Politician Kim Geun Tae of The People’s Party has made news recently by naming 10 singers
(Ko Seung Hyung, GWSN, BADKIZ, Bolbbalgan4, Song Ha Ye, Young Tak, Yoyomi, Sohyang, Ali, and Highlight’s Kikwang) he claims have been caught using chart manipulation through a marketing company called Creativer, who allegedly used thousands of hacked Daum and Melon accounts to pull off the scheme.
Through five months of research, Kim Geun Tae identified 1,716 Daum and Melon accounts of Korean citizens that were used to illegally manipulate music charts. The victims of the hacking were people of all genders and ages, ranging from people born in 1935 to 2003.
Kim Geun Tae also gave details on how the scheme allegedly worked.
Calling themselves a marketing company, Creativer performed illegal “under marketing.” Out of the hours that count toward chart results, Creativer used the time users are least active, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., to carry out the manipulation. Activities included searching songs to place them in [Melon’s] hot search words section and streaming and downloading songs. In order to avoid being accused of manipulation, Creativer simultaneously carried out viral marketing and also played other musicians’ songs, such as IU’s, to divert suspicion. The companies that manipulated the charts would borrow and partition servers to open multiple windows and play music, or they would make computers be recognized as mobile devices in order to play and download songs. Furthermore, those behind the chart manipulation also manipulated realtime searches on main search engines as well as realtime votes and comments on online communities.
Whenever suspicions arose, the company supposedly would explain that they were using viral marketing instead of doing anything illegal, and that does match up with the unbelievable excuses some companies gave out at the time for their rise on the charts.
Either way, the singers Kim Geun Tae claims to have confirmed to be involved include some big names.
According to the reports, the artists that implemented underhanded marketing techniques with Creativer and its derivative Lionti Holdings were artists Ko Seung Hyung, GWSN, BADKIZ, Bolbbalgan4, Song Ha Ye, Young Tak, YOYOMI, Sohyang, Ali, and Highlight’s Kikwang.
The politician called for investigations into the companies of the artists and for appropriate punishment to be doled out, going on about how his political party won’t tolerate unfairness and all that. Of course, that last part doesn’t exactly cause my cynicism about politicians in general to abate, and does make all of this seem iffy in a political stunt sort of way. I definitely think artists/companies are manipulating the charts, but this specifically would surprise me if it was broken this way.
Speaking of which, companies of the artists have already given denials, some have also followed with plans to take legal action.
Following the reports, representatives of Highlight’s Kikwang, YOYOMI, GWSN, Bolbbalgan4, Ko Seung Hyung, Young Tak, and Song Ha Ye all strongly denied the claims. The agencies of Highlight”s Kikwang, Bolbbalgan4, and Song Ha Ye also revealed plans to take legal action for the spread of false rumors and defamation.
It does seem odd that a group like Bolbbalgan4 would ever need to do this as they are legitimately popular, so taking stuff like the improbability of their inclusion into account while also considering the source, I’ll take the accusations with a mound of salt until further notice.