After five years of preparing, a girl group member left the industry to deal with an eating disorder, eliciting some important questions.
At the end of October, news came out of the K-pop world that JinE, from the eight-member girl group Oh My Girl, was leaving the industry after spending more than a year focusing on treatment for an eating disorder. The reveal arrived at a time when body image, along with physical and mental health, are becoming increasingly discussed topics among artists and fans in the K-pop scene.
After nearly five years of training with Korean entertainment agency WM Entertainment, JinE (full name Shin Hyejin) debuted in 2015 as a member of the impressive rookie act Oh My Girl whose sophomore single, "Closer," was named one of the best K-pop songs of the year by Billboard. While promoting "Closer," JinE shared an initial diagnosis of anorexia.
The petite, 5'3" star shared she lost between 17 to 20 pounds as the group dieted together for promotions -- a common practice among K-pop groups who want to look their best as they appear on cameras and social media at all hours of the day, but also as a response to Korean society's expectations for idols to be thin and attractive. JinE shared that she developed vomiting symptoms and esophagitis, and despite needing hospital care, the singer assured fans she was healthy. 2016 brought three more EP releases and increased visibility for Oh My Girl, but the 22-year-old was indefinitely pulled from promoting with the group after her symptoms returned. Then last month, WM and JinE announced she would leave the group and company, with the star expressing gratitude for the support she received but the desire for a different lifestyle.