While manipulation did occur in Broduce 101, after reinvestigation the prosecution could not find enough evidence to bring fraud charges against the Produce 101 producers Ahn Joon Young and Kim Yong Bum.
Basically, the conclusion is that Kim Yong Bum manipulated the votes, specifically the final vote that resulted in one member switch, but since they had not gone into the season with the intent to rig the votes it didn’t constitute fraud.
According to sources from legal circles, early this month the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office wrapped up the reinvestigation into suspicions of fraud committed by season two producing director Ahn Joon Young and chief producer Kim Yong Bum, and they cleared them of the suspicions. The prosecution found that in season two, Kim Yong Bum did manipulate the final votes from viewers that determined the members of the show’s project group, however they came to the conclusion that it would be difficult to charge him with fraud. It’s been found that Kim Yong Bum manipulated the finale’s votes so that trainee “A,” who had been chosen by viewers to make the final group, was switched out for another trainee. The prosecution found that before the final vote, “A” told Kim Yong Bum, “I don’t want to debut.” Therefore, when “A” ended up in the lineup to debut with the group, Kim Yong Bum manipulated the votes. The producers’ lawyer had previously stated this was the case during the first trial. This is in contrast to the vote manipulation in season three (“Produce 48”) and season four (“Produce X 101”) of the show, in which the members of the final group were already decided before voting began and the producers had planned to manipulate the rankings. In terms of the vote manipulation that took place during season two, the prosecution has found that the producers had not gone into it intending to deceive viewers. Therefore, they decided they could not charge them with fraud.
So manipulation in all four seasons, but only fraud in the third and fourth seasons is the conclusion.
Expected result, I think. If there’s one thing Korean police have shown in recent years, they are reluctant to pursue anything that isn’t a slam dunk. Overall, I think CJ E&M and the companies involved with this have mitigated the damage effectively, managing to blame it on individuals and not let it grow, as I’ve been saying I expected from the time individuals started getting named.