Hybe refutes allegations raised by sublabel head in ongoing dispute

April 26, 2024

Hybe, the largest K-pop company in South Korea, on Friday countered the latest allegations raised by the head of its sublabel ADOR suspected of plotting to take over the company, as the parties continued to trade salvos in their ongoing saga.

In a press release, Hybe refuted several points made by ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin during her lengthy press conference Thursday and charged that Min was “blackmailing the company while holding artists hostage.”

Hybe previously claimed that Min and others had attempted to seize management control of ADOR, which manages popular group NewJeans, among other acts.

This file photo taken April 23, 2024, shows the exterior of K-pop giant Hybe's headquarters in Seoul. (Yonhap)
This file photo taken April 23, 2024, shows the exterior of K-pop giant Hybe’s headquarters in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Hybe has also said it has records of conversations between Min and her deputy CEO, identified only by the surname Shin, as they were devising plans to break away from Hybe and take NewJeans with them.

At her press conference, Min reiterated her denial that she had ever tried to take over the company, and instead accused Hybe of trying to destroy her.

Min also argued that Hybe was blowing content of her “private conversations” out of proportions to fit its narrative.

Hybe charged that Min’s private conversations no longer qualified as such once a third party got involved in the dialogue.

“The deputy CEO is a chartered accountant with expertise in corporate governance,” Hybe noted. “The executive has worked in Hybe’s listing on the stock market, and several mergers and acquisitions. Min also ordered the deputy CEO to ensure their conversations would appear private.”

On Thursday, Min also said she was tied down by a clause in her contract with Hybe that kept her from launching her own business and likened it to “a noose.”

Hybe responded Friday that such a clause is not out of the ordinary in the industry.

ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin speaks during a press conference in southern Seoul on April 25, 2024. (Yonhap)
ADOR CEO Min Hee-jin speaks during a press conference in southern Seoul on April 25, 2024. (Yonhap)

“The noncompete clause is designed to prevent a shareholder from selling off shares in one company and then founding another in the same line of work, which would create unfair competition. This is common,” Hybe said. “Her assertion that we’ve permanently banned her from selling her stocks is also not true. She can start selling her shares in November this year. If she does that, she wouldn’t be subject to the prohibition of competition starting in November 2026.”

Min accused Hybe of not promoting NewJeans as much as some of its other acts, but the company noted that it put out 273 press releases on NewJeans alone last year.

Hybe began an audit of ADOR on Monday, and later said it would file a complaint against Min and another ADOR executive on charges of breach of trust.

Min questioned the timing of the audit, with NewJeans scheduled to release a new single next month.

Hybe countered Friday that it was Min who began attacking the company via emails and added it had to run the audit to protect the integrity of the multilabel company.

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.

Before joining Hybe in 2019, Min worked as a creative director for another K-pop giant, SM Entertainment, where she was responsible for the visual branding of such popular acts as Girls’ Generation, SHINee, f(x), EXO and Red Velvet.

On Min’s watch, NewJeans shot to international stardom with hit singles “Hype Boy,” “Attention,” “Ditto” and “Super Shy.”

The group’s second EP, “Get Up,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 last year.