Many K-Pop bands have subunits and soloists, in which a select few members release their own music and perform. While seeming detrimental to the group, subunit groups have their merits of allowing experimentation with new styles and concepts or collaborations with other groups’ members.
Some argue against forming subunit groups, as they can undermine group teamwork due to jealousy and discrepancies with pay. Idols are indeed humans, too, and groups such as TVXQ, Girl’s Generation, EXO, f(x), Wonder Girls, and U-Kiss split due to individual members’ conflicts of interest with the group.
However, most of the groups previously listed never had subgroups, and part of idol groups disbanding or contracts not being renewed is caused by mistreatment by the agency, unpopularity, and obsolescence. Not to mention that the fact that individual members’ desire for a different career path or time to spare for other things, such as caring for a family, studying, and building their own businesses, are understable and should be respected.
In any case, having a subgroup does not necessarily lead to group disunity, although fans may worry that the members not included in subunit activities may be undervalued by their companies, potentially jeopardizing their career when the time to renew contracts come. Subgroups outshining the main group is possible, but rare as a real threat to a group’s unity.
In fact, many fans celebrate the coming forth of subgroups and soloists of their bands, even if their favorite members do not participate, as subgroups can greatly increase publicity of the group, as Orange Caramel did for After School. Subunit groups also can provide the main group with new flairs to their style after successful experimentations with the subunits.
Even the members not included in subunits often congratulate their group’s subunit’s debut and performances on social media to publicize the subgroup, although one might doubt the sincerity within the congratulatory tweet or selfies. Members not in the subunits are not necessarily bummed out over not being able to perform, as they may be able to get some valuable rest periods, vacations, time with family, or time to focus on other activities like acting or studying.
Thus, despite some fans’ concerns, subunits are usually harmless to a group and even potentially beneficial. Divisions within groups, if there are any, are often influenced by other, heavier factors such as conflicts of interest and pay. Fans can be in peace knowing that their favorite band would not be divided from a subdivision.