Following the recent controversies surrounding ‘Idol School’ that have emerged, former contestant Lee Hae In has come forward with a statement.
She mentions that she’s hesitant to come forward but doesn’t want to speak through her dad or anybody else anymore. She starts by stating she has no knowledge about the vote manipulation or anything like that.
I believe I am someone who can’t know for sure whether there was any manipulation [of the results] or not, and I’m not sure whether the existence of manipulation is an important part of my life. Over a long period of time, I have felt that life is not fair to everyone, and setting aside what is going on, just as I was lucky to be able to be active for a short period of time and meet the fans who are supporting me, I was ready to just think of “Idol School” as an opportunity I was unfortunately unable to grab. I believe the truth will be revealed through the police investigation.
That said, she calls out the ‘Idol School’ staff for lying about the audition process for the show.
Regarding the controversy about the audition with 3,000 people, it’s true that I was asked to not participate. If the staff are going to say that everyone did participate in those auditions, I want to ask them if they’d be willing to release the video tapes of everyone. The broadcast date and the date we actually began living in dorms together were completely different. I will only speak of the factual things I know, setting aside any personal speculations I have.
Again, the fact that some are pre-selected is not necessarily what’s fishy, but the fact that they’re lying while they’re already facing a legal investigation is.
She also talks about unfair practices and essentially manipulation by the show.
When we were preparing for “Mr. Mr” on “Idol School,” we prepared for the performance thinking we were competing amongst ourselves, like the position battle on “Produce 101,” but on the day of the performance, the rules were changed so that it was a battle between teams. For “Catallena,” which was supposed to be a live dance performance, the opposing team lip synced their parts. For the last mission for the live show, where we were auditioning for new songs, I was told by the people who rejected me that the staff were against me, and they apologized to me. Other than this, there were also instances where they would tell us to move to a beat, even though there wasn’t any music playing, and say that a song was good, or to turn around and smile, filming scenes like a drama.
She then says that it’s not true 41 people signed contracts with CJ E&M, that only a certain amount of people did, and talks about an incident that made it feel the results were pre-determined.
Unlike the reports, not all 41 people received exclusive contracts, only a few people. If they really want to claim that everyone signed a contract, then they can end this issue by revealing the account balance that shows payment of a contract deposit. The day before I was eliminated on “Idol School,” they were going up to certain contestants who were probably going to debut but didn’t want to and consoled them. This made me think that I was probably going to be eliminated, and I prepared my elimination speech just in case, and after preparing for my performance the next day, I went on stage thinking that it would be the last stage of my life. As expected, I was eliminated, coming in at 11th place. I want to ask the staff who handed me a microphone. Why did you make the person who came in 11th place do an elimination speech when you didn’t ask the person in 10th place to do so, in a competition that only picked nine people? I want to know what you were thinking when you filmed a two-shot of me and another contestant who had appeared on survival shows.
She also confirms the other reported stories about the conditions they lived under, stressing that this was not just about being a bit hungry or cold like others had inferred.
Like what has been reported on the news recently, we never spent a single day outside of the Yangpyeong English Town from the moment we entered in May till the final broadcast. I believe this system, which was unlike “Produce 101” where we were only in the dorms for a short period of time, was only possible because we had our phones taken away and we didn’t have agencies to protect us. About once a month, we were given the opportunity to buy necessities at Olive Young, and we had nothing to eat other than at meal times. Even if you missed a meal because you were sleeping from fatigue or because you were sick, we weren’t allowed to go to the store in the facilities, so it’s true that we starved. Like what was reported, it’s true that contestants who would go to school once or twice a month would smuggle food back in their clothes, and many of them had that food taken away as the staff would conduct body searches once they returned. The temperatures of Yangpyeong are very different from Seoul, and it felt much colder. As the end date neared, many of us continued to object to our treatment but the staff said they couldn’t let us out, so they let us get just one package from our parents. Do you really think this was just because we were a little hungry and cold? The staff would order food for themselves and eat snacks, and we would sometimes smuggle away the food they left behind to eat it, there were no human rights when we were filming. Most of the contestants were underage, and they did not keep industry standards for filming hours. We developed skin diseases, stuck in studios without a single window, but the staff just told us to sleep. We complained and complained and when we were finally granted permission to move dorms, that’s when we realized, nothing would change unless we spoke up. We were at least able to go to the hospital of our choice. I believe this was all because they did not have enough managers to take care of so many people. But that does not change the fact that they did not provide us with basic support while living in those dorms, where we stayed for their convenience. For five months, we lost concept of time and we were not paid any money as that was before the law was changed. We were trapped there, and people will tell us, “But you wanted to be there.” But I believe that, like when you get a job at a company you wanted to go to, you shouldn’t be forced to endure unreasonable situations.
Finally, she expanded on what her father talked about regarding their promises to her to debut.
After the finale, I felt ashamed to see my parents and go to the party afterwards, so I met with the teachers by myself to console my heart. I had crumbled and was crying because I was eliminated, and I was left speechless when the staff came up to me to ask if this was really worth crying about. The day after I was eliminated, I asked to terminate my contract, and asked to know the truth about the manipulation controversy that was present at the time. The response I got was, “You’re trending on search engines right now, you’re the winner,” and when I said I was worn out and didn’t want to be in a team, they promised to make me a team. They asked me what shows I wanted to appear in, they said they’d let me appear in all the dramas and other things I’d been personally contacted for, that they wouldn’t leave me hanging in the practice room, that they’d let me pursue individual activities while preparing to debut in a group. When I was with other trainees, who hadn’t been training for that long, they even said that I was the only one with a promised debut and if they weren’t ready, I would be allowed to debut on my own. They said we’d have to push the debut back a little to prepare as a dancer for MAMA, for which I agreed, but after MAMA, the timing became awkward and they said that if I do to many activities on my own, people might get tired of seeing me so I did what they asked and focused on training with the others as the oldest and leader of the group. Seeing the article that “Produce 48” would be taking place, I expressed my desire to appear on the show because I wanted to do something, but they told me it would be best for me to not appear, so I continued to go to the agency by myself to train, with nothing but the hopes of the October debut that they had promised me.
She talks about how they didn’t fulfill their end of the deal.
Trainees sign a trainee contract while artists sign an artist contract. For artist contracts, there is an obligation for each party to faithfully carry out their role as there is money involved. If I had known that I was going to be a trainee all throughout my artist contract, then I would have signed a trainee contract. All I did in terms of activities was one radio appearance and attending Fashion Week just once, so I really have no words if people are going to claim the agency did things for me. The people who had been so proactive in holding on to me when I said I didn’t want to do this anymore, none of the higher ups would meet with me when I asked to terminate my contract this year, as it was becoming too difficult economically to carry on as the promised October debut date had long passed. What I asked for wasn’t to just leave the agency. I asked them to just give me a sense of direction, even if the details weren’t concrete. As the debut project that had been discussed when I signed my contract was basically over, I wanted to know what the new plans were. But they told me they had nothing to tell me yet, and they said it would be difficult for me to do anything on my own, such as acting, so I requested that we come to an agreement to terminate my contract as they did not fulfill their duties of the contract. I asked for this in February, and we came to an agreement on April 30, but I only received the document that finalized the agreement in the summer after I contacted them every day for it. This is the post-it that came with the document [“You’ve worked hard all this time. We’ll support you from afar.”]. Thinking that years of my life are in that single post-it, I can’t hide the feeling of emptiness inside of me. I didn’t want to talk about this and I know that I will lose if I speak up, but I felt like not speaking up would lead to misunderstandings and regrets later in life, so I’m sharing the facts. I apologize for posting about such an unfortunate issue. As in my case, where I signed a contract and did not make it, there were others who signed contracts who didn’t make it those who didn’t sign contracts who did make it. I want to make it clear that it can’t be used as proof of manipulation and can’t be used to make assumptions about people. People like me have no way of knowing if there were people chosen to be in the final lineup in advance. All I know is that we weren’t 41 people who had been chosen out of 3000 in this competition. I hope there aren’t any misunderstandings.
Almost a literal receipt.
It’s partially an airing of grievances, but it’s primarily about coming clean and talking about the truth. It seemed to be coming from a place of not being able to stand the speculation and just wanting her side out there once and for all even if it exposes her a bit as a part of it (signing the contract that others didn’t).