ATTRAKT CEO Jeon Hong Joon bizarrely gets credit for Koo Kwang Tae’s heroic actions in exposing the truth of S#arp’s bullying scandal

As the FIFTY FIFTY mess unfolds, it has oddly thrust ATTRAKT‘s CEO Jeon Hong Joon back into the spotlight. When all this broke out people didn’t seem to know a whole lot about him, but as I explained in the HOTSHOT article, it seems more and more this saga has been used as an opportunity to raise his own profile.

First it was the sob stories about how the poor lifelong executive sold his car and watch to fund FIFTY FIFTY, then it’s revealed how he borrowed money from his elderly mother to invest in this group, and most recently it’s people “finding” that he was the supposed hero of the S#arp bullying incident and crediting him with a “legendary past”.


For those that don’t know about the S#arp incident (1/2/3/4), basically member Lee Jihye was being bullied by fellow member Seo Jiyoung (and eventually the other two to varying extents), who had all the power thanks to her parents funding the group and having it include Jiyoung’s friends. The exception to that was Jihye, who made it in through audition, and as Jihye’s popularity grew (since she was, quite frankly, better), so did Jiyoung’s resentment of her.

The discord went public in 2002 after confrontations that involved an elevator fight, Jiyoung’s dad going to the press, and Jiyoung’s mom attacking Jihye. Press conferences where held where Jiyoung (supported by member Chris) played victim and made Jihye into the perpetrator, and it was later revealed she even paid off their manager to back her up, and that’s why he was sitting next to her. However, in a surprise move, the manager stood up for Jihye and told the truth of the bullying.

This famously caused Jiyoung to have a breakdown and eventually she left the venue in tears.

Okay, so that’s where we get back to Jeon Hong Joon, who recently was initially credited as the hero manager who stood up for Jihye on message boards, and that narrative was later picked up by articles. While they’re right about the manager being admirable and known as a hero due to standing up for the truth despite all the power residing in Jiyoung and him being offered bribes to continue her lies, that had nothing to do with ATTRAKT’s CEO, as he was never mentioned in the story back then or in any recent retellings as doing anything notable.

Since it was obvious that he wasn’t actually the hero, as the manager was in the black suit and was named Koo Kwang Tae (right), all that was corrected to say Jeon was a World Music Entertainment employee while portraying things as if Jeon Hong Joon made the same decision of conscious as the manager did. But by all accounts, that also wasn’t the case.

In fact, they were not even at the same press conference, as Jihye and member Jang Seok Hyun held a separate press conference, and so did the company, which is obvious by even just the differing backgrounds. What appears to have happened is people watched a media summary report of the S#arp press conferences, and ran with it as if it all happened at the same place and same time (or they’re just being purposefully misleading).

Furthermore, Jeon Hong Joon didn’t even stand up for Jihye himself. As you can see, he’s surrounded by suits and is merely reading the company’s position that Jiyoung’s mother hit Jihye once, something that even Jiyoung and Chris admitted at their own press conference, likely because it was impossible to deny since Jiyoung’s mother did it in the waiting room with a bunch of witnesses present.

Note: Jeon Hong Joon was not the CEO of WME, that was Kim Dong Chul. Jeon Hong Joon was merely his press guy and right-hand man, basically.

So in reality all Jeon Hong Joon did was relay the company’s stance, things that people knew already, and the conclusion of his press conference was vaguely saying that due to the conflicts of the members they had no choice but to disband the group.

Remember, he was there as an executive while Jihye was being bullied and Jiyoung and her parents were basically running things. Yet now he’s being praised as a hero for going into a press conference and reciting words as if he had stood up to bullies, when in every story prior to this, it’s the manager who was seen as the legendary figure while the company was seen as being complicit.

Note: Again, all of these recent retellings are from well before FIFTY FIFTY or any of this other shit, and if he did anything noteworthy it would’ve been mentioned in any of the myriad stories about this.

Even some in the Korean press have now pushed back on this narrative a bit, pointing out that Jeon’s press conference was at a different time.

I mean, fans of Lee Jihye certainly remember what was what back then.

Can’t erase people’s memories.

So I don’t care how you feel about anything regarding the current FIFTY FIFTY contract mess situation, but this weird hero worship of Jeon Hong Joon needs to stop. While he’s being praised to high heavens for his actions in this incident, in reality all this story has shown is that at best he was a company man through and through for a company that was turning a blind eye to one of the worst bullying cases the industry has ever seen. Making him some kind of folk hero in retrospect for the abhorrent shit Lee Jihye had to go through as a member of S#arp is just borderline offensive in that regard.


Additionally, I want to address one other thing I remembered.

Back when Dispatch’s report was released, it hyped up that Jeon Hong Joon had worked with, among others, Yoon Mi Rae. That was when I realized that he had a long history in the industry, but it also made me curious if he had any connection to the blacklisting period that she and now husband Tiger JK went through.

Sure enough, they were both with World Music Entertainment at the time (same as S#arp and Jeon Hong Joon), and the company (along with him, according to sources familiar with proceedings) was a key figure in the four-year gap in Yoon Mi Rae’s discography via lawsuit.

She was once tried for drugs usage, just like several other hip hop artists at that time. It is generally accepted now by people that she was framed by those up in music industry and politics, who didn’t want the conservative society and music industry to be affected by their messages and unconventional styles. When she released her second album Gemini (which I think is brilliant) one year later, her previous record label sued her for tarnishing their reputation by blaming her drugs incident one year ago. Eventually she disappeared from the music scene for 4 years, until she came back with another brilliant album Yoonmirae. Included in this album is the song Black Happiness, where she confesses to having had to put heavy make up to hide her black skin, and now proud to sing as a half Korean/black.

Note: The injustice of Tiger JK’s case (and an indictment of Korea’s legal system) was profiled at the time (1/2/3/4).

Basically what happened was WME went broke and couldn’t support Yoon Mi Rae’s activities, so she filed suit to terminate her contract as they broke multiple agreements in it. She didn’t go public with this at the time as she wanted to handle things quietly, but WME responded to this by filing a lawsuit of their own against her about a month later and went to the press pretending they filed first and did so because them being broke was all because of her drug case (acquitted years prior). So basically just pandering to the public by citing evil drugs, using stereotypes about rappers, and just straight-up anti-blackness, and the Korean press at the time (Yonhap News, specifically) bought into their narrative without much research (which she called out in the statement). Yoon Mi Rae also mentions the treatment she endured under the company when she was a minor, that they were trying to sell her off to creditors to cover debt, and that they held the past drug allegations over her head to get her to sign a ridiculously unfavorable contract.

Needless to say, it was a massively fucked up situation and was back in the more Wild West days of things in Korean entertainment where there was even less oversight and regulations for companies. Anyway, while I did remember that period, the thing I found difficult was finding articles from over two decades ago that still exist, and that’s likely exactly what Jeon Hong Joon is relying on. Just rewrite shit and/or pave over it with mediaplay now, I suppose.


To be clear, I’m aware that all this doesn’t directly relate to the FIFTY FIFTY situation, and no matter what Jeon Hong Joon has done before, it’s still possible that at least one of SIAHN/The Givers/FIFTY FIFTY did him wrong somehow.

That said, the goal of this is certainly not to absolve any of them or even comment on whether they can win their lawsuits. All I’m pointing out is that I’m seeing Jeon Hong Joon worshipped as some kind of hero by Korean netizens, Korean media, and now international netizens, when in reality he has a long career of being involved in mess dating back to the first generation, and thus it’s been rather hard to stomach it. He’s simply not that guy.

Anyway, I know some of you are sick of this discourse by now, and I get it. But to me, this really isn’t about FIFTY FIFTY or ATTRAKT or whoever else anymore, it’s about all the weird company and executive worship I’m seeing with everybody acting like he’s an untarnished saint, and also frustration at the rewriting of Korean entertainment history in some kind of effort to manipulate public opinion or something.


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