The Korea Herald


Where is Blackpink headed?

From disbandment to solo labels, rumors snowball amid YG's silence

By Choi Ji-won

Published : Oct. 1, 2023 - 16:01

    • Link copied

Blackpink performs at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, April 9. (YG Entertainment) Blackpink performs at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, April 9. (YG Entertainment)

Will Blackpink continue or will the group disband? Are the members moving to a different label or will they go independent?

Rumors have been swirling as K-pop's biggest girl group and its agency, YG Entertainment, remain silent on the future, despite their seven-year contract having apparently reached the end of its term in August.

On Tuesday, it was reported Jennie and Jisoo had established their own independent labels, though YG Entertainment denied to confirm the reports.

"Nothing has been settled regarding Blackpink's contract renewal or future activity," was YG's latest update on the issue released Wednesday, a reiteration of what it has been repeating over the past few months.

The company responded similarly around a week prior, when another local report claimed only Rose from the foursome had renewed her contract with YG. The rest would find new labels and set aside six months a year for group activities, the report from Sports Seoul stated. YG had said then that "nothing is confirmed and we're still undergoing negotiations."

The reports may sound groundless, but every little move the members make -- or don't make -- is fanning rumors that may hint at Blackpink's future.

Local media even spotlighted Lisa's recent solo trip to Paris. News reports pointed out that, unusually, she was not accompanied by anyone from YG Entertainment, presumably as she had not renewed her contract with the firm.

Rumors also circulated before that Thai member Lisa, who has the biggest overseas fandom among the group, may be in the market for a foreign label.

Blackpink (YG Entertainment) Blackpink (YG Entertainment)

Whether the four decide to stay together at YG or each of them seeks out a new home, public anticipation leans on their extension as a group.

In the past, even the most popular groups would disband or become inactive at the notorious seven-year mark when the individual members would depart for new labels in pursuit of solo careers. Nowadays, it's become more common for groups to either renew their contracts, as in the case of Seventeen and BTS, or remain as a group despite being affiliated to different labels, like GOT7 and 2PM.

It is also likely that YG would refrain from announcing the end of Blackpink, which remains its biggest brand and profit-maker.

Investment research analyzed that the earnings surprise YG saw in the first quarter -- a 457 percent increase in operating profit and 118 percent in sales on-year -- was driven by the band's yearlong "Born Pink" world tour that kicked off in October 2022.

A report from Hyundai Motor Securities on Wednesday predicted the departure of any Blackpink member could deal a fatal blow to the K-pop powerhouse, with sales from the quartet dropping to below 50 percent of the current level if more than two members leave the agency.

The "fatal blow" may not be a stretch, as YG's stock price instantly plummeted by 13 percent on Sept. 21 when it was reported that only Rose may stay with the firm.

"It's unlikely that the members will all renew their contracts. The most plausible scenario for now would be renewal by some of the members and extension of Blackpink's group activity," the Hyundai Motor Securities report concluded.

The bandmates have also expressed the wish to carry on together. At the final encore concert for "Born Pink" in Seoul on Sept. 17, Jennie thanked fans for their time together, adding, "Blackpink will continue to be a great team."

Blackpink performs at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Aug. 26. (YG Entertainment) Blackpink performs at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Aug. 26. (YG Entertainment)

Amid the confusion, Jennie is gearing up for her long-awaited solo comeback. The singer recently shared on fan community Weverse that she is "in the final stage" of her new solo project. "I'll be opening it in surprise like a gift for fans," she said.

In an interview for Harper's Bazaar Korea's October issue, she said she is "making a unique song that is of Jennie, most like Jennie and only for Jennie."

This will be her first solo release since her first single, fittingly titled "Solo," in 2018. She also unveiled "You And Me" in the group's recent world tour, though it has not been officially released yet.

Having debuted in August 2016 with the first single "Square One," Blackpink instantly rose to global stardom.

With its latest album "Born Pink," the group topped the Billboard 200 chart as the first female K-pop group and just the fourth among any K-pop act. In 2021, Blackpink became the most-subscribed artists on YouTube, dethroning megastar Justin Bieber from the spot and maintaining the top rank so far.

The group also holds several marks recognized by the Guinness World Records under its belt, including for most streamed female group on Spotify, with 8.88 billion streams as of March this year.

Blackpink poses together in a picture provided by the group's agency from its Blackpink poses together in a picture provided by the group's agency from its "Born Pink" world tour held from October 2022 to September 2023. (YG Entertainment)

The group has continued to set new career highs this year. Its "Born Pink" world tour drew a total of 1.8 million concertgoers across 34 cities over its yearlong run since October 2022, making it the biggest single world tour by a female K-pop act and the second largest for any K-pop act. It also made its historic debut at the Gocheok Sky Dome with the tour's two days of encore shows held on Sept. 16 and 17, becoming the first K-pop girl group to hold a standalone gig at the nation's biggest concert venue.

Whether Blackpink will end its epic journey now, and, if not, how it will continue as a group remains to be answered.