Back in September, I wrote a post about how Kiss Mes were feeling when the KPopFunding thing began. After that, I really wanted to write another post. I wanted to write, in detail, everything that I had been seeing for weeks and months, and how it had led up to that moment of Dongho suddenly not being in the KPopFunding photos, him not being on Idol Sports Day, him deleting Twitter off his phone and not tweeting anything for months at a time… I wanted more than anything to write in the middle of September of how terrified I was that we were about to lose Dongho.
Now, NH have finally told us the truth. Or most of it. Dongho is leaving U-Kiss. The translation of the statement is vague, saying that he is putting his entertainment career “on hold”. Those who are hopeful will take this as him temporarily leaving the group. Those of us who are more realistic know there is probably no going back after this.
I do have to laugh when I read articles like the ones from AllKPop saying that this is a “shocking turn of events”, because anyone who has been paying attention to U-Kiss KNOWS that Dongho hasn’t been happy. I have yet to meet a Kiss Me who is genuinely surprised at Dongho’s decision. Those of us who have been able to go to events read the statement about Dongho’s declining interest in being in entertainment and nodded with agreement. It’s been really clear that his heart hasn’t been in it for a long time.
I completely support Dongho and his decision, as painful as it might be to see him go. As U-Kiss fans, we’ve seen him grow through his teen years, and so he feels close to us. But really, that’s the problem. He started in U-Kiss when he was 13. The entirety of his teen years were spent in the spotlight, and it wasn’t even a glamorous spotlight. Spending all those years fighting for #1, never getting it, and then all of the awkward pressures of being a teenager as well… All I can say is that he is very lucky that he had bandmates like the members of U-Kiss, past and present, to help guide him through those teen years like brothers. To be honest, I always thought that Dongho might have taken the departure of Xander and Kibum the hardest, because he was really close to Xander after. After that moment, I think being in entertainment lost some of its sparkle.
I knew Dongho was leaving U-Kiss the day I wrote that first article. I knew he was probably going to be gone, and that was why I was asking those questions. I wanted fans to ask the same questions. A few days later, I went to see U-Kiss at a university performance. I was desperately hoping to be proven wrong, that all 7 would walk out on that stage. I sat through the rain, huddled under my poncho, waiting until I saw a tweet from the U-Kiss staff. “Dongho will not be performing today due to health reasons.”
“Bullshit,” I remember thinking to myself. I’d seen Soohyun perform through vocal nodules, Eli perform with a busted up leg, and even Dongho had less time off when diagnosed with pleurisy. NH was never that generous with time off. I didn’t believe them at all at this point. The K-PopFunding site had been put up mid-July (I had been checking whois records and other web history), and the photoshopped photos had probably been done well before September. The fact they went up was an error from the KPopFunding site. They posted too soon, before NH could announce that Dongho was leaving. This much was clear to me by then. But I didn’t want to believe it.
When U-Kiss came out on stage, there was something so different about that one performance. They were distant, like their minds were somewhere else completely. They opened with Standing Still, as expected. The second song was ManManHaNi. Normally, U-Kiss close with this song, so I assumed they were only doing two songs. However, the members began to talk after ManManHaNi about how they were going to do another song, one of their ballads. I shook my head stubbornly. There was only one ballad that they ever performed, and that was Someday. And while many people hear that song and think it is about their own struggles, the song seems to be specifically about the member change, and losing Xander and Kibum. It is rarely performed now, and the few times I have seen it done, it was at a venue where their normal flame throwing choreography might not suit the affair (like awards ceremonies.) When the boys said they would be singing Someday, I couldn’t help myself; I began to cry.
In a crowd of Kiss Mes and university students who didn’t seem to know, the foreigner in the front row with tears running down her cheeks must have looked out of place. I joked to my friends that I probably scared the shit out of Eli and Kevin, who either wondered what the hell was wrong with me, or knew that I had figured them out. But if you go back to those fancams, to me it’s clear they were singing the song to Dongho that night. It was probably the only opportunity they would have to actually choose their songs, and the only time they might be able to sing a song that would be for him.
Although tiring, there will be days to smile, eventually a day to smile will come
If it’s separation, just let them go…
People who have to go, just go
Sure being next to them, it might happen
Being tired right now
It’s just evidence of your love
Everybody knows you tried Everybody knows it’s alright
Dongho, nobody blames you for your decision. You have worked so hard over the past 5 years. You have made Kiss Mes SO proud to call you ours, and we’re going to miss you terribly. However, if there is anyone deserving of a normal life now, it is you. Please, go to school, make friends, get a shitty part time job somewhere just to experience it once. Eat whatever the hell you like, stay out all night, and sleep in late. Live. Enjoy your life. So many people don’t get to, and you have made the difficult, but smart decision of knowing that following your heart and health is sometimes more important than following your obligations as a performer. Work to live. Don’t live to work.
That being said…
To all of those who are saying that there is no reason to be upset at NH right now because this is Dongho’s decision… Actually there is EVERY reason to be upset at NH Media right now. The signs have been there for over a month that Dongho was not intending on being in U-Kiss. Perhaps they were negotiating for the whole month, but the photoshop job makes it look like NH has known about Dongho not staying for a long time now. They tried to get foreign fans to blindly donate money. Luckily, you all were smart enough to ask questions and tell NH that you weren’t giving money without answers. So instead, NH waited, and then launched the 4th generation of the U-Kiss fan club. Not that any of us would NOT join because Dongho is leaving, but the fact that they waited until most of the most dedicated fans deposited their money is suspicious.
Kiss Mes, this is a time where we obviously need to support the members of U-Kiss the most. They need to know we are there for them. But at the same time, NH need to be aware of the fact that they are not getting off easy. They’ve cancelled too many events, lied too many times, and avoided the truth for too long for me to trust them with my pet rock, let alone with my favourite group. I would do anything for U-Kiss to leave NH and go to a different label, because NH is doing them no favours at this point. They have been making terrible decisions for years when it comes to music, and the industry is finally at a point where the performers are starting to stop and say “No, this is bullshit” and leaving for better.
Soohyun, Kiseop, Eli, AJ, Hoon, and Kevin. If you do see this, know that I will always be supporting you. If I have to end up backing NH to do so, then so be it. However, I don’t think that NH is right for you any more. I don’t like how they’re taking in new artists without being able to support the groups they have properly, and I don’t like how they treat the fans. And honestly… I know you don’t like it either. I know you guys think this is shit. And I know you are supporting Dongho right now too. But please please know, if ever you decided to “pull a Block B” as many fans would call it… I think most Kiss Mes would back you 100%. As would the rest of the industry, because we can see that you are so much better than NH can manage.