Hybe launches audit into NewJeans’ label ADOR over alleged independence move

April 22, 2024

South Korea’s largest K-pop company Hybe has launched an audit of the management at ADOR, the subsidiary label behind NewJeans, a top K-pop girl group, on suspicions that the label sought to break away from Hybe, according to industry sources Monday.

The sources said the audit targets ADOR’s CEO, Min Hee-jin, and another executive of the company whose identity has not be disclosed, over their suspected attempt to seize control of the company.

Min Hee-jin, CEO of ADOR, is seen in this undated file photo provided by the company. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
Min Hee-jin, CEO of ADOR, is seen in this undated file photo provided by the company. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Hybe’s audit team has reportedly seized computerized assets from ADOR’s office and obtained face-to-face statements from company officials.

“It is correct that the company exercised its right to audit the ADOR management on suspicions that the management tried to seize control of the company,” a Hybe official confirmed.

Min released a statement later in the day strongly denying the allegations as “an absurd media play.”

“They are trying to dismiss me as I took issue with ILLIT copying NewJeans,” she said, referring to the name of a new girl group launched last month by Belift Lab, also a subsidiary label of Hybe.

Founded by Min in 2021, ADOR is currently owned 80 percent by Hybe and 20 percent by its management, including Min. She now holds an 18 percent stake in ADOR, making her the second-largest shareholder after Hybe.

Hybe also reportedly suspects the two ADOR executives of leaking the company’s classified documents, such as contracts with artists, to outsiders to attract investors and discussed ways to induce Hybe to sell its stakes in the subsidiary firm.

After analyzing the seized materials, Hybe plans to take legal measures against the ADOR management, if necessary, according to the sources.

Min is a hitmaker in the K-pop industry, having led the visual branding of famous groups, such as Girls’ Generation, SHINee, f(x), EXO and Red Velvet, as a creative director and board member at SM Entertainment before joining Hybe in 2019.

Girl group NewJeans, which debuted in 2022 under Min’s ADOR, has achieved international stardom, releasing successive megahits, such as “Hype Boy,” “Attention,” “Ditto” and “OMG.”

The group is scheduled to return with a new single next month.