K-Pop Label Engages in Legal Dispute with Parent Company

K-Pop Label Engages in Legal Dispute with Parent Company

South Korean girl group NewJeans experienced rapid growth in popularity in recent years, propelled by hit songs like “ETA,” “Super Shy,” “Attention,” and “Ditto.” All of these songs led to the band ranking #8 on the list of Global Artists of the Year. Unfortunately, the group’s future hangs in the balance due to legal disputes between its CEO Min Hee-jin, and its parent company HYBE.

An Overview of the Current Situation:

Min Hee-jin during the press conference.

HYBE, formerly known as BigHit Entertainment, was founded by Bang Si-Hyuk, the “father” of BTS and many other successful bands. After BTS gained worldwide popularity, HYBE acted as the parent company to different record labels and agencies that it acquired over the last three years. The girl group NewJeans is under one of the subsidiaries called ADOR, where Min is the CEO. HYBE holds 80% of ADOR shares and Min holds 18%. According to NAVER, HYBE requested Min to resign on April 22, claiming that she tried to “steal” ADOR by convincing other investors and companies to acquire ADOR shares from HYBE. Therefore, public opinion was formed against Min Hee-jin.

Moreover, on April 25, HYBE announced it would report Min to the police for breach of trust, claiming that it found critical evidence from an internal workplace investigation. In the afternoon, Min immediately held a press conference to share her views, claiming that she never attempted to steal the company and that HYBE exaggerated what she said as a joke with her friends. Min further argued that the company was motivated to eliminate her due to her previous conflicts with HYBE executives, in which she refused to conform to their requests relating to NewJeans’s debut and album sale. 

Regardless of whether the statements are true or false, there is a widespread assessment that it was truly the greatest press conference of the century. Min’s candid rhetoric and liberal use of curse words succeeded in portraying HYBE as an exploitative company working to undermine her reputation. She accused Chairman Bang and CEO Park Ji-won of betrayal and conspiracy to “frame” her as an irrational woman.

Public Interests

Public interest in the issue escalated beyond just K-Pop as allegations arose that HYBE has close ties with DahnWorld, an infamous cult known for its absurd practices.  Tensions continued to arise as fans started accusing HYBE of plagiarizing from the songs made by small companies and branding them as its own. This idea, which was first brought up when BTS debuted, has resurfaced with public skepticism against HYBE’s domestic issues involving ADOR. Many fans are either left confused about the whole issue or strongly supportive of one side. While supporters of Min are asking more and more questions about HYBE’s suspicious past, supporters of HYBE feel that she is playing the victim in this case.

Looking into the Future:

Either way, both sides are doing everything in their power to win the lawsuit not only for money but also for their own dignity. Other than the news of a concert in Tokyo, further schedules for NewJeans have remained stagnant. However, it is clear that HYBE’s multi-label system is falling apart with Min ready to tear it down. The fate of the new generation of K-Pop idols depends on the winner of this case. 

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About the Contributors
David Shin
David Shin, Senior Staff Writer
David Shin ('25) is a Senior Staff Writer for The Echo. He is looking forward to covering stories of any genre that might pique the interest of students at Tenafly High School.
Seihyun (Shawn) Lee
Seihyun (Shawn) Lee, Guest Writer
Seihyun (Shawn) Lee ('25) is excited to be a guest writer for The Echo. He enjoys sharing his stories and listening to others' stories. He also enjoys coding, so he made a social media site called Atrable, where people can share their stories through audios and videos. He seems to be quite proud of it.