she was clear with her plan for the future, and she may well have been; but somewhere along the line, there’s been a lack of open communication that has led to this situation. If all parties involved had perhaps sat down and had a serious discussion and come to a decision together, there would’ve been a better outcome. It’s likely that SM and SNSD did not think things through before giving their approval, or that SNSD did not fully know about Jessica’s plans. Considering SM’s own official statement, it’s clear that they knew.

Willis: I initially dismissed the reports of Jessica being removed from the group, since many news sites had added the caveat that a hacker may have been involved. As the story developed further, I was appalled by the confirmation of her removal. In retrospect, I suppose I shouldn’t have been so blindsided, because this is SM Entertainment.

It’s sad that we, the fans/audience, will never get the full story. We can only speculate based off SM’s statements and from what Jessica has decided to tell. From Jessica’s statement, it seems like she was given an ultimatum, which is never a nice thing to do to anyone. In addition, Jessica’s statement paints her as having been honest and open about her ambitions with the company, so there seems to be some force (whether it is the members or SM’s management team) that pushed for the group to move forward sooner with 8 members.

In my opinion, that’s the worst part of the matter — the fact that they decided to go on ahead and just remove her from the group, without sitting everyone down and discussing it first, as Gaya mentioned. If the group had continued on as 9 members for another album and split amicably with Jessica, wouldn’t that have been a more favorable outcome?

I don’t understand the urgency to pull the trigger on cutting Jessica from the group — where she as the first trainee, spent so many years of her youth preparing for her debut. All of this has left a tainted image of the solidarity and sisterhood of the group. Instead of a friendly parting of ways in the future, this incident has left a bad reverberating effect on the group’s legacy.

Nabeela: This is all I have to say.

Leslie: I feel bad about the way things went down for Jessica, but I can’t make a judgment call since so many things are unclear. At first, I was disbelieving like Gaya – what with the contract renewal and all — but the cynical K-pop fan told me otherwise. In fact, I didn’t think I could get more jaded as a fan, but this year is doing that for me. This has been a bad year for K-pop as a whole, but especially for SM, so I can’t say I’m surprised.

So, yeah, I’m going to second Nabeela on this. I’ve been waiting for this to happen to them. We like to think of K-pop as being just two generations: H.O.T, Fin.K.Land other veterans, and then everyone else. But the fact of the matter is that we’re in the midst of a third generation of idols while groups like SNSD, the actual second generation of idols, are on their way out. And it’s not at all a bad thing. They’ve had a good run and leave ridiculously huge shoes to fill as the Nation’s Girl Group.

Andy: Like others, I thought the initial Weibo post was a hack job. But, when confirmations came out, I couldn’t believe it. This is SNSD: the Nation’s Girl Group, a SME money-maker, the group with a strong bond. As reports keep coming out, I find my irritation growing. SME is basically throwing the entire group, particularly Jessica, under the bus.

They make Jessica out to be a selfish person, who only cared about securing her future and not the group’s. Then, they make the rest of SNSD seem to be unilaterally non-understanding and unsympathetic. To do this after they all renewed their contract is just ridiculous, and it seems like a case of major vindictive power play. If Jessica had indeed worked things out with SME regarding her fashion line, and talked to the group about it, then something clearly went wrong in the line of communication. I’m still not buying the marriage story, too.

I don’t fault Jessica for trying to do what she needs to do for herself, and neither should the rest of the group. She can’t be an idol forever. The others should be doing the same, and to be honest, some are. Yoona and Sooyoung are deep into their acting, which is another career. So, why can’t everyone else do the same? As long as they aren’t missing group events and actually halfway doing their job on stage, then it shouldn’t matter.

As for the future, SNSD will still sell as long as they are releasing music. I just think their stock/fanbase is going to drop drastically, since going from 9 to 8 is a big blow, and Jessica was extremely popular. Perhaps Jessica got the boot at a good time — going out while they are still at the top.

Mark: Nabeela, are you patting yourself on the back for predicting the inevitable?

But seriously, I think speculations on the immediate downfall of SNSD are a bit far-fetched. They still have 8/9 of the group intact, that’s 88%! Even if Jessica is supposedly a “popular” member, she couldn’t have held more than 15% of the fan base by herself. And we’re talking about a huge fan base. Even if you discount Jessica, they probably still have more fans than Sistar, Girl’s Day, and A Pink… combined.

I agree with Andy’s point that as long as SNS8 continues to release music, they’ll remain highly relevant because they’re the only girl group that can sell albums, not to mention their digital domination. Losing Jessica is not going to change that. SNSD will be just fine.

Joyce: Initially, I thought it was a case of SNSD and Jessica both being blind-sided by SM. But considering that things unfolded within a day, it’s evident this issue has been discussed at length between the girls and their management. In fact, it seems as though Jessica already planned for her exit from SNSD, but compromised to stay on for one more album. However, she didn’t fulfill her end of the agreement and got ejected from the group, with a certain extent of support from the other members — that last bit was the part that surprised me.

No matter what the exact order of events is, the truth is that the girls were/are no longer united as one. As fans, we only see the put-on image they sell and it’s easy to fall for their honeyed words, that they will be sisters forever even if they have to promote as Ajumma Generation. However, I think that this reminds us of all the ugliness and unhappiness that goes on behind the scenes that we fans are not privy to. And it just so happens that it’s the biggest K-pop girl group that decides to air their dirty laundry. In the worst way possible. And frankly, SM did a shit job of handling this issue. Is it really that hard to delay the eviction letter to Jessica for a more amiable departure?

As a fan, it’s quite upsetting to see the sisterhood image of the nine of them shattered, since hostilities seem to have been involved. But I mean, if Homin managed to bounce back (though to a different extent), I guarantee SNSD will still do fine, as everyone has said. They may lose a few endorsements here and there, but no big deal really. It’s just… how many groups must SM ruin before they learn??

Gaya: You can say that again, Joyce. We now also have news of a Jessica andKrystal project in the works before all of this happened. I don’t know why anyone wants me (and all other fans) to suffer more by discussing this project group when it’s likely not going to happen for a good while, if at all. Other than binge-listening to “Rolling in the Deep” some more, what am I meant to do with this information? Blame Jessica? Blame SNSD? Blame SM?

Actually, I’ll start by blaming SM. Not that I believe the other two parties to be blameless; but, even if this is more of an issue between the girls, as Jessica’s statement indicates, SM still bears responsibility for the mishandling of the matter. SM created this group and they’ve made money off it, so it should follow that they do more in instances like this. Why they weren’t doing any kind of mediating, or holding discussions to ensure the best outcome for the company, the group and the members, I don’t know.

Again, a lack of communication has led to this situation becoming worse than it needed to be.

Kelsey: I’ll second Gaya on SM’s responsibility in this. For things to get to this point within the group, tensions may have been brewing for a while and management should have stepped in to help mediate. What’s the point of managers following groups around and body-checking fans if they won’t also step in on personal issues between members? I don’t believe it would’ve 100% fixed this issue but it could’ve helped. It was just in poor taste all around to release her this way. When Jessica’s Weibo post first went out, I was unsure about whether it was legitimate, but once SM took longer and longer to respond it was clear that there was no hacker.

At the same time, even before this drama unfolded, it’s been pretty clear to me that SNSD is not long for the industry. It does seem like they maybe have a few years left before they decide to pursue different things in their professional and personal lives. I was actually surprised that they all signed on for three more years — the individually negotiated contracts were not as shocking. I’m sure that OT8 will still be successful in the time they have left together, but a serious trust has been broken for many fans.

Regardless of whether the girls are super close these days or not, there’s at least a bare expectation that a group won’t turn against one member, and even if that’s not the whole truth of what happened, that’s what Jessica implied and that’s what fans are speculating. Compared to any other SM group drama, this scandal will impact SNSD a bit more because of the unique circumstances. There’s no way they can sweep this under the rug when Jessica’s being so vocal.

(Images via: W Korea, 1st Look, SM Entertainment, Spao, Harper’s Bazaar)
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