Girls' Generation Announce First New Music Without Jessica Jung

Courtesy of S.M. Entertainment Japan
Girls' Generation

You'll hear one less voice when listening to Girls' Generation's new music.

With a new Japanese single "Catch Me If You Can" to be released on April 22 and a rumored Korean full-length album dropping the following the month, the K-pop phenomenon now boast eight members after the fall 2014 departure of Jessica Jung.

What happened? It's still rather confusing and not fully explained, but here's what went down in a nut shell.

On September 30, 2014, Jessica wrote on her personal Weibo account (a type of Chinese social media) that she was "being forced out" of the act before an event in China. "I was excited about our upcoming fan events only to shockingly be informed by my company and 8 others that as of today I'm no longer a member," the San Francisco native wrote. "I'm devastated -- my priority and love is to serve as a member of GG, but for no justifiable reason, I am being forced out."

At the time, a represenative at her Korean record label, SM Entertainment, told Billboard that Jessica had proposed she leave the group for "personal reasons." The company issued an official statement, claiming that spring Jessica wanted to leave after promoting one more album due a personal situation. SM added that "before agreements could be made on rising conflicts regarding the priority and interests of Girls' Generation's promotions, Jessica began her fashion-related business, and a situation arose where it became difficult to maintain the team despite continuous discussions," referring to the 25-year-old's fashion company Blanc which launched in August 2014.

Jessica followed up with her own official statement claiming that Blanc had both her company and fellow member's blessings. "A month after the launching, the members suddenly changed their stances early September and called a meeting, and without a proper reason, told me to either quit my business or leave Girls' Generation," she wrote. "I explained that I received permission from the company, have never carelessly carried out Girls' Generation promotions, and cannot stop the business within one month of Blanc's launching due to a business contract with a partner. As a result, I appealed that making me choose was an unreasonable request. Becoming a Girls' Generation member was the greatest thing in my life and I have never thought about quitting...However, I received a one-sided notification on Sept. 29 from the company to leave Girls' Generation."

Jung, who still remains managed by SM, has since rebranded Blanc as Blanc & Eclare and recently spoke about her future in showbiz. "I'm going to be taking it step by step in the fashion industry," she told a Shanghai reporter. "I did not lose my passion for the entertainment industry. For my fans, there are a lot of great things in the works so hang in there."

Member changes are nothing new in K-pop groups, but Girls' Generation spent seven years together, not to mention multiple years atop of Forbes Korea's Power Celebrity lists. Not only is it a concern for business and the brand, but it's a concern for the act's notoriously passionate fanbase and it will be interesting to see their support when it comes time to promote new music. The outfit already flew past the dreaded five-year expiration date for girl groups and boy bands and continues to be a leading force in K-pop's international expansion -- just last year, the then-ninesome earned the second-highest charting K-pop album ever when their Mr. Mr. EP peaked at No. 110 on the Billboard 200

SM Entertainment did not immediately respond to Billboard's request to confirm a new Korean album for May, but whenever it comes it could certainly be a make-or-break moment. 

Take it back to the good times with this bittersweet video of "Mr.Mr." the group's last K-pop release featuring Jessica: