After all of the rumors and reports, the news is finally official: all of GOT7 will be leaving JYP Entertainment after 7 years. There’s been some information about each member’s future plans, and it looks like they will pursuing their own individual activities for the time being. But fans can take comfort in that it’s not an official disbandment – while nothing has been confirmed, it looks highly likely that they will try to find a way to stay together and/or reunite in the future. GOT7 has a very special place in my heart, so I wanted to take a moment to organize my thoughts and reflect on how much they mean to me.
From the start, I knew there was a distinct possibility that GOT7 wouldn’t renew their contracts. Their bond is famous in the industry, so I had a gut feeling that they would either renew or leave together as 7. Initially, I wanted them to stay with JYP (the agency) because that would be the easiest way for them to continue as a group. There have been plenty of groups who have said they were still together even if they were at different agencies, but none of them have actually released music yet – so I’ve always been a little cynical about that approach. But I quickly changed my mind when I saw all the unfollowing drama with JYP (the person) and the members and how petty he was being. And when I looked back over the last couple of years, it became clear that GOT7 did not receive the same treatment as the other JYP groups. To say the agency fell short in supporting them is probably the most neutral way of phrasing it. So it’s great to see GOT7 move on from a disadvantageous situation that was perhaps even holding them back.
I’m so excited for GOT7 to enter this next phase of their careers and try new things, because this is clearly what they want. And I always want idols to do what makes them happy, even if that ultimately ends up not being the idol route. But no matter how happy I am for them, it’s still a bittersweet moment. Even though the future is bright, GOT7’s departure from JYP is effectively the end of an era. And I have faith that they will find a way to reunite, but who knows when that will happen? The thing about K-pop is you’re so used to seeing your groups regularly that you almost take it for granted. I’m one of those people who jumps from comeback to comeback, so I never really followed GOT7 (or any group) outside of promotions. But I could always count on the fact that I’d see them once in the spring and once in the fall, and I’d been doing so for years.
My first GOT7 comeback was “Fly” in 2016, and I remember being so excited and intrigued by it. In hindsight, I think that was the perfect time to start following them; we obviously didn’t know it back then, but that was when they began to find their signature sound which stands out so much today. Ever since they started writing and composing songs, their music has taken on a unique quality – it’s hard to describe it, but I could always tell which song was a GOT7 song. Sometimes, I could even tell which member was involved in making it. I think they really knew how to make songs that would suit their members’ individual talents AND the group overall, and that made their music really personal and specific to them.
I also thoroughly enjoyed all of GOT7’s albums. Usually, I tend to focus on the title track and maybe one or two B-sides. (This is true of pretty much any singer I follow, not just K-pop artists.) It’s rare for me to have albums that I’ll really listen to the whole way through, but GOT7’s albums are some of my exceptions. They’re just so well put together, and they flow so nicely. They have an easiness about them that lets me enjoy them no matter what mood I’m in. I’ve been going through their discography since the news broke, and I’m realizing just how much I listened to some of these albums. When I hear certain ones, they remind me of the corresponding time periods of my life and what I was thinking and feeling. Which is really nice, because I don’t have many albums that come with those kinds of memories.
To be honest, my interest level in GOT7 fluctuated a little bit over the years. While I liked all of their title tracks, some of them were more my style than others. But I always eagerly anticipated every comeback and bought every album, and they were always in my Top 10 groups. I probably reached my peak GOT7 fan phase in 2019, when I fell in love with both “Eclipse” and “You Calling My Name.” I also got to attend their Keep Spinning concert in Seoul, which is definitely one of the highlights of my time as a K-pop fan. I remember how there were so many international/non-Korean fans, the most I saw at any K-pop concert in Korea, and it was a nice reminder of how globally beloved GOT7 is. Being with THOUSANDS of fans screaming and waving their light sticks for one group is truly an amazing experience, but the fact that there was such a diverse audience made it extra special. GOT7 put on such an amazing show, and they played all of my favorites (except for “Just Right,” sadly.) It’s definitely a memory I will treasure forever.
I cried a lot watching that concert because it felt like my time as a K-pop fan had come full circle. And that’s because GOT7 was actually the first K-pop group I ever discovered those five years ago. Like most Americans of the early/mid 2010s, my only exposure to K-pop at the time was PSY’s “Gangnam Style.” (In retrospect, I’d also heard some songs by Big Bang, 2NE1, HyunA, etc. – but none of them had made a strong impression on me back then.) Coming across them was a complete mistake – I was scrolling Buzzfeed and clicked on the wrong article, which turned out to be a quiz about which GOT7 member you were most like or would be your best friend or whatever. And while I had no idea what was going on, I still looked out of curiosity and found myself intrigued by the music video stills I saw. So I went over to YouTube, searched their name, clicked on “Just Right” … and the rest is history.
Initially, I was going to write a post about my five years as a K-pop fan and how much K-pop has influenced my life. But since everything started from that GOT7 music video, I turned it into a post about them instead – and I want to give them the credit for how my life has changed. Given how globalized K-pop has become, I’m sure that I still would have stumbled upon it at some point and become interested. But if I hadn’t discovered K-pop through GOT7 at that specific time, a lot of things wouldn’t have happened. I wouldn’t have met my best friend. I wouldn’t have started this blog. I wouldn’t have reignited my interest in learning about other cultures. I wouldn’t have started seriously learning a third language. And maybe I wouldn’t even be living here in South Korea.
So thank you, GOT7, for being the beginning of it all. So many good things happened to me just from clicking on your music video, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the wonderful music and pure joy you’ve brought me over the years. Thank you for opening those doors for me and setting me down this path. I will miss seeing you all together regularly, but I’m excited to see where the future takes each and every one of you. I know that it’s not goodbye forever; it’s just a goodbye for now. And I’ll eagerly await your reunion, no matter how long it takes.
NOTE: The featured image is of GOT7 on January 1 (possibly at the MBC Gayo Daejejeon, if I understand the Korean correctly). It was originally posted on GOT7’s Twitter account, and you can see the tweet here.