Since their debut in 2010 Nine Muses have gone through eleven changes to their lineup. Only three original members remain to this day and yet they continue to promote. The group’s latest single Drama is actually their most successful to date. Changes to group lineups are not uncommon in K-pop and have had varying effects on each group that have had to deal with it. The effects of these changes do not only affect the group though, as fans see their favourite group being dismantled and rebuilt within a short time. This can change their perception as they feel a loss of essence in the group.
First and foremost, losing a group member is always hard. Whether it’s the most important or least important member, their loss will be felt immediately in the live performances. K-pop performances are built around perfectly synchronized choreography where each person has their part to play. When one of these people is taken out, the system must be broken down and built up again with other members taking over. Whether the group leaves a gap in their dance like 2PM post-Jay Park or reboots it like EXO after Luhan and Kris left, the difference is palpable.
Fans watch their favorites perform but notice new movements or gaps in the dance. What was once one of the most fluid things known to pop music becomes jarring. The K-pop dance changes.
Of course, the majority of groups move towards replacing their lost member before they even have to think about rejigging their choreography or line distribution. Most companies have floods of trainees desperate for their chance to shine in the company’s flagship group. Each of these trainees will be as talented, beautiful and charming as the members that were chosen to debut in this group. Despite their readiness, plugging the trainees into an already established group has difficulties that have nothing to do with talent.