GOT7 and JYPE split: Will K-pop boy band survive '7-year jinx' and a name controversy like Shinhwa and SM did?
The seven-year jinx is a longstanding myth that K-pop groups break apart by the time they reach their seventh year
All GOT7 members are leaving JYP Entertainment after both the band and the agency decided not to renew their contracts. Just days earlier, it was reported that Kim Yugyeom would not be renewing his contract with JYP Entertainment, leading to speculations about the band's future. The band debuted in January 2014 and has slowly become part of the global K-pop sensation.
On January 11, JYP Entertainment released a statement saying that all GOT7 members are leaving the agency, stating, "JYP has held thorough discussions with the GOT7 members ahead of the expiration of their exclusive contract on January 19. As a result, both sides have agreed not to renew the contract while hoping for a fresh future."
Some of the speculations that have arisen in the wake of the news of GOT7 leaving is whether the group would separate or remain together, bringing up a widely prevalent myth in K-pop about the "seven-year jinx".
What does come to a K-pop fan's mind, however, might be the last time a highly popular boyband parted ways with their agency. Oddly enough, this occurred in the year that GOT7 was formed, when first-generation K-pop idols Shinhwa decided to leave SM Entertainment. What followed was an intense legal battle between the two parties over the band's name.
What is K-pop's seven-year jinx?
The news of GOT7 leaving JYP Entertainment comes just as the band is set to cross seven years since debuting on January 16, 2014. Consisting of members JB, Mark, Jackson, Jinyoung, Youngjae, BamBam and Yugyeom, the group rose steadily not just in Korea, but also in the world as one of the top bands in the genre along with BTS, Exo, Blackpink, and others.
However, AhGaSe fans had spoken of concerns over the group's future as they felt that JYP Entertainment was not promoting the band as well as they should.
The seven-year jinx is a longstanding myth that K-pop groups break apart by the time they reach their seventh year, arising mostly out of the seven-year contracts bands have with their entertainment agencies. These contracts used to be 13 years long until TVXQ! members Jaejoong, Yoochun, and Junsu (JYJ) took SM Entertainment to court over the "slave contracts". The Korean Fair Trade Commission then created a rule in 2009 limiting entertainment contracts to seven years.
Each year, there are dozens of new K-pop idols and groups debuting. As such, the survival rate within the industry is low. Popular groups that have not survived the "seven-year jinx" include 2NE1 after Minzy's departure, BEAST which cut ties with Cube Entertainment and rebranded as HIGHLIGHT with one fewer member (and losing one more later), B.A.P. which disbanded in 2018, and Girls' Generation (SNSD), which though still active, has lost members after its seventh year and has since come down in popularity.
Other groups whose members have left include AOA and EXID. However, groups that have generally been popular have usually survived the "jinx", including SHINee, Apink, BtoB, EXO, and Epik High and others.
What is the Shinhwa-SM Entertainment controversy?
In 2003, at the height of Shinhwa's popularity as one of the leaders of the Korean Wave, the band's departure from SM Entertainment shocked many. When the agency chose to renew contracts with all members except Dongwan, the members instead chose to sign with a new agency. This then led to SM Entertainment's head, Lee Soo Man, refusing to let the band use their name Shinhwa with another company.
The legal battle over the name raged on for more than a decade and Shinhea renamed their agency Shinhwa Company as ShinCom Entertainment to avoid legal issues. However, in May 2015, after more than a decade, Shinhwa won the lawsuit over Joon Media and re-renamed their agency as Shinhwa Company. Open World Entertainment CEO, Seok-Woo Jang, holder of the rights to the name of Shinhwa, granted permission to use the name as long as they perform together as a group.
However, while Shinhwa (which is translated to "myth") is unarguably a group that demands respect and one of the earliest K-pop artistes to pave the way for their successors, the long-surviving group is not as popular.
In 1998, the group celebrated its 20th anniversary, becoming the longest-standing group in the history of K-pop. Yet, the group's popularity has declined a lot from its heyday with other groups taking over starting with Super Junior and now EXO, BTS, and GOT7 themselves.
Will GOT7 get to keep their name and survive the seven-year jinx?
Given that all members are on friendly terms with one another and all of them having posted a group photo on Instagram with "#GOT7FOREVER" as the caption, it seems quite likely that the band will find a new home and continue to make music.
What remains to be seen is whether GOT7 will keep its name. However, at the moment, it seems like JYP Entertainment and the band are separating on good terms, with the agency writing in its statement, "Our official relationship ends here, but JYP will sincerely cheer on the new future that the GOT7 members will advance into." We hope that this means that GOT7 continues to perform as GOT7 and we hope for a renewed comeback for the boys.