K-pop: Blackpink tour ends, and Lisa’s contract update
K-pop: Blackpink tour ends, and Lisa’s contract update Image Credit: Instagram/@lalalalisa_m

Amid reports that K-pop idol Lisa had rejected an offer to renew her contract with Blackpink’s agency YG Entertainment, on September 17, the K-pop girl group finally concluded their year-long Born Pink world tour.

After wowing Blinks (Blackpink fans) across America, Europe, and Asia, they held an encore concert in Seoul, their last tour spot. Seeing fans emotional at their final concert left members Jennie and Lisa teary-eyed.

The tour was described as the largest world tour by a K-pop girl group. But for Blinks, there’s a problem at hand – the future of their favourite K-pop band seems blurry.

K-pop groups typically sign seven-year contracts. Blackpink, founded in 2016, had several contracts expiring in August 2023. However, the agency has not confirmed any contract renewals with any of the members.

Lisa’s contract renewal

Fans are keenly watching the developments regarding Lisa’s contractual status with YG Entertainment, a K-pop agency that is home to some of the biggest acts in the K-pop industry. Blackpink – made up of members Jisoo, Jennie, Lisa, and Rosé – has been the agency’s most successful K-pop group.

Last week, South Korean media began reporting that Blackpink member Lisa had rejected two offers to renew her contract with YG Entertainment, causing a meltdown among fans on X (formerly Twitter).

South Korean media outlet Star News reported: “… there is a rumor stating that Lisa already rejected YG’s first offer and recently rejected a second offer. The size of the contract is rumored to be worth KRW 50.0 billion (Dh138 million).”

YG Entertainment addressed the rumours through the South Korean media outlet TV Report, stating: “We are still discussing contract renewals with Lisa. The rumours that are going around are nothing that is confirmed.”

YG Entertainment shares fall

Following the reports, on September 15, financial news website CNBC reported that shares of YG Entertainment suffered its largest one-day drop since September 28, 2022, tumbling almost nine per cent.

Google’s financial market summary shows that the shares fell another 2.9 per cent on September 17.

Uncertainty regarding Lisa’s renewal with YG Entertainment dates back to July, when South Korean outlet Munhwa Ilbo reported that Lisa has "not been able to find an agreement” with the company, complicating Blackpink’s schedule of public appearances.

YG Entertainment had, at the time, released a statement in response, claiming that the scheduling conflicts had "nothing to do with the contract renewal," but rather "the tour schedule and [Lisa's] individually scheduled activities".

Now it’s unclear why Lisa, reportedly, rejected the renewal, but the K-pop fan community speculates that the musician may have received substantial offers from other agencies.

While YG Entertainment might be offering an equivalent amount, given the success of the solo careers of other K-pop idols like BTS members Jimin, Jungkook, and V, it seems that Western interest is peaking in the genre.

So, it isn’t surprising that international labels might covet signing up a member of one of K-Pop's biggest female acts to emerge from the Hallyu (Korean culture) wave.

What would happen to Blackpink if Lisa or another member doesn’t renew the contract?

If you look at other K-pop girl bands such as Blackswan, Kara, and Exid, history shows that K-entertainment management companies have no problem replacing a member with another idol, through auditions and talent scouting.

Another option is that Lisa could sign a deal with an international label for her solo projects and sign a contract with YG that would allow her to continue performing as a Blackpink member. However, YG Entertainment might want Lisa’s solo efforts to remain within their remit.

However, fans are hoping that all four members renew their contracts and there are no announcements of the group disbanding.