Netizens are questioning whether recent Instagram posts from After School’s Jooyeon are a hint at the graduation or planned departure of another group member.
Jooyeon posted a series of photos to her Instagram account ( @jupppal ) which depict the nine members of After School at a celebration with cakes.
As illustrated in a recent article by English language media outlet Koreaboo , there are no upcoming birthdays within the group which has led fans to speculate that one or more members will soon be departing from After School.
The first photo posted by Jooyeon was an upbeat picture featuring the nine members and the caption, “It was very fun.” She followed this photo with a more somber picture from the party which is a sadder depiction of the gathering.
In this photo, UEE is covering her mouth with her hands while Jooyeon has a napkin to her mouth, obstructing her expression.
Jooyeon captioned the photo with “The reason UEE and I are crying.” With its built-in graduation structure which allows members to age out or willingly depart, Pledis Entertainment’s After School is one of the most unique groups in K-Pop.
The system has been praised by critics of exclusive contracts in Korean entertainment, which often locks performers into a binding contract for periods ranging from five to ten years.
Netizens speculate that the oldest members of the group, Jooyeon, UEE, and Jungah may be facing graduation.
UEE has actively pursued acting in recent years, with her most notable roles including Yoo He Yi in the 2009 hit “You’re Beautiful” and Kim Baek Won in the weekend drama “Golden Rainbow.” Jooyeon has also pursued acting roles including cameos in the “Reply” series and a starring role in “A New Leaf.” Jungah is currently the leader of After School and is the oldest member of the group.
After School has also gained notoriety for its unit Orange Caramel (Nana, Raina, Lizzy), which was recently recognized by MTV Iggy for their unique concepts and musicality.
Former members of After School include Soyoung, Bekah, and Kahi.
Once a vocalist and lead dancer in the group, Soyoung graduated in October 2009.
Bekah graduated in July 2011, while former leader Kahi graduated in June 2012.