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GOT7

Overlooked and neglected by their record label, the seven members of the K-pop boy group are now striking out on their own — as a team.

In any group dynamic, whether it be professional or personal, chemistry is necessary to ensure everyone is on the same wavelength. Wildly popular K-pop group GOT7 is a prime example of such a fiercely strong, unified group dynamic of seven. On Jan. 11, it was announced that members of GOT7 might not renew their label contracts; many wondered if the group would continue without the full lineup. However, this was not the case. GOT7 started as seven, and were determined to remain seven regardless of the situation. Tethered by such an unbreakable union, GOT7 has been able to smash records, break musical boundaries and, now, depart from a company that failed to respect them as artists.

After seven long years together under JYP Entertainment, GOT7 shocked the world as each member chose not to renew their contract with their former company and still remain together. Though this seemed like an unexpected decision, it came as no surprise to fans privy to the unfair treatment leveled at the group by JYP Entertainment.

Introduction to JYPE

After years in the industry as a solo artist, South Korean singer-songwriter J.Y. Park sought to revamp the music scene by creating his own unique label. Founded in 1997, JYP Entertainment has spent the past few decades securing a position in the Big 3 of top K-pop entertainment companies. Though he has since stepped down as CEO, The Korea Herald reports that Park, also known as JYP, still holds power over the creative direction of the company as its largest shareholder with an 18.72% stake. Since the early 2000s, JYPE has boasted an impressive lineup of internationally renowned artists, such as TWICE, Wonder Girls, GOT7 and many more legendary acts. 

After training together and participating in a competition program, GOT7 debuted in January 2014 and quickly rose to become one of JYPE’s flagship groups. In addition to music that quickly caught the attention of the public, the group also had an impressive lineup of talented members skilled in a variety of dance styles, musical skills and languages. The group is composed of leader Im Jae-beom, Mark Tuan, Jackson Wang, Park Jin-young, Choi Young-jae, Bambam and Kim Yu-gyeom.

Inadequate Group Promotion

As a group with so much potential, their quick rise to fame was supposed to be followed by proper promotion that would maintain their newfound status. But ever since GOT7’s debut, JYPE has consistently found ways to shortcut promotions. These shortcuts varied from understocking albums, not releasing promotional content for upcoming music videos and failing to secure variety TV appearances for the group.

GOT7’s last comeback prior to their departure was a breaking point for both fans and the group itself. The full album “Breath of Love: Last Piece” received little to no advertisement other than teaser posters for the title track, “Breath.” Adding fuel to the fire, there was no promotion leading up to the release date, which led to group member Mark Tuan to take to Twitter to advertise the release himself. Even Tuan’s family confirmed the mistreatment when his father tweeted, “The truth…..” in response to an article detailing their treatment.

Furthermore, JYPE did not print enough copies to meet demand, and the album sold out from pre-orders alone — which ultimately led to many fans stuck waiting for restocking information from the company. The responsibility for all of these shortcomings ultimately falls on the management teams that were supposed to ensure the group’s success.

Denial of Solo Projects

The individual group members also held incredible promise that was repeatedly ignored by their company. Even after the group’s reputation was well-established, JYPE frequently refused the group members permission to pursue solo activities such as solo music, acting opportunities and brand/magazine features. The company has even prevented group members from becoming involved in the production of music and music videos.

International members Mark Tuan, Jackson Wang and Bambam all have strong, devoted fan bases in their home countries, but were rarely allowed to have promotional activities as JYPE cited “scheduling conflicts” — a move that played a hand in hindering what could have been even further global success for the group. 

Failure To Protect GOT7

Lastly, JYPE failed to provide adequate protection and respect to GOT7. Whether it be security or protection from malicious comments, the group was often left to fend for themselves against threats the company was supposed to handle. Other large companies such as SM Entertainment and Bighit Entertainment have protocols in place to defend their artists against malicious comments, but JYPE has consistently either ignored or vaguely denied the harassment GOT7 has faced. This negligence took a harrowing turn in an incident between a group member and obsessive fans that could have been fatal; in 2016, group member Jackson was involved in a vehicle accident caused by fans driving dangerously while following him from his home to the airport. Though there were no severe injuries, the incident showed how little JYPE cared for the safety of GOT7. Even after the incident, there were no efforts from the company to protect the group, which was left to travel without security.

Moreover, GOT7 wasn’t even safe from malicious comments from their own company. There are multiple clips from a variety of TV programs where JYP openly belittles the group, as well segments where the members of GOT7 themselves speak about JYP’s discouraging comments. JYP himself appears with the group on the variety program “Knowing Brothers” where he claims the group isn’t popular enough to do it alone despite their already being three years into a very successful career. He also has a history of specifically targeting Jaebeom. In a clip from a reality show, Jaebeom speaks about how JYP will only listen to his solo tracks for less than a minute before he rejects each song.

Anytime Jaebeom was allowed to produce a song for the group, JYP would repeatedly force him to redo the song, which led to intense bouts of mental and physical exhaustion for the leader. Fans themselves have even taken to Twitter and YouTube to compile footage of both JYP and JYPE neglecting the group. All of these moments combined are unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to JYPE’s failure to respect and fairly manage GOT7.

What Comes Next for GOT7

In a surprising turn of events, GOT7 will be able to maintain the rights to their name, music and content — which is much deserved. It is currently unclear as to how the group will move forward with group promotional activities, but all solo activities from the members look extremely promising. Mark Tuan will be returning to Los Angeles to reunite with his family, start a YouTube channel and release his solo music. Jackson Wang will continue music production and fashion design in China as CEO of Team Wang and is in talks to also sign with Sublime Artist Agency. Park Jin-young is in talks to sign with BH Entertainment to continue pursuing acting. Choi Young-jae will sign under Sublime Artist Agency.  Lastly, Kim Yu-gyeom has signed to hip-hop agency AOMG — a name all too familiar to JYPE; AOMG was founded by Jay Park, a former member of JYPE group 2PM, who has been outspoken about JYP’s mistreatment of his male artists.

Though their time under JYP Entertainment wasn’t ideal, it is important to note the milestones the group achieved throughout their seven-year tenure. Their debut EP “Got It?” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s World Album Chart. Since their debut, they have accumulated over 75 awards and nominations from major K-pop award shows such as Mnet Asian Music Awards, Golden Disc Awards, Asia Artist Awards and Gaon Chart Music Awards — proving that despite the odds, GOT7 had the tenacity to thrive under a company that hindered them.

Regardless of the unfortunate circumstances faced by the group, the most important sentiment to take away from this situation is the alliance of all seven members. JYPE or not, the group has made a name for itself in the hearts of devoted fans all over the world and will stay there. GOT7 started as 7, fought for better treatment as 7, departed as 7, and will stay 7.

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