Hybe says spinoff attempt by subsidiary label revealed clearly

April 24, 2024

South Korea’s largest K-pop company Hybe defended its ongoing audit into the management of a subsidiary label Tuesday, saying it has clear evidence suggesting the management attempted to seize control of the label.

Park Ji-won, CEO of Hybe, reassured company officials not to feel unsettled over the audit in an email sent to them, vowing to take all necessary measures after uncovering the full truth behind the suspicions.

The company launched the audit into Min Hee-jin, CEO of ADOR that manages NewJeans, and another executive of the label on Monday following allegations they attempted to seize control of the unit.

Park Ji-won, CEO of Hybe, is seen in this photo provided by the K-pop giant. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
Park Ji-won, CEO of Hybe, is seen in this photo provided by the K-pop giant. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Min denied the allegations as “an absurd media play,” asserting that Hybe was trying to dismiss her due to her objections regarding ILLIT, a new girl group launched last month by another subsidiary label of Hybe, which she claimed copied NewJeans, a product of her label’s creativity.

“Most of what they are claiming is not true or groundless,” Park said in the email. “We have learned that the plans in question were set long before ILLIT made its debut.”

Defining it as “a case revealing a clear attempt to seize control of the company,” Park said his company “will take appropriate actions after confirming more (of the truth) through this audit.”

He then specifically requested employees of ADOR to “give their best effort in supporting the comeback and growth of NewJeans.”

“Hybe is putting its top priority on keeping its artists and other members safe. I urge those involved (in the management of NewJeans) to exercise extra caution to prevent the artists from being affected by this incident.”

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

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.