Korean netizens have voiced their scepticism over the allegations made by FIFTY FIFTY against their former management company Attrakt. This followed an Unanswered Questions broadcast yesterday on SBS. The girls claimed CEO Jun Hong-Joon mistreated them and withheld profits from their music.
FIFTY FIFTY members claimed they were strictly controlled by CEO Jun. This included undergoing daily BMI checks and installing security cameras to watch them. He also verbally and mentally abused the members, causing them to have panic attacks.
The members also claimed that music profits were distributed in a 70:30 split in favour of Attrakt. This was allegedly used to pay back loans taken to promote the group. An Attrakt employee told Unanswered Questions that CEO Jun planned to end the girl group production arm of the company once he recouped his money.
FIFTY FIFTY Claims Still in Doubt?
The allegations stirred up a strong reaction online. International fans voiced out support for FIFTY FIFTY, using the hashtag #FREEFIFTYFIFTY. They also criticized the behaviour of ATTRAKT and CEO Jun.
However, in Korea, the reaction from netizens was different. Many said that Unanswered Questions seemed biased in favor of the group’s narrative. They pointed out how the program failed to question The Givers, the company that allegedly tried to poach FIFTY FIFTY. Its CEO SIAHN had previously been the focus of much criticism, due to his earlier attempt to claim the copyright for FIFTY FIFTY’s hit Cupid.
They also called out how the program did not fully investigate the claims of mistreatment made by the group. Instead, their stories were presented without any supporting evidence. Netizens also scrutinized the claims of financial mismanagement, pointing out the focus on streaming platform profits. They said Unanswered Questions left out factors like brand deals and on-ground activities from the analysis.
Comparisons to Other K-pop Acts
Netizens were also unhappy with how the program compared FIFTY FIFTY to other K-pop groups. It featured interviews with international music journalists Molly Raycraft and Jeff Benjamin talking about the group’s viral success with Cupid. They spoke positively about the impact the group made in the global music scene with their debut single.
They claimed that FIFTY FIFTY had changed the way that K-pop groups achieved fame, comparing the viral nature of their hit to traditional promotion methods.
Raycraft and Benjamin compared FIFTY FIFTY to established K-pop groups BTS and BLACKPINK, as well as their fourth-generation peers NEWJEANS. Netizens were angry over the perceived ‘disrespect’ shown to these other groups. The Unanswered Questions host also mistakenly said that BTS had won an “Emmy” award, instead of a Grammy. Netizens then accused the program of not doing its research when speaking about these other groups.
Unanswered Questions Under Fire
Angry netizens flooded the SBS program’s web forum with complaints, which caused the site to temporarily go offline. It seems as though the program has done little to change the perception of FIFTY FIFTY in their eyes. They also believe the group’s ongoing lawsuit will damage the group’s international career and reputation.
However, it is clear that for international fans, the group are justified in seeking a split from Attrakt, due to the serious allegations. The difference in opinion between Korean and international music fans is a clear indication that the battle for public perception is not over for FIFTY FIFTY.
The group is also preparing to face Attrakt and CEO Jun in court, having rejected mediation attempts to settle the issue. Their legal battle is still unfolding, casting uncertainty over the group’s future projects. The outcome could also set significant precedents within the K-pop industry.
We hope that the truth will come out in court, in order to settle the matter once and for all.