Details of Chuu’s contract dispute with Blockberry Creative emerge in detailed Dispatch report

Following a couple weeks of relative silence on the front of the ongoing contract debacle between former LOONA member Chuu and Blockberry Creative, a report by Dispatch has emerged essentially providing Blockberry’s side of the argument and background on the contract dispute.


Alright, so I think this can be broken down into three sections: the problematic initial contract, the ongoing contract dispute, and the gapjil allegations.

Unfair Initial Contract

The root cause of all this is a bit glossed over in comparison to the rest of the “drama”, but the core issue was essentially that LOONA’s contract split with Blockberry was 7:3 in favor of the agency for revenue with the costs split 5:5.

Certainly, this is a problematic contract. Revenues and expenses are shared at different proportions. In essence, earnings are split 7:3 and expenses are deducted 5:5. According to principle, expenses should also be split at 7:3.
Additionally, Blockberry opted for a post-expenses settlement system. Here, the revenues are divided first, then expenses are deducted. This is essentially a cheap trick. Blockberry has saddled Chuu with 20% of the expenses that the company should have accounted for.

All this made me think about the exorbitant costs of their debut and wondering back then how they were affording this. Well, basically they got them to sign contracts that would be extremely beneficial to the agency.

Blockberry responded by claiming the structure was to maintain their company, “It would have been difficult to maintain the company if expenses were not 50/50. At the time we thought it was a way to save the company and the group. So we explained to the members, and everyone agreed.” Chuu retorted that the ‘trick’ terms weren’t even understood, “Back then, I didn’t even know the difference between pre- and post-[expenses] settlements. I signed out of the joy of being able to debut. I didn’t even know that in this kind of [post-expense] structure, you can’t properly receive payments.

Sure, one could argue that they should all understand everything and have lawyers present, but the whole point of how slave contracts used to operate was that predatory agencies would take advantage of overeager children and their parents, getting them to sign anything that would allow them to fulfill their dreams. Similar seems to have happened here with this contract.

Contract Dispute & Lack Of Trust

At some point, Chuu is questioned by a fellow member as to why they’re not getting paid.

Dispatch: Did you not know that there was a problem with the contract?
Chuu: Last year (2021), one member asked, “Isn’t it time for you to be receiving payments?” That’s when I recognized that there was a problem. I got an explanation about the contract at the time. However, I didn’t exactly understand the post-settlement system. And didn’t really have the time to fully ask about things…

Chuu’s side said at that point they realized how the contract operated and why they weren’t making anything.

Dispatch: Is that why you filed a lawsuit for contract termination?
Chuu: I did the math. If expenditures are over 70% of the revenue, the final settlement would come out negative. It was a system where you get more into debt the more you work. It was definitely a 70/30 contract, but it could become a 90/10 or 100/0 in practice. It was late, but I wanted to make this right.
(For example, let’s say that with 100K KRW revenue, comes 70K KRW expenditure. Company gets 70K, Chuu gets 30K. Then let’s subtract the costs, 50/50, 35K each. So the company earns 35K. Chuu’s settlement is -5K. Chuu wanted to point out this problem.)

After apparently realizing the terms of the contract, she won an injunction in court.

Starting in January 2022, it was Chuu’s time. She filed for an injunction to suspend the effect of her exclusive contract. And in March, the court sided with Chuu. The steps were laid for her independent path.

Again, at this point in late-2021, the trust between her and the company is broken.

However, Blockberry knew she was the breadwinner, and to make their money back negotiated new terms where the 7:3 split of revenue is reversed for her, and a violation of the contract is a ~$50k penalty. She also had the right to refuse activities.

Chuu also secured the right to decline participation in Loona activities. It was stated that “To secure Chuu’s individual schedules, she reserves the right to be absent from Loona activities in the following manner.”
The “following manner” is as below.
1. The right to be absent for three or fewer Loona full-group schedules per month
2. The right to be absent for three or fewer Loona album activities per month
Additionally, Chuu added that “Regarding schedules not agreed upon herein, the schedule of B takes precedence,” and that “If A has no choice but to request a schedule change, it may request such a change up to once.”

Addendum Contract Article 5 (Miscellanea), Item 2.
“If one party has caused damages to the other, the party must pay damages at 50 million KRW per incident, and the contract may be terminated immediately.”

The report claims that Chuu’s mother used an hour delay in the filming of the “Flip That” music video as grounds to invoke a clause of the ~$50k penalty.

On May 25, 2022. The day after the filming of the music video for “Flip That”. Chuu’s mother activated Article 5, Item 2 of the addendum contract.
“It is stated in Article 5, Item 2 of the addendum contract. Despite several previous agreements on the schedule and requests for documents and texts, it is already the 25th of May, and your company has unilaterally violated the contract, so I request that you process the damages payment.” (Mother’s text message)

When questioned about this, Chuu’s side said it wasn’t just about that incident and there were multiple scheduling issues.

Dispatch: But didn’t you prioritize solo activities over group activities? There was that bit of commotion on the MV set too.
Chuu: The MV filming was delayed and I was reimbursed 50 million KRW for that. However, I didn’t request that money just because of that incident. There were multiple issues regarding scheduling. So I made that claim as a sort of warning.

Dispatch: We have confirmed KakaoTalk logs and e-mails from both parties. It seemed almost like Blockberry was the one asking for permission.
Chuu: It’s true that they asked if I could participate in schedules. However there were parts that weren’t properly delivered as well.
(Blockberry flatly denies this part, saying that it delivered all official requests that it received for schedules.)

In terms of payment, they talk about the other members still being in debt due to the structure of the contract, but that Chuu’s situation is different.

According to Blockberry’s settlement data, Loona has earned 18.2 billion KRW between 2016~2022, and spent 16.9 billion KRW (including direct expenses). That’s 18.2 billion in revenue, and 16.9 billion in expenditure.
According to their strange settlement method, “Loona’s cut” is 5.4 billion KRW. Then subtract expenses (50%) of 8.4 billion KRW, leaving around negative 3 billion KRW. Dividing that by 12 people, there is around 200 million KRW of debt remaining per member.

However, Chuu’s situation is different from the other members’. Last year in December, she turned net positive in settlements. In fact, in January of this year, she received her first payment of 70 million KRW. To this date, her total amount received is around 220 million KRW.
In addition, this past April, she set up a “Chuu Corporation”. After the court granted her the injunction, this was her setting out on an independent path. Since April, she has kept 100% of her earnings from individual activities. Blockberry only provides support for “Loona” group activities.

Chuu’s side replies that they didn’t get settlement data and Blockberry unilaterally audited things.

Dispatch: Chuu’s settlement turned positive in January 2022. You’ve earned over 200 million KRW just this year alone?
Chuu: That is right. It’s a per-person settlement system. Due to having a lot of solo activities, I was able to earn payments first. But I don’t know if the expenses are being managed properly. I never got the data about the basis for settlement.
Dispatch: Blockberry countered that by saying that it commissioned an audit from an external tax firm. They’re claiming that there’s no issues with how expenditures are managed?
Chuu: I never asked for an external audit. The company suddenly proceeded with that. I can’t 100% trust that, either. The key point is, I never properly got the settlement data. And that’s where I lost trust.

She also says the trust was broken from before and she only did Queendom 2 in an attempt to stay in the group.

Dispatch: In April 2022, you wrote a supplementary agreement. Chuu’s split would be raised to 70%. You also took the lead in decision-making?
Chuu: Honestly, my trust in the company ended last year. I didn’t want to participate in Queendom either. But I also didn’t want to give up on Loona. I wrote the supplementary agreement so I could continue group activities.

So basically it was a messy power play over money involving contracts and compensation. However, a lot of the focus is on what happened in 2022, but more should be put on what caused all those incidents, which is that everything soured in 2021 when Chuu found out about the contract structure and the court subsequently agreed it was unfair.

Also, it feels like if the reports of nine other members filing similar injunctions are true, then Blockberry believe they have to get out in front of things or send a message because Chuu’s ruling may have set the groundwork for that.

Gapjil/Abuse Of Power Allegations

There are multiple text message exchanges provided to Dispatch, which presumably are meant to support Blockberry’s allegations that Chuu was power tripping on employees. I’ll quote them in full and in order so one can decide for themselves.

December 28, 2021

Team Lead B: Hey Jiwoo. The management team reported to me that you won’t be participating in Loona album activities anymore. Is that right by any chance?
Chuu: I am participating though?
Chuu: I’ve never once skipped out on broadcast schedule ^^ There’s not a single schedule I didn’t participate in after saying I wouldn’t do broadcasts anymore
Chuu: Please don’t lie. There is nothing scheduled that I skipped, and you people don’t have the ability to get any (broadcast) schedules anyway, and there is no justification to pull out of schedules already set, so please don’t cause someone else to be dishonored.
Chuu: Seriously, all you people know how to do is lie. Tsk. Get some rest please~

December 30th, 2021

Chuu: Team Lead? My mom has asked for my seal.
(Translator’s Note: Certain financial transactions in Korea are signed by stamping a personal seal, instead of a written signature)
Chuu: Is the company not even going to give me my seal?
Chuu: Are you ignoring my mother?
Chuu: Not giving money~ Not giving the seal either~ Not providing the documents detailing the basis for my payments either~ 
Chuu: Blockberry is the best~
Team Lead B: We have never ignored your mother. About the seal, I will check with the company, then let you know.
Chuu: You said that you’d give it to me, but now it seems that you’re not. Oho

Note: For some reason the company apparently had her dojang, or stamp that acts as a legal signature, which seems especially odd.

June 2022 – Regarding Revealing Point Choreography

-Conversation between Chuu and Blockberry Team Lead B
Chuu: With something like this [laughing] With 1 second, this is what you’re nagging over?
Chuu: Do you not want me to have affection?
Chuu: I’m sitting out this album
Chuu. You gotta be kidding me.
Chuu: Appearing or participating in stuff like Queendom, don’t even dream of it going forward
Chuu: Have no intent to reflect over one’s wrongdoings I see.
Chuu: Spoilers, don’t you know that other groups, our group, everyone does this stuff at fansigns and broadcasts?
Chuu: Are you not responding?
Chuu: Team lead-nim
Chuu: Reply.
Chuu: Reply.
Chuu [Informal]: Are you seriously not gonna pull it together until I die and write down everything that’s happened so far before I die?
Team Lead B: Let me figure out what the situation is here.
Chuu: Didn’t team lead-nim send this?
Team Lead B: Right. I did not send that.
Chuu: Cut it out, watch it. I’m serious. This is my last warning
Chuu: Tell CEO A, word for word.
Team Lead B: We will give the internal staff another warning.
Chuu: So~~~~ooo pathetic seriously ㅋ
Chuu: Tell me who brought this up.
Chuu: That text [laughing] Seriously so ridiculous
Team Lead B: I’m looking at this and it seems that CEO A-nim told your mother.
Team Lead B: I will give one more warning to the internal staff so that Miss Jiwoo won’t be stressed out by things like this.
Team Lead B: I’m sorry for making you feel upset. I will apologize instead.
Chuu: Deliver what I said on KaTalk word for word. Before I sit out this album
Team Lead B: Yep. I will.
Chuu: I know it’s tough working with A.
Team Lead B: Not at all. Please be sure to eat your meals, and be strong.

Apparently it was over this:

When confronted about these, Chuu says that by then the trust was gone and that she was disrespected by a director.

Dispatch: And the speech from you and your mother seemed harsh. We believe the company interpreted those parts as “power abuse”.
Chuu: Team Lead B was the only person (in the company) that I could get through to. I wasn’t angry at Team Lead B. I was complaining, upset about how the company operated. But Director “D”…
Dispatch: Director “D”?
(Chuu provided a recording of a call between her and Director “D”. From November 2021, the conversation was about adjusting the earnings split.)

Director “D”: Think carefully about what I’m saying. There will be no downside for you. First things first, don’t write the contract. The mistrust regarding that has been resolved, right.
Director “D”: But write down the message. Suppose we promised 50/50. Then, now… 70/30 and 50/50.
Director “D”: Let’s just look at the arithmetic. We do 50/50 for Chuu Can Do It, the split.
Director “D”: You finished grade school right? Haha. It’s not like you didn’t finish, right?
Chuu: Are you going to talk to me like that? I’m just thinking right now.
Director “D”: I was joking, really. That really hurts.
Chuu: I don’t think we’re on joking terms.

Chuu states it felt like she was being talked down to.

Dispatch: Did this conversation affect your behavior?
Chuu: Director “D” treated me like a child. It felt like I was being looked down upon? The mistrust had already piled up before that, and this hurt. I thought that I would have to speak aggressively for them to listen… So there were times I spoke harshly. At the end of the day, I’m only human, so I made a mistake.

Personally, the language didn’t faze me even if the target was unnecessary, but I could see how in a vacuum that the exchanges would come off as inappropriate and especially counter to her image, which could certainly damage people’s perception of her. Respect is important for many and clearly none was shown or had between them at this point.


Alright, so it’s clear to me that this article revealed Blockberry’s side of things (that’s how Dispatch gets these convos), yet even their conclusion is essentially default both sides-ism.

The conflict between Blockberry and Chuu was much more complicated than what was known to the public. It cannot be determined to be exclusively the fault of one side. It was a collaboration of payment settlement and distrust, of incompetence and disrespect.

Obviously, one can decide for themselves if the actions and/or language of Chuu and her mother constituted being booted from the group, but for me this reads more like a situation where Chuu and all of LOONA were signed under essentially a sham of a contract (again, the court agreed), which she found out about and that soured her relationship with the company. Everything that occurs subsequent to that has to be viewed from behind that lens, and it felt like she simply wanted out of the company as her side had no reason to respect them after that.

While the contract is central to dispute, it’s also oddly enough not really what’s important. Most of this comes down to public perception, and Blockberry is trying to save theirs and throw dirt on Chuu’s. Personally, nothing about this expose particularly changed anything for me, as I’m unmoved by the language in terms of it being gapjil, and the context in which everything was done (finding out the contract was shit) colors all the interactions provided. All of it comes after Chuu’s side were already preparing for a legal battle (that Chuu won), so it’s going to be contentious. But then again, I also never believed Chuu was always her constantly cheery and totally innocent public persona, just that she was a celeb doing a job well, and what matters now is how the public will react to this coming out and if they will see things similarly.

As somebody who has cynicism/skepticism for personas and company/industry shenanigans built-in to their worldview, and who also sees the unjust contract as the catalyst in all this, I’m curious if this will change the tides in the matter either internationally or in Korea.


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Thot Leader™