EDITING : 2024.4.22 월 18:51
The Gachon Herald
The Reality Behind So-called Successful EntertainersThe tyranny of agencies
Lee Hae-Jin  |  huckey@gachon.ac.kr
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Updated : 2023.03.16  21:20:00
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 Because of the development of SNS and media, entertainment workers are more easily caught up in various rumors and suffer from them. Shocking news about celebrities is often heard here and there a few times a day, so I would like to introduce one of the events that shocked the public in 2022. It's a ‘dispute with agencies'. I am going to introduce two cases I think that are the most terrible among the suffered from not receiving the basic treatment because of agencies' tyranny. The first one is Lee Seung-gi, and the second is Loona.

1. Lee Seung-gi and Hook Entertainment


 In November 2022, there was an affair that shocked the public. Speaking briefly, the singer Lee Seung-gi hasn't received the adjusted amount of money from 2004 to nowadays. Let's see this incident in detail.

 On November 21, 2022, it was revealed that singer Lee Seung-gi didn't receive any settlement money for his music. Every time Lee Seung-gi asked about his settlement money to Kwon Jin-young, the CEO of the agency, who said, “You are a minus singer, so you can't receive it.”, “Your album isn't selling well.” So he has not even thought about arguing for 18 years since his debut because he was gaslighted with such words. As the money from other fields such as entertainment shows and dramas was given on time, also the amount was considerable, Lee Seung-gi believed her strongly.
 In 2021, the management staff of Hook Entertainment sent a message related to the adjustment to Lee Seung-gi by mistake, and something weird was revealed. When Lee Seung-gi texted a senior in the music industry who worked on the album together, saying that he had finally escaped from the minus singer, the senior asked him to check a contract basis with Hook Entertainment again. A senior said "It doesn't make sense. I received a lot of money through our album." As Lee Seung-gi sent a certification of contents, Kwon Jin-young, CEO of Hook Entertainment, was even unable to control her anger and verbally abused him saying, "I will kill Lee Seung-gi with all my life." On the other hand, according to Lee Seung-gi's certification of contents, the estimated amount he had to receive reached about 9.6 billion although there was a loss of the record for about five years from June 2004 to August 2009. Given that the period of loss was a fixed member of the popular entertainment show "One Night and Two Days," and he released the mega-hit song "Because It's My Woman", we cannot let the public's thinking go that Hook Entertainment intentionally hid the records.
 As the incident became more and more popular, Kwon Jin-young suddenly changed her attitude. She posted a written apology and insisted that everything was her carelessness, and she said if the liability is checked, she would be responsible immediately. However, she didn't show the regrets in private. She ignored not only Lee Seung-gi but also many people around Lee Seung-gi such as his family, manager, etc, and the recorded tape of threats such as swearing in front of the manager and hitting the desk loudly was released.
 On November 24, Lee Seung-gi's legal representative asked for the transparent revealing of the settlement details, and Hook Entertainment said, "It is ungrounded that Lee Seung-gi did not receive the settlement for the music." They insisted it has already been settled while renewing its contract in 2021. However, on the evening of the day, it was found to be false by an internal disclosure of an employee who worked at Hook Entertainment before. On November 30, since the controversy about her use of corporate credit cards arose, Kwon Jin-young realized it exceeded the level of disputes between individuals. But she only indicated her stance that she would be responsible for the settlement of music sources even at the expense of her private property but did not explain accurately. On December 1st, the fact that Lee Seung-gi sent out a notice of termination of the exclusive contract was revealed, and it was estimated he terminated the exclusive contract safely by removing the name of the agency from his profile. On the 16th, Hook Entertainment announced that they would give him 2.9 billion won for accounts payable-other and 1.2 billion won for interests. But it was the amount not required by Lee Seung-gi but calculated by the agency, so the reaction of the public was cold. It was because we could see Hook Entertainment's intention of giving money unilaterally and finishing it. Lee Seung-gi said that he checked the money from the agency, but he won’t finish it like this. Also, he added he would donate all the settlement money except for the settlement money that came in now and the litigation costs that would be needed in the future. On December 22, Lee Seung-gi's legal representative said, 'The 4.8 billion won sent without an agreement is far short of the estimated amount. We sued the agency's representatives and former and current directors for embezzlement and fraud.' In addition, it was revealed that Hook Entertainment stole some advertising model fees and settled them again a week ago.
2. Loona and Blockberry Creative
 The popular member Chuu of Loona plays an active role greatly in many quarters. However, she answered that 'I haven't received the settlement well.' the question related to the settlement and it confused the public. She appeared in popular entertainment talk shows such as 'Hang out with yoo', and 'Radio Star', and she was well-known for her bright and cute image at that time, but it turned out she didn't receive the settlement. I will deal with it, also.
 Actually, the financial difficulty of Blockberry Creative, the agency of Loona, was an issue before. On September 28, 2021, the serious internal management of Blockberry Creative was revealed and it is reported that not only LOONA members, but also employees and outsourced partners were working without settlement. Because of it, many staffs were informed to be fired, and the agency left taxes equivalent to the four major insurances in arrears. Two days after, choreographer Kim Hwa-young who was in charge of Loona's choreography urged publicly, “It's not lots of money, so don't make it a complicated incident, and please deposit me the choreography fees for this work.” However, the staff didn't receive the fees until December. According to a makeup artist who has worked with them for about five years since 2016, the unpaid amount has been delayed for more than a year, and when she told about the notarization, the agency said, “Can't you believe me? I'm disappointed.” or threatened her saying, 'It's defamation.'
 In 2022, the conflict between Chuu and Blockberry Creative began to come out. On March 29, the report was released that Chuu proceeded with a legal dispute against Blockberry Creative. However, except for being absent from the February concert due to her health worsening, she normally attended the Mnet program <Queendom>, Loona's content, and communication application with fans, so many people guessed it was a rumor. On June 3, Blockberry Creative noticed that only Chuu would be absent from the North American concert because of the activity schedule decided in advance. From the point of the notice, the evidence Chuu was discriminated against in the agency appeared more and more. As Chuu performed actively as an entertainer at that time, she had a lot fixed schedule, but the agency let her work without any manager. Chuu said she went by her father's car, and her fan disclosed that Chuu alone carried a lot of luggage in her carrier laboriously and which further spurred the issue of discrimination. Only Chuu has not been seen in the game released by Dalkomm Soft, and fans and the public are worried due to being absent from her second single album in Japan. On November 25, 2022, Blockberry Creative announced that Chuu would be expelled for verbally abusing the staff. Most of the cases claiming abuse had numerous transcripts and evidence from nearby staff, but Chuu's case was completely different. Rather, people who have worked with Chuu posted her moving stories and criticized the agency and the public paid attention only to the controversy to wards the agency.
 On December 9, some presses released the Kakao Talk conversation between Chuu and Blockberry Creative employee. Through this, the form that the agency and LOONA members divide the profits by 7:3, but the cost is 5:5. Therefore the more they work, the more debt the members get. Given that LOONA members made their debut when they were middle and high school students, it seemed that Blockberry Creative signed up a slave contract with young members. Also, it was revealed that Chuu spoiled about a second-long choreography at a video call fan signing event and an agency employee insulted her by saying, "Did you graduate from elementary school?" Blockberry Creative deliberately opened conversations favorable for the agency to the public, but people's reactions were the opposite to the agency's expectations. There were much more responses that Chuu's straightforward manner was so great even if she had not received basic treatment and worked for about six years without receiving any money.
 The most well-known and severe case was the case of Chuu, but the other eleven members also worked about 5-7 years without receiving any money. On November 28, three days after Chu was expelled, it was reported that nine members, except for Vivi and Hyunjin, applied for an injunction to suspend the validity of the exclusive contract. It was assumed the biggest reason is that the agency overworked the members with a ridiculous schedule and did not settle the accounts only for the money. In addition, fans estimated that the litigation process was so complicated because Vivi was a foreign member, and Hyun-jin could not participate in the lawsuit because she was making a regular appearance on the World Cup preview broadcast at the time. As a result, the comeback, originally scheduled for Jan. 3, was postponed indefinitely, and four of the nine people who filed for provisional injunction won the case and five lost the case because they had changed their contracts before. Now, Blockberry Creative is in the state of submitting a petition asking to stop Chuu's entertainment activities.
 Have you ever heard that you don't have to worry about entertainers? As we think that entertainers make a lot of money and are famous, the word is in everybody's mouth. But there were thousands of moments the word was in shade. Not only Lee Sueng-gi and Loona I introduced in this article, but there are also many entertainers working without basic treatment due to the conflict with agencies. Let's pay attention to and support them. Moreover, I wish for Gachon students to be treated fairly when entering society in the future.


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