Seolhyun ends her 10-year exclusive contract with FNC, triggering AOA’s disbanding process.
Not long ago, singer and actress Seol Hyun, a former member of the group AOA, was reported to have left her former agency FNC Entertainment. As she left FNC Entertainment (hereinafter referred to as FNC) 10 years after her debut, the only AOA members left at the company are Hye Jung and Chan Mi. However, as their possibility of staying is also unknown, AOA seems to be taking steps to disband following Seol Hyun’s departure.
Seol Hyun’s departure from her position as FNC’s biggest star was a significant blow to FNC. At the same time, the absence of AOA also came as a significant crisis for FNC. Although the entire group’s activities have been put on hold since former member Kwon Min Ah exposed that she was bullied in the team in 2020, AOA has been a girl group representing FNC for a long time. Now that AOA’s disbandment has become a fait accompli, Cherry Bullet is the only girl group left in FNC.
Of course, FNC still includes FT Island and CNBLUE, who led the heyday of K-pop’s 2nd generation, while latecomers N.Flying, SF9, and P1Harmony are also active. However, it is true that FT Island and CNBLUE’s band activities are not performing as well as in their heyday, while SF9 and P1Harmony have not shown any remarkable results in the boy group market. Cherry Bullet, which has become FNC’s only girl group, has also failed to produce any impressive results in the fierce 4th-generation girl group market.
Although FNC once had a reputation as a music agency by producing a large number of big groups representing the domestic music industry, its current appearance is shabby compared to that. As a K-pop agency, its life expectancy seems to be at stake.
There are various reasons for the FNC’s downfall. The biggest problem is that the music of its singers is not very attractive in the current music market. In the past, FT Island and CNBLUE could have a big impact on the music industry because their music style, which combined band and idol music, delivered a fresh atmosphere to the music market at the time. On top of that, its well-made music, which firmly emphasized the strengths and colors of each group, added strength to each team. AOA has also been active since their debut, solidifying their color with addictive music and performances with sexy concepts. However, the music of FNC singers is not as fresh, addictive, or trendy as it used to be.
FNC’s lack of risk management capabilities was another reason for the fall. A representative example was the team bullying controversy surrounding AOA. At that time, FNC remained on the sidelines despite the sensitive controversy directly related to its group AOA. Its statement, which was announced after a long silence, only contained the formalization of “Ji Min’s withdrawal” instead of a specific circumstance or any alternatives. In the end, the situation was still covered with a lot of speculation, and following Ji Min’s withdrawal from the team, AOA started breaking apart. Due to the incident, FNC was criticized that it had not prepared a proper management plan for its artists, and lost much of the trust from its fans.
FNC is also constantly seeking ways to overcome this crisis, but it does not seem easy either. Last year, they established labels specializing in trot and girl groups, respectively, expressing their intention to specialize and expand the music business. Global auditions to discover new artists are also steadily underway, but there are no visible projects yet. The industry is watching with concern whether FNC, which is in crisis, will be able to escape the current situation.