For many longtime K-pop fans, it’s hard to believe that it’s almost been five years since T-ara fell from grace. Wedged firmly between 2NE1 and Girls’ Generation at the peak of their popularity, the group’s reputation was famously ruined overnight after an overblown scandal that saw them accused of bullying ex-member Hwayoung. To this day, no female star has endured a bigger controversy.
Of course, as anyone that’s been on the internet over the past month knows, T-ara were belatedly vindicated after new evidence emerged that proved their innocence and revealed some damning evidence about Hwayoung and her twin sister Hyoyoung.
Since the truth came to light, a large portion of the public’s sentiment towards T-ara has noticeably changed from blind hatred to sympathy and support. It’s thrust the girl group back into the Korean spotlight at a time when their domestic popularity was at an all-time low. Now K-pop fans are asking themselves: Where does T-ara go from here?
To expect the group to suddenly regain their former spot at the top is unrealistic. It’s been five years; the damage has been done, many fans have moved on, and age-wise, T-ara is now one of the oldest active girl groups in K-pop. But that doesn’t mean that their career in Korea is over. As long as their next single and concept is good (and knowing T-ara it will be) then they’ll surely chart much higher than last November’s “Tiamo” did (which peaked at a dismal No. 81).
Since T-ara’s vindication, a couple of the group’s classic hits like “Roly Poly” and “Day By Day” have topped Melon’s real-time search rankings, indicating an interest in the group’s music from the public. I wouldn’t expect to see the girls sweeping the charts like they did back in their “Lovey-Dovey” days, but they could definitely be back in the top forty with the other mid-tier girl groups.
Fans can also look forward to seeing T-ara on TV again. Hyomin has already booked a supporting role in the upcoming hallyu drama Unusual Man & Woman, while Eunjung just landed the lead in an upcoming MBC daily drama. Pre-scandal, T-ara was at the top when it came to girl groups in acting and variety, so expect some of those closed doors to reopen again.
Outside of Korea, T-ara’s international schedules should continue as usual. They recently announced plans to resume their Japanese activities after a lengthy hiatus, Eunjung just had a movie come out in Thailand, and the group as a whole remains one of the biggest K-pop acts in China.
Jiyeon’s solo project is another promising prospect. Pre-scandal, she was a superstar and famously part of the top three girl group beauties with Yoona and Suzy. And even after the controversy, her first solo album, Never Ever, was still relatively successful, so her sophomore effort definitely has potential.
Things will never be the same for T-ara, but for the first time in years there’s finally hope for their future in Korea again.
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