The spotlight is once again on Source Music due to tensions that developed after the disbandment of GFriend. GFriend is a 6-member girl group featuring Eunha, Yerin, SinB, Umji, Yuju, and Sowon (now Sojung). They debuted in 2015 with Glass Bead and continued to release several hit singles. They disbanded on May 22, 2021.
It has been pointed out that Source Music has accumulated $25.7 million in debt according to HYBE's 2020 financial report and owes $6.6 million to Big Hit.
GFriend's disbandment announcement: Fans demand an explanation
On May 18, 2021, it was announced on the official GFriend Weverse account that the K-pop girl group would be parting ways with Source Music. The statement mentioned that the company's contract with GFriend would end on May 22.
However, fans of GFriend were not happy with the decision for several reasons. Many Twitter users claimed the announcement was too sudden and too messy for it to have been a mutual break-up. "Buddies" (fans of GFriend) trended on Twitter hashtags and demanded an explanation from Source Music for the following terms.
Source Music's side continued to announce the cancelation and refund procedures for the various GFriend events. The next day, on May 19, GFriend's members each posted a handwritten note on their Weverse community, apologizing for the sudden news and thanking their fans for the support.
Members allegedly blindsided, Source Music leaks fan data
A day before the announcement, (May 17) news agency TENASIA reported that GFriend may possibly disband, due to failed contract negotiations.
GFriend's disbandment announcement was released the next day. It officially happened on May 22, 2021. In April, it was reported that GFriend would return with a mini-album. In the same report, it was denoted that GFriend was scheduled to have a new contract in the 4th Financial Quarter of 2021, i.e., somewhere between October and December.
The report was made by Mertiz Securities, a Korea-based security company. The table is in fact a "comeback prediction" list by Meritz, made through analysis of past trends - it is not an official schedule.
Many pointed out that several GFriend members mentioned in live streams (a week prior to 18) that the members often mentioned that they were actively practicing. Just the night before, Yuju had made a post stating that she had visited the practice room.
A Twitter user further uploaded a clip from GFriend's Sowon and Yuju, who held a live stream on May 13, 2021. In it, they talk about changing their signature for their next album signing.
On May 17 and May 18, several posts were to be uploaded on to the group's respective platforms, as shown here.
After the announcement was made, the schedule was immediately removed. While the contract ended on May 22, other accounts and content pertaining to GFriend were untouched.
Through a report by KpopStarz, it was revealed that Source Music had applied for a trademark for the word "GFRIEND," on March 11, 2021. Fans were confused as to why the trademark was applied for when the group disbanded two months later.
Fans had applied for their offical fanclub membership refund through an official form that was sent out; due to an error that occurred on Source Music's part, the personal data of fans that had filled in the form was leaked. Source released an apology for their mistake on Weverse. It was later reported by Naver news that Source had compensated around 22 victims of the data leak in private.
To this day, fans continue to demand an explanation from Source Music and HYBE regarding their treatment of the group. Meanwhile, GFriend members continue to stay in contact and are currently working on their solo careers.
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