Well this is a big one! Welcome to this week in K-pop!
So after 6 years of being an inactive Super Junior member, Kim Kibum has officially left SM Entertainment. Which means, he is no longer a Super Junior member. Once your contract expires and you leave an agency in the K-pop world, you’re no longer considered a member. He will always be a Super Junior member in our Super Junior OT15/13+2 hearts. But the members of Super Junior aren’t too distressed. Ryeowook and Heechul left comments on Kibum’s instagram supporting his decision. They invited him to hang out again soon. Such classy boys! To newer K-pop fans, some may not know Kibum or Hangeng. Some may not know all of SuJu’s history. If you’ve only just seen their stuff from 2010 on, you’d see there are only 11 of them (there were 10 during Mamacita because of Yesung’s military service). I’ll give you their history…
Super Junior originally debuted with 12 members and was meant to be a rotational group. The original line-up did not include Kyuhyun and Ryeowook was the maknae. They were called Super Junior 05 at the time. But then Kyuhyun was added in 2006 so they were confirmed at 13 members and said they weren’t rotational. And if you were wondering about Henry and Zhoumi of Super Junior M, they were added into their subgroup in 2008. And in 2009 was when things got rocky. Kibum told Lee Sooman he wanted to focus on acting. His intent was to be in Super Junior as a rotational member, because that’s what he had signed up for. Lee Sooman was understanding so after Super Junior’s “It’s you” video, Kibum stopped promoting with SuJu despite the news of his inactivity not being confirmed until 2010. Kibum was just labeled as inactive. When he was asked if he’d ever return, he’d never truly answer. He would say “maybe” or “I don’t know yet”. Super Junior always said if he wanted to come back he was welcome. So if that wasn’t heart breaking enough… The next song was “Sorry Sorry” and that was Hangeng’s last song. He tried to leave a few times due to health reasons, he had a weak heart and was getting ill quite often. He also didn’t get paid nearly what his members did, because there weren’t equal wage laws in Korea yet. Some broadcasting prohibited foreigners being on the air, and often enough SM didn’t get the proper visa for Hangeng so he had to perform with a mask on. So Hangeng was often injured or suffering, and didn’t have enough opportunities to make himself more money due to being foreign, and SM payed him nickles as it was. He had to support his poor mother back in China, he was once homeless himself for quite a few years as a child… So one day he got on a plane and flew back to China in the middle of the night. He made official requests to end his contract through SM once he had gone back to China and that caused a rigorous lawsuit process. Luckily his lawsuit won because he had proof of how poor he was, about his health, and the 13 year SuJu contract initially signed was proven unlawful by the FTC so he was released.
But amongst all this controversy and heartbreak, no one had any idea if Kibum was “just taking a hiatus” or not. Well 6 years later we finally got an answer. He told press he was grateful for the opportunity he had and loved his Super Junior brothers. It seemed he originally joined the rotational group in 2005 to get some popularity in the business so he could transition into the acting world. Now I’m not calling him selfish or anything, this is just my speculation. Many singers become actors and leave their groups. The standards of a K-pop star are quite high and you’re under a lot of pressure. Kibum has done musical acting and non-musical acting since his hiatus from Super Junior. He certainly did not go hungry. He was one of my biases back in the 2005 days, mostly because he spoke English really well and of his cute boyish face. But back to those high standards…
Super Junior was really a good money maker for SMENT but they weren’t always thought of so fondly. They were not treated so well. Though it’s true Hangeng was horribly mistreated, the group as a whole suffered quite a lot. in 2006 Heechul was criticized for lip syncing a live show just because he was ill and had no singing voice. in 2006 Donghae lost his father and the press brought their criticisms right to his face because he told them not to hurt his family or members with their words. August 10th of 2006 was when Heechul was involved in a horrible car crash on the way to Donghae’s father’s funeral. Heechul was horribly injured and couldn’t dance for a long time; he came back and still danced as much as he could live despite the metal rods that were put in his legs, people had the nerve to make fun of his dancing when he wasn’t even supposed to dance for his health! Heechul could have crippled himself!
Then there was another car accident on April 19th 2007 that involved 2 managers, Leetuk, Eunhyuk, Shindong and Kyuhyun. Most were hardly injured, except for Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun was unconscious for a few days and couldn’t breathe well due to how severely broken his ribs were; there was a possibility he could never sing again due to his injuries! Luckily he healed up quite nicely. Kyuhyun still has some scars, and he couldn’t participate in the “Attack of the pin up boys” Super Junior was in (along with Leetuk who had health problems). This movie was deemed not successful even though it sold so many copies so they were scrutinized for it. Then in 2007 when Don Don was released, SuJu was highly criticized despite selling over 100,000 copies. They featured Henry (who was the unknown violinist at the time) on the violin and in the performance, and Kyuhyun tried to sing as best as he could despite the fact he was still recovering. This was when the “Only 13” campaign started by the netizens/ fans. Since Sooman said they were not rotational anymore and weren’t adding members, fans and people were outraged they added Henry on a song because it was rumored they were going to add him into the Super Junior lineup. 1% of SuJu fans were on board with this and even bought stocks in the company! Then ELF’s and SuJU were scrutinized and yelled at because of these fans who protested outside of SMENT!
In 2008 Super Junior officially split into Super Junior M and Super Junior H. M worked in China, and H was in charge of Korea and Japan. The two groups were hardly able to see one another for a reunion. In 2009, after a year and a half had passed and “Sorry Sorry” was their single. They had sold over 200,000 copies and were very popular around Korea. Shortly after their promotions and winning a few weeks in a row on TV, Kangin was involved in a scandal. He was violent and overly drunk in public. This was overly distorted by the press and of course SuJu and the ELF’s were suffering. After that was when the Hangeng “leaving scandal” occurred. Hangeng was seen as ungrateful and wanting to leave while things were good, Kibum was on hiatus and in a drama, Kangin had that incident, Heechul had his first solo… and people were so critical of Super Junior. People were saying they couldn’t sing and had no potential; no one would notice if some members were gone; SuJu should just disband; their songs are weird. Heechul, Kangin, and Hangeng were not present during award ceremonies and when they were giving speeches they couldn’t say the missing members names. There was an invisible war going on between ELF’s. Some wanted Hangeng and Kibum back in the group even if it were by force, and the supporters of Hangeng and Kibum having their own careers. In 2009 SuJu got scolded for for putting a birthday cake at an award ceremony for Kyuhyun’s birthday by many anti fans; the talks of 13 members is an unsuccessful concept and they should disband, were being brought up again by anti’s.SuJu tried to apologize to their fans for all the turmoil and it was laughed at by ANTI’s. SuJu couldn’t even properly grieve that two members left and had to keep smiles on their faces.
They suffered so much… Luckily after 2010 their songs continued to be more successful and criticism was backing off. Siwon and SuJu were reuinited in 2010 at a venue and Siwon gave a beautiful speech about how supportive they were of Hangeng. SuJu was a very new concept and highly criticized by netizens and ANTI fans. They were really futuristic and people were so critical and hurtful. I’m not saying Kibum left for this reason, but it could’ve been part of it. SM was very hard on Super Junior, unrightfully, but the good news is they’re still around. And Kibum and Hangeng still are close to their SuJu brothers. They went to Heechul’s birthday this year to support him.
Well… It’s been fun Kibum oppa… I’m glad you finally reached a decision about Super Junior. SuJu will always be 13+2 in our hearts. Thank you. I cried as I wrote this. SuJu was my first K-pop group ever…
*sniffle* and remember, no hickies!