It's a sad day in the K-pop world as one of its most beloved groups loses a member.
Following reports that 2NE1 member Gong Minzy was in talks with other labels, YG Entertainment (home to PSY, BIGBANG, Epik High, Lee Hi, among other international favorites) put out a statement and revealed that the 22-year-old singer/dancer would not be continuing on with the group after declining to renew her contract with the agency. The label said its other three 2NE1 members—CL, Dara, and Bom—expressed interest in continuing the group, but Minzy felt otherwise.
The youngest member of 2NE1, Minzy spent five years training and preparing for her K-pop career before her 2009 debut in the foursome. 2NE1 has been on a break since releasing their chart-topping album Crush in 2014.
The label assured fans that 2NE1 would continue with the three remaining members, and that the threesome is currently preparing new music that's anticipated to be released this summer. There are no plans to add a new member.
Lineup shakeups are not uncommon in K-pop with very few groups able to avoid membership changes through the years (see supergroups like Girls' Generation, Wonder Girls, Kara, EXO, f(x), and more). What is remarkable about the situation is how the label addressed the issue head on when rumors surfaced and appears to be parting amicably with Minzy.
As a member of 2NE1, Minzy helped the group achieve an unprecedented amount of success and accolades for a Korean group on the U.S. charts (Crush is still the highest-charting K-pop album ever on the Billboard 200), the touring circuit (2NE1 was the first K-pop girl group to hold solo arena shows), music collaborations (they worked with will.i.am on multiple tracks) and in media (the group appeared on American TV staples like The Bachelor and America's Next Top Model, and had spreads in magazines like Nylon).
2NE1 unexpectedly reunited at the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards where they performed their debut single "Fire" and signature hit "I Am the Best" at the Hong Kong ceremony. The performance will likely be their last as a foursome for some time. Watch below:
Fuse has reached out to YG Entertainment for more information regarding the matter.
Throw it back to when Fuse interviewed all four 2NE1 ladies in their home base in South Korea: