Circumstances of NewJeans’ formation scrutinized amid HYBE/ADOR battle, focus turns to Min Hee Jin’s role in Source Music’s debt

As the meaningful blows in the HYBE/ADOR conflict simmered a bit yesterday as both sides likely prepare for a legal battle, Dispatch released an exclusive report on the formation of NewJeans and Min Hee Jin‘s time within the company (along with financial stuff that’ll be in a separate post). It was particularly interesting because it had points of interest not only for the corporate conflict and NewJeans fans, but also for those of Source Music, GFRIEND, and LE SSERAFIM.


Things begin way back in 2017 with Minji joining Source Music, and then Hanni being next to join in 2019 after passing a global audition for Source and Big Hit Entertainment. Haerin and Danielle joined them as trainees in 2020, with Hyein linking up last after being discovered online and passing an audition. All five were reportedly discovered by Source CEO So Sung Jin (who is famously Bang Si Hyuk‘s friend), and they were at the company until the later half of 2021.

That was where Min Hee Jin came into the picture. She was hired by HYBE in 2019 as the Chief Branding Officer, and was set to create a girl group with Source. However, she wanted to be head of her own label, so ADOR was established in 2021. That was when the five NewJeans members were transferred to ADOR after Min Hee Jin picked them, and she was supposedly able to do so while leaving the cost of the selection and training process with Source.

Dispatch then points out that previously Min Hee Jin pushed back against the notion that ADOR’s success was related to HYBE, with their primary point being that she was given a win-win situation because if NewJeans was a success she would get credit, but if they failed then the debts would fall to HYBE.


Of course, as I always say with Dispatch, while their information is rarely outright wrong, it is important to remember whose side you’re getting. And this is clearly HYBE’s.

Thus, while I’d say it’s true that Min Hee Jin came off deluded about the HYBE connection not being a boon (and I said as much at the time), turning around now and framing HYBE as this poor company beholden to the whims of Min Hee Jin is laughable as well. Even assuming this is all accurate, they actively enabled her, likely because HYBE saw the financial upside in giving her creative freedom. And they were right about that, given the commercial and critical success of NewJeans, despite this ongoing mess right now.

As far as why this could be an interest to GFRIEND and LE SSERAFIM fans. Well, for years now there’s not only been uncertainty about the reasons for GFRIEND disbanding, but also the circumstances of Source’s debt when they disbanded. This led to tension between fandoms, with HYBE company stans (gross) and LE SSERAFIM fans mocking GFRIEND as being flops for accumulating debt that necessitated their disbandment, while GFRIEND stans always held animosity towards LE SSERAFIM through thinking it was them that led Source to kick the girls who built the company to the curb. However, this accounting of the events seems to paint a picture where Source was actually in debt due to incurring all the costs of training a major project girl group in NewJeans, who were then poached by Min Hee Jin for ADOR (which was signed off on by HYBE). Then, in response to the debt they were left with, Source seemed to rush the formation of LE SSERAFIM, which explains their short (and almost nonexistent by K-pop standards) training time, and their formation seems unrelated to GFRIEND. Netizens had theorized similar before, but this is Dispatch essentially reporting as much.

As far as neutral observers to the mess go, in this timeline of events, basically everybody seemingly has pie on their face, which is really the best possible outcome for K-pop drama.


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