In Korea, young idol groups have naturally become a culture. Their birth and strategic planning by their management companies now go hand-in-hand. The companies would debut a group with the characteristics that the media wants and what the fans crave for. Then subsequently, they are marketed through the various media to the market. From their debut, idol groups already have a strategic plan in place, including marketing them to overseas markets, all these are under the control of the management companies all along the way.
Korea idols groups are all created with market research as the base. From their songs to their fashion clothing, all of them are determined through extensive market research. To put it bluntly, all the songs, dances, fashion, areas where they are active in, etc are all determined by what the fans would want to see and then put in place by the management companies. To get more fans, they are inclined to meet their wants and needs. Korean management companies are now placing an emphasis on systematic idol groups grooming. An example of this would be Super Junior and Girls Generation under SM Entertainment.
Some management companies in the midst of grooming idol groups usually places an emphasis on certain members whom they feel are outstanding or with potential. In this way, if the group does eventually disband, there would be some of them who are able to stay in the industry instead of just fading away. This would also ensure that idol groups are not just mere fads once disbanded. But then again, there are always exceptions in that certain group members who are being groomed get lost along the way and subsequently exit the industry.
Wonder Girls is an extremely good example. Before they were formed, JYP Entertainment stressed that Wonder Girls only existed because of Min Sun Ye. Be it their “Irony” MV or their public performances, Min Sun Ye would always be placed in the center and the spotlight would always fall on her.
But later on, Ahn So Hee gradually began to make a name for herself and Min Sun Ye was not the one forever standing in the middle. When Wonder Girls was filming the Baskin Robbins Ice Cream CF, So Hee was placed in the most strategic spot. And then later on, when So Hee’s debut movie became a success, her fans even gave her the nickname of “Korea’s Little Sister.”
It’s the same situation with Wonder Girls biggest rivals, So Nyeo Shi Dae. Even way before they debuted, YoonA was already appearing on our screens through CFs and MVs. She even had a role in MBC drama, “9 End 2 Outs” plus often appearing by herself on variety shows. During public performances, YoonA was always placed in the middle despite not being one of the main vocalists.
Later on, fans started taking notice of Tiffany who was always standing at the side during public performances and often fell accidentally. She also managed to show how multi-talented she was during variety shows.
Then it was another Girls Generation member, leader Tae Yeon who managed to increase her popularity thanks to her solo track, “If” for “Hong Gil Dong” drama. Most often then not, Girls Generation would often appear on variety shows with the pairing of either YoonA & Tiffany or YoonA & Tae Yeon.
No matter what, all of them have been through a lot so we should be supportive of them and not bash them unnecessarily. They do not have it easy like you think and we just don’t see how much hard work they had to put in.
Source: Sina China (some additional information added by me)