After two years of military hiatuses, boy band SHINee is gearing up for a full group comeback. The announcement follows the discharge of Taemin, the last member of the quartet to complete compulsory military service.
Taemin was discharged on Tuesday, a year and 11 months after enlisting in May 2021. Starting his service in the Army band, Taemin was transferred from active duty in January last year after his symptoms of depression and anxiety worsened. He completed his remaining time in the reserve forces.
In a letter to fans, Taemin expressed his gratitude for their support throughout his military service. "I've missed (you) so much that words are not enough and (I) believe that you guys trusted and waited for me with the same heart … this thought has strengthened me and made me more mature," he wrote, promising to work hard to make his fans happy.
The other bandmates, Onew, Key, and Minho, completed their active duty in 2020, with Onew and Key serving in the Army and Minho in the Marine Corps. The three members have since been pursuing solo activities.
As SHINee marks the 15th anniversary of their debut in May, the group has been hinting at their comeback over the past few months. Minho, also an actor, revealed in an interview for Netflix's "The Fabulous" that "SHINee is preparing an album to celebrate its 15th anniversary." Onew divulged even more during his solo comeback performance on Mnet's M Countdown in March, saying, "(The album) is about our 15th anniversary. It's coming out this year, and we will show you more than what you expect from us." Key also confirmed during a recent fan meeting that the group has started recording for the new album.
SHINee is expected to drop their eighth LP, likely around the time of their anniversary on May 25. The album will mark the first full group comeback for the quartet since releasing their repackaged seventh LP, "Atlantis," in April 2021, just before Taemin's enlistment.
Since debuting in 2008 under SM Entertainment, SHINee has released hits such as "Relay," "Ring Ding Dong," "Sherlock," "View," and "1 of 1," through which they have carved out their own genre of fantastical and trendy sounds.
With their seventh LP, "Don't Call Me," which was released in February 2021, the group set a new career high, with the album racking up their highest sales ever and the music video for the title song reaching their first 10 million views.
Despite the two sets of military hiatuses, SHINee's popularity has only grown. During Taemin's absence, he spent time as a solo musician, releasing albums such as "Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 2" and "Advice," and holding concerts in both Korea and Japan. Onew, Key, and Minho also pursued their solo careers, with Key releasing his second reissued LP, "Killer," Onew releasing his first LP, "Circle," and Minho dropping his first solo album, "Chase," while continuing his acting career.
Taemin is set to hold a fan meeting, "Re: Act," on April 22-23 in Seoul, reuniting with fans in person for the first time in three years and four months since his last solo fan meeting in December 2019.
As they prepare for their comeback, SHINee continues to be considered the ideal, long-lasting K-pop group in an industry where many groups come.
Taemin’s discharge marks the return of SHINee as a full group after two years.
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