Kara

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RPF Fandom
Name(s): Kara, KARA, 카라, カラ
Scope/Focus: K-Pop
Date(s): 2007-2016 (on Hiatus)
See also: Kara Project, Fin.K.L, SS501, Rainbow, A-JAX, APRIL, K.A.R.D, DSP Friends, K-Drama
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Kara, often stylized as KARA, is a South Korean girl group formed by DSP Media. Originally the group started off as a quartet with members Gyuri (Park Gyuri, 박규리), Seungyeon (Han Seungyeon, 한승연), Kim Sunghee (Kim Sunghee, 김성희) and Nicole (Jung Yongju, 정용주) and debuted on March 29, 2007 with the single "Break It" from their first album "The First Blooming" on M.net's M! Countdown. The band as well as the members individually were often compared to their senior label mates Fin.K.L (which they responded to as being beneficial and inspiring) as they were displaying a strong female image and a mature R&B sound. Expectations were high, but despite rather good critics the band wasn't recognised by the general public. Before their second album Sunghee suddenly withdrew from the band due to parental pressure since she couldn't maintain her grades. The album was replaced by a mini-ablum and auditions were held which resulted in members Hara (Goo Hara, 구하라) and Jiyoung (Kang Jiyoung, 강지영) being added. Kara returned with "Rock U" and an musical style and image change to "cute and playful" as well as "pretty but natural" which was their breakthrough. Their popularity rised, in 2010 they made their Japanese debut, in 2012 they held their tour called "Karasia". On January 13, 2014 it was announced that Nicole would leave the group since her contract with DSP Media would expire, two days later it was revealed that Jiyoung would also withdraw in April. That’s why the company launched a reality TV show called "Kara Project" in May 2014 where seven trainees competed to become the new member. Youngji (Heo Youngji, 허영지) could put across against opponents like K.A.R.D’s Somin. The group released "Day&Night" in August and continued their success. On January 15, 2016 it was announced that Gyuri, Seungyeon and Hara would also departure from DSP Media and the band while Youngji would be given a solo career. In total, the band had three different line-ups and released four Korean and five Japanese albums.

Disbandment

Fans got slightly hopeful as well as upset when Gyuri stated that Kara hasn't disbanded [1]. In April 2016 the singer told in an interview: "Somehow people started to use that term. I guess that word best describes our situation of being apart. People might get the impression [that we've disbanded], but we are still keeping in touch, and if there's a good opportunity, we're thinking of releasing a KARA album. I honestly don’t think that we've disbanded." Another time she said: "While KARA has not disbanded, we are no longer under the same agency and our promotions are likely to be less frequent." Seungyeon later firmly emphasized that the group didn't disband in an interview [2]. Some fans argued that it was a statement of delusion since they all are under different agencies and DSP Media still owns Kara while others compared their situation to 2AM's or their former label mates SS501's situation stating that they have hope for another album, concert or reunion.

Fandom

Name and Colour

The fandom calls itself "Kamilia" formed from Kara (the band's name which means "sweet melody" in Greek) and Familia meaning Kara's family are their fans. The official fandom colour is Pearl Peach.

After leaving the band some of the former members got own fandom names: Nicole revealed her fandom to be Colling, the connection of "Nicole" and "Calling" in November 2014 together with a letter to the fans [3]. Jiyoung posted four days later on her personal Instagram account that her fans will be called Bicycle [4]. Seungyeon decided in November 2016 to call her fandom FanSY playing with the word "fancy" as well as the connection of "fan" and "SY" (her shortcut) [5]. Gyuri's Japanese fandom name was announced in May 2017 by herself: GRACE, the 'GR' standing for her name while the 'ACE' shows that Gyuri is the ace [6]. Since Kim Sunghee never reached out for media attention again after her departure (she is now a vocal coach and married) her fans never got to name themselves. Hara's and Youngji's fandom names are yet to be announced.

Shipping

Among the members fans well liked ships are Gyuri x Seungyeon, Hara x Seungyeon and Gyuri x Nicole. Besides that the members are also often shipped with other bands, also male like SHINee. Despite starring in "We got married" together with CNBlue's Jonghyun the idea of Seungyeon and him wasn't that well received from fans. After "Roommate" Youngji got often shipped with Got7's Jackson since their interaction during the filming was really cute. After filming VIXX's music video for "Error" she was also shipped with Hongbin as the storyline touched fans' hearts.

Controversies

Request for contract termination

On January 19, 2011 it was reported that Kara would be splitting from the company. All members excluding leader Gyuri made this decision reasoning that DSP Media's treatment was poor and unreasonable. Due to "the company repeatedly den[ying] any requests and unilaterally forc[ing] tasks upon the members" the lawyer of the four girls stated that they had prepared legal actions for two months. However, later that day it was announced that Hara discontinued the lawsuit and rejoined the company since she wasn't fully aware of the details of the lawsuit. On April 28, 2011 the conflict with the three remaining members (Seungyeon, Nicole and Jiyoung) was resolved, but two years later Nicole decided not to renew her contract despite the fact that Gyuri, Seungyeon and Hara all did. Nicole stated that she would love to continue being a Kara member, but under a different agency. Jiyoung later decided also to withdraw from the band to study abroad and have time to rest. The whole incident left fans really worried and later disappointed even though Youngji was well received by the public.

Rumour of North Korea connection

On February 2, 2012, DSP Media confirmed accusations that the man who was Kara's schedule manager during their time in Japan was a Chongryon-affiliated North Korean agent. The man followed Kara in Japan around like a shadow and had a terrifying resemblance to an in 2006 as pro-North Korean Residents' League investigated man which caused netizens to express their concern. While the label stated: "The man in question is an employee of DSP JAPAN and he is KARA's scheduling manager. We believe that his associations with North Korea will not be a problem, and we are confirming the speculations surrounding him.", the spokesman for the idol group said: "While we believe this isn't a problem in Korea, there are some in Japan who have strong feelings about this and have brought up the fact [that he is a member of the Chongryon]. There has been a backlash against Korean products like K-Pop in Japan recently, and it seems that even among fans in Japan our ties to North Korea have become a hot topic. We have confirmed that the man in question is a member of Chongryon, and we will continue to monitor the situation and make our standpoint clear." At eighteenth and nineteenth February, their concerts at the Seoul Olympic Park concert venue were disappointing turnouts leaving the question open whether the incident affected the loyalty of their fanbase[7][8].

Radio Star

"Radio Star" is a programm that is known to be a hard programm that will definitely ask you about current scandals, mention sensitive issues and mock you with them. Therefore, it wasn't a great time for Kara to go on the programm in 2013 (when Hara had a recent dating scandal) to begin with. When the MCs asked about her dating scandals the whole situation escalated. According to angry fans Hara yelled at the MCs, pushed her chair and threw a bottle at one of the MCs. Later, she and fellow member Jiyoung cried (Jiyoung because MCs asked her to do aegyo and teased her, Hara because they kept asking about her dating life). While she clearly cried (which was considered by some as rude since it made the situation awkward and they should have known, it was the job of the MCs to act the way they did; also the MCs had been way more cruel towards former guests), the fandom divided in opinions about her being rude towards the MCs (she clearly has to respect elders and seniors which she didn't do) or rather her being the "prey" of the situation (since she definitely didn't want to talk about the topic, even told the MCs about it, and only slid the bottle over the table). However, all three members as well as Kara as band received a lot of hate after the appearance on the show for being disrespectful and rude despite the fact that they apologized later during the show. It divided the whole fandom, some were confused that Hara appeared on the show in the first place and stating that she had to be prepared for the MCs mocking while others defended her wholeheartedly and bashed the MCs. Fans even labelled Kara as "the new T-ara" who lost their whole popularity and love from the fans overnight due to a bullying scandal. In the end both sides apologized, but Kara's image was left with a crack [9][10].

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