Singer UEE has left K-pop girl group After School after her exclusive contract expired on May 31.
UEE made the announcement in a handwritten letter she posted on the After School fan cafe where she expressed her decision to leave the group and her agency, Pledis Entertainment.
"It seems like it was just yesterday that I debuted through After School but it has already been eight years since then," she wrote, according to Soompi. "My fellow members who were high schoolers at the time are now college students and my occupation has changed as well."
After School debuted in 2009 with the single album "New Schoolgirl" and promoted the song "AH." The girl group adopted a system where members "graduate."
UEE added that "over the years, 'graduating' seemed like a faraway event but somehow it is now my turn."
"I'm thankful to everyone at Pledis and am both thankful and apologetic to my fellow After School members. I will try my best to become a bright and hardworking UEE," she said.
She also thanked Pledis CEO Han Sung Soo for his generosity and for taking care of her during her time in After School.
Pledis clarified that UEE's departure will not result in the disbandment of After School. The current members of the girl group are Nana, Lizzy, Raina, Kaeun and E-Young.
After her announcement, it was reported that UEE had talks with Yuleim Entertainment for a possible contract. The agency manages actors and singers including Kim Yoo Mi and Lee Tae Ran.
UEE is currently appearing in the Korean reality TV show "Law of the Jungle New Zealand" along with GOT7's Mark, Super Junior's Shindong, actor Sung Hoon and Kangnam.
During her stint in After School, UEE delved into TV acting and has won awards.
Starting with supporting roles in "Queen Seondeok" and "You're Beautiful" in 2009, UEE rose to become a lead actress in many TV dramas such as "Birdie Buddy," "Ojakgyo Family," "Golden Rainbow," "Jeon Woo-chi" and "High Society."
Last year, she starred in the dramas "Marriage Contract" and "Night Light."
Among her awards are best new actress at the 2011 KBS Drama Awards and 2012 Baeksang Arts Awards for her role in "Ojakgyo Family." She also won an acting excellence award in 2013 at the MBC Drama Awards.
She bagged the best actress and top excellence award last year at the 29th Grimae Awards and MBC Drama Awards, respectively, for "Marriage Contract."