After a quiet period a while back, it seems like there isn’t a day that goes by anymore that doesn’t have FIFTY FIFTY news, as their contract saga continues to take twists and turns of late. This time the major news is member Keena speaking out for the first time since dropping her suit, and the other three members continuing to make their case to the public.
As I said last time, the big news would likely be what Keena’s exit eventually leads to, and not long after she dropped out of the lawsuit it was reported that she returned to ATTRAKT. Jeon Hong Joon then spoke out about what happened when Keena returned, mentioning some details of her reasoning that were later explained in detail by Keena herself. Speaking of which, in an exclusive interview with Dispatch, she firmly placed the blame on SIAHN of The Givers for gaslighting and misleading the group.
To start, back on June 13, she messaged ATTRAKT that she tested positive for COVID-19, though Dispatch allegedly placed the photo as being sent from SIAHN’s apartment based on metadata. They couldn’t figure out why that was, but Keena told Dispatch that it was actually SIAHN’s test. She says the purpose of this was for FIFTY FIFTY to avoid doing any schedules before filing their lawsuit.
Keena: Since we decided on the lawsuit, we thought that was for the best. Ahn Sung Il said that we shouldn’t run into the company. Our lawyers also advised us to not talk to the company.
Keena then explained why her confidence in SIAHN has been eroded, citing her learning through the media that her copyright share was diluted from 6.5% to 0.5% by him, and that she found out her signature had been forged. Additionally, she says she was not aware of his academic fraud, after which her parents said they should exclude him from talks about the lawsuit and just focus on the other problems with the company. Most relevantly, it seems the lawsuit was his idea.
Keena: Ahn Sung Il proposed the injunction lawsuit. Our parents appointed the lawyer. Ahn PD said he couldn’t directly help us, but he would provide evidence to support us from behind. He promised to help us.
Dispatch then go on to explain how SIAHN manipulated the group. Keena says he told the girls that he basically made “Cupid” as successful as it by himself, and he complained to the girls that ATTRAKT was making things difficult for him.
SIAHN: I raised you. I put you on Billboard. I filmed your music video with my money. I bought your song with my money. CEO Jeon Hong Jun is not even interested in you. He only thinks of investment money. That investment is just debt. You have to pay it back.
That segued into the Warner Music Korea offer of ~$15 million to buy out FIFTY FIFTY, where SIAHN told FIFTY FIFTY that Jeon Hong Joon rejected them, and they thought he rejected investment instead of a buyout. She says that helped SIAHN prime the girls to think Jeon Hong Joon was being unreasonable and think the company was the issue, which is where the lawsuit came up.
Dispatch: But out of the blue, the lawsuit came out?
Keena: Around that time, we were called to The Givers’ conference room. I was told, “Now, I think you guys need to carefully consider the situation. You can choose. There are three options.”
Dispatch: Three options?
Keena: First, we would get investment from CJ. Second, we would get investment from Kakao. Third, we would apply for a temporary injunction.
Keena says SIAHN made it seem like the investment into the group was FIFTY FIFTY’s decision even though they had no power over it, explaining that they thought it would put them into debt.
Dispatch: Wasn’t Ahn Sung Il’s suggestion too weird?
Keena: That was the first time we heard of the term injuction. We just wanted to continue our activities. We were also a bit scared of the first two options.
Dispatch: Scared? Why?
Keena: Ahn Sung Il called my father. He said Jeon Hong Jun wanted to get a big investment from another company. He told my father that the investment into the company would soon become my debt. My father was shaken by his words. “Why would you put these successful kids into debt?” he asked.
Dispatch then asks the obvious question of why they didn’t simply communicate with ATTRAKT, which Keena says is the mistake she regrets the most. Keena said her parents didn’t know anything about The Givers and only thought of them as part of ATTRAKT, and FIFTY FIFTY thought of SIAHN like a whistleblower within the company on ATTRAKT’s incompetence. In an example of what they thought he was whistleblowing on, Keena said SIAHN put fear into them that Jeon Hong Joon was going to dump them after the first album.
Ultimately though, Keena says the decision to file the lawsuit was the choice of the members.
Keena mentioned that while Ahn Sung Il suggested the initial injunction, the FIFTY FIFTY members ultimately decided to file the lawsuit.
As expected, Keena’s testimony isn’t great for the case of the other members (though it does make them seem like victims of The Givers themselves), but is even worse for SIAHN. While there was previously vague public evidence for the tampering charges against him, and it seemed like we’d have to wait until that ATTRAKT/The Givers case got underway, it seems clear here that SIAHN had a lot of influence on their decision even if FIFTY FIFTY decided on the lawsuit themselves.
Keena’s father released a convo with SIAHN where he says there’s no chance of FIFTY FIFTY losing the injunction, which further supports his influence over this situation by offering them a false sense of security about everything. It also seems to bring Warner Music Korea right back into the thick of the tampering issue.
Meanwhile, the other three members of FIFTY FIFTY were still making their case to the public, making another post that focused on the structure of the flow of revenue within their contract and the lack of financial transparency they were provided.
Essentially, they map out the financial issues they have with ATTRAKT, claiming they not only have to settle with them but also an intermediary (Interpark), showing evidence of money going to Interpark. They go on to say that the advance structure provided by Interpark had an extra step in it as well due to Star Crew getting that money initially and not ATTRAKT.
The trio point out that before the lawsuit was filed, they had $0 revenue from sound source and physical album sales, and that revenue only started being recorded on June 23rd, four days after they filed suit. They claim the reason is all of that money was being used to pay off the debt of Star Crew to Interpark instead of going to ATTRAKT and then eventually them. FIFTY FIFTY explain that Star Crew got a total of 9 billion won from Interpark, with a 7 billion won investment in 2020 and then a 2 billion won advance for FIFTY FIFTY. They say that at the end of 2022 there was 6.3 billion won left, which meant they were paying down the debt for both companies instead of just whatever it cost to produce their group. They say that’s why no money came into ATTRAKT and their balance showed as $0, and they never received an answer for whether they were paying debt that was unrelated to producing their group. Basically, FIFTY FIFTY’s side claims they did not receive a clear answer as to why they had to allegedly pay off the initial 7 billion won investment Star Crew received from Interpark years ago.
Furthermore, they state the members never agreed to the advanced payment structure. They agreed to have their contracts transferred to ATTRAKT from Star Crew, but were never told they’d have to take on the other company’s debt. They then ask for transparency with the settlements and explain that the trust between them and the company is broken due to the lack of it.
One of the interesting wrinkles to come from this is Keena still insisting that even after she and her parents lost faith in SIAHN, they initially continued on with the lawsuit due to having other issues with ATTRAKT. Interesting because other than that, Keena seems to basically scapegoat SIAHN entirely, which I think is probably the best move for her whether that’s the reality or not. As I said, this really provides the first definitive link to the extent of SIAHN’s tampering, though surprisingly Keena doesn’t really discredit the issues the other members have been bringing up over the past week either.
Still, make no mistake that FIFTY FIFTY’s uphill climb in this case just got much exponentially harder with Keena going back to the company and providing statements backing their position, even if the main takeaway here is that SIAHN was as shady as the stories to this point have portrayed him as. And while FIFTY FIFTY’s decision to wait until now to make their case public was potentially fatal to their careers, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this whole thing was primarily a power struggle between companies and industry veterans over an “asset” they didn’t think would be this valuable.