HYBE takes legal action against NewJeans agency CEO amid management control feud

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : April 25, 2024, 14:16 Updated : April 25, 2024, 17:39
ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin speaks during a press conference in Seoul, Thursday. Yonhap
SEOUL, April 25 (AJU PRESS) - Entertainment giant HYBE plans to file a complaint Thursday against Min Hee-jin, the CEO of its affiliated label behind popular K-pop girl band NewJeans, on charges including breach of trust.

HYBE said this week's audit confirmed that Min had devised plans to take over management control of the subsidiary, ADOR, and break away from the K-pop powerhouse.

Auditors secured a computer file from an ADOR executive that showed Min's side contacted outside investors to acquire HYBE's holdings of ADOR shares.

The K-pop behemoth unveiled the transcript of mobile chats between the ADOR executives, in which they discussed various ways to pressure HYBE to sell its stake, including nullifying the contract between HYBE and the ADOR chief, terminating ADOR's contract with NewJeans and turning the agency into "an empty shell."

Min rebutted the allegations during a news conference later in the day. “I have neither planned, intended nor executed a management takeover,” she told reporters.

She accused HYBE of framing her private conversation as a serious discussion. “This cannot be a breach of trust. I am only guilty of doing my job well,” she added.

Earlier, Min denounced HYBE's action as an attempt to expel her in response to her claim that another HYBE girl band was plagiarizing NewJeans' style.

HYBE, led by legendary songwriter and producer Bang Si-hyuk, owns multiple music labels, including Big Hit Music, which manages the K-pop sensation BTS. HYBE holds 80 percent of ADOR's shares, while Min and other executives control the remainder.

The controversy is casting a shadow over the highly anticipated comeback of the iconic K-pop girl group.
ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin  Courtesy of ADOR
ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin / Courtesy of ADOR

The five-member band consisting of Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein, is scheduled to to unveil a new album titled "How Sweet" on May 24, marking their return after a 10-month hiatus.

HYBE promised to provide support for their successful comeback and psychological stability.

"We apologize to fans, artists and all HYBE members for causing concern with incidents that occurred during the process of advancing the multilabel system," HYBE CEO Park Ji-won was quoted as saying.

The quintet debuted in July 2022 and has released global hit songs including "Attention," "Hype Boy," "Super Shy," "ETA," and "Ditto." They clinched the Group of the Year Award at the 2024 Billboard Women in Music Awards.

Min is acknowledged as a visionary idol incubator who created concepts for SM Entertainment bands like Girls' Generation, SHINee, and EXO, before being hired by HYBE.
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