SEOUL • Three members of Girls' Generation are leaving their agency, raising questions about the iconic Korean pop group's future.
On Monday evening, S.M. Entertainment confirmed South Korean media reports claiming members Tiffany, Seohyun and Sooyoung did not renew their contracts with the label. The other five - Taeyeon, Yoona, Yuri, Hyoyeon and Sunny - have decided to remain with the agency.
The agency said in a statement: "Girls' Generation is a precious and meaningful group for both S.M. and fans," adding that the members are not considering disbandment at all and that it will carefully discuss the group's future with the remaining members.
Girls' Generation have passed the 10-year mark, which is rare for any K-pop act.
They have set trends with their bubblegum hits and flirty style, especially after performing their breakout hit, Gee, in skinny jeans in vibrant colours in 2009.
After the departure of member Jessica Jung in 2014, the group returned as an eight-piece and released hits including Lion Heart.
The news on Monday came as a shock to many, as the group had released their sixth full-length album Holiday Night in August to commemorate their 10th anniversary.
According to reports, Tiffany, 28, who was born and bred in California, is expected to pursue her studies in the United States, while Seohyun, 26, and Sooyoung, 27, will pursue acting careers.
It was previously reported that Tiffany's passion for acting has been growing for several years, and she plans to study acting.
Sooyoung is currently starring in the television drama Man Who Sets The Table and Seohyun, in The Good Thieves. Seohyun has also featured in multiple musicals.
Popular girl groups such as Wonder Girls and Sistar broke up entirely after they lost members or some members chose solo careers over group activities.
However, there is another possible scenario. After their contracts with S.M. Entertainment expired in 2003, the members of Shinhwa embarked on solo careers with different agencies.
But in 2011, all six original members got back together and established their own agency, Shinhwa Company. Last year, they released their 13th album, Unchanging.
KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK