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The Controversy Over Ok-pop Band NewJeans

The Controversy Over K pop Band NewJeans


The video had not one of the hallmarks of Ok-pop. No catchy tune, no snazzy outfits, no slick dance routines. Positively no stars. It was set in an unremarkable auditorium with plain white tables and a big projector display screen.

But it surely included screenshots of chats between two energy gamers within the trade and immediately grew to become the speak of the Ok-pop world.

It was the live broadcast of a two-hour emotional tell-all delivered final month by Min Hee-Jin, the producer of NewJeans, arguably at the moment’s hottest Ok-pop act. She had known as a information convention to dispute accusations of company malfeasance by her employer, Hybe, the Ok-pop colossus behind BTS.

The unusually public and hostile feud — which has included allegations of plagiarism, chart rigging and shamanism — has led to tons of of tens of millions of {dollars} being wiped off Hybe’s market worth. And it has forged a cloud over Hybe’s relationship with a rising star, NewJeans, whereas its largest act, BTS, is on hiatus.

“It’s about cash, it’s about management and likewise the possession of an artist,” stated Andrew Eungi Kim, referring to NewJeans. A professor at Korea College, Mr. Kim research the nation’s cultural affect, a phenomenon often called hallyu.

The members of BTS, who are all serving in South Korea’s military due to necessary conscription, are usually not anticipated to reunite till subsequent 12 months. As a few of them have launched solo albums, NewJeans has racked up its share of accolades. Up to now 12 months it has topped the Billboard 200, performed at Lollapalooza and appeared in commercials for Apple and Coca-Cola.

The artistic drive behind the act is Ms. Min, who was recruited by Hybe to develop a lady band. Her pushback towards Hybe and its founder, Bang Si-hyuk, has resonated broadly in South Korea, the place company life may be punishingly hierarchal.

“She’s like a powerless visionary who’s preventing towards a large company,” Mr. Kim stated.

Began almost twenty years in the past as a label known as Massive Hit, Hybe grew to become the dominant drive in Ok-pop thanks largely to the worldwide success of BTS. It went public in 2020, and a 12 months later, its market worth peaked round $12 billion. Since then, its shares have misplaced about half of their worth amid issues that it could not be capable of replicate the profitability of BTS.

Hybe has had success with different teams like Seventeen and Tomorrow X Collectively. It has additionally expanded in america with offers like the acquisition of Ithaca Holdings, which manages Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. In 2022, it launched NewJeans’ first single, “Attention,” with out the attribute fanfare of Ok-pop debuts. The next 12 months was Hybe’s most profitable on report, with the corporate posting annual revenue of about 186.6 billion Korean gained, or $136 million.

One of many first public indications of the turmoil at Hybe got here on April 22, when it introduced that it was going to audit Ador, a subsidiary run by Ms. Min. It accused Ms. Min of illegally making an attempt to take management of Ador and requested her to step down. Hybe owns 80 % of Ador, Ms. Min has an 18 % stake and the remaining is owned by different executives. On April 25, Hybe filed a police grievance towards her.

Ms. Min responded publicly the identical day with a information convention. Wearing a inexperienced T-shirt with white stripes and a Los Angeles Dodgers hat, she appeared raveled and broke down a number of occasions. She rejected Hybe’s accusations and shared screenshots of chats with Mr. Bang, the agency’s founder, that she prompt have been proof of a fraught work surroundings.

She additionally stated that she had not been compensated pretty and accused Hybe of plagiarizing her work with NewJeans to enhance different acts. Hybe has denied her allegations.

To Ms. Min, the dispute was a tug of battle between artistic and company pursuits.

“All I care about is NewJeans,” Ms. Min stated in feedback that have been livestreamed by the most important South Korean broadcasters.

Two days later, a brand new track by NewJeans, “Bubble Gum,” was launched as scheduled.

In a written response to questions, Ms. Min stated, “It’s time to rethink the character of the leisure trade.” For Ok-pop to maintain prospering, she added, the trade must focus “essentially on creators and creation” as an alternative of on cash and administration.

After Ms. Min’s look, rumors involving Hybe artists, chart-rigging and cults circulated the web. To followers, this sullied the picture of their favourite acts.

One group of BTS followers took out an commercial in native newspapers, criticizing Hybe for airing its soiled laundry. One other protested exterior Hybe’s workplaces.

Ian Liu, a NewJeans fan from Jakarta, Indonesia, had an analogous sentiment. “The artists are collateral injury,” he stated.

Hybe was additionally concerned in a public feud final 12 months, although that was with exterior events. It was a bidding battle for SM Entertainmentone other Ok-pop agency, that was gained by Kakao, a South Korean know-how big.

The dispute with Ms. Lee, who’s the chief govt of Ador, is headed to the courts.

“It’s arduous to foretell what is going to occur at this level,” stated Lee Gyu Tag, a professor of cultural research and anthropology at George Mason College’s Korea department. “Ultimately, this subject between Hybe and Ador shall be a studying alternative for different companies to learn to successfully handle their firms.”

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