In the last two weeks, fans of the K-pop group FIFTY FIFTY have been on an emotional rollercoaster. The FIFTY FIFTY saga has seen the group transition from an international breakout act to facing a potentially career-ending legal battle.
It is a shocking development for a group that made its debut just last November. With so many new developments in a short period of time, we created a timeline of events to keep track of.
As this is an ongoing situation, we will try to present the facts as best we can. We will update this article as the situation develops.
Let’s dive into the FIFTY FIFTY saga:
Members Saena, Keena, Sio and Aran underwent training for two years in preparation for their debut. This included singing and dancing lessons, as well as lessons in English. Plans for the group included promoting them to international audiences.
The Group Debuts
November 18, 2022 – FIFTY FIFTY debuts with the EP The Fifty, and drops the music video for the title track Higher. The audience’s reaction to their debut was good. The group appears on shows to promote the EP over the next few weeks.
February 24, 2023 – FIFTY FIFTY releases their first single album The Beginning: Cupid. The album’s title track Cupid, and its accompanying music video, immediately become a hit. However, the group’s true success came when a sped-up edit of the English version of Cupid went viral on TikTok, leading to a flood of new fans seeking out the group.
March 27, 2023 – Cupid breaks into the Billboard Top 100 chart at number 100, making FIFTY FIFTY only the fifth K-pop group to do so, after BTS, BLACKPINK, TWICE and NEWJEANS.
April 26, 2023 – FIFTY FIFTY announces a new partnership with Warner Records, to promote the group’s future releases to a more global audience. Interviews with FIFTY FIFTY members began to appear in many international publications and websites.
May 26, 2023 – After enjoying weeks of international chart success, FIFTY FIFTY announces that the group will featured on the soundtrack to the upcoming Barbie movie, making this its first international collaboration.
The Drama Begins
June 19, 2023 – The four members of FIFTY FIFTY quietly filed for a provisional injunction to suspend their exclusive contract with Attrakt. They alleged the label had violated their contract and destroyed their trust.
June 23, 2023 – FIFTY FIFTY’s label Attrakt announces that the group is going on a “1 to 2-month” hiatus due to a member’s health issues. More concerningly, Attrakt also revealed that another label had approached the group and was trying to poach them. Fans are naturally concerned by this news.
June 25, 2023 – Attrakt CEO Jun Hong-Joon gives an interview to Sports Chosun, and revealed that the agency would pursue legal action. He added that he was most concerned about the impact this incident would have on the group.
June 26, 2023 – Attrakt releases a statement naming Warner Music Korea and an “outsourcing company” as the two parties attempting to poach the group. Warner Music Korea later released their own statement denying the claims.
June 27, 2023 – Attrakt revealed that there had been an attempt to shut down FIFTY FIFTY’s official fan café. It added the label had been able to prevent the closure by recovering the managing account. The label also announced that it had a filed a lawsuit against SIAHN, also known as Ahn Jung Il, CEO of The Givers. It accused him of “obstruction of business, fraud and breach of trust”, pinpointing him as the main party in the poaching attempt. Notably, Attrakt accused SIAHN and The Givers of secretly purchasing the copyrights to Cupid from the song’s foreign composer.
The Accusations Begin
June 28, 2023 – Lawyers for FIFTY FIFTY revealed the existence of the group’s injunction. They expressed “disappointment” over the label making the issue public, instead of directly responding in court. There was also a claim that the label ignored a members’ health condition which made it difficult to perform. They asked that Attrakt “no longer damage” the reputation of FIFTY FIFTY members.
June 29, 2023 – SIAHN and The Givers file a counter-suit against Attrakt, denying accusations of poaching. They claimed that they turned over all their services to Attrakt on May 31. The Givers was also working with Warner Music Korea on FIFTY FIFTY’s global promotion. They also admitted “fair, legal” ownership of the copyright to FIFTY FIFTY’s songs, particularly Cupid.
July 1, 2023 – Reports stated Attrakt’s CEO Jun Hong-Joon had personally invested around 8 million won (just over US$6.1 million) towards the group. He also paid to promote Cupid on TikTok and YouTube Shorts. Some fans were disappointed at the song’s virality being manufactured, but others were touched by the effort. The Givers’ CEO SIAHN’s past attempts to poach artists were also made public.
Claims and counter Claims
July 3, 2023 – Jun Hong-Joon reveals a recorded phone conversation between himself and a Warner Music Korea executive which he claims proves the poaching attempt. The Givers released a statement refuting the accusation. They claimed that Jun’s framing of the conversation was “manipulation” and that it was causing damage to FIFTY FIFTY’s reputation.
July 4, 2023 – The Korean tabloid Dispatch publishes an expose that reveals the origins of the dispute between Attrakt and The Givers. Dispatch’s story revealed two key details. One, SIAHN and The Givers own almost all copyrights to Cupid, but the copyright was purchased with funds from Attrakt. Two, there is little evidence to support claims that CEO Jeon forced the group to perform despite health concerns.
The Legal Battle Begins
July 5, 2023 – The trial begins for FIFTY FIFTY’s injunction against Attrakt. Reports stated that on June 19, the group members’ parents filed the trademark for the group’s name in Hangul, as well as for the stage names of the members. Attrakt claims that it already owns all trademarks related to the group name and its applications.
July 31, 2023 – The court instructs the parties involved to attend mediation and come to an agreement. The date of their meeting is set for Aug 9.
Aug 9, 2023 – The FIFTY FIFTY saga continues with closed-door meetings. The mothers of two group members, Attrakt’s management, and legal representatives from both sides participated. Two hours passed with no resolution. The court ordered a second round of discussions on Aug 16.
Aug 16, 2023 – FIFTY FIFTY declines to continue negotiations. The court orders the trial to proceed as scheduled.
Aug 19, 2023 – SBS’ Unanswered Questions broadcasts a special episode revealing the girls’ side of the story. They alleged mistreatment and financial mismanagement by Attrakt and CEO Jun. The group’s international fans were outraged, but South Korean netizens appeared dismissive of the allegations.
Aug 21, 2023 – Dispatch releases a report debunking the claim that Attrakt staff forced the girls to throw out food. They revealed it was a staff member of The Givers who ordered them to do so.
Aug 23, 2023 – A new report by Dispatch sought to debunk even more claims made by FIFTY FIFTY, including that CEO Jun had mismanaged their finances. Public opinion of the girls reaches a new low. Their lawsuit is still set to proceed.
Aug 28, 2023 – A judge dismisses FIFTY FIFTY’s injunction to suspend their contract with Attrakt.
Post lawsuit news
Sept 9, 2023 – Attrakt announces auditions for new girl group
Sept 23, 2023 – Surprise FIFTY FIFTY compilation album released after legal battle
This brings us to the end of Part 1. Check out the LINK below for Part 2.
At the moment, this is where things stand. Due to their ongoing legal issues, FIFTY FIFTY has understandably halted all existing promotions. This includes their planned music video for the Barbie soundtrack.
They also had to cancel a planned appearance at KCON LA 2023.
Hopefully, the court will be able to determine a suitable resolution for all parties involved. Stay tuned for further developments!