Hyomin, from the girl group T-ara, has been considering her future going forward after her contract with MBK Entertainment expired last year, and has recently signed an exclusive contract with Sublime Artist Agency, beginning her domestic and Chinese activities.
While planning for a solo album in the first half of the year with an impressive second act as an artist, she expressed on a phone call on the 17th, "in 2014, I released a solo album for the first time, and in 2016, I released my second solo album. 2 years later, I'm once again preparing for a new album. Rather than an extension of the image that I have already shown, I feel like I'm starting anew, I will prepare my mindset as if I'm debuting all over again. I will try hard to show a much different image than before."
Even as a soloist, the modifier "T-ara's" still follows right before Hyomin's name. Even though it is a "shinning crown", it still is a catalyst that brings back difficult memories. Since T-ara’s debut in 2009, they have experienced both the joy of being at the peak and the pain of falling from grace. They are a group with more difficult times than joyous.
For Hyomin, what meaning does "T-ara" hold? "I have devoted my youth to T-ara. It's another name for my youth, and it has already become a part of my life. Honestly, I hated the name at one point, but I knew I could never throw it away. The name is so precious to me.”
Hyomin has spent the past 9 years as a member of T-ara, she expressed her gratitude, "I never want to forget, I want to always remember these times. To be a member of T-ara is an honor. I'm grateful we were able to be active during a time where K-Pop is loved around the world. I think we were a lucky group. All the members worked hard but we were lucky to receive such excessive love. There were a lot of times our members said, "we're very lucky."
In reality, T-ara has many memories of frustration and hard times. 3 years into their debut, they leaped to become a top Korean girl group, but in July of 2012, they fell due to the "T-ara Bullying Controversy" and never reclaimed their former popularity.
"There were many difficult times, but there are more good memories. That incident happened 3-4 years into our debut, but as time went on, we became a group of 8 years, of 9 years, of 10 years. In fact, as a group, our hard times seemed longer than our happier times, but I think we did very well. I'm happy, I was lucky.”
From her pain and frustrations, she has learned many things. Putting Hyomin’s entire life into perspective, it could be a "tonic".
“During the early days of our group activities, we thought 'if we release this song, of course it'd be loved'. Afterwards, I thought 'no matter how hard you try, you won't be loved.' Even though I knew that, I still had to work. Still, through the tough times, I was able to mature a lot. I realized how precious the overwhelming love we received at the beginning was. We could feel the difference of the distinct boundaries between the good times and the bad. We stood on stage after the cheers disappeared, I realized how precious the cheers from before were. I think we're lucky to have been given this enlightenment."
The members of T-ara have been in constant contact after their contracts expired at the end of last year. Although they are in a legal dispute with MBK Entertainment over the trademark for "T-ara", they still maintain a strong relationship with 'the father of T-ara', MBK’s executive producer Kim Kwang Soo.
"After our contracts expired, there were times we were at odds over minor misunderstandings and argued with producer Kim Kwang Soo, like sisters or mother and daughters. But that's not how it is. No matter what, he’s the father who made us, and made us debut when we knew nothing. This is our first experience with a legal dispute, I think there are some parts we're not familiar with. Even after our contracts ended, producer Kim Kwang Soo said if anything comes up, we can ask him for advice, like children, he treats us like precious daughters. I met with producer Kim Kwang Soo in April for the first time since our contracts ended, we just laughed without saying a word. Like family."