Fairlane is a devout Asian entertainment fan. On the side, she is a professional screenwriter and author.
Taeyeon lead the 9-member and then eventually 8-member group of what was once the most popular Korean girl group, Girls Generation. They are acknowledged as one of their agency's cash cows and many of its members now have successful individual careers. When you are the leader of such a group, love and hate come with the territory. It is expected for Taeyeon to receive a lot of both.
However, it is undeniable that she gets considerably more hate than what other leaders are getting. It has gotten to a point where Taeyeon has threatened to file legal action against people posting hate comments on her social media accounts. This leads us to examine why there are many people who consider her a bad leader.
This post does not mean I necessarily agree that she is indeed a bad leader but simply examines why she is perceived to be one.
One of the most common criticism about SM is that very rarely do the idols write their own music. However, if people care to be objective, SM actually does allow their idols to write their own music provided it is at par with their standards. DBSK, even when they were still a five-member group, already had their members writing their own music. Yunho writes his own raps and both Changmin and Yungho write lyrics and dictate the creative direction of DBSK. Shinee has been known for progressive and edgy concepts and much is credited to the collaborative effort of the whole group. Even Super Junior members that used to be known as the DBSK leftovers have all worked together as a group to practice some control over their creatives.
Girls Generation, although well-loved and definitely successful, doesn't seem to have any sort of creative influence over their image or sound. They were sexy innocent girls when they were launched and they are still sexy innocent girls. DBSK has bravely fused different sounds. Super Junior has incorporated humor, grunge and pop. Shinee is now edgy and progressive. Even Exo changed from classic pop to vintage pop. Girls Generation is still cute and sexy.
It can be argued that SM simply exercises control over them but how come all these other groups have progressed and Girl's Generation has not? Isn't it her responsibility as a leader to stand up and realize this and talk to SM management about progressing SNSD? Yes. Is it a bad thing? Your guess is as good as mine but the point is that this is a Girl's Generation weakness and she's the leader.
There are many leaders in Kpop that aren't necessarily the most popular but it is rare for a superstar group leader to be outgrown in terms of maturity as much as Taeyeon is being outgrown by her members.
Yoona has dominated China, Tiffany is going international, Jessica runs a multi million fashion brand and will soon launch her book, and even Sooyoung is finally doing what she has always wanted to do, act.
Taeyeon is still unable to take control of her own career direction. She has only two songwriting credits even after years of promoting as a solo artist. This might be a reflection of the same inability to take control of SNSD's creative direction.
Taeyeon famously told the story of her telling her members that she wanted to resign as the leader. She was expecting for the members to stop her from resigning but they simply let her resign because they all felt the group has been going on without a functioning leader for some time anyway.
It became a testament of how SNSD may have had a "paper leader" but has no actual leader.
This is connected to number one. Leaders are known for having a vision as to where the future of the group is going. Yunho shared how they are beginning be more experimental in their sound because they anticipate that age will catch up on them. Jung Yonghwa openly shared about how they want to jump from one genre to another. Even Moon Junyoung (Lee Hoo) of the not so popular ZE:A shared his vision for ZE:A to take control of their own career and create a more distinct image. These things don't necessarily come from the leaders. In fact, it's the members that often talk about the leader.
Taeyeon doesn't seem to have anything. She does not share her vision for the group and her members, with all their talkativeness and profession of love for the group, does not share anything about how their leader leads them to creative progress.
Leeteuk is another leader that seems to get a lot of hate but the hate is tampered by the support of the members of Super Junior. They often talk about how the leadership of Leeteuk is the biggest reason they are all still together. They all profess that they are able to make fun of Leeteuk because Leeteuk managed to establish his authority without being stiff.
Taeyeon's leadership is rarely fondly addressed by the members. They talk about the love between the group but they rarely pay tribute to the importance and value of Taeyeon's leadership.
In many variety shows, the group often regard Seohyun to be the one that sets rules and discipline in the group. They mention this consciously and casually. One noticieable display of this is in Running Man in Episode 63. They got into the car and Seohyun immediately reminded Haha to drive carefully. Jongkook confirmed that Seohyun is the "organizer" in the group.
Seohyeon is the one that keeps tabs of their schedules and the one the keeps tabs of their commitements.
In other shows, everyone acknowledged that Seohyun is very strict in how their dorm is run and rules that must be followed. She is also the most attentive when it comes to the needs of other members. She looks after everyone.
Still connected to Number one, Girls Generation has not matured. They are still money makers and from the point of view of business, there is no reason to fix something that is not broken. However, part of being a leader is being able to pivot a group towards progress and growth.
It is certainly the responsibility of the leader to set a vision, the mere fact that SNSD has not grown up means Taeyeon has none. She doesn't have to be selfish in that vision. She could very well asked all the members to participate in creating one but the mere fact that Girls Generation sound has remained the same means she either failed in leading the group to come up with a vision or she failed in leading the group to implement it.
Again, it may be argued that SM is clipping their wings but it's the leader's responsibility to fight for the group.
Even prior to quitting, SNSD members felt they had no leader and it made it easier for them to accept her resignation. She did eventually stay as the leader after she told the members she was expecting them to decline her resignation.
However, the mere fact that her own members felt they were functioning with not leader and things were still going smoothly meant she didn't make much of a difference as a leader. Even after that incident, Seohyun continued functioning as she always had, the one who keeps the group together by keeping everyone in check, representing the group to the company, and keeping everything together.
Taeyeon quit being a leader and quitting isn’t exactly a trait you would want in a leader. In fact, the leader should be the foundation of the group, the source of strength. When everything crumbles, the leader should hold it together. SNSD didn't even go through extreme controversies but she still chose to quit.
Moreover, she did so at the height of SNSD's popularity. She has had years to adjust to the role, developer her own style of leadership but she still quit.
Leaders experience controversies. Even the best ones out there get caught up in rumors and mistakes that were caught on camera. Onew's middle finger to his members caused him to go on hiatus and GD's scandals are too many to mention.
But Taeyeon's diva behavior and rude comment towards nurses in a hospital she went to to take shots. She made fun of them for being on a break when she was there. She later apologized for the statement she made on the nurses.
Some people credit her statements to her youth, being a young girl with not a lot of background when it comes to how hospitals work and rights of employees. Some people refuse appreciate the apology but it doesn't add to how they view Taeyeon as a leader.
Again, this is not to say that these reasons are valid and that Taeyeon is
actually a bad leader. This article only aims to provide reasons why
people think she is a bad leader. Whether or not you agree is just fine. Leave
This article was originally published back in 2015. Thus, some info WAS outdated. There seems to be some renewed interest so I updated some parts of it to reflect recent developments.
Cat on October 15, 2019:
What a load of old bollocks! Whilst all of the members of SNSD are outstanding singers, Taeyeon is definitely one of the best in South Korea. It strikes me that people only make up this crap about people like Taeyeon because they are jealous of her and I can see why - she is beautiful, she can sing and dance and she is POPULAR! By the way, Taeyeon has made more music outside of SNSD - just check the internet if you don't believe me. Making or even suggesting negative comments about anyone (that you do not know personally) can destroy them mentally and lead them to harm themselves. This should not be allowed. People that do this should be ashamed of themselves.
Fairlane Raymundo (author) from Los Angeles, CA on October 15, 2019:
To everyone leaving a comment: Please don't use my name as yours. You need to be uniquely identifiable.
b' on October 14, 2019:
i dont follow snsd..as a late kpop fan who got into kpop only in 2016 i dont know much about snsd group dynamics but i can assure u taeyeon is not outshone by her members..she was the only snsd member's name i have known for a long time coz her solos were so popular..i think that answer a large portion of your article..also you sound so bitter
Shey Saints from Philippines on September 13, 2019:
I don't know anything about this group and haven't seen them or listened to any of their song but I got sidetracked to the title of your article so I had to check it out. And in my opinion, unless you have walked in her shoes, you are in no position to judge her or anyone else in the world. You can judge movies, music, television shows, the economy or even food but a person that you do not know personally should never be a target of your criticism.
Pierre Dumont on March 09, 2019:
Taeyeon is known by everyone to have one of the best voices in the intire kpop industry and her solos are some of the most popular. How can you say she has no individual identity and is outshone by everyone else? How can you say that Girls' Generation never evolved and never changed? They have sung many different genres (bubblegum pop, classic pop, electropop, R&B). They are the most beautiful and talented. SNSD are legends. They are the nation's girl group for a reason.
Kry on July 20, 2018:
Also the way she or they handled Jessica's exit is messed up.
She also doesn't really want to be the leader in the first place.
She lets other members do the leader duties.
She was never really close to SNSD until Jessica left, I am a fan of SNSD and I have watched a lot of their variety shows, I have noticed this.
She was always the one to be cared for not to care for.
Yeah she really isn't fit to be the leader, Seohyun is more competent.
Anonymous on December 31, 2017:
No special treatment or extra activities? She was involved in radio shows, sang OST for dramas, was on We Got Married, has her own solo album + mini albums, is one of the most popular female idols in the Kpop industry, and you're saying she wasn't involved in much? That she didn't shine, or that's SM didn't realize her importance?
Clara Rocha on March 04, 2017:
Bullshit, Taeyeon is SM's darling, she has more solos than any other group member in the agency. The other members have outshine her? Baby, she is the nost famous member in SNSD, Yoona is the second nowadays. Doesn't have any special talent? Did you heard any of her solos? UR is the best song ever. Many of the topics is not about leadership, the members don't talk about her leadership, but how many groups also don't talk about their leader? Seohyun has a mom personality, she always took care of the members, that's why she is known as the "second leader". Stop being a hater, darling. Kim Godess Taeyeon bless you
Anon on February 08, 2017:
A leaders duty first and foremost is to grant the success of the group and that the group loves what they do.
Taeyeon does that.
She might seem weak, but what do we know about the group dynamics inside SNSD.
Why should she stand up and need to change things, while SNSD is the most successful and most influencial GG in Korea?
She is very successful with her solo-projects. She is the queen of OST in Korea.
She has the image of being the "kiddy-leader" so her environment caters to that.
Also the argument about never changing SNSD is BS: the boys, Mr. Taxi and even Mr.Mr and very different.
To conclude this, she might seem weak, but the reason she seems weak is their success. There is no reason to struggle and therefor a need to be super charismatic or strict.
Anonymous on January 16, 2017:
I agree with all of this actually. She doesn't have any sort of leadership charisma at all.
Hana on December 30, 2016:
Can I be honest I think that your probably just a hater of they won because being a leader can be shown in different ways so comparing her to others isn't right. Also, you can't define what a leader is by saying they get special leader treatment and looking at the way you wrote this shows that your just a hater because you said the only good points she has is that she can hit high notes you don't see what happens off camera
Anonymous on December 22, 2016:
Actually, TaeYeon has her own way to lead the group. Although she doesn't really show it on public that much, she prioritizes her members more than herself. The only things that you wrote are her bad sides, not the good that came from it. Taeyeon is never a vocal person, she would never go around saying how good she is. Maybe she likes joking around about her being the best leader in the whole universe but to those who really know her, which are SNSD themselves, they characterized her as a strong leader who keeps things to herself rather than to share it because she doesn't want to burden her members with her problems. Although TaeYeon wasn't in the spotlight by the time this article was written, she doesn't need to prove her leadership to those who could never see it. In a recent video, just a few hours ago when she was baking for a charity, fans showed her a photo of her then called her "pretty" but she made a sour face and said "ugly". She isn't like those other celebrities who would fake their expressions just to satisfy the fans. She defended herself during those times that people mocked and made fun of her while calling her a "liar". She is a great leader because although she does not express her care to her members through words, she shows it to them discretely to her little actions that affects the group greatly as a whole. SNSD did not just focused on that cute/sexy image, if you do think that way till now, then I don't think you know them that well. They had explored through different genres. Catch Me If You Can highlighted their sexy and mature sides and Mr. Mr. isn't actually a cutesy song, isn't it? A lot of their songs in their album explores different genres, y'know? As I said, you only pointed out her flaws, those flaws that she has yet to improve. If only you know her better then you would know how amazing Kim TaeYeon is as a Leader.
Ashleth on December 08, 2016:
I can see some valid points here, but a few are the same thing over and over and others lack perspective. For example, you keep comparing Taeyeon and SNSD to boy group leaders and their groups. They are not remotely the same thing. Many, many things that are acceptable for male idols to do are tacitly banned for female idols. To say that it's her or their fault that SNSD doesn't have creative control over their image and products is a bit ignorant of cultural norms. Generally female idols are not supposed to be much more than cute, pretty dolls. Unless they start out 'hard' and/or are foreign in some way, it would be frowned upon for them to break the norm.
Look how much hate Jessica and Sulli got because they stopped being the perfect, placid little angels they were 'supposed' to be. Jessica allegedly stood up for herself and basically said, "Look, I'm going to do things my way," and so is a bad, bad selfish brat. Sulli had the audacity to get romantically involved with someone who was not a doll and (gasp) might do more than holding hands with him. Therefore, she too is a bad, disgusting brat who deserves to have her name smeared with garbage.
Rex on October 03, 2016:
The fact that she is arguably one of the most popular KPop idols and has a very successful solo career already prove most of the points on this post to be pretty BS
Daphnne on August 25, 2016:
^ all the SNSD trash talking shit.
Im a fan of SNSD but I agree with some points the author said. Not everyone who objects to your views are antis or against SNSD.
" I see criticism here and there" I dont. And its exactly SNSD Sone Trash like you are the reasons why our girls have antis.
Yes Taeyeon may be a weak leader. So? Yes, They had plastic surgery. So? We still love them.
By denying the truth or calling someone names just because you disagree with them makes not only SONES but SNSD look bad. So please disagree politely or if you do not agree, just walk away.
Anon on May 22, 2016:
I think that rationally speaking, the rest of the SM leaders have abit of age gap with the rest of their members but for SNSD, they are friends of the same age. I think that in a society like Korea where age matters so much, Taeyeon has a hard time too.
Luvlyish on March 18, 2016:
BULLSHIT. You say this is only providing reasons why people may think she's a weak leader, but I see criticism here and there. Taeyeon allows her members to shine by being quiet because she was already the most charming and popular member in the group. Yes she was chosen leader because she trained longer so she must've had experience also being the oldest but true she may not have the aspects, she did mature. They all did. Its a good thing Taeyeon finally made a solo debut huh? And most of their time is spent off camera so you shouldn't assume from what you see on camera.
r on January 05, 2016:
she has a solo? and she is one of the most popular members? you can't say someone is a weak leader as most of their duties happen off camera and snsd haven't matured? what about the concept for mr mr and you think this is all bullshit.
Xhyniie from Alegria on October 02, 2015:
Although some people considered Taeyeon as a weak leader and they think other members outshines her but when it comes to singing I think she's the best in the group. If other members boost their popularity by engaging themselves in acting (especially Yoona and former member Jessica) on the other hand Taeyeon is well-known for her original sound tracks used in k -dramas and movies. I am not a fan of GG but I really love Taeyeon as a ballad singer. She's one of the best ost singers in SK (aside from my no. 1 favorite Baek Ji Young).