In the last decade, one of the more popular smaller Korean entertainment agencies was Banana Culture.
Currently, the home for K-pop boy group TREI, soloist Shin Zisu, and actresses Ava (Lee Jung-Hyun) and Ha Seung-Ri, the agency is best known for being the home for Exceed in Dreaming, better known by their acronym EXID.
Presently, however, the future of Banana Culture is considered to be vague among the K-pop community, especially after each member of EXID left them. Hani and Jeonghwa left in May 2019, Hyelin left in January 2020, Solji the following month, and finally LE this month (March).
Now a more recent news report claims that Banana Culture is shutting down. In light of the news, the agency provided an official statement on said claim.
Slowly and surely shutting down?
Last Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the Korea Economic Daily reported that according to an investigation, Banana Culture is slowly and surely shutting down. In the report, it claims the agency has suspended management work.
One unnamed source who gave the news about Banana Culture’s shutdown provided the following statement:
“Banana Culture is ending all their contracts with their artists. The main executives have also all left the company.”
The report also indicates that the last two actresses signed to Banana Culture, Ava (Lee Jung-Hyun) and Ha Seung-Ri, have already departed the company. Another unnamed source also chimed in saying, “There are essentially no staff members to carry out work.”
Banana Culture CEO responds
Soon after the Banana Culture shutdown news broke, Yoo Jae-Woong — the CEO of Banana Culture — provided an official statement about the status of the Korean entertainment agency.
“I just saw the report that says that the agency is shutting down. This is a false report. Currently, TREI and female trainees remain at the agency.
There are Chinese shares in Banana Culture as well so we’re not in a position where we could shut down the agency of our own volition. There are currently other talks underway about an investment from somewhere else. Our entertainment operations will continue.”
To be fair, the news of Banana Culture shutting down came very quickly right after LE, the last remaining member of EXID, left the company. We can discern that the media believes EXID to be the only worthwhile entertainment act in the agency, and now that they are gone, the agency has nothing to support itself.
If Yoo Jae-Woong really wants the K-pop community to believe that Banana Culture is doing just fine and moving on without EXID, they need to push TREI as much as they can. At this time, there is very little on the boy group despite the fact their music is quite good.
Only time will tell if Banana Culture can keep up with the current trends in K-pop and Hallyu in general. With EXID gone and no other K-pop act to truly take their place, they will need to use all their personnel and resources to push the next act into the empty spot where the limelight shines.
That limelight was previously occupied by a girl group who suddenly found themselves very popular after releasing the song Up & Down back in 2014.