For Thought: Graduation System within a group?

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EY readers by now should be able to figure out the evident fact that I like listening to the Kpop group AFTER SCHOOL, because of the many promo posts i’ve done on them. Recently, one of the members, Rebecca Kim, announced her “graduation” from the group and it led me to wonder about this particular system their label has set up and how it affects not only AFTER SCHOOL’s fans but the members as well. Apparently members can leave whenever they feel like it, and throughout the group’s lifetime new members were also added to keep their style and sound fresh. On one end this might be a good thing as it seems these ladies are given the freedom to do as they wish, as oppose to some musicians in the industry who are basically tied (under slave contracts) to their record labels. But this is how I see it, bare in mind that I could be wrong as I am stating this based on my opinion and not facts; the company, PLEDIS Entertainment, says that it’s the members’ decision to leave the group but what if they’re told to leave because the company simply became tired of them or they just don’t have a strong position within the group that can keep them there?

The first to get the graduation system on the road was one of the starting members SooYoung. Prior to her leaving AFTER SCHOOL, SooYoung was absent from group activities and fans were given the reason that she was simply “taking a break”. She graduated citing health issues and having the desire to go into acting. When Bekah announced (or should I say when Pledis announced) her departure from the group, it was based on the reason that she wanted to focus on her initial dream which was to become a designer. My question is why couldn’t they remain in the group while pursuing these other goals? Entertainers multitask all the time so I see no reason for them to leave just because they want to do something else. No offense but since SooYoung’s departure I’ve yet to see her doing what she claimed she would be doing instead. Bekah’s message to fans almost seemed like she was being forced to leave as well, but then again I could be reading too much into it. See for yourselves:

“Hello Hello~~~

You saw the news articles today right?… I’m sorry~… I wanted to tell you personally… I wanted to think about it more~ Our fans… always gave me strength.. I was always thankful… Thank you always.. I really love you… I’ll really really really miss you~ Don’t be too sad… We can meet again… :] Though I would like to express more in Korean… Korean is hard kekeke… ㅜㅜ… So… I’ll write in English~~~ >.<

I just want to thank everyone for giving me so much of their love and time to support After School and me. I especially am always amazed at those fans who came to see me at Music Bank, Music Core, and Inkigayo.. it was a HUGE encouragement for me.. Right now.. I honestly, don’t know how to feel..I can’t imagine what you guys are feeling too. I just hope the best for all of you guys, you guys are truly amazing people. I pray that you guys will always reach for your goals and no matter who discourages you.. that you keep on going.

Life is crazy, how it can change in an instant. I’m REALLY going to miss you guys screaming out AFTER SCHOOL or even my name. Everything was a blessing for me and I will NEVER forget you guys. I hope to see you guys soon. Maybe when I visit Korea again I can see you guys somehow.. I love Korea and even though it was a different culture and lifestyle for me.. I grew to embrace it and love it. You guys truly real warm people inside. I wish you guys to just shine as brightly as possible and not be afraid to love one another. I’ve learned that there are a lot of people who are difficult to get along with or love…but still..loving each other is the best thing you could ever do in this world. Of course I’m still learning too..hehe.

I don’t want to say goodbye because I have a feeling I’ll be seeing you guys one day, maybe on the street, at a convenience store.. I’m not too sure but I will see you guys again. I love you guys with all my heart and I’m so blessed. I hope for the best for you guys and always smile. God bless you guys always. I love you… A lot a lot… :]


I’ve noticed that PLEDIS has a method when they’re about to graduate members: send them away on vacation. Bekah’s graduation like SooYoung’s has proven to be a heavy blow for their fans. It’s only natural if they’ve been following the group since their debut.

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As Bekah departs AFTER SCHOOL, she leaves behind her mark and a position that will certainly remain unfilled no matter how many more members are added to the group. She’s hoping fans can find comfort in a song she wrote herself titled “Take Me To The Place“. Listen to it below and leave your comments on how you feel about Bekah’s decision to leave the group and your sentiments on AFTER SCHOOL‘s graduation system.

video cr: ASFVault

images courtesy as-afterparty

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