The Korea Herald


Ador CEO denies allegations, accuses Hybe of mistreating NewJeans

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : April 25, 2024 - 18:38

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Min Hee-jin, CEO of Hybe sublabel Ador, speaks during a press conference held at the Korea Conference Center in Seocho-gu, Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap) Min Hee-jin, CEO of Hybe sublabel Ador, speaks during a press conference held at the Korea Conference Center in Seocho-gu, Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)

At a hastily called press conference at the Korea Conference Center in southern Seoul on Thursday afternoon, Min Hee-jin, CEO of Hybe sublabel Ador, said she was innocent of all allegations raised against her by Hybe and accused the K-pop powerhouse of mismanaging Ador.

Min dismissed Hybe's accusation that Min had tried to take over the management of Ador, in which she holds an 18 percent stake, by attracting outside investors and pressuring Hybe.

Earlier in the day, Hybe posted Min’s personal message with Ador’s vice president that contained a conversation concerning plans to pressure Hybe and break away from the entertainment monolith. Min explained that the conversation was an extension of personal grievances made after a series of unfair treatment by Hybe, including an unfair contract.

“The message was sent during a frustrating renegotiation process of shareholder relations with Hybe, and I was just venting to Ador's vice president. It was just a joke and a complaint, nothing to be taken seriously," she said. "My messages were maliciously rearranged to create a scenario."

She added that the 18 percent stake she has is bound by unfair contracts, but that further information on the contract could not be made public due to confidentiality obligations with Hybe. She said she is willing to divulge such details if Hybe agrees.

Min's lawyer, Lee Sook-mi, also stated that with the stake Min holds it is impossible to attempt to seize control as Hybe has claimed.

Min also argued that Hybe hindered the predebut promotion of Ador's girl group NewJeans.

“It may seem like Bang Si-hyuk – the founder and head producer of Hybe – supported the debut of NewJeans, but that's not the case. I thought creating Ador was for the shareholders and for the members. They are the kids I picked and branded, and I trained them with the songs and choreography by the directors I assigned. But Hybe prevented me from meeting them, as if I would take them away" Min said.

Min said that Hybe prevented promotions related to NewJeans before their debut in order to promote Le Sserafim, a girl group under another Hybe label, Source Music.

Min stressed that all she cares about is the future of NewJeans, regardless of the company.

Prior to Min’s sudden press conference, Hybe claimed it had obtained evidence to prove that Min has been receiving advice from a shaman on major company management matters.

According to Hybe, the shaman claimed to have spiritual contact with a close relative of Min and has been participating in various aspects of management by personally interacting with Min. Hybe said that Min had also asked the shaman about the military service of the bandmates of BTS, implying that it would be better for Ador if BTS halts activities.

Min denied this allegation as well, saying the shaman is an acquaintance of hers.

"The reason I asked the shaman about BTS' military service is because I was so tired of Hybe treating me badly. I thought that in a situation where BTS, the unrivaled star of K-pop, isn't around, our activities might gain more attention. That shaman is just an acquaintance before being a shaman.”

Concerning her allegation that Illit -- a new girl group created by Hybe sublabel Belift Lab -- has copied NewJeans' concept and choreography, Min stressed that she has no intention of dragging down the other group.

"The issue lies with the multilabel governance system of Hybe, and it's not about criticizing Illit, but rather pointing out that the production team has mimicked (NewJeans') production format," said Min.

The Ador CEO added that NewJeans' upcoming album release would proceed as planned, and she stressed that for the good of the group she would be open to having a conversation with Hybe founder Bang to resolve the matter.

Shortly after the press conference, Hybe filed a complaint with the Yongsan Police Station against Min and Ador’s vice president for breach of trust. Hybe claimed that Min manipulated the truth throughout the entire conference earlier in the day, and urged her to resign immediately, stating that Min had proven she was not qualified to be a CEO.