FIFTY FIFTY’s attempt to tell their story in their ongoing dispute against Attrakt appears to have backfired, following a new expose by Dispatch. The report contains revelations that appear to debunk most of the claims made by the group and their family members during an Unanswered Questions broadcast on Aug 19, 2023.
To recap, the girls claimed they were strictly controlled by Attrakt CEO Jun Hong-Joon. He allegedly had them undergo daily BMI checks and verbally and mentally abused the members. There was also a claim that Attrakt staff forced the members to throw out food sent by family members. CEO Jun was also alleged to have mismanaged the group’s finances. They had claimed profits were distributed in a 70:30 split to pay off loans taken by the company.
The broadcast drew different responses from both international FIFTY FIFTY fans and Korean netizens. International fans sympathized with the group and condemned CEO Jun, but the mood within Korea has largely been negative. FIFTY FIFTY members Aran, Keena, Saena and Sio have come under fire for making “false” claims. The backlash has also engulfed Unanswered Questions.
Its credibility as an investigative reporting program has been called into question. Dispatch released a report on Aug 21 to disprove the story about the food throwing. They revealed that it was a staff member of The Givers, not Attrakt, who ordered them to do so.
Details of new Dispatch report
On Aug 23, Dispatch released another, more extensive report that sought to debunk other claims made on the program:
- The broadcast had interviewed an anonymous Attrakt staff member who claimed CEO Jun never attended the monthly evaluations for the group. However, Dispatch released a photograph showing him present at one such evaluation in April 2022. They also said they had confirmed with Attrakt that CEO Jun had attended every FIFTY FIFTY evaluation from the beginning.
- They also added context to the food throwing incident. It appeared that the girls were supposed to be undergoing a strict diet program to reduce their weight. All FIFTY FIFTY members, except for Saena, agreed to follow the program’s low-calorie menu. However, the girls did not lose any weight, leading to a search of their dorm room. The girls were hiding numerous unhealthy snacks, causing a staff member of The Givers to order the girls to throw them away. Dispatch provided screenshots of text messages confirming the incident.
Dispatch contradicts financial mismanagement claims
- Dispatch also provided an explanation for the claims about CEO Jun’s financial mismanagement. Unanswered Questions had displayed accounts showing that FIFTY FIFTY had not been paid for music profits from 2022 to 2023. Dispatch revealed that the reason for this was due to an accounting error on the part of The Givers. The Givers had failed to provide documents for a majority of 2022. However, all accounting errors had been settled by May 2023, and FIFTY FIFTY had received their appropriate payment. Dispatch also revealed that The Givers CEO SIAHN received the biggest payout, totalling 579 million won (about US$432,000 USD) for producing fees.
- Dispatch also revealed that FIFTY FIFTY’s claim that CEO Jun used their music profits to pay off Attrakt’s debt was untrue. They said there was no reason for the music group to be responsible for the company’s debt. They also pointed out the group’s chart success led to endorsement deals from over 20 brands, which would have helped pay most of the debt. However, all deals were canceled when FIFTY FIFTY filed their lawsuit against Attrakt.
Where things stand
The new report has further confirmed negative opinion against FIFTY FIFTY, as well as The Givers CEO SIAHN, in the eyes of the Korean public. At the time of writing, there has been no response from FIFTY FIFTY regarding the new evidence.
The group is still preparing for their lawsuit against Attrakt, which is set to go to trial in the near future. It remains to be seen whether Dispatch will continue to release further reports about the situation.