Out of seemingly nowhere, Hong Jin Young revealed on Instagram that she recently filed lawsuit against her long-time company Music K Entertainment to terminate her contract.
In her statement, she says she’s been with the company for over 10 years and that she’s been thinking about whether to do this since April due to those ties. Then she goes on to explain her issues with the company.
Because I trusted and was loyal to my agency, I never tried to properly assert my own opinion to the agency but immersed myself in the work without ever skipping out on my schedule. After seeing various online comments that accused me of being unhealthily obsessed with money, I hated that I had that kind of image and there were many times when I wished I could take a break. But I thought that working hard to perform at multiple consecutive events per day and dozens and dozens of events per month was repaying my agency for taking me in when I was nothing. But suddenly my health took a turn for the worse and in the beginning of June, I had to have surgery for inflammation of the lower abdomen. It was very difficult to carry out my scheduled events and I pleaded to them that I was in pain multiple times, but they enforced my schedule nonetheless. Moreover, there were many things that were taking place in my name but without my knowledge. There was a dual contract with an advertiser that I didn’t know about, and there were suspicious accounting practices like subtracting money every month in the name of “commissions” through a paper company. At the very least, this money would amount to millions of won, and sometimes would even run to ten millions of won. They forced me to enter into joint business contracts that I didn’t want and would subtract some of the profits from my events and commercial advertisements. After thinking it over, I sent my agency a notice to terminate my exclusive contract in June. Even I did not think that the situation would ever become like this. We were a family, and I had iron faith in them. We had spent so much time together that I thought there must have been a misunderstanding. Until the very end, I trusted that there might be an explanation or an apology. But the agency did not apologize, only gave excuses, and did not acknowledge that they had done wrong. After seeing that, I decided that I could no longer be in a relationship of trust with them.
She concludes by saying that the decision to sue the representatives of her agency was difficult but that betrayal after so many years of trust was the tipping point.
Music K then issued a response, starting with formalities, and then immediately trying to appeal for sympathy or something.
From the moment of her debut until now, we have always fulfilled our management duties by respecting Hong Jin Young’s opinions. We set out her schedule so that Hong Jin Young would have time to rest (her average break time was around 90 days and in the first half of 2019, she rested 52 days). We did our best to negotiate and promote in such a way that Hong Jin Young could appear in the broadcasts and commercials that she chose. More than anything else, we were liberal in investing in content production such as music and album making so that Hong Jin Young could give the public good music. In addition, although the initial contract period had not yet expired and we were not legally bound to do so, we readily agreed to Hong Jin Young’s request to renew the contract twice. Every time we renewed the contract, we increased her share of profits and accepted other conditions that Hong Jin Young wanted. This is because Music K’s motto is that loyalty to our artists is more important than pecuniary interests. Thankfully, many people repaid the work of our artist and agency by showing Hong Jin Young a lot of love, and therefore Hong Jin Young was able to make more than 10 billion won (about $8.2 million) over 5 years.
Don’t quite get this because they’re acting like they did charity work and not … their job as her company that they also profited from.
As far as the actual substance of Hong Jin Young’s issues, they say she suddenly became unhappy with her contract, said they had no idea she had surgery, and that they didn’t enter a dual advertising contract.
Not long after the second contract renewal on December 29, 2018, Hong Jin Young began requesting that certain parts of the contract be erased. These parts included the clause that artists would have to pay damages to the agency if the artist suddenly decided to terminate the contract. (This is a standard clause for exclusive contracts that was approved by the Fair Trade Commission.) When Music K stated that it was difficult to change the content of the contract without sufficient reason, Hong Jin Young appointed two law firms, one of which is the biggest law firm in the country, and requested every contract that we had made with third parties as well as evidence of our accounting in those deals. Music K released these documents and soon we were accused of manipulating the accounts. Music K responded faithfully to these requests for transparency and gave all the additional documents requested by Hong Jin Young and her legal representatives. But suddenly in June 2019, Hong Jin Young asked us to cancel her scheduled events without giving any valid reasons and started acting in other inexplicable ways. Hong Jin Young has claimed that we made her attend schedules during her surgery, but the agency only received an ordinary message from her saying that she wasn’t able to attend the schedule that day and she never mentioned a surgery to us. Moreover, Hong Jin Young left for a holiday in Southeast Asia two days later and there was no evidence for the agency to be concerned about her health. It is also untrue that Music K ever entered into a dual contract with an advertiser. We responded transparently to these accusations from the legal representative as well. Despite Music K’s hard work in this regard, Hong Jin Young sent us a notice that she was one-sidedly terminating her exclusive contract on June 24. Since we could not accept Hong Jin Young’s one-sided notice, we would like to clarify that Music K and Hong Jin Young’s contract still stands.
Hong Jin Young then responded to their statement, saying that she’s had to endure ‘outrageous false claims’. She essentially says that the money she makes is immaterial to the issue, that she sought legal representation to settle their issues, and that she was willing to forgo payments owed as long as they let her out of the contract.
I’ve decided to part ways with a company that I’ve been with for a long time because even when I found out that the people I trusted had deceived me, violated my contract, and committed illegal acts, they showed no regret and brazenly blamed me instead. They are using my position of disadvantage due to my job as a celebrity and giving no proper explanation for the company’s wrongdoings, instead they are trying to cover up the problem with talk that is unrelated to the essence of the issue and also stories that are far from the truth, such as about how much money I made or claims that I am trying to terminate my contract to work with my family instead. I am very shocked and appalled by this. However, since I’ve been with this agency for a long time, I didn’t want to take legal action, so I tried to settle it amicably up until the end. So I discussed with the other side’s law firm, Shin & Kim, but now even that content is being distorted. I would like to make it clear that the stories of me doing this in order to set up an agency with my family, pushing for my sister’s exclusive contract, saying the agency will starve to death, and more are absolutely groundless. Due to the shock of having been betrayed by the agency I trusted, I thought that it would be difficult to trust someone again and join another agency, and both sides know that if I terminated the contract, it would be difficult for the company. So I said I’m willing to not receive the payments they owe me after deceiving me even if we can’t work together anymore, and that I was willing to make a contract to help them make a minimum amount of profit if they wanted to, but they are distorting the truth as though I’m blinded by money and terminating my contract in order to make a family agency. I said that because I knew too well that the company would use the media that they have close ties with to hurt me, even though the company had clearly done wrong, and it was my last act of consideration.
I have a lot to say, but all the evidence of the agency’s wrongdoings has been submitted to the court, and I won’t elaborate further because the trial will distinguish between right and wrong. However, I state clearly that if Music K continues to spread false information through the media like this, it will be held accountable in order to protect myself and those who care about me. Please understand that we are already reviewing legal procedures for media companies that have reported false information, such as about a “family agency,” and that we will be forced to hold any others accountable for the spread of false information in the future.
We don’t know for sure what happened behind the scenes yet as neither of the parties have provided anything other than their own testimony. That said, as Hong Jin Young mentioned, it’s a red flag to me that the company started by trying to hurt her image with an unrelated issue about money (which relates to rumors going around about her) and acting like they supported her career out of charity and not … well, for the well-being of their company.
It seems that this will be going to court and it probably won’t hurt much for us in the peanut gallery to wait it out, but the fact that she stuck with the company until now and re-signed multiple times seems like evidence that her sudden change of mind was because of a betrayal and not some other reason because as they said, if that was the case she could’ve done that eight months ago.