FIFTY FIFTY refute narratives about Jeon Hong Joon’s ‘sacrifice’, their dorms, and lessons provided + Keena drops appeal against ATTRAKT

After a period of downtime, the FIFTY FIFTY contract mess news continues to come at us hot and heavy as of late, with the members releasing another pair of statements on Instagram and the breaking news that member Keena has dropped her appeal of the lawsuit.


Following the reveal of their health problems on the member-controlled Instagram account, they then posted about ATTRAKT CEO Jeon Hong Joon‘s ignorance and dishonesty. They basically say he bumbled through an investor meeting, essentially hard-selling the potential investors by promising them whatever they wanted, including allegedly lying about having recorded English songs, having 15 covers for each member, and being able to speak in English only.

Probably the most important part was about going overseas in July no matter what, which was relevant because this took place less than a week before Aran‘s surgery — they also reveal she was promised a two-month recovery period — and things were uncertain at that point.

Not sure the CEO allegedly being incompetent and lying to get backing is all that relevant, as I imagine that’s the case with a lot of companies. The bigger deal to me is knowing a member is headed for major surgery and still making the promise that they’ll promote no matter what.


A day later, the members followed up with another post, essentially focused on rebutting the media narratives that have developed over the course of this case. The members start by saying that if ATTRAKT really wanted them back, they would’ve refuted the rumors that were in the media and spread by YouTubers instead of effectively basking in the glory of them as Jeon Hong Joon did.

They cast doubt on the reports of the CEO investing all his own assets into the group because of the advance payments he received and the fact that all expenses were all charged to their debt, specifically mentioning the stories about him selling his watch and car, borrowing money from his mom, having expensive accommodations, and paying for the best lessons. FIFTY FIFTY question where the two billion won advance meant for FIFTY FIFTY went if he was doing all this, showing a KakaoTalk convo that he received that money. They state again that ATTRAKT has never provided the financial data requested by the members, and so eventually they went to The Givers with their request. They say they will make direct requests from subcontractors, distributors, and agencies to collect the data.

On the specifics, FIFTY FIFTY revealed the agency charged them 640 million won in song fees, including 45 million won in song purchasing fees and 12 million won for the song “Cupid“, for which there’s an active copyright case, charged to the members.

On the supposed luxury apartments, they clarified that there was no security deposit and it cost 2.5 million won a month. It had three rooms and two bathrooms, with a manager occupying a room by themselves and 12 people sharing the other two rooms (presumably before the group was cut down to the current four members). There were two bunks to a room, and those who couldn’t find a bed slept in hallways or the living room. The manager was not a part of sharing costs, and there were more than 150 expenditure items listed on the accommodation-related invoices, totaling about 82 million Korean won since August 2020.

For the lessons, FIFTY FIFTY were charged 58 million won total, and they clarify that people spreading the alleged 30 million won monthly spend by the company were dealing in false info. They break the fees down by year:

-1.35 million won per month per person (6-8) in 2020
-1.62 million won per month per person (6-7) in 2021
-1.43 million won per month per person (4-5) in 2022

On a personal level, I actually find this fascinating, not just about FIFTY FIFTY but because it provides further insight into how the K-pop system operates. Every time a company brags about the things it provides to members, or the budget for comebacks, or whatever else, by now we have to know the members themselves are literally paying for it. It explains why even groups who have major hits and popularity still don’t break even until 3-4 years down the road. And remember, the money the group makes back to pay debt and what not is split, so the company makes money in that meantime even if the idols don’t.

Specifically, I think FIFTY FIFTY do a good job here of pointing out that for most of their time they were with a bunch of other trainees and not just the four of them, especially making their living conditions seem mostly the same or worse compared to other groups starting out. And it effectively breaks this illusion of some benevolent CEO who just wanted to give the best to the members, because he wasn’t doing this for their sake, he was obviously trying to get a return on investment. Nothing wrong with that, but these people who think he was doing charity work or some shit are insane to me.


In perhaps one of the bigger twists to the story, member Keena has dropped out of the group’s lawsuit appeal against ATTRAKT and has found new legal representation.

Neither her side of the group’s side gave a reason why, and maybe we’ll hear that in the future, but there’s no real other way to spin this except it being terrible news for the other three FIFTY FIFTY members. I don’t blame her for tiring of this or whatever the reason was, but solidarity was required if they had any shot here. Also, the chances that she’ll subsequently be used against the other members by either the media or the company is sky high.


Weirdly, FIFTY FIFTY now seem to be doing what I said they should’ve done months ago, which was wage a war on two fronts. I’m honestly pretty convinced that if they came out with all this at the same time they filed their lawsuit, the response at the moment would be a lot closer to neutral than overwhelmingly negative like it is now. Unfortunately, despite these statements (that have so far gone unanswered by ATTRAKT), the well seems to have been poisoned to the extent that it’s not moving netizens off their entrenched positions. I really just hope people will at least open their eyes to ATTRAKT’s CEO just being a typical CEO and nothing more. It’s always safe to ease off the corporate sack riding, I promise.

Also, what happens with Keena in the future is important, as it could be nothing more than different legal approaches or it could be pivotal to the case (most likely ATTRAKT’s side).


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