Written by Haley A. 

Just a few years ago, nobody would have anticipated a comeback like this…

If you’re not familiar with veteran and legendary group Super Junior, there are a few things you should know:

  1. Super Junior has been around since 2005 — that’s 12 years.
  2. They originally started with 12 members, then added a 13th: Kyuhyun.

    Debuted in 2005, Super Junior had 13 members: Siwon, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Leeteuk, Kyuhyun, Ryeowook, Kibum, Heechul, Sungmin, Kangin, Shindong, Yesung, and Hangeng

  3. The list of awards they have won is too long to summarize, but includes two Teen Choice Awards in the USA.
  4. Due to their success in many countries, many have called Super Junior the “Kings of the Hallyu Wave.”
  5. Most of the members are famous as both musicians and TV personalities, with Leeteuk becoming especially ubiquitous as a TV host.

The group itself has been off the music scene for over two years due to the majority of its members having overlapping periods of mandatory military service. With the recent discharge of three members, Super Junior decided it was time to release another album. The result is the much-awaited 8th album, “PLAY” with its title track “Black Suit” and pre-release song “One More Chance.”

The album delivers all of Super Junior’s usual trademarks: trendy dance tracks, a mature and stylish image, and group-member participation in composition and lyrics.

In a lot of ways, “Play” similar to past Super Junior albums, but it’s important to consider the obstacles Super Junior overcame to create an album that is on par with their previous successful records.

The most obvious source of trouble is the missing members; the originally 13-member group is down to six for this comeback. These days, Super Junior is really 11 members, with the permanent loss of Hangeng and Kibum’s choice to pursue acting. So how did this k-pop industry icon get cut in half?

Members Kyuhyun and Ryeowook are currently both completing their mandatory military service which will be completed next year

At this moment, Ryeowook and Kyuhyun are fulfilling their compulsory military service. They will be discharged many months later, in June of 2018 and and May of 2019, respectively.

Regarding the other absent members, they have more unconventional reasons for being absent: these three members have become wrapped up in controversy and negative public opinion since the last Super Junior comeback.

Many have called for member Kangin to be removed from the group after news of his second DUI broke and he has been on an indefinite hiatus ever since that incident.

A group of angry fans has boycotted member Sungmin specifically, alleging several inconsiderate actions toward the fans and the other members. The group’s label has addressed most of these accusations, but Sungmin ultimately decided it would be better to withdraw from participating on the album rather than further upsetting the angry fans. He penned an official apology to fans to explain his absence.

Most recently, Siwon decided to take a break after his family’s dog was involved in the injury of another person. It was a very sudden withdrawal, as Siwon’s vocals and image are included on the album and yet he could not be present for the first press conference. He even appeared in the music videos for “Black Suit” and “One More Chance” but is sitting out while the other members promote the album, fearing the public backlash.

Among the remaining active six members, there is only one main vocal: Yesung. Having just one main vocal where there used to have three presents a challenge to the current team. Nevertheless, the other members have boldly stepped forward to fill in the holes, even if they cannot produce the stellar vocals that Kyuhyun and Ryeowook usually contribute to the albums. Each member stretched his talents to fill the album with carefully crafted lines and the songs have not dipped in quality at all.

In an industry where groups hardly reach the 10-year milestone, Super Junior is still determined to stay relevant and continue making music on the k-pop scene. Despite being in their 30’s while groups brimming with young and fresh talent continue to debut, the men of Super Junior endeavor to develop their choreography to the same standard as before. Even with member Heechul’s past car accident injury — he now has a fractured ankle that is held together with metal pins — the group designed a comeback with an energetic and exciting choreography. 

Super Junior poses this month at the press conference for “Play”

Super Junior certainly is a group riddled with various criticisms and unfortunate circumstances. Nonetheless, the members are committed to keeping the group together and creating quality music and performances.

Leader Leeteuk expressed his commitment to the team earlier this year on the SM Town concert stage. He said: “I’ve spent 18 years in SM. Super Junior is my life. There are no exits for me.”

Even in the midst of such hardship, Super Junior’s strengths shine brightly. Speaking of their solidarity during their November 6th press conference, Leeteuk commented: “Through thick and thin for the last 12 years, we’ve always managed to stand strong together not to fall apart. And we realized that after overcoming hardships came other good opportunities. We will try not to lose cheerfulness and a sense of humor, and try to fill [Siwon’s] space.”

Whether one is a long-time fan of Super Junior or has never even heard of them before, it is easy to see the hard work and determination that keep an act like Super Junior going after 12 years. Their unique brand of humor and fun has colored their performances and delighted audiences consistently throughout the years. Above all, they manage to put out consistently good music and choreography no matter what challenges emerge. “Black Suit” is not the first of its kind but is definitely a distinct comeback to remember.

You can watch the video for “Black Suit” below.