In a series of events that have left fans and industry insiders in shock, the popular K-pop group FIFTY FIFTY has taken legal action against their agency's CEO, Jeon Hong Joon, and the agency itself, ATTRAKT. The group's legal representative, the law firm Barun, announced on August 17 that they had filed a criminal complaint against Jeon Hong Joon for "violating the Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Economic Crimes (breach of trust)."
The core of the issue seems to revolve around financial discrepancies. Before joining ATTRAKT, FIFTY FIFTY was signed to Jeon Hong Joon's previous company, Star Crew Entertainment. The law firm Barun has raised concerns about financial transactions between the two companies, suggesting that funds and debts were inappropriately transferred between them. Specifically, it was revealed that CEO Jeon Hong Joon utilized an advance payment, originally received by Star Crew Entertainment from their album distributor, for unknown expenses. This amount was then listed under "girl group investment costs," implying that ATTRAKT assumed the financial responsibility of that advance payment. As a result, FIFTY FIFTY's digital music and album revenue is being used to settle this debt.
In a heartfelt move, FIFTY FIFTY members shared handwritten letters with their fans on August 17, addressing the ongoing dispute and expressing their gratitude for the unwavering support. The letters, penned by members Keena, Saena, Sio, and Aran, conveyed their distress over the situation and their determination to seek justice. They emphasized their commitment to their fans and their music, stating that they had no choice but to take legal action to protect their rights and their artistry.
The group's decision to file criminal charges comes after their initial attempt in June to suspend their exclusive contracts with ATTRAKT. Although the court had recommended mediation between the two parties, FIFTY FIFTY recently informed the court of their decision not to proceed with mediation, pushing the legal dispute back to trial.
ATTRAKT, on the other hand, has countered with allegations of its own. The agency claims that FIFTY FIFTY was influenced by The Givers CEO Ahn Sung Il, who previously produced music for the group, to breach their exclusive contracts. ATTRAKT has also filed criminal charges against Ahn Sung Il and several employees of The Givers for fraud, breach of duty, and obstruction of business.
The situation has been further complicated by Warner Music Korea's involvement. While the music company initially denied any role in persuading FIFTY FIFTY to break their contract with ATTRAKT, an audio recording was later released. In this recording, an executive director from Warner Music Korea is heard discussing a substantial buyout with ATTRAKT's CEO, Jeon Hong Joon.
As the legal battle unfolds, fans worldwide are rallying behind FIFTY FIFTY, hoping for a swift resolution that allows the group to continue sharing their music without further hindrance.
FIFTY FIFTY's full English letter is as follows:
This is Keena, Saena, Sio, and Aran from FIFTY FIFTY.
We would first like to begin by apologizing to everyone who loves us for causing much concern.
We know that there are fans who believe in us and are waiting for us. And that is why the members of FIFTY FIFTY decided to put our hesitation aside and stepped up to share our position.
We also know that many of you are confused by the current media and press coverage. Misunderstandings and accusations have been snowballing. We were deeply shocked by this and have been going through a tough time.
Nevertheless, we believe there is a truth that needs to be uncovered despite these difficulties. And we have strong faith that our fans will understand us and support us even more when it is clarified.
The members of FIFTY FIFTY have received overflowing love and encouragement from our fans. We also have many people around us who have worked hard and helped us. We have never forgotten, not even for a single moment, how thankful we are to our fans and everyone who supported us. We would like to take it to our hearts and return our gratitude by working even harder in the future.
However, we first wanted to take this opportunity to right the wrongs that have been forced in our relationship with the agency. And to protect our music, we had no other choice.
So, after a lot of consideration, our members have decided to face this path. We will continue to move forward by making careful decisions to overcome the current confusions and difficulties.
It has been heartbreaking to see so many untrue stories being reported in the media articles and social media these days. Nevertheless, we have been careful about commenting on ending our exclusive contracts with our agency. This does not mean we admit or accept what has been reported in the media. We believed that taking this issue to court based on facts was the right way to solve the situation. We had hoped that the truth would be uncovered during the trial process and our right would be guaranteed. This is something we hope for even to this day. To realize that hope, we will continue to collect and submit materials and evidence based on facts. In doing so, we hope to clarify any doubts and misunderstandings. We sincerely hope that you do not make too much criticism based on false suspicions and misunderstandings and look at the facts objectively.
Right now, every one of our members is in this together, relying on each other to stand strong.
What we really want, however, is to carry out our activities as true artists in a trustworthy environment. Our members will do everything in our power to make this wish come true. We will do our best to come back in good shape and return our thankfulness to all of you who have been following us.