Actor and singer Lee Seung Gi was reportedly not paid by his former agency Hook Entertainment for his music releases over a span of 18 years, as they manipulated him into believing his hit songs were in fact not profitable due to expenses incurred on their part.
A few days ago, Lee Seung Gi filed for certification of contents and asked for transparent accounting from Hook.
Well, Dispatch has now reported that he hadn’t been paid at all by Hook for his music since 2004.
While Hook Entertainment collected the revenue from Lee Seung Gi’s music, Lee Seung Gi did not receive any money. Over the past 18 years, he has released a total of 137 songs, but his music related revenue remained 0 won.
Dispatch obtained a statement of settlements from the distribution channels that distributed Lee Seung Gi’s music. Between 2006 and 2022, Lee Seung Gi’s musical activities earned over ₩9.60 billion KRW (about $7.16 million USD) in revenue. In other words, that same amount was recorded as sales in his Hook Entertainment corporate account. The documents for 2004-2009 were lost, so not all of the information was able to be retrieved. As the information was lost, the accounting books from June 2004 to August 2009 were unable to be fully verified, meaning that both the revenue and expenses report are no longer in existence. There is no way to confirm how much was spent compared to how much he earned for his hit songs during that time, although some estimates were made for 2006-2009. However, it is safe to assume that Lee Seung Gi’s music sales would easily surpass ₩10.0 billion KRW (about $7.46 million USD), should the missing years be factored in.
Hilariously, the scheme unraveled thanks to a text message sent by mistake that unwittingly revealed to Lee Seung Gi that a song he released made money. A senior in the industry was floored that somebody of Lee Seung Gi’s stature would believe he wasn’t profitable.
Lee Seung Gi: Hyung. I guess I make money from digital sales too. Even after the ₩200 million KRW (about $149,000 USD) production fees, I made ₩33.6 million KRW (about $25,100 USD).
Senior: What are you talking about? How much do you think the royalty fees that I get are? For you, you make a lot of money. You haven’t been paid yet?
Lee Seung Gi: That’s right. I always hear that I am a minus singer.
Senior: What are the terms and conditions of your contract with Hook? Why haven’t you been paid yet?
Dispatch then gave the details of his 6th album, where they show production costs totaling $127k and revenue of $787k, but no payment to him was made.
Lee Seung Gi had in fact asked the company in the past about his profitability, but the company had repeatedly told him that he was a “minus singer” because his fans didn’t buy albums and they lost money due to production costs.
1) June 2021: Seung Gi! I don’t want to say this to a singer from our agency. … You’re a minus singer, how are we supposed to calculate things?
2) August 2022: Do you know how much it costs to promote an album? I had to give a gift to media director A and bought another gift for media director B…
3) November 2022: You’re so annoying! We asked accounting team member Park to prepare the settlement data, but the fucker didn’t do it because he didn’t want to work.
The report also briefly mentions Hook CEO Kwon Jin Young warning Lee Seung Gi’s manager about expenses and tells him to make Lee Seung Gi pay for his own things while out on schedule.
By the way, Hook was recently raided due to suspicions of embezzlement by executives at the company, and while it supposedly is not specifically about this, it certainly doesn’t help their credibility in the matter.
I’m honestly just a bit shocked that a “respectable” agency could get away with effectively scamming a major star for so long. I expect a lot of bullshit in entertainment, so maybe I could see a company skimming on a famous artist, but I never figured somebody of Lee Seung Gi’s fame would be getting paid nothing for almost two decades of music.
The media are describing it as a new “slave contract”, and it’s hard to disagree.