Home News In the hometown of BTS, rising K-pop stars cause riots

In the hometown of BTS, rising K-pop stars cause riots


The video doesn’t have any hallmarks of K-pop. No catchy tunes, no trendy costumes, no smooth dance moves. There really are no stars. The meeting takes place in a nondescript auditorium with plain white tables and a large projector screen.

But it contained screenshots of a chat between the two industry giants and immediately became the talk of the K-pop world.

This is live Min Hee-jin, the producer of “NewJeans,” arguably the hottest K-pop hit today, released a two-hour emotional outpouring last month. She held a press conference to dispute claims of corporate malfeasance made by her employer Hybe, the K-pop giant behind BTS.

The unusually public and rancorous feud – which included accusations of plagiarism, chart manipulation and shamanism – wiped hundreds of millions of dollars off Hybe’s market value. It has also cast a pall over Hybe’s relationship with rising stars NewJeans, while its biggest act, BTS, has also come to a standstill.

“It’s about money, it’s about control, it’s about artist ownership,” Andrew Eungi Kim said of NewJeans. Mr. Kim is a professor at Korea University who studies the cultural impact of Korea, a phenomenon known as the “Korean Wave.”

Members of BTS, They all serve in the Korean army Due to the mandatory draft, the reunion is not expected until next year. The NewJeans also gained some acclaim, as some of them released solo albums. Last year, it topped the Billboard 200 chart, performed at Lollapalooza and appeared in ads for Apple and Coca-Cola.

The creative force behind the show is Ms. Min, who was recruited by Hybe to form a girl band.Her boycott of Hybe and its founder Bang Si-hyuk resonated widely in South Korea, where corporate life can punitive hierarchy.

“She was like a powerless visionary fighting a big corporation,” Mr. King said.

Hybe was founded nearly two decades ago as a label called Big Hit and has since become a dominant force in K-pop, thanks in large part to the global success of BTS. It went public in 2020, and a year later, its market value peaked at around $12 billion. Since then, its shares have fallen by about half on concerns that it won’t be able to replicate BTS’s profitability.

Hybe has also had success with other groups such as Seventeen and Tomorrow X Together. It has also expanded in the United States through deals such as the acquisition of Ithaca Holdings, which manages Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. In 2022, NewJeans’ first single was released, “attention,” There was none of the fanfare that characterizes K-pop debuts. The following year was Hybe’s most profitable year on record, with the company reporting annual profits of approximately 186.6 billion won ($136 million).

The first public sign of turmoil at Hybe came on April 22, when the company announced it would conduct an audit of Ador, a subsidiary run by Ms Min. It accused Ms Min of illegally trying to control Adol and called for her to step down. Hybe owns 80% of Ador, Ms Min owns 18% and the rest is held by other executives. On April 25, Hybe filed a police complaint against her.

Ms. Min responded publicly at a press conference that day. Wearing a green and white striped T-shirt and a Los Angeles Dodgers hat, she looked disheveled and suffered multiple mental breakdowns. She rejected Heib’s accusations and shared screenshots of chats with the company’s founder, Mr Bang, which she said were evidence of a worrying work environment.

She also said she was not compensated fairly and accused Hybe of copying her work with NewJeans to improve other acts. Heib denies her accusations.

For Ms. Min, the dispute is a tug-of-war between creativity and corporate interests.

“I only care about NewJeans,” Ms. Min said in comments broadcast live by South Korea’s main broadcaster.

Two days later, NewJeans’ new song, “bubble gum“Published as scheduled.

“It’s time to rethink the nature of the entertainment industry,” Ms. Min said in written responses to questions. She added that for K-pop to continue to thrive, the industry needs to “fundamentally focus on creators and creation,” rather than money. and management.

After Ms. Min’s appearance, rumors about Hybe artists, chart manipulation, and cults circulated on the Internet. To fans, it tarnished the image of their favorite show.

A group of BTS fans took out an ad in a local newspaper criticizing Hybe for going public with his dirty deeds. Another person protested outside Heib’s office.

Ian Liu, a NewJeans fan from Jakarta, Indonesia, has similar feelings. “Artists are collateral damage,” he said.

Heib was also involved in a public feud last year, albeit with outside parties.It’s a bidding war SM EntertainmentAnother K-pop company, won by South Korean tech giant Kakao.

The dispute with Ador CEO Ms Li is heading to court.

“It’s hard to predict what will happen at this point,” said Lee Gyu Tag, a professor of cultural studies and anthropology at George Mason University in Korea. “Ultimately, this issue between Hybe and Ador will serve as a learning opportunity for other institutions to learn how to effectively manage their companies.”

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