The 24-year-old South Korean singer Minzy recently spoke to Billboard about how being a part of 2NE1 at such a young age stunted her growth, social skills and eventually led to her depression.
The K-pop girl group had been popular for seven years, with their first breakthrough song being “Fire” in 2009.
However, the production firm behind the group, YG Entertainment, confirmed that Minzy was the only member of the group to not re-sign the contract when it was set to expire in May 2016.
Minzy joined 2NE1 when she was only 15 years old, adding a dance element to the new group at the time.
She reflected back on how starting with the group at that age slowed her “personal growth and social skills,” she told Billboard. Minzy made an Instagram post with a personal message to her fans, expressing that she hoped the article would help others in the same situation.
“Since I was so young in such a controlled environment, I never learned how to socialize. I really didn’t have a normal childhood — I never went out to play with other kids. I was just training and everyone was older than me,” she said.
Minzy added that she did not hate her label. But only being able to read Korean comments, most of them bashing 2NE1 and calling them an “ugly” group, did nothing to help the up-and-coming South Korean star.
“I didn’t know how to process that, I held that in.”
She said that she hit her lowest point when she was 16 and 17 when depression and suicidal thoughts really began to affect her. That was also around the time that fans were treated to 2NE1’s popular hits that included “I Am the Best” and “Ugly.”
Minzy tried to develop her own solo work during her time with 2NE1, but professional disagreements prevented her work from being released.
“They kept delaying it and then when it comes to basically everything else, you don’t know the details.”
She still calls the members of her former group her “sisters.” However, during the time her depression and thoughts hit her the hardest, Minzy could not find help.
South Korean society has a focus on public image, an example being South Korean plus-size model Taylor Tak. Mental illness is also seen as a taboo subject.
“People didn’t even really know I was struggling. I was just alone.”
The youngest member of 2NE1 was able to find support in Teddy Park, who encouraged her to hang on to her Christian beliefs as well.
“I’m really thankful for Teddy and see him as a good person in my life to remind me to keep going even when depression was at its worst.”
When she was 17 and 18, Minzy found people of the same faith that was supportive of her as she struggled to figure out who she was.
She put herself first and took time to handle her depression by not signing another contract with the group. After deciding that music was something that she wanted to continue, she signed on with a smaller label and set new personal and professional goals for herself. She also wants to advocate for more mental health resources, especially following the anniversary of SHINee’s Kim Jonghyun’s death.
“I want to let the young and newer idols know that success in the idol world is just not as important to what you need to live up to as a person.”
Many have already shown their support for Minzy.
Love you queen, stay amazing as you are. We support you.
— Chan (on hiatus) (@lmnblng) December 19, 2018
We love you Minzy
— Hope&Dreams (@Carollovesbts) December 19, 2018
we love you minzy..stay strong
— AllofYouSayMinzy (@betchayboop2) December 19, 2018
You are strong enough to overcome everything
— dilara (@momobarbiehirai) December 19, 2018
Thank you for writing this about Minzy! She really deserves to be loved by everyone and honestly, it sucks that depression/anxiety in Korea (and all in Asia) is definitely a taboo because they think there’s no such thing. Minzy, I wish you best of luck on your journey!
— len LUVS HOONY’S EVERYTHING @ WINNERinSF/BAY AREA (@lendere00) December 19, 2018
Images via Instagram / @_minzy_mz