THE KOXX‘s SHAUN has come under fire recently via accusations of sajaegi after his solo song “Way Back Home” suddenly shot to the top of the charts. At one point, he took first on Genie, Oleh, and Bugs, and also placed in the top five spots on Melon and Mnet. Even SHAUN himself expressed surprise when he overtook TWICE, BLACKPINK, and A Pink on the charts.
Inevitably, the sudden rise of “Way Back Home” drew comparisons between SHAUN and sajaegi king Nilo.
Shaun’s current predicament is similar Nilo’s. Unlike other chart toppers like Yoon Jong Shin, MeloMance, or Han Dong Geun, Nilo’s rise to first place was met with suspicion because of how different his case was. This is because the streaming count for Nilo’s song increased during the time when idol fans are active in streaming – late night time. Usually, tracks like these increase their streaming count beginning from when people are going home from work to the evening. Shaun’s “Way Back Home” has moved through the music streaming charts in a similar way to Nilo’s, as their chart graphs look alike as well. When looking at the change in progress for “Way Back Home,” the streaming count began to increase around 10 p.m. on July 16.
Netizens and fandoms are, of course, all over this shit and are mad as fuck. In response to the growing backlash, SHAUN’s agency DCTOM Entertainment made a statement denying any sajaegi.
On July 17, Shaun’s agency DCTOM Entertainment said, “It is definitely not chart manipulation. We will deliver more specific information through a press release.” In response to a question asking if the company had used “viral marketing,” they responded, “That’s correct. We did use viral marketing but we will reveal which parts it was in use later.”
SHAUN himself also denied any sajaegi.
In response to this scandal, Shaun said, “This is not chart manipulation. As a musician, I just worked hard to produce music, but I am not trying to analyze how this track became number one on the music streaming charts. The company will probably release an official response, but I just know that it was an effect of Facebook marketing.” He continued to say, “I wanted to say why it wasn’t, why it was unfair in a longer message, but I don’t think that’s the right way either. But, I just wanted to say that as I’ve produced music, I have pride for never having done something as embarrassing as manipulating the charts.”
I mean, paying a party for sajaegi could technically be seen as viral marketing, right? Sure.
Still, it’s worth noting that one difference between Nilo and SHAUN is that the latter did get promo from Younha, Tablo, and Lee Yoo Bi at some point. Not that it would absolve him, but that could play a role, and so could the fact that “Way Back Home” itself generally gets a positive response.
Honestly? Primarily I’m just amused that the chart changes the companies made to supposedly make sure a Nilo situation doesn’t happen again was ruined less than a week after they were implemented. They basically went through all that for PR purposes, to install confidence back into what the charts are supposed to represent, and it’s (ALLEGEDLY) been exposed as useless already. Glorious. Look, if this is what it takes to eliminate the real-time charts and daily charts and shit, then so be it.