Gugudan was a South Korean girl group formed in 2016 by Jellyfish Entertainment. The group debuted on June 28, 2016, with their EP Act. 1 The Little Mermaid. The group was composed of eight members: Mimi, Hana, Haebin, Nayoung, Sejeong, Sally, Soyee and Mina. Originally a nine member group, Hyeyeon left the group in October 2018. After two years with no group activities, Gugudan disbanded on December 31, 2020.
In January 2016, Nayoung, Sejeong and Mina were introduced as Jellyfish Entertainment's first female trainees on the Mnet survival show, Produce 101, where 101 female trainees from various companies competed to debut in an eleven-member girl group that would promote for a year under YMC Entertainment. After placing 2nd and 9th respectively in the final episode, Sejeong and Mina debuted as members of I.O.I in May 2016.
2016: Debut with Act. 1 The Little Mermaid
Despite denying earlier reports of Sejeong and Mina debuting in a 3-member girl group in June, Jellyfish Entertainment confirmed on June 7 that the two I.O.I members would debut within the month in what would be the company's first girl group. Because of YMC Entertainment's special terms in which I.O.I's members are allowed to do activities under their respective companies while I.O.I was on break or while the group promoted in sub-units, there were no complications with the plan.
Nayoung was also confirmed as a member on June 10 and on June 13, Jellyfish Entertainment revealed that Gugudan would be a nine member group. On June 17, Jellyfish Entertainment announced the group name.
On June 22, the group confirmed that they were going for a "mermaid" concept. Following the announcement, a highlight medley of the group's debut mini-album was released on June 24. They debuted on June 28, 2016 with the mini-album, Act. 1 The Little Mermaid, with "Wonderland" as the title song. Their debut showcase was held at the Yes24 Live Hall on the same day as the album's release.
Their debut was not a success, both their fans and the general public were very underwhelmed and thought their debut title track was very mediocre. Anti-fans started attacking the group's visuals and accussed them and their company of plagiarism.
After their debut, Mina and Sejeong continued their promotions with I.O.I until the group disbanded.
At the same time, Sejeong also prepared for her solo debut. "Flower Way" was released on November 22, 2016, by Jellyfish Entertainment and distributed by Stone Music Entertainment. The track was a promotional tool for Jellyfish Entertainment's digital music platform Jelly Box. "Flower Way" was placed first on the music show, Show Champion on November 30, 2016.
Gugudan participated in Jellyfish Entertainment's annual winter project, Jelly Christmas 2016, with their label mates Seo In-guk, VIXX, Park Yoon-ha, Park Jung-ah, Kim Gyu-sun, Kim Ye-won and Jiyul. The title track, "Falling (니가 내려와)" was released digitally on December 13, 2016.
2017: Act. 2 Narcissus and Act. 3 Chococo Factory
Their second mini-album, Act. 2 Narcissus, and its title track, "A Girl Like Me", was released on February 27.
Their first comeback was a commercial success, the group and Jellyfish received a lot of praise for their improved and stronger, upbeat concept.
In July 2017, Jellyfish Entertainment formed the subunit group named Gugudan 5959 (Korean: 구구단 오구오구; spelled as "Ogu-ogu"), composed of the youngest members Mina and Hyeyeon. The "5959" name is made up of their represented numbers in Gugudan: Hyeyeon representing the number 5 and Mina representing the number 9. 5959 released their debut single, "Ice Chu", on August 10, 2017.
On November 8, the group released a single album, Act. 3 Chococo Factory, featuring the title track, "Chococo". Prior to the release, it was announced that Soyee would go on hiatus in order to fully recover from a shoulder injury that she had since prior to her debut.
The single album underperformed, they barely sold any copies and it charted low on the popular charts. This is when their decline in popularity and interest from the public really started to show.
2018: Act. 4 Cait Sith, Act. 5 New Action, Japanese debut and Hyeyeon's departure
On February 1, Gugudan released their second single album Act. 4 Cait Sith, with the lead single "The Boots".
Although it showcased a more mature version of Gugudan, it failed to get the public's attention.
On May 17, it was announced that youngest member Hyeyeon would go on a temporary hiatus from all the group activities due to health issues.
In June 2018, Jellyfish Entertainment formed the second subunit of Gugudan, composed of members Sejeong, Mina and Nayoung, named Gugudan SeMiNa. The "SeMiNa" name is made up of the first syllables of the members' names. Gugudan SeMiNa debuted with the release of their self-titled single album consisting of two tracks on July 10, 2018.
Gugudan officially debuted in Japan with a release of their first Japanese single Stand By on September 19. On September 21, Gugudan held their debut showcase and fanmeeting titled Gugudan 1st Showcase ＆ Fanmeeting "Dear Friend" in Japan at Tokyo Akasaka Blitz. The group also held their first Japan tour in Osaka and Tokyo starting on December 7, 2018.
Hyeyeon left the group for personal reasons in October 2018.
On November 6, Gugudan released their third EP, Act. 5 New Action, containing six tracks with the lead single "Not That Type".
This EP would be their final release as a group. They did not win any music shows and their activities as a group started to decline even more.
2019 - 2020:
After a year of hiatus as a singer, on December 2, 2019, Sejeon released the single "Tunnel" with Dingo Music, followed by her first EP "Plant", with its lead single of the same name, released on March 17, 2020. She released a digital single "Whale" on August 17, 2020.
Chinese member Sally participated in the Chinese version of survival show Produce 101, Produce Camp 2020, in April. The survival show concluded with Sally ranking sixth, making her a member of the temporary girl group BonBon Girls 303.
On the show Sally talked about the big difference in popularity between the members. She said that there were 2 members already well-known and the public only focussed on them. She also talked about how the members were told to leave their dorm early 2019 and that there was no need for them to come back.
On December 30, Gugudan had announced their disbandment. Their final schedule was completed on December 31, 2020. Jellyfish also announced that all of the members would stay with the company.
Sources: Midnight Theories, 1theK, KBS World, Mnet K-POP, MBCkpop, ALL THE K-JAM, Jelly Christmas, Gugudan Wikipedia, Kim Sejeong Wikipedia, Koreaboo, Soompi, groenconsults, tumbral, ezgif
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Wo mian mian mian mianhae, WOOOOO mian mian mian mianhae~ ♫
What happened to Gugudan is really sad and unfortunate. People hated their debut, they got bullied for their appearances (visuals, weight) and the public was always ready to start picking them all apart. The difference in popularity didn't help either with their 2 main members extremely overworked (i.o.i, solo work/debut/acting and gugudan activities), with underwhelming results - It must have been so disappointing for them. Jellyfish really did them all dirty. Although I liked them as a group (the vocals!) I hope they are better off now doing other things. I would love to hear your thoughts on Gugudan, Jellyfish and the members. Favorite concept?
Also: I'm working on AOA, KARA, SNSD and U-KISS and some smaller requested groups right now. I don't know when I will be able to post them but they are a work in progress. I'm also still thinking about making a post about lightsticks, I gathered tons of information on it months ago already but I never did anything with it. Let me know if you want to see this? If you have other requests or interests let me know, too and I'll add it to the list.