What is the 7 year curse in the world of Kpop and why do groups like BTS and EXO survive it?

K-Pop fans might have heard of and dreaded this term before. But what exactly is the 7-year curse?
What is the 7 year curse in the world of Kpop and why do groups like BTS and EXO survive it?
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The 7-year curse is quite a well-known term among K-Pop fans. It refers to the seventh year in the tenure of any K-Pop when many groups disband or have a member leave. There are quite a lot of groups who have disbanded during their seventh year including 2NE1, Sistar and 4Minute. There are also groups that survive this curse and make a comeback like SHINHWA, BTS, F. T. Island and T-ARA. Here are some facts that help you know more about the 7-year curse.


Most idols sign seven-year contracts before their debut. The law that restricts idol contracts to a maximum of seven years is not very old. In 2008, three TVXQ! members, Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu (JYJ), took SM Entertainment to court over their 13-year contract, which was called the slave contract. The three left SM Entertainment but were unable to succeed in the Korean entertainment industry. Much of their success, since then, has been in Japan. As a result of that case, the Korean Fair Trade Commission created a rule in 2009 limiting entertainment contracts to seven years.

Basically, the seven-year curse is about groups deciding whether to renew their contracts and disband.

Entertainment Industry

Other than its legal aspects, the so-called curse also has a practical reason. More than 30 new K-Pop groups debuted in the year 2020. With so many artists fighting for the same audience's attention, if the groups don't make an impact, the seven-year contract drags with little to no activity and the group disappears with no trace. Keeping momentum is also tougher than ever for artists as expectations for two to three comebacks a year are likely to wear them down over time.


The K-Pop industry might have audiences of varied ages but its main focus has always been the youth and much of the music and visuals cater to that audience. The rapid introduction of fresh faces is related to the fact that the older group members are in fact growing old. As the members start entering their thirties, these groups aim for international waters, especially countries like Japan where people tend to prefer older male pop groups. This is also one of the reasons that boy groups have a longer shelf life than girl groups.

However, groups like BTS are able to sustain themselves and their group solely based on mutual trust and coordination. BTS' relationship with their company, BigHit Entertainment, is completely transparent and the two entities are often mentioned interchangeably. Such coherence is exactly what keeps them together or in other words, they're stronger together. In the case of EXO, they might be considered partial victims of the 7-year curse as the group lost members Luhan, Tao and Kris before they completed 7 years. However, the group as such, is still together and successfully so. We can't help but hope that's how it stays for all our favorite groups.

ALSO READ: HyunA, SKZ Hyunjin, LOONA's Chuu, MX Kihyun: Even more Korean celebs get accused of school violence & bullying

What do you think of the 7-year curse? Share your thoughts with Pinkvilla in the comments section down below!

Anonymous 2 months ago

Because SM is the king of longevity. They keep his idols even when they are no longer young enough to seduce young fans, because they are great artists. As with SHINee, 13 years old and still there! I hope Big Hit will do the same thing, that after their military service, BTS will still be there.

Anonymous 2 months ago

Your right

Anonymous 2 months ago

Because SM and Big Hit treat their idols as artists and not as "cute or sexy young boys/girls seducing single fans". Unlike JYP who get rid of their idols after 7 years of contract.

Anonymous 2 months ago

The problem of the kpop world for a few years (since 2018-2019) is that the idols' looks play at 80% of the popularity, and it's true, look at the fans' comments, they always say "he's handsome, he's sexy, ..." and they prefer to watch the MVs than listen to the songs. And so the producers keep the idols "young" to continue to attract "visually" the fans. Except SM that I respect a lot for continuing to promote his "old" idols (who are more than thirty years old), and they show that idols are above all artists than models or dolls. I think Big Hit does the same thing.

Anonymous 2 months ago

Talent! Like SHINee who is celebrating his 13-year career anniversary today. SHINee IS BACK !!!