BELIFT LAB drops 27-minute video addressing plagiarism claims against ILLIT, seem to drag the whole industry into the mess

It seemed like things were settling down on the HYBE/ADOR dispute front, at least to the point where I’d be able to catchup on everything else and recap the current legal situation. However, BELIFT LAB had other plans, as they recently posted a 27-minute video featuring their co-CEOs that addresses the plagiarism allegations from Min Hee Jin and ADOR, involving ILLIT and NewJeans.

Yes, that’s on their official account.

To summarize the video, they basically say that it’s the fate of all successful group concepts to be inspirational, and that if ILLIT’s similarities to NewJeans are valid then so are NewJeans’ similarities to their predecessors. ILLIT’s choreographer also defends against the plagiarism of choreography, similarly citing instances where NewJeans and other groups did similar moves.

In a rare amusing moment, they busted out their branding book for ILLIT, where they point out that they specifically put “NOT NewJeans”, “NOT BLACKPINK”, and “NOT IVE” in it.

I get that the point is they wanted to avoid being like those groups, but it’s just funny that it was clearly on their mind. The descriptions are … a bit weird as well.

Some have already pointed out that the comps are incorrect (NMIXX) or reaches (photoshop), including official personnel (BLACKPINK’s), and critics (1/2) to netizens are mocking them for being unprofessional (getting evidence from DC Gallery) and all kinds of stuff (they promo’d ILLIT using NewJeans themselves), but that aspect of things is not what I’m interested in litigating over.

——

What I am interested in talking about is what the existence of this video means for K-pop, both specifically to this situation and more generally speaking.

As far as PR goes, this doesn’t strike me as a great decision. I guess it’s not just a Min Hee Jin thing after all. You know how a lot of people were pissed at HYBE/Min Hee Jin for involving other groups in their dispute? Well, now BELIFT has done that multiple times over, and this time most named aren’t contained within HYBE. All that’s going to do is piss those fandoms off, doesn’t really even matter the context. They had to know that, right? I mean they’ve seen how fans are, yet how many people signed off on this? Predictably then, as a result of this, I see BELIFT of course getting dragged in Korea, but also internationally because people are pissed their faves are now connected to this mess. I don’t think the general message of the video is explicitly wrong, but the execution was extremely loose and I feel bad for ILLIT because in a lot of cases they will end up being the face of the company’s actions for backlash.

Speaking of execution … sorry but this is like Stan Twitter/Cyberwrecker/Troll bait type stuff but company endorsed. I had to check twice that it’s not fanmade. The tone of it is like one degree removed from those posts I make complaining about when netizens find some annoying plagiarism allegations on YouTube and try to blow it up on Pann, but arguably even more cringe cause of the ominous soundtrack like this is some kind of moral hazard they’re investigating. I dunno what the legal outcome of any of the NewJeans/ILLIT and ADOR/BELIFT LAB stuff will be, but my stance on these issues remains the same: unless it was like internal document style stuff that was bar-for-bar copying, I simply don’t care about it either way. I don’t care about ILLIT doing it or not, I don’t care about NewJeans doing it or not. Yes, I see conceptual similarities, but most artists will follow in the footsteps of others who were successful or inspirational or whatever, that’s entertainment.

Like even at the outset of this, one of the things I resented about Min Hee Jin’s plagiarism shit going public to begin with is the potential for this to spread even more among fandoms due to it now becoming official company policy to litigate these things. Well … now we’re literally in the next evolution of what she did internally with the complaint.

Maybe it’s a hot take and I’m being dramatic, but fandoms are already arguing about this. It sucks!

And unlike the fandoms who are being defensive about this group or that group or this company or that company or this creative or that creative, my reasons are bigger than any one specific thing, because most importantly is that all this discourse being magnified is what’s personally most annoying to me*.

*And also the damage this can do to the arts and artists if it continues the trend of corporations turning things into a war of IP being fought by armies of lawyers to extract every drop of value out of every asset and make line go up further. Be more like Ryuichi Sakamoto, cowards. But mostly me me me.

Well, I guess at least it further reinforces my assumptions about the competency and trustworthiness of these executives.

Anyway, I’ll try to update if anymore stuff comes in.

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