The sudden exit of Jessica Jung, 25, from K-pop titan girl group Girls' Generation has left the remaining members shaken.
Tears flowed at the group's sub-unit TaeTiSeo (comprising trio Taeyeon, Tiffany, and Seohyun) fan meet held on Wednesday. It was the three girls' first public appearance in South Korea since new of Jessica's ouster broke in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
The group's leader Taeyeon, 25, apologised to fans before all three women broke down in tears, according to fan accounts online.
Taeyeon said: "From the start, we've only wanted to protect Girls' Generation. We're sorry. Please believe in us one more time."
The group's youngest member, 23-year-old Seohyun, also cried at the the Girls' Generation fan meet in Shenzhen, China, on Tuesday. The other members were visibly emotional at the session where the group turned up without Jessica.
The Internet is abound with speculations over the real reason behind Jessica's departure - from her fashion business ambitions interfering with her Girls' Generation schedule, to rumours of her alleged marriage with American-Korean financial and entertainment mogul Tyler Kwon.
After she posted on Weibo on Tuesday that she was booted from the group for no "justifiable reason", Jessica followed up with a statement released through her fashion label, which was launched in August.
On her agency SM Entertainment's flip-flopping over her fashion business, she said that SM had originally given her the greenlight to launch it. Then one month after the launch, it gave her an ultimatum to choose - her fashion business or Girls' Generation.
The fashion brand's investor Kwon is also in the spotlight - and he himself shot down the marriage rumours in a resigned sounding post on his Weibo account, China-based Twitter-like microblogging account.
He said: "Sigh, I guess we'll have to try this yet again: I have no plans of marriage anytime soon, whether it be this year...next year... If that wasn't clear enough, let me know. I'll just keep trying..."