The Real Reason Why Woojin Left K-Pop Band Stray Kids

K-pop has had a cult following in the Western world for some time, but 2019 appears to be a watershed year for the genre. For the first time, large numbers of Americans and Brits are paying attention to Korean pop music and its performers. K-pop fans were shocked this week to learn that Woojin, a member of the Korean boy band Stray Kids, is leaving the group. Here’s why he’s leaving.

Stray Kids | The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images

Who are Stray Kids?

Stray Kids are a Korean boy band known for their eclectic mix of pop, hip hop, and electronica. They were formed through the television show of the same name, which is a reality singing competition similar to The X Factor. In this regard, Stray Kids could be seen as a Korean equivalent of One Direction. Although the band was only founded recently, its is very prolific.  Stray Kids have released seven EPs since 2018.

The group is larger than any popular boy band from the United States and the United Kingdom. For most of its existence, the group had nine members, although it is about to get a little bit smaller. Kim Woo Jin a.k.a. Woojin, one of the vocalist of the group, has recently announced his departure.

Why is Woojin leaving Stray Kids?

Woojin of Stray Kids | Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Yesterday, the label that Stray Kids are signed to – JYP Entertainment – posted the following on social media: “Woojin, who has been a member of Stray Kids, has left the team and terminated his contract due to personal circumstances. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused many fans.” According to BuzzFeed, several other prominent K-pop singers have left their boy bands this year. Hwall left The Boyz, another K-pop band that was founded around the same time as Stray Kids, while B.I left iKON.

The company also announced that the group’s upcoming EP, Clé: Levanter, will be released on December 9th, rather than on November 2nd as originally scheduled; the change in release date is due to Woojin’s departure. According to The Independent, JYP Entertainment apologized for the delay, saying “We once again express apologies to the fans who have waited for a long time.”

JYP’s note also contained a dollop of optimism, saying “We ask for much support for Woojin who will be going on a new path. We also ask for the warm support for the eight Stray Kids members who will once again go on the road towards their dreams with their compass.” The remaining members of the group are Hyunjin, Han, Felix, Seungmin, I.N., Bang Chan, Lee Know, and Changbin.

The future of the group

Woojin of Stray Kids | Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Fans of Woojin and the group as a whole seemed a touch disappointed, though they were all very supportive of Woojin on this new chapter in his life. It remains to be seen if he has any interest in rejoining the group or becoming a solo artist once his unspecified personal issues have been addressed.

Fans of Stray Kids can also look forward to the group’s upcoming tour. The tour will begin on November 23rd in Seoul, South Korea. Thanks to their large international following, the group has toured in the United States before and likely will again.