The dispute between former ILUV member Minah and her former company WKS ENE continues on following her stating that she was bullied during her time in the group, and the company is claiming that everything is false.
Both sides claim they have evidence, and they are still going back-and-forth over it in public.
On July 22, Star News published an interview with Minah that they had conducted the day before. Minah said that she had asked the agency for help during the bullying but they had not listened to her. “I have a recording of our conversation,” she said. “If we go to court, I’ll share it.” “The agency says they’re going to file a criminal complaint, so I’m waiting for that,” she continued. “They can do that as much as they want. I’m confident.” “I just at least want to know why they harassed me,” she said. “If they apologize, then I think I’ll feel a bit better even if it doesn’t help completely. But it seems like they have no intention to apologize at all.” Lastly, she said, “I’m so upset over the unfairness of it that I feel like I’m going to go crazy, and every day seems like hell.” She shared her plans to return to the hospital for treatment for depression, panic disorder, and insomnia.
The company disputed this.
A representative from ILUV’s agency told Star News, “It’s all false.” They said, “There’s a lot of evidence such as videos and messenger conversations from when the ILUV members were promoting for almost six months. It doesn’t appear at all like she could be called ‘a member who was harassed.’” They added that they would be revealing evidence through the July 22 episode of SBS’s “E-news Exclusive.”
She responded by saying she hasn’t even revealed everything yet.
On Instagram, Minah responded by uploading a screenshot of this quote from the article. She wrote, “I haven’t even begun revealing things about the members.. but it seems like it’s time for me to now reveal what the agency CEO did toward me. These members even searched my own phone, what kind of fools would they be to have left evidence in their KakaoTalk? I always had to reply nicely and act like we got along. It seems like you don’t have any evidence about me? You’re not filing a criminal complaint and just talking instead. @wks_nampd.”
Lawyers then seemed to take over as this appears destined for court. SKS ENE claims they investigated and found no wrondoing.
On the July 22 episode of “E-news Exclusive,” a source from the agency told the program, “We’ve looked into this and heard what the other six members had to say. Absolutely no bullying took place. They said that they were always saying every day that they love each other and they said they got along very well. The agency’s looked into it too, so I want to say that this is truly false information.”
Her lawyer responded.
A lawyer representing Minah also spoke with “E-news Exclusive,” and he was asked about how the agency had said that there was no harassment. The lawyer replied, “I’ve looked over part of the evidence that Minah has gathered. As a lawyer, I thought, ‘If this went to court, it could be acknowledged.’ Therefore, I think that the agency’s claims aren’t true. It seems like it’s true that she’s been harassed since she was a trainee.”
The agency gave screenshots of convos to the show, but Minah later disputed them.
In the first screenshot revealed on the show, Minah thanks a member she refers to as “unnie” (an older female friend) for congratulating her (the word can also be used when wishing someone a happy birthday). The other member says to her, “You’re someone who deserves to be congratulated. Let’s be happy.” Minah replies, “I was really so happy today.” Minah responded on Instagram by sharing a shot of the same messages and tagging the user “blackbeanjiwon” (one of the ILUV members is named Jiwon). She wrote, “I saw SBS’s ‘E-news Exclusive’ just now and I’m uploading the originals of the photos that the agency sent as evidence. These messages are from my birthday, August 12, 2019. At the time, I wasn’t living at the dorm and I hadn’t signed a contract either. In short, these messages have absolutely nothing to do with this matter.”
In a second screenshot shared on the show, Minah and the member are first having a discussion about groceries. Further down in the chat window, Minah sends the message on another day, “I love you.” The other member replies with an emoji and writes, “You’re cute, my love.” Minah responded on Instagram with a screenshot that shows the same messages and tagged the same account as she did on her first post. She wrote, “These messages are from December 6, 2019. I shared a room with this member, and she was always forcing me to do aegyo, recording it, and harassing me.” The word “aegyo” refers to cute gestures, expressions, or behavior. Minah continued, “She harassed me by making a ‘Minah aegyo compilation’ too. On this day, she was telling me to do aegyo but when I didn’t do it, she got mad so I was calming her down by doing this. Why would I love her? So terrible.”
In a third screenshot revealed on the show, Minah sends a message to another member saying, “I miss you, unnie.” The member replies, “How are you feeling? The top bunk is lonely because you’re not here.” Minah replies, “I started feeling a lot better earlier. I’m feeling lonely too, unnie.” The other member says, “That’s a relief. When can you come back? I miss you.” Minah responds, “I’m planning on going in the morning!! I brought all the clothes and makeup I need for the recording studio tomorrow. I’m going to prepare everything and then go to the dorm.”
Minah then shares her side of things from the timeframe that she says is relevant.
On Instagram, Minah posted a conversation that is similar to the one in the program but includes some different wording, as well as messages from the other member such as “Come back soon. Until you do, I’ll keep the hostage with me.” Minah tagged an Instagram user named “star_tpjh” whose bio includes the name Jiho. Minah wrote in her Instagram caption, “These are messages from December 2, 2019. This was the day after this member’s birthday. I’d gone to the emergency room and then gone home because I was feeling very ill. The ‘hostage’ she mentions here is my favorite doll. She would always hide it without telling me and on that day, she took it and called it a ‘hostage.’ “As soon as I got back from the emergency room, she came up on my bed and harassed me by pressing down on me to keep me awake. So I felt worse and went home. I knew what would happen if I didn’t answer her nicely, so I always did so. She was also someone who put together a collection of my aegyo, so I always did what she said.”
Now SKS ENE have released an official statement, saying they will file a lawsuit.
Hello, this is ILUV’s agency, WKS ENE. We are releasing an official statement about the issue of former ILUV member Minah, which was covered on the July 22 broadcast of SBS’s “E-News Exclusive.” All of Minah’s claims, which are currently circulating on YouTube and social media, are false. The former six members of ILUV have received a serious shock that has affected their physical and mental health to the point of vomiting. We intend to file a civil suit against Minah. None of what Shin Minah has said is true. The agency, the members, and their families are deeply upset at this injustice. Because of one person’s false statements, many people are suffering and being hurt. The agency thought of Minah as family, so we planned not to respond in order to keep this situation from getting out of hand. It was because we were worried that she would make a terrible decision again if her true self were revealed through our response. But she kept sharing her posts, and these posts spread throughout Korea and abroad, and we became the target of unspeakably abusive language as a result of misunderstandings. The former ILUV members were having a hard time, and the soon-to-be BOTOPASS members were also experiencing severe stress and nausea, and we decided that we had to issue a response. Currently, we have received the typical certification of contents to cancel her contract from Shin Minah, but the contract has not yet been terminated. She is sharing her story through DMs (direct messages) with her fans, and those fans are spreading the story on social media. The agency has stated that her stories are false, but she continues to make her claims by using fan letters as proof of bullying. According to the members’ testimonies, the members found out about Minah’s insomnia after she told Sooyeon that she was suffering from it at the end of November and the beginning of December. In mid-December, Minah’s father requested that she commute from home instead of the dorm because of her severe atopy and a childhood trauma in which a thief robbed her home.
They go into detail about the specific members and incidents as well.
The following is our response to Minah’s claims about harassment.
She said that she was directly harassed by the other six members, but this is far from the truth. There were no members that were on bad terms with Minah, and the members took care of her and were respectful of her. This is a shocking and painful thing to say, and as an agency, we cannot forgive spreading a story like this.
She also stated something absurd about the youngest member, who was in her teens. In a conversation she had with her fans in DMs, she said that the member in question drank often, slept with men more than ten years older, and went to nightclubs. There was only one member younger than Minah in the team and she was a minor. Now she is being treated as an immoral person, even though she is only 19 (Korean age) and not yet a legal adult.
Gahyun (the member in question) said, “I was the only person in the team who was younger than Minah. I’m a minor and I can’t go to nightclubs. I really did not go to those places. I don’t know how she could spread those stories through Twitter and DMs with fans. My younger sibling heard what she said from somewhere else, and I’m scared that people will know me as that kind of person. It’s so hard and I want to die.”
This is not just about the youngest member. All of the members are being painted as a gang of immoral people. Claims of sexual harassment? Claims that the members forced her to watch videos of sexual intercourse? We are furious about these claims. This did not happen. Minah had said that she had never dated and often expressed envy of the members who had boyfriends. She asked the members several questions about dating and the relationship between men and women.
There was never incidents in which she was forced to watch videos of sexual encounters or had her clothes taken off. In fact, Minah was the type to engage in the kind of teasing where you touch and pinch the other person’s sensitive areas. She would often touch the other members’ rears, and put her own rear on other people’s hands when posing for photos. Some members told her clearly that they did not want her to do this, but there were also members who put up with it so as not to hurt her feelings. The members did not sexually harass Minah, but rather put up with her own embarrassing behavior.
Minah has made it seem like she followed all the rules while the other members went out as they pleased and did whatever they wanted. The agency gave the members free time when their training time was over. The agency was aware that the members, including Minah, would sometimes go out without permission. However, the life of a trainee is difficult and frustrating, so it was something we turned a blind eye to. It was not a frequent occurrence like Minah said. The members are in a serious state right now because they have been made into not only the culprits of bullying, but also painted as people who engage in verbal abuse, sexual harassment, excessive drinking, staying out all night, and harassing their colleagues.
The following is about the fan letters that have been presented as evidence of harassment. Minah said that she had found fan letters sent by ILUV fans in the trash, suggesting that the members looked down on their fans. This is not true. On January 8, the agency delivered the first fan letters to the members. Minah was on a break starting January 6, so the members expressed their gratitude through photos and videos without her so as not to be late in acknowledging the fans.
We can still vividly remember the ILUV members’ happiness at receiving the fan letters. The fan letters in question were not directly addressed to Minah, but to the team in general, so the members discussed who would get to keep them. The letters were put up on the wall of the room that Minah and Cui Xiang shared. The members all knew about this. They were not very famous at the time, so they didn’t get many fan letters, but they treasured the ones they received with gratitude.
It is absolutely false that she picked them up from the trash. Minah arrived at the dorm on January 12 to pick up her luggage. The cleaning woman empties the garbage every day, so if they were tossed in the trash, they would have been gone before she arrived. Since they had been pasted on the wall before they vanished, it was assumed that Minah had taken them on the day she came on the dorm. The members are grateful for the love of their fans, and treasure their letters. The fan letters that Minah submitted as proof were the first letters that arrived for the team from a fan called Yoshiteru. He is a fan who sends each of the ILUV members fan letters on their birthday. The ILUV members are grateful to him and treasure the letters he sent them.
We have released this statement in order to prevent our artists’ reputation from defamation through Minah’s accusations. On this same day, we received a message that seemed to mock the agency. We will correct the parts that are not true. After claiming she was harassed by the other six members, she changed her statement to say that she had not mentioned Sooyeon. When the agency set the schedule for the second half of the year, we asked her to participate in an interview for the chance to debut in the new project BOTOPASS. She said that she wanted to rest until the fall because she didn’t feel well, and we allowed her to work as a YouTuber as she wanted.
However, we prohibited her from using official content related to the agency or about the members. She has claimed that we contacted her to keep everything confidential, but that was about the termination of her contract. The confidentiality agreement was a written oath that is part of the conditions for canceling a contract under the standard cultural artist contract. (This is an article that was included when the contract was initially signed.) It is a typical method for protecting the agency artists and the agency’s business interests. It was not designed to conceal the truth. The written oath, which was given as part of the condition for canceling the contract without penalty or other provisions, was invoked after Minah posted her false stories about harassment in order to protect the ILUV members and their personal information. We cannot understand her behavior in riling up the masses by claiming that someone called her to ask her to keep her secrets.
In a moment, the members have become labeled as bullies, a 19-year-old minor has been labeled as an immoral person, and the trainees who have been looking for a new path after being eliminated from auditions have had their feet tied before they could make a new start. The members who passed their auditions fairly have also been deeply hurt by these stories before they could make their debut on August 4. They are suffering from mental shock, insomnia, and even nausea.
This is a difficult situation for the agency staff and the members and the members’ families. We cannot endure this situation any longer. We ask that Shin Minah acknowledge that her stories are not true and issue a sincere apology to the agency, the members, their families, and their fans, and return everything to normal.
In response, Minah says her position is unchanged.
OSEN asked Shin Minah for a response, and she stated, “I am dumbfounded. I was also thinking of legal action, so this hasn’t changed my mind at all, but I’m just dumbfounded.” Her lawyer, Kim Ho In, stated, “Our position on responding to whatever legal action might be taken has not changed. Shin Minah has evidence of conflict with the members as well as the agency’s negligence. The contract was terminated because the agency violated its duties. We didn’t ask for their agreement. At first, the agency agreed to terminate the contract without penalties, but suggested a written oath to keep confidential about the conditions of the termination instead. Shin Minah did not agree to that condition. She said that she would not terminate the contract under those conditions.”
I’m not exactly sure what is true about the texts and any evidence of that sort, but the thing I looked out for last time was the confidentiality agreement claim. If they indeed had tried to silence her, that would seemed pretty damning. In this, the company does essentially admit that this would’ve led to her having to keep company business out of her personal YouTube channel, so it could very well be what she’s saying just framed a different way.
What the company is saying here could turn out to be true, and the explanations are useful testimony, but I’m not sure it’s exculpating on its own. That’s why I was so focused on who was telling the truth about the confidentiality stuff, because it seemed like something objective that could provide credibility to claims, and it certainly seems like Minah was telling more of the truth on that issue.
Since this is going to court now, I suppose we’ll see how things shake out, as the phone records and text convos will probably be more important than anything they claim now. Since truth is not a defense for defamation, I’m less interested in the outcome itself than what is revealed in terms of judging the outcome.