Rookie boy group TOO has unfortunately been stuck in dispute between companies over their management, with it being recently reported that CJ E&M ordered n.CH Entertainment to stop managing the group.
n.CH has now responded in a detailed statement, but one that may not do them a lot of favors.
TOO launched in October 2018 as a joint project, with CJ ENM and the entertainment agency n.CH Entertainment agreeing on joint discovery and production. After consultation, work was divided with n.CH handling trainee casting/training, management, and promotion and CJ ENM handling album production and marketing. Last April and July, the two companies jointly released two albums by TOO and they promoted.
1. CJ ENM – n.CH, consultation completed for seven-year management contract.
On May 7, 2020, CJ ENM sent the final draft (attachment 1) of a contract to n.CH with the agreed-upon seven-year management agency contract terms and said that they would send a version of the contract with an official seal by mail (attachment 2). However, we did not receive the version of the contract with a seal for several months, and the issuing of a contract with a seal kept being postponed. During that period, n.CH trusted the large company CJ ENM and managed TOO earnestly without a contract.
2. A formal management contract was never signed.
In August 2020, we heard from a representative at CJ ENM that due to an “internal audit team issue” they needed to pay the management expenses that n.CH had paid in advance during the period of December 2019 to August 2020, for the sake of CJ ENM’s internal administrative management. They sent an urgent request for us to put our seal on a summary written agreement that was similar to an invoice. We requested that a definite answer about the contract signing be included in the summary agreement, and both companies put their seal on the summary agreement in which the phrase “The management contract will be signed within three months” was added. This is the story behind CJ’s claim about our work ending in August according to a contract. However, it was a written agreement that said “The management contract will be signed within three months,” not the written management contract that CJ is claiming. CJ ENM and n.CH never entered into a formal contract.
3. The unilateral change in terms and notification of the conclusion.
During the three months after we put our seal on the summary written agreement, CJ ENM reduced the seven-year contract period we’d been in consultation about to one year, and they unilaterally suggested contract terms that had been drastically cut down. A CJ internal representative intimated to us verbally, “This contract term suggestion effectively means you’re being told to give up TOO.” After a lot of thought, we put aside our upset emotions and accepted this as well because we were thinking of the TOO members. However, CJ suddenly changed their stance again, sending us a notice to cease all work and transfer the management. We put aside how we felt upset over the injustice, and for the sake of the members who were looking forward to their comeback while working hard at practising, we suggested to CJ that we would manage TOO for just two years without any financial compensation, so that TOO could reach a stable position. However, they rejected this as well. CJ’s reason for the rejection was recently that “CJ will personally manage them due to changes in our management and in our internal management policy.”
4. Expenses not paid after August 2020.
For roughly the past four and a half months, until January 2021, n.CH has been paying at the company’s own expense to manage the TOO members and have them promote. CJ is postponing the settlement of expenses ostensibly because n.CH is not accepting the end of our agreement. n.CH feels a great amount of affection and moral responsibility for TOO because we have included the company’s own trainees and debuted the group after casting and training them. At CJ’s request, as we had trust in them as a large company, at the end of March 2020, right before their debut, we transferred the exclusive contracts of the members under n.CH to ONEFECT Entertainment after persuading the members. However, CJ kept postponing the agency contract between the two companies and continued to change the terms. CJ then recently unilaterally gave notice that our management of the group has ended, and without any particular reason they are saying it’s just due to “internal policy changes.” After trusting in the large company and giving everything, we feel greatly betrayed and let down.
n.CH has stated several times that we want communication and consultation. However, the current situation is that CJ ENM has repeatedly said that there is no change to their internal stance and they continue to urge us to withdraw from and transfer all management of TOO. We hope that the promise made between our two companies will be fulfilled and amicable work can be carried out. Also, we hope that CJ will quickly release TOO’s third album, pleading with the desperation of a powerless agency and artist. Thank you.
Emphasis mine for ease of reading.
Attached is e-mail from May 7, 2020 with a contract that states it will run from December 6, 2019 to December 6, 2026.
It sounds to me like n.CH got manipulated and beat by a more ruthless company, honestly. The receipts show they had a seven-year contract, but they admit it was never signed, and they agreed to reduce terms to a year before CJ E&M cut them out completely, and also transferred the contracts of the members to them.
Assuming all of this is true, I do feel for them, but I’m not really sure what recourse they may have left since they agree to almost all of it by their own admission. Is what CJ E&M did moral? No, but that’s unsurprising given their history, and unfortunately may not be all that relevant in court. It seems their primary angle here is trying to shame CJ E&M into doing the right thing, and I wouldn’t be hopeful that works.
Can only hope that TOO themselves aren’t too adversely impacted by this, though these issues can tend to drag. And it sounds like n.CH’s concern is CJ E&M aren’t as invested in doing right by TOO as they would be.