Let’s take a moment and travel back to the year of 2007 when SNSD and the Wonder Girls were fresh, rookie girl groups, debuting with their title tracks, “Into the New World,” and “Irony.” It’s hard to believe that five years have already flown by and both SNSD and the Wonder Girls have settled into the K-Pop world as the leading backbone of girl groups. Now, even the youngest members of each group have entered into their twenties and all have now matured into young women. Not only these two girl groups but many others, who have debuted around similar times, are slowly coming of an age where marriage is a near future option.
Just like how S.E.S.’ Eugene and Shoo, who were once the “original fairy-dols,” have become newlyweds, the chances of second generation girl group members announcing their marriage plans may not be too far ahead. In light of this, Sports Chosun conducted a survey that asked ten of the top entertainment companies a few questions about girl groups and marriage. Let’s dive into the results and the analysis of this Sports Chosun survey.
Marriage is Poison to Girl Groups?
One of the questions from this survey asked the ten entertainment companies, “Does marriage have a positive impact on girl groups?” The unanimous answer was “no.”
One of the most important images for girl groups is that they are “everyone’s lover.” Girl groups can easily see damages to their images and reputations by merely revealing their dating lives. So becoming “one man’s girl” would make that certain member’s popularity have no choice but to decrease. But the bigger problem is, it might have a negative effect on the entire team.
A particular source states, “The lives of idol groups are quite different than the average person. They have practices or promotion activities that last all night and they have to start their days in the wee hours of the night in order to attend their next schedule. Nowadays, overseas schedules are increasing as well. In situations like this, if there is a member that will be getting married, it will make things a lot harder for the other members.”
Once you get engaged and start planning for a marriage, a lot of time will need to go into those preparations. Many time conflicts will occur and because of this, the entire team might suffer. The quoted source above added in the end, “If a girl group member were to get married, it would be a good time to think about emceeing, acting or entering some other field.”
Is There Really a “No Dating” Rule? Secret Relationships?
On January 28, Hirajima Natsumi and Yonezawa Rumi from the famous Japanese girl group, AKB48 were cut from the team because they broke the “no dating” rule. “If they were non-celebrities, it wouldn’t be a problem but because they were AKB48 members, they shouldn’t have broken the rules,” says a representative of AKB48’s management. Is this a plausible reason to be fired from a team? How are things in Korea?
Just like how 2NE1’s Sandara Park once jokingly mentioned the “no dating” rule on an episode of “Strong Heart,” most of the girl group members are not allowed to date. 3 out of the 10 management groups revealed that they do not let their girl groups date because they feel that there will be problems.
The strictest time for this “no dating” rule is probably before and during the debut stages. In general, girl group members fall into the late teens to early twenties age group during their debut period. This means that many of them are still young, immature and in their adolescent stages, which calls for many to act on emotion rather than reason. Imagine if you are a young, adolescent girl group member, who just debuted. Imagine further if a male celebrity, whom you’ve respected in the past, expresses interest in you. It might be quite hard not to be swayed.
In the management’s perspective, as long as the contract is still in tact, they have responsibilities and obligations to protect the girl groups. Recently, it is known that many management groups request the parents of the girl groups to help “take care of these opposite-sex problems.”
However, as time goes by, it will become increasingly more difficult to prevent the girl group members to enter into relationships. Each person has their own right to privacy and with the increasing methods/channels of communication through the Internet and the smartphone, it is easier to start dating. It is all the more difficult to prevent dating these days.
Therefore, more and more managers are asking their artists to be honest about their relationships. A particular source expressed, “The management must respect each individual’s right to privacy. So we ask the artist to tell us before they enter a relationship. That way, we can think of how to handle the situation beforehand.” Other sources reveal, “There are many different kinds of concepts that girl groups need to perform and it is true that those who have experienced love and break-ups have better ways of expressing those feelings. So we even support dating – only to the extent that won’t harm the team.”
Perhaps this is the reason why some of the top girl groups have been released from their “no dating” rule and are openly dating. Wonder Girls’ Sunye and Kara’s Goo Hara come to mind.
How Long Can Girl Groups Last?
As you can see, girl group members receive thorough attention and extensive care when it comes to their love lives. However, with the recent out-pour of girl groups, we can’t rule out the possibility of the members of the opposite sex feeling their instinctual draw to young and pretty females. Therefore, age is a very touchy subject. Then, up to what age can girl group members be active?
30% of the surveyed management companies expressed that the early to mid-thirties age group is the limit for girl groups. They say that girl groups need to portray a sexy and cute image at the same time but it may be a bit difficult to handle a cute concept past the age of 30.
Brown Eyed Girls
On the other hand, the general consensus for this question was: “Age is not important.” Looking at stars such as Lee Hyori and Seo In Young, who were the “original idol stars,” they say that the importance isn’t put on age but on the individual charm, self-maintenance and ability. Also, older members may be paired or teamed with younger members so age doesn’t matter that much.
Management companies claim that years since debut is more important than age. If it has been five to six years since a girl group’s debut, the majority of the crowd may get tired of them. Thus, it is important for the girl group members to enter into different fields of entertainment. This is why we can see many girl group members expanding their activities to variety shows or acting in dramas and movies.
What are your thoughts on girl groups and marriage?