ADOR CEO retains position after shareholders’ meeting, offers compromise with Hybe

May 31, 2024

Min Hee-jin, head of a K-pop agency behind girl group NewJeans, extended an olive branch to Hybe on Friday, expressing hope for a resolution in the protracted conflict with the parent company.

“I achieved in two years what boy bands might achieve in five or seven years,” she said during a press conference in central Seoul. “Can the word ‘betrayal’ really be applied to a subsidiary president who has achieved such results? I hope a compromise can be reached with Hybe.”

The press conference comes a day after a Seoul court granted the ADOR CEO an injunction to prevent the parent company from exercising its voting rights against her in the extraordinary shareholders’ meeting on Friday. The court decision allowed her to retain her position after the meeting.

ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin speaks during a press conference in Seoul on May 31, 2024. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)
ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin speaks during a press conference in Seoul on May 31, 2024. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Hybe, which holds an 80 percent stake in ADOR, had originally planned to remove Min as CEO during the meeting over allegations that she plotted with aides to usurp control of the company.

The parent company reported Min to the police on breach of trust charges in April, claiming she looked for ways to separate from Hybe, taking NewJeans with her, or pressure Hybe to sell its stake in ADOR and seize control of the label. Min has consistently denied the allegations.

The court said Thursday her actions may be treacherous to Hybe, but it is difficult to see that they constitute “breach of trust” to ADOR.

However, Hybe put three of its executives on the board during the shareholders’ meeting Friday, taking over control of the board. Two directors of the label’s board identified as Shin and Kim, who are Min’s close aides, were removed.

The three new directors are Hybe’s Chief Human Resources Officer Kim Ju-young, Chief Strategy Officer Lee Jae-sang and Chief Financial Officer Lee Kyung-jun.

Min offered to meet the parent company as early as possible for a deal, saying she is willing to make a concession if a clause banning her from having a dual job is removed from the contract between the two sides.

“We’ve exchanged punches, so let’s think that it’s enough and not hold grudges,” she said.

In her second press conference since the internal strife went public, she also shared how she feels about the ongoing dispute and the court decision.

“I don’t even know who this conflict is for, or what it’s supposed to achieve. I’m tired of criticizing and disparaging others. Everyone is fed up,” she said.

“We should consider what is more beneficial in a principled way and whether it leads us in a better direction,” she said. “In a situation where it has been declared legally (my acts) do not constitute breach of trust to ADOR, this matter should be discussed more constructively. I believe that the game needs to change for everyone’s sake.”

In contrast to last month’s press conference where she showed up with a stern face, this time she appeared with a smile and a bright expression. She was dressed in a yellow jacket with her hair neatly tied back.

“It feels like it’s been more than a month (since the first press conference) and it was a tough experience that I hope never happens again in my life. Personally, I feel relieved to have been cleared of the false accusations. It feels like a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders,” she said.

This new board structure grants Hybe control over the board, over a month after the conflict surfaced on April 22, when the company launched an audit into the sublabel’s management over suspicions that Min attempted to seize control of her company.

Hybe is reportedly aiming to settle confusion among ADOR employees by sending the three executives familiar with the situation with the label to the board, and to protect and support NewJeans, which recently returned to the music scene with a new single.

However, some industry insiders remain concerned that the conflict could continue due to potential clashes between CEO Min and other board members from Hybe on important matters requiring board approval.