Welcome back to this week’s Wednesdays Whereabouts! So, who’s turn in the spotlight is it for the sixth instalment of Wednesday’s Whereabouts? Well this week, I’m very pleased to announce that it is another well-loved girl group: KARA!
Formed by DSP Media in 2007, KARA debuted onto our music radar with ‘Break It’ portraying a powerful female image and mature R&B sound. The girl group went through some line-up changes on their way to success, originally consisting of Park Gyrui, Han Seungyeon, Kim Seunghee and Jung Nicole. However, shortly after debuting, Seunghee departed from the group due to parental and school pressure and two new members, Goo Hara and Kang Jiyoung were introduced into the line-up. KARA was then promoted as a 5-member girl group until 2014 when members Nicole and Jiyoung officially left the group. The final line-up of KARA, from 2014 until their disbandment, was Park Gyuri, Han Seungyeon, Goo Hara and Heo Younji, who won her place in the group through DSP’s reality show ‘KARA Project’.
Seen as successors to senior group Fin.K.L, expectations for their success were huge. However, their debut album ‘The Blooming Project’ (2007) was not well received by the public and thus was considered a commercial failure; which then resulted in KARA undergoing a change in musical style and image. The girls recovered after this, becoming fairly popular with the public and releasing a further 8 albums and holding a 3-year concert tour: KARASIA. After racking up several successful years as KARA, it was announced on 15th January 2016 by DSP Media that Gyuri, Seungyeon and Hara’s contracts had expired and the 3 girls had chosen to move away from the company; resulting in the disbandment of KARA.
So, where are they now? Are they safe? Eating? Sleeping?
All the important questions you may have will be answered and your minds put at ease!
Let me break it down for y ’all…
Gyuri – Making the decision to not renew her contract with DSP Media after its expiration in January 2016, Gyuri now works and promotes under Motion Media as an actress. Shortly after joining Motion Media, she was cast as a supporting member in the 2016 historical TV drama ‘Jang Yeongsil’ as Joo Buryeong. In addition, Gyrui also starred in the 2016 film ‘How To Break Up With My Cat’.
The following year saw her cast as a supporting member in the TV drama ‘Lovers In Bloom’ (2017). More recently, Gyrui has been cast in the upcoming 2018 film ‘Miyak’ (‘Secret Agreement’), which should hopefully be released later this year.
Seungyeon – After choosing not to renew her expired contract with DSP Media, Seungyeon changed companies and signed with J Wide Company shortly after KARA’s disbandment. Her first job under J Wide was appearing in the May 2016 web film ‘Bugs Attack’, later adding starring as 22 year old Jung Yeen in ‘Hello, My Twenties’ and appearing in the short film ‘Frame in Love’ to her acting repertoire.
After a busy 2016, 2017 saw Seungyeon continue her acting path by starring in ‘Last Minute Romance’, a JTBC web drama, and reprising her role as Jung Yeeun in the sequel of ‘Hello, My Twenties’. Recently in 2018, Seungyeon was cast in ‘About Time’, a fantasy romance drama and will be playing the lead role in the upcoming travel romance drama ‘Twelve Nights’, which will be broadcast in September.
Youngji – As the only member of KARA to stay with DSP Media after the disbandment, Youngji became the first hidden member of K.A.R.D, DSP Media’s new co-ed group, and featured on their first project single ‘OH NA NA’ which was released in December 2016.
The following year, in August 2017, DSP Media announced that Youngji was preparing to debut as a solo artist, with her first single ‘Memory Clock’ released on August 25th. Alongside debuting as a solo artist, 2017 also saw Youngji appear on 5 different reality shows either as a fixed panellist (‘Shadow Singer’), a permanent MC (‘Beauty Academy’, ‘Beauty Summit’ and ‘Time Space Operation F.B.I’) or a member of the regular cast (‘Strong Girls’). In addition to appearing on variety shows, she also appeared as a supporting cast member in the JTBC drama ‘Han Yeoreum’s Memory’ and had a cameo in TVN’s ‘Introverted Boss’. To end her 2017, it was announced that Youngji would be taking part on the 2nd song for the project ‘Dogs to Be Together’, a social project about the amount of lost dogs and dogs being abandoned. The song was entitled ‘Longing’ and was released on 15th December 2017.
In June of 2018 Youngji made a cameo in the KBS2 drama ‘Are You Human?’, in addition to this it was revealed later that month that she would become a fixed panellist on the variety show ‘I am CEO Season 2’.
Hara – Like Gyuri and Seungyeon, Hara left DSP Media due to her contract expiration, choosing instead to sign with KeyEast’s subsidiary label Content Y; later that year, she featured on Thunder’s single ‘Sign’. The following August saw Hara star in the web movie ‘Sound of a Footstep’ (2017) as Yoon-Jae. 2017 also saw her announced as a new member of the variety show ‘Seoul Mate’.
Recently, in January 2018 she released a song for the soundtrack for the drama ‘Jugglers’ entitled ‘On A Good Day’; and became the host for JTBC’s beauty show ‘My Mad Beauty Diary’.
Nicole – Unlike her fellow KARA members whose contracts expired in 2016, Nicole’s actually expired 2 years prior in 2014. After her exit from both KARA and DSP Media was confirmed, it was announced that she would be flying back home to the USA and would be spending 2 months there to focus on improving her vocal and dance skills ahead of her new solo debut.
Later that year, in the October, Nicole signed a contract with B2M Entertainment, who said that:
“Following the end of her contract with DSP Media, Nicole is currently preparing for her solo debut after confirming a new agency and completing the contract signing. Nicole’s new agency was established by CEO Gil Jong Hwa, who had been with KARA from their debut to their peak. Since their connection under DSP Media, they have maintained close relations with one another.”
A month after signing the contract, Nicole’s solo debut mini album ‘First Romance’ was released and was promoted by the title song ‘MAMA’. The album was considered a success and by the end of 2014 had sold 10,137 copies.
The following year after her successful solo debut in Korea, it was announced that she would be debuting in Japan on 24th June 2015. She performed her debut song ‘Something Special’ at ‘KCON 2015 Japan X M! Countdown’ before releasing the promotional videos for the single a few days later. A few months later in the December Nicole released that she would be returning with her second Japanese single in the beginning of 2016, the single was to be called ‘Don’t Stop’ and would be released in February. As well as her second single, 2016 saw Nicole release her first solo Japanese album ‘Bliss’ on 27th April with the title track ‘HAPPY’. 2016 was also the year that Nicole had her first solo concerts – ‘2016 Nicole The 1st Live’ – which spanned two days, 29th April 2016 and 1st May 2016.
Jiyoung – Like Nicole, Jiyoung’s contract with DSP Media expired in 2014, 2 years before KARA’s disbandment. Instead of resigning, Jiyoung chose to travel to London to focus on her acting and language skills. Shortly after her departure from KARA and DSP Media, she signed with Sweet Power, a Japanese agency, to resume her activities as an actress and now works exclusively in Japan. Her first official work in Japan under her new label was in the live-action drama of ‘Hell Teacher Nube’, in this she played the heroine Yukime. In addition to this, 2014 also saw Jiyoung act in the dramas ‘Secret Love’ and ‘Higanbana: Onnatachi no Hanzai File’.
After focusing on acting in films and dramas for a couple of years, it was announced in December 2015 by Sony Music that Jiyoung would be returning to her singing career and would be debuting as a solo artist under the stage name of JY; with her first solo single, entitled ‘The Last Farewell’ being for the OST of the Japanese NTV drama ‘Higanbana’. The following year, on 18th March 2016, Jiyoung released her debut solo EP as ‘JY, Radio’ which had 3 tracks. The song ‘Radio’ was written by London-based songwriter and producer MNEK and peaked at #2 on the iTunes Pop Top Song Chart.
The recent years, 2017 and 2018, have seen Jiyoung return to acting, appearing in 2017’s film ‘DC Super Heroes vs. Eagle Talon’ and the dramas ‘Osaka Kanjousen Part 2’ and ‘Orphan Black – 7 Genes’; and 2018’s ‘Reon’, ‘Watashino Jinsei Nanoni’ and ‘Yaru Onna -She’s a Killer-‘.
Whilst the girls have gone through some line-up changes over the years, KARA will always be very dear to our heats – no matter who is promoting. KARA have given us some of the best hit songs to come from K-pop and we wish the girls the best health, happiness and luck for the future career adventures! KARA, we’ll be right by your side through the rest of your idol careers, we love you!~